2017 was abuzz with discussion and debate on the coming-of-age term Employee Experience or EX for short. Like all catch-phrases, it was bandied about with much gusto, sometimes nervously (and other times recklessly) in the corridors of HR and Employee Engagement conferences worldwide, and covered prolifically by all self-respecting media writing on business and the future of workplaces.

So… what is EX? Broadly, we at Edelman see it as the day-to-day reality of working in an organization as experienced by employees – their experience of Leadership, Human Resources, Communications, People Managers, peers and other external influences combined. This ranges from structural actions like an Employee Value Proposition (EVP), Career Pathing, Internal Communications, Employee Engagement initiatives and other perks to perceptual factors like the organization’s employer brand, reputation and credibility in the marketplace.

We have been busy unpicking what this means for our clients and more specifically, how we can support them as they transition – both in mindset and in action.

As you might have guessed, we’re strong advocates for professionalizing EX and finding a red thread that binds it together with a tight and actionable strategy to deliver an integrated, holistic employee experience. With organizations being under pressure to develop a future-proof workforce and CEOs wide awake to their own roles as Chief Engagement Officerswe believe 2018 will be the year when EX transitions from concept to practice, from a lofty notion to a business-critical need.

Here’s a starter kit with three first steps to consider as you look to design and deliver on this:

1. Set up an Employee Experience committee: The first step towards any transformative measure is setting up a taskforce comprising the right mix of representatives who are both empowered and motivated to drive this process of integration. Typically, this would include:
The CEO – who has a vision for (and stake in) the kind of organization you’re building
Human Resources – whose core task is to ensure all recruits are engaged and retained. Identify 2-3 representatives who are leading programs that touch employees directly such as career pathing, learning and development, employee engagement evaluations, employee benefits and perks, among others
Communications – the voice of the organization and therefore the most credible vehicle for change. Here too, select 1-2 representatives across internal and external communications that drive content and channel strategy, social engagement, leadership communications, etc.
Citizenship – 1-2 representatives from the team managing and driving citizenship programs that include employee-facing or employee-involving initiatives around diversity and inclusion, health and wellbeing, sustainability, volunteerism
Others – You could always consider 1 or 2 employees from within the organization for an outside, grassroot-level understanding and pulse. This depends on the size of the organization and the viability to select employees to represent the entire organization

2. Initiate an Employee Experience audit: Step two is the committee working together to understand and visualize the vast landscape of Employee Experience. This involves mapping the various touchpoints in an employee’s journey and identifying the different forces at work that influence or have the potential to influence these touchpoints. This is very similar to what sales teams have done for ages to improve customer experience. Take a moment to reflect on additional forces like the company’s business performance, an ongoing or impending transformation program, change in leadership and other unforeseen events likely to play out and impact EX. Wrap up this step by identifying specific teams and individuals that own or are accountable for each of these forces – here you have your stakeholder universe all mapped out, well done!

3. Develop an Employee Experience strategy and roadmap: The third and most important step of course is nailing down concrete goals, a strategy and implementation plan for EX. A strong starting point is to work off insights from either a recent employee engagement survey or initiate a pulse check specifically designed for this purpose, in combination with interviews with relevant stakeholders. Evaluate gaps and opportunities and use all of this ammunition to articulate a simple and clear strategy to achieve your goals. Follow up with detailed implementation plan to activate with sponsors, owners, timelines and evaluation moments built in. Sense check against the overall business strategy to ensure it aligns and contributes.

Integration is the name of the game and we cannot emphasize enough the importance of a well-thought through and well-intentioned plan to deliver a consistent, inspiring and enabling experience to your people.