What is the employee experience all about?

This is the thing that struck me the most in my analysis of the 5th employee experience barometer: everyone talks about employee experience, everyone is happy, but no one agrees on what exactly it means.

What emerges is that everyone puts in what they want according to their personal sensitivity, the perimeter in which they are entitled to act, the old subjects they want to rehabilitate with a fashionable name, and simply the vision that the management has.

The employee experience: it’s all about bias

From there, when you are HR and you only have HR levers at your disposal, no one should not be surprised that employee experience becomes the new name for things you were already doing before, because you cannot go further and change the scope.

That’s why, perhaps, some HR professionals don’t feel legitimate on the subject because they think that employee experience goes beyond HR, isn’t just about HR.

But if we cannot change the perimeter, we will do the same thing as before but under a different name, unless we change the ambition and the bias.

One can do everything “differently”, it remains to know what this “differently” means and therefore what new vision it serves. And this new vision is obviously non-existent.

But even if we have to ask ourselves the question of the vision, we might as well put everything on the table and answer three simple questions which are :

• What is employee experience?

• What is the purpose of the employee experience?

What are the levers of the employee experience?

The purpose of what follows is to be synthetic because I have already covered most of these topics in a fragmented way in different posts, so there is no need to go into details but rather to lay a foundation.

What is employee experience?

According to my own definition:

“The employee experience is the sum of the feelings and benefits that an employee derives from his interactions with the components of his work environment throughout his lifecycle in the company“.Some points need to be clarified.

Some points need to be clarified.

Feelings: the employee experience is a perception, in fact “to experience” means “to live something”. The employee perceives things that will give rise to feelings, which feelings will condition reactions and behaviors.

Benefits: but the employee experience is not only a matter of perception, it is also a tangible and operational reality. For example: a spa and yoga classes is perception, a simplified process and more intuitive and integrated tools is both a benefit in terms of time saved and the feeling that the real problems are being addressed.

interaction: the notion forces us to put the employee back at the center of our thinking. He is a user of a tool from which he expects something, he activates a process, he expects something from his manager, etc. When he interacts, what is the responsiveness and added value of the response he receives? When he interacts, how responsive is he and what is the added value of the response he receives?

Components of the work environment: making a list of them forces us to be exhaustive and to seriously ask ourselves the question of the perimeter of the employee experience. The physical work environment (office, store, factory but also home…) and the digital work environment are the first things we think about. But we must not forget the managers, the organization in the broadest sense and its eternal complication, the colleagues and even the customers and missions, the various policies including the HR policy and I still omit some.

Lifecycle: the employee lifecycle starts before he is even an employee, or even before he is a candidate, and should make him want to apply. The employee experience is the employer brand. It does not end on the day of departure but continues afterwards with the way we treat our alumni. And in between there is onboarding, training, career and mobility management, employee development and, I insist, work. The employee experience is not just when HR is dealing with people, it is first and foremost when they are working with colleagues, for a manager, following processes, using tools, interacting with colleagues within an organization. That’s 99% of the employee’s time in the business and 1% of the concerns of the people in charge of the employee experience from what I can tell.

What are the purposes of the employee experience?

Indeed I should have started there but after having given a definition it is easier to imagine the field of possibilities.

We can say that the employee experience :

Improves the feeling of the employees because they feel that we take care of them, because they see that we address their real problems and that we don’t just soften on one side the pain we administer on the other, that we think about their well-being.

Effects on :

  • Engagement
  • Satisfaction
  • Well-being
  • Employer brand and employee advocacy
  • Retention of employees

Improves employee performance by simplifying tasks, processes and tools, by rethinking their daily life in these processes and tools, by making the organization support them instead of being a burden for them.

Effects on :

  • Individual performance
  • Collective performance
  • Mental load

Ultimately, it improves the perception of value by the customer and the customer experience itself because employees project their experience onto themselves, because they are more motivated, because they have more time and energy to do their work instead of fighting against the organization, because the organization makes them more efficient in front of the customer. I would like to emphasize that this result is not only obtained, as we too often want to believe, by using levers that are extrinsic to the work and operations (engagement, motivation) but mainly, if we want it to be sustainable, by using intrinsic levers (management, organization, tools, processes).

Effect on:

  • Customer satisfaction
  • Customer loyalty
  • Perceived added value
  • Sales and revenue

Once we have said all this, we can look at the question of levers.

The levers of the employee experience

In fact, the question is not so much which levers to use but which people to mobilize. Here you realize that the range can be very wide depending on whether or not you assume the entire scope and whether you have the means or even the mandate.

HR of course, people in charge of business real estate, operations managers, quality managers, IT managers, collaboration and even knowledge management (yes it helps) etc. There are even positions to be created like the “employee service“, indispensable in a very useful employee helpdesk approach (knowing that if something is going on someone is appointed to take care of it otherwise nothing happens).

It is clear, but ultimately logical, that everyone is more or less involved. What matters in the end is who should lead the movement, be the leader, and how to involve the stakeholders.

As for the leader, I would say that HR is the obvious but not necessarily logical leader. Obvious because we’re talking about people, but not logical if you think about the “operations” component of the topic and the business impact. I can say that HR can play this role but that others are just as legitimate. Knowing that it is mainly a question of federating, I would say that it doesn’t matter what the job is as long as you have the desire and the convictions. Personally, I find that I had more leverage with my operations director’s hat than with my “people” hat, at least in terms of impact on both people and business. In fact, when I was in charge of employee experience, I was classified as a “business function” and not a “support function”.

Then there is the issue of engaging all stakeholders.

Of course, one can say that if it is a real business project, led by the general management, things will happen and people will follow. It’s true that it helps, but a forced collaboration is never as fruitful as a chosen one.

Going to people and saying “I need you to move forward on the employee experience” (or any other topic) doesn’t work because they understand “you’re going to have to work and change things in your scope for me to succeed”.

As mentioned above, the employee experience contributes to many topics…as long as the people responsible for those topics contribute to the employee experience.

Personally, I’m very comfortable explaining to the most distant professions, to people who don’t have this kind of preoccupation, all the benefits they have to gain from the approach and often without talking about employee experience but using their own vocabulary and their own KPIs. The message is to explain to them why if you succeed they will succeed more, and only then that you need them to succeed.


Employee experience is a much broader, more concrete and business-oriented notion than many people think or want to admit.

But in order to assume the breadth of the scope, you have to be able to talk to all the businesses, with their vocabulary, and even assume that employee experience is just a new name given to old subjects and that you sometimes have to know how to abandon it.

Bertrand DUPERRINhttps://www.duperrin.com/english
Head of People and Business Delivery @Emakina / Former consulting director / Crossroads of people, business and technology / Speaker / Compulsive traveler
Head of People and Business Delivery @Emakina / Former consulting director / Crossroads of people, business and technology / Speaker / Compulsive traveler

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