What Is Employee Experience (And Why Should You Care)?

The working world used to be pretty predictable. Young people would apply for a few jobs, choose one they liked, and stick with it.

Oh, how the times have changed! In a 2015 press release, the Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed that the average person held 11.7 jobs over their working years. This figure is especially interesting because it refers not to the much-maligned job-hopping millennials, but to the Baby Boomers (those born between 1957-1964).

As you might expect, the preliminary numbers for millennials are even higher. Ninety-one percent of millennials (born between 1977-1997) expect to stay in a job for less than three years. This means that over the course of their careers, they can expect to have 15–20 jobs.

Clearly there are some major changes in the workforce, both in terms of what employers are providing and what employees and candidates expect. In fact, Harvard Business Review traces a major shift over the past few years from an employer-driven job market to a candidate-driven one. In the first half of 2012, 46% of recruiters characterized the market as employer-driven, but that number dropped to a tiny 10% by the first half of 2015.

These changes in the market mean that employers need to update their HR practices in order to keep up and stay competitive.

It’s no longer enough to simply find employees to fill open positions at your organization, hire them, and expect them to flourish. Instead of this transactional approach to the employee lifecycle, leading employers are beginning to take a more holistic view. (For more on this, check out Maia Josebachvili's writing on Employee Lifetime Value or ELTV.)

Candidate experience

The changes to the way leading companies treat employees begin well before they're even hired. The term “candidate experience” is not just a buzzword—in fact, it’s a topic we feel so strongly about at Greenhouse, we made it one of our recruiting KPIs.

There are a number of reasons why candidates have more power than ever. They can leave negative reviews on sites like Glassdoor, share their experience with their peers through social networks, and seek self-employment through an ever-growing number of channels. And for certain highly skilled roles, there’s a shortage of qualified candidates, which means that a number of applicants are being approached by recruiters and not even actively seeking a new role.

Employee experience

But the shift towards candidate experience is not occurring in isolation—HR departments are also beginning to consider how to offer a better overall “employee experience.” In a Forbes article entitled, “Why the Future of Work Is All About the Employee Experience,” Jacob Morgan writes, “the employee experience is what happens when an employee interacts with your organization. It starts with how they first find and apply for a job at your company and ends with how they leave and includes everything in between.”

Let’s take a moment to think about that “everything in between” that Morgan is referring to. What are all the ways that a person can interact with a company? The most significant parts of employee experience include recruitment, hiring, onboarding, ongoing training and feedback, and offboarding.

Onboarding & offboarding

Onboarding is particularly significant since this is an employee’s first impressions of what it’s like to work within your organization. We also know that it’s during the first six months of employment when most employees tend to decide whether or not they’ll stick around long-term.

Similarly, offboarding stands out since it bookends an employee’s time with you. Companies that invest in a formalized offboarding program are 71% more likely to retain employees than companies that don’t. The correlation between retention and formalized offboarding might not be immediately obvious, but here’s one explanation: Companies that take the time to commit resources to offboarding are also dedicated to overall employee experience and therefore benefit from better retention.

The process of joining a new company isn’t just about learning how to do your new job—there’s also a period of psychological and social adjustment as you adapt to a new culture, coworkers, and expectations. Instead of just assuming that this will happen naturally, companies that are dedicated to employee experience are taking the time to build these processes into their onboarding program.

For example, many companies have adopted buddy systems that pair the new hire with another more tenured coworker. This can foster workplace friendship and cross-departmental communication. It also takes some of the stress out of navigating a new space. When new hires know who they’re eating lunch with or who can show them how to work the coffee machine, they free up mental energy to worry about more important things, like learning how to do their job.

Similarly, when you know some of the most common questions new employees have when they start, there’s no reason to hoard all that information until their first day at the office. By creating a pre-boarding program, you can eliminate a lot of the fear and nerves that new hires feel leading up to their first day.

Tying it all together

Moving away from the transactional approach to employment isn't just a good business decision—it’s how you show your candidates and employees that you genuinely care about them and their well-being. It's how you differentiate yourself from all the other companies out there. And in our current work environment, that’s something that really matters.

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Melissa Suzuno

Melissa Suzuno is the Content Marketing Manager at Greenhouse, where she gets to share her love of the written word and endorse the use of the Oxford comma on a daily basis. Before joining Greenhouse, Melissa built out the content marketing programs at Parklet (an onboarding and employee experience solution) and AfterCollege (a job search resource for recent grads), so she's made it a bit of a habit to help people get excited about and invested in their work. Find Melissa on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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