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Employee Experience

You Have Customer Journey Maps — What About Employee Journey Maps?

You’ve been mapping the customer journey for years. But employee journey maps offer HR a depth of understanding into employee needs, expectations, job satisfaction, retention, and turnover.

Person in a business suit wheeling a suitcase behind them
For all the talk about employee experience, only 31% of executives in a September 2020 Salesforce survey rated it as a high priority. [Studio Firma / Stocksy]

Nice guys finish last. Grow or die. If you build it, they will come. We’ve all internalized business maxims like these. But many are ready to be thrown away. We’ll debunk a couple of business misconceptions around employee journey maps that may be hindering your business success.

Myth: Traditional journey mapping is only for customers

Truth: Customer experience and employee experience are equally important. Business leaders should use the same data-driven journey-mapping tactics for employees as they do for customers. Organizations have used journey maps for years to chart the customer experience as it progresses through awareness, consideration, activation, and advocacy. 

Likewise, an employee journey map is a visualization of all the significant stages of employees’ experience with your company. It tracks awareness and hiring to career development, and later, tenure and departure, according to Erik van Vulpen, founder of the Academy to Innovate HR, which offers educational programs for human resources professionals.

Employees are consumers of the workplace. Organizations should want their employer brand, their reputation as an employer, to be as formidable as their customer-facing brand.

Gallup’s State of the American Workplace report

The technique takes a quantitative approach that helps employers measure key moments in employees’ tenure, including if and when they become disengaged. Two examples: High turnover in year one may indicate bad onboarding practices and push a company to rethink how it brings new employees into the fold. High turnover in year three or four may indicate disappointment over lack of advancement opportunities. 

In each case, managers should gather and crunch employee data to gauge the contentment levels of individual workers. What kind of data? Surveys (both annual surveys and the shorter, more frequent pulse surveys), focus groups, absentee data, one-on-one chats with managers, exit interviews, performance feedback on specific projects, and more. 

Mike West, consultant and author of People Analytics for Dummies, said the goal of an employee journey map is to identify not only those transition points where people tend to encounter problems, but also areas for improvement. Further, a journey map can help align the organization toward achieving common goals. 

Just as customer journey maps help organizations understand motivations and emotional connections to the brand, employee journey maps help businesses understand specific employee needs and the tools needed to address them.

He said when people get caught up in individual goals, other individuals or teams can be negatively impacted. The employee journey map allows business leaders to take a bird’s-eye view of actions by different stakeholders, using data to unify disparate and competing efforts.

“It would be hard to find a business leader who doesn’t say, ‘It’s all about our people,’ but the only way you can really understand your employees is through regular data-driven analysis and observing things over time,” West said.  

Just as customer journey maps help organizations understand motivations and emotional connections to the brand, employee journey maps help businesses understand specific employee needs and the tools needed to address them.

High turnover in year one may indicate bad onboarding practices and push a company to rethink how it brings new employees into the fold. High turnover in year three or four may indicate disappointment over lack of advancement opportunities.

Harvard Business Review noted that employee journey mapping is rooted in needs-based segmentation – development opportunities, rewards, schedules, compensation – rather than standard segmentation like job title, rank, or business unit. “Just as customer experience design requires a more nuanced understanding of customers than simple demographics or economic value, employee experience should be based on employees’ drivers and desires,” according to the article by Denise Lee Yohn.

And what do employees desire? That leads us to our second myth.

Myth: Employees mostly care about higher compensation

Fact: Gallup’s State of the American Workplace report – one of the more exhaustive on workplace trends – found that employees placed the most importance on these five factors when deciding to take a job:

  1. The ability to do what they do best 
  2. Greater work-life balance and better well-being 
  3. Improved stability and job security 
  4. Increase in income
  5. Opportunity to work for a company with a great brand or reputation 

More important than increasing their income are factors related to meaning and security. Delivering on these things, the report found, results in more engaged employees who are more likely to stay with their organization, reducing overall turnover and the costs associated with it. 

According to the report, “They feel a stronger bond to their organization’s mission and purpose, making them more effective brand ambassadors. They build stronger relationships with customers, helping their company increase sales and profitability.”

The employee journey map allows business leaders to take a bird’s-eye view of actions by different stakeholders, using data to unify disparate and competing efforts.

For all the talk about employee experience, only 31% of executives in a September 2020 Salesforce survey rated it as a high priority. Perhaps it’s because they associate it with the cliché that the only way to make employees care is to throw more money at them. That could turn out to be a grave mistake. Unhappy or unmotivated employees are bad for business. 

“Employees are consumers of the workplace,” according to the Gallup report. “Organizations should want their employer brand, their reputation as an employer, to be as formidable as their customer-facing brand.”

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