CEOs and HR Leaders Should Work Together on EX

February 5, 2019

CEOs and HR Leaders Should Work Together on EX

In business, there can be a dizzying (and, at times, annoying) amount of jargon and business speak floating around the latest, hottest trends. Last year it was all about CX, or the customer experience. Everyone was focused on ramping up CX—what else can we do to surprise and delight our customers? But now, CX is so 2017. Now, it's all about EX, or the employee experience. Forbes even called 2018 the Year of the Employee Experience, ushering CX into the back seat.

It's not that the customer has diminished in importance, it's just that there's a wave of realization out there, in this tight job market, that the employee is just as important. This year, the employee made it front and center on many organizations' priority lists. And, since employees are HR's wheelhouse, that means HR is front and center on many organizations' priority lists, too.

Defining EX
What defines the employee experience? It's everything employees (and prospective employees) experience throughout the life cycle of their tenure with the organization, from the first time they look up your company online to the last time they walk out the door. 

Why the CEO Should Care
In this tight job market, attracting top talent isn't enough. It's vital to the company's bottom line to keep the good people you have. When greener grass is just one click on an app away, your people can (and, studies show, are) checking job search apps on their breaks. It's critical to keep employees happy, engaged, and challenged with plenty of opportunities for growth and development along the way. It can give your company a competitive advantage in recruiting and retention.

Jacob Morgan, author of The Employee Experience Advantage, found that companies that put EX on top of their priority lists get some tangible results.

Companies focusing on EX are much more likely to appear in

  • Glassdoor's Best Places to Work
  • LinkedIn's North America's Most In-Demand Employers
  • Fast Company's Most Innovative Companies
  • Forbes' Most Innovative Companies
  • American Customer Satisfaction Index  

Those lists are solid gold for a company's brand, especially with job seekers.

Further, companies focusing on EX also have more than four times the average profit and twice the average revenue of companies that don't.

The problem? A recent report by Deloitte found that nearly 80 percent of executives rated EX very important or important, but only 22 percent thought their companies were good at it. This is HR's opportunity to swoop in and work with the CEO to increase EX with HR's know-how and people savvy.

What HR Leaders Can Do
Areas HR leaders can focus on that will increase EX:

Read your company's reviews on Glassdoor and LinkedIn. If you haven't been doing it regularly, you should. It's a forum for exiting and current employees to say what they really think about working at your company.

Take the pulse of your employees. That means conducting surveys in which they can express their opinions (this is critical) anonymously. This benefits EX in two ways. First, it makes employees feel valued, like their opinions are being considered and heard. But it also gives you a roadmap for change based on what you learn.

Act on those survey results. Taking a survey is all well and good, but if you don't act on the results, you risk alienating employees and causing morale to drop. You need to be prepared, with the CEO's support, to act on any problems you uncover. 

Evaluate your work environment. Look at your workplace with a critical eye. Are people happy to be there? Ask employees about the ergonomics of their work stations or offices. What's the state of the break room? Are you offering free beverages or snacks? 

Two words: flex time. If your workplace doesn't offer it, advocate for it. Work-life balance is critical to millennials and will be mission critical for Gen Z. 

Provide career development. Employees want to grow, develop, and move up the ladder, so take a look at your career-path strategies for each position. Is there room for growth? What if an employee wanted to jump to another position in the company? Is there a way to do that? The idea is to keep the employee happy within your four walls and not looking elsewhere for advancement, more money, or growth.

The Authors: 

Darren S. Kimball, CFA, is Principal and CEO of GetFive.