Push pins on a historical map - employee journey mapping concept
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Employee journey mapping for a better employee experience

People and Culture

Customer journey mapping has long been used to better understand customers' paths to making purchases. By identifying and analyzing all touchpoints, brands can adapt their communication, processes and marketing activities to remedy any road blocks and reduce customer effort. Employee journey mapping draws on the same methodology but with the goal of creating an amazing employee experience.

The results of these two journey mapping exercises come together when engaged employees are inspired to deliver exceptional customer experiences that in turn lead directly to top-line growth. TELUS International refers to this as the Culture Value Chain.

Unfortunately, only 34% of U.S. workers report feeling engaged, according to Gallup. Believe it or not, that's a record high since Gallup started reporting that figure nationally in 2000. That leaves 53% in the "not engaged" category, and 13% in the "actively disengaged" (also known as miserable) category. Low engagement, whether at the national or employer level, leads to lower productivity, higher turnover, and a variety of other negative impacts.

Inversely, according to a CustomerThink article, engaged employees share a few common traits, including:

  • Understanding and believing in the company's mission.
  • Recognizing how their work supports the mission.
  • Believing that company leadership cares about them.
  • Doing the work to make sure employee and company goals are met.

Creating a team of employees that checks all four of these boxes relies on more than just a great company mission, vision and values statement. Corporate values need to align with what's happening on the ground - operationally and culturally. That's where employee journey mapping can help bring the two in-line.

The importance of the employee experience

Leadership guru Simon Sinek once said, "Customers will never love a company until the employees love it first." There's a lot of truth to that. If you don't get the employee experience right, your company will struggle to create a great customer experience.

But, what exactly is included in the employee experience? Which elements are possible to change and improve, and why is it worth paying attention? Perhaps the most important changes to make relate to common sources of daily frustration and lost productivity, such as repetitive tasks, sitting through redundant meetings and managing email. Alleviating these small but mighty frustrations can significantly improve job satisfaction and engagement.

More broadly, an overall employee experience encompasses a variety of stages, each with its own opportunities for engagement, or at least improvement. As an example, brand consultant Denise Lee Yohn listed 10 stages of an employee journey for one particular client in the Harvard Business Review:

  1. Sourcing and recruiting
  2. Pre-boarding
  3. Onboarding (orientation and initial training)
  4. Compensation and benefits
  5. Ongoing learning and development
  6. Ongoing engagement, communication and community involvement
  7. Rewards and recognition
  8. Performance planning, feedback and review
  9. Advancement
  10. Retirement, termination or resignation

Recognizing that there is overlap between stages, Yohn and her client conducted research to try and understand each of them from the employee's perspective. The process allowed them to pinpoint a variety of process, policy and program changes they needed to make, as well as "specific touchpoints to provide a seamless, engaging and valuable employee experience."

The exercise of identifying the gaps between employees' actual experience and the ideal experience is what provides the opportunities for improvement.

How employee journey mapping helps you create a better employee — and customer — experience

Gathering the needed data to create culture and process change requires a concrete methodology. Rather than just paying lip service to the process, employee journey mapping offers a coherent and concrete way to address and improve the employee experience.

In its most basic form, it starts by surveying employees to get a sense of the general steps they go through so you can create the actual 'map'. You may even want to gather a representative group of employees together to physically mark their journey with sticky notes on the wall. With enough data, you can outline the most common steps and identify obvious pain points.

Next comes the most important part: Work with your employees to help address those difficulties and improve their experience. By co-creating experiences with your team, they'll not only feel like they're playing a vital role in building your business operations, they'll also feel heard. Then, close the loop by communicating which specific improvements you'll make and set a cadence for ongoing pulse check surveys to measure employee engagement on an ongoing basis.

Transforming contact centers

By removing points of frustration, stress and annoyance from your team's experience, you'll put them in the right frame of mind to do the most important part of their job: serve customers. In the process, you may even uncover game-changing opportunities to improve your company’s operations. For instance, learning that employees found your recruitment website hard to navigate when applying at your company could mean you're missing out on tons of great potential employees.

You should also consider how technology helps or hinders your frontline employees' day-to-day jobs.

"Millennials have become accustomed to easy experiences, and most CRM, ERP and other internal tools are anything but," writes Jim Tincher, a journey mapping expert, for CustomerThink. "Outdated and inefficient systems, tools and processes sap energy from employees, unnecessarily waste time and make it difficult to serve the customer." Making a few key changes to improve your technologies' usability can result in some major improvements that drive both employee and customer satisfaction.

In the words of Jeff Puritt, TELUS International president and CEO, "Focus on who sits in the seat in your contact centers because the customer experience will never exceed the employee experience." By taking the time to step back and assess the employee journey, you'll create a virtuous cycle that benefits your employees, your customers and your bottom line.

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