employee experience

If you are involved in any way with ‘human resources’ within your company, chances are that employee experience is high on your agenda.  Not only is it a hot topic right now, the strong correlation between employee experience and company success makes it very appealing.

But as anyone with a statistics background will know, correlation does not mean causation.  In other words, does improving an employee’s experience cause an increase in performance?  Let’s see.

Is employee experience a cause or an effect?

Employee Satisfaction was a popular term for a while, replaced by Employee Engagement, which has since seemingly been replaced by Employee Experience.  Is there a difference?  Yes and no, depending on who you speak with.   What we do know is that there is keen interest to measure these types of things.

The problem is that a person’s experience is highly subjective and can change regularly depending on circumstances.  One day everything is rosy, the next day something happens that temporarily changes this.  The way this person answers an employee survey will largely depend on which day they answer the questions.  In other words, their perception of their experience is influenced by other things which mean often, it is not a root cause, but an effect.  The problem with measuring effects is that it highlights symptoms rather than causes.  One can spend significant amounts of time and money fixing symptoms when what is really needed is an understanding of the root cause of an employee’s experience.

In a recent blog post, global HR expert Josh Bersin described the importance of moving from measurement to action.  By his own admission, HR experts have for a long time been speaking about measurement and data and analytics, and possibly underplaying the importance of taking the right action.  Focusing on the wrong actions will simply create excess chaos and noise.

So what is the root cause of employee experience?

Think about an experience you have had recently or a purchase you have made.  How was it, and what was the thing that led to this judgement?  Chances are it was to do with your expectations. 

Expectations are a root cause of experience perception.  Sure there are other influencing factors, but expectations are key.

Even when someone doesn’t have any expectations, they actually do.  If someone has clear expectations, and their experience is in line with or better than expectations, then they will be happy and satisfied.  And vice versa.

What this means is that, rather than spending a stack of money measuring employee experience only to find that someone’s expectations aren’t being met, a company would do well to jump straight to the cause and double down on ensuring expectations are clear right across the company.  For customers, for employees, for suppliers, for investors, everyone.  When this happens, the majority of associated problems start to disappear. 

What about the role of statistical analysis?

One of the most common ways to measure employee experience is through a survey that asks 50+ questions, with the data then going through statistical analysis processes like regression and driver analysis.  A highly experienced analyst will be able to discover all sorts of things with available data and the outcome is likely to be a very clear picture of what is driving engagement and experience amongst employees.  The correlation between employee experience and success will almost certainly be confirmed, as will the fact that somewhere along the line, expectations either weren’t clear or weren’t met.

However, given we already know that expectations play such a primary role in the perception of experience, do you really need to go through the full employee survey and analysis process?  Do you really need to pour over the significant number of powerpoint slides with all sorts of charts showing which variables are driving employee experience?

At My Employee Life, we think not.  A simpler approach would be to simply implement a process that ensures everyone is always clear about expectations, and that if things aren’t going to plan there is a way to pick up on and correct things before they become too much of a problem.

So instead of spending significant money and time measuring employee experience and implementing complicated performance management systems, why not focus on making sure expectations are clear by using My Employee Life.