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Do You Need a Head of Employee Experience?

July 08, 2021 Employee Experience
Kaya Ismail
By Kaya Ismail

Many companies are exceptionally focused on improving customer experience. Everything they do centers around ensuring that the time a customer spends with them is enjoyable and positively memorable. That same level of focus should apply to the employee experience. 

The data makes a compelling argument. According to a report from Gallup, 51 percent of employees in the workplace are disengaged and psychologically unattached to their job or company. If employees enjoy their work, that means they are more likely to want to stay at their jobs and will produce more high-quality work.

Traditionally, keeping employees engaged and enjoying their experience has fallen on the human resources department. However, given the challenges, it may be time for companies to consider placing a dedicated person in charge. Here's what HR leaders and employee experience experts had to say.

Why Employee Experience Is Important

While we are all different and subject to our own experiences, the type of experience an employee has with a company tends to say a lot about the company. The employee experience refers to the employee’s journey from the time they interview right until the moment they leave a company. That experience plays a role in employee morale, motivation and productivity. 

Employees across every industry need to show up at their best as often as possible to meet the demands of their company and its customers, said Lori Carr, consulting director at Centennial, Colo.-based RevGen Partners.

“Happy, connected employees engage at deeper levels, stay with companies for longer periods, and they have a direct and positive impact on customer engagement and retention,” she said. 

Several factors can impact the employee experience as it relates to many of the interactions a person has throughout their day-to-day lives. It’s these interactions that are most critical. “This is particularly important for managers," said Weronika Niemczyk, chief people officer at Charlotte, N.C.-based ABBYY. "The cliché saying that people join companies but leave managers is true.” 

Even if the general experience at the company as a whole is a positive one, a bad experience on an individual level can be problematic.

Related Article: How the CIO and CHRO Will Rethink Employee Experience Together

Who Should Be In Charge of Employee Experience?

Given the importance of the employee experience, there is some debate about whether a single individual should handle it for the entire company or if each department should manage things somewhat independently. 

“When it comes to company culture, which is influenced by employee engagement, motivation, and behaviors; leadership best resides with the people experts: human resources,” said Carr. It's not an all-or-nothing approach, however. She said HR should receive input from other leaders within the organization and guidance from the C-suite. 

However, that isn’t necessarily the only approach. At Liberty Mutual Insurance, the company opted to appoint a global employee experience officer. The goal is to have a more integrated and enterprise-wide approach to improving the employee experience worldwide, said Melanie Foley, chief talent and enterprise services officer at the Boston-based insurance company.

While everyone in the organization should be responsible for the experience, a dedicated person is beneficial because it means that they “work closely with company leaders to prioritize their efforts – helping to design, enable and ignite experiences with employees and for employees,” Foley said. 

Related Article: Employee Experiences That Employees Actually Want

Benefits of the Head of Employee Experience Role

Whether a company chooses to create a head of employee experience role or not, there are two major benefits, according to experts: 

Increased Employee Visibility

Keeping employees engaged requires leaders to listen to feedback and find opportunities to improve that experience. As Foley pointed out, having dedicated officers in your organization can help because they have a complete view of the entire organization and can become the voice of the employees.

“They use each touchpoint as an opportunity to gather insights and find the 'why' behind employee sentiments to inform and influence programs, benefits and technology solutions that support employees’ needs,” she said. 

Ability to Drive Change

Sometimes a group of employees may want to have a say in how certain things are done, but without a leadership position backing them it might be difficult to carry out. “The ultimate benefit of having that role in the company is the ability to drive change visibly and hold decision-makers accountable for the impact they are having on the organization and all its people,” Niemczyk said. 

Increased visibility and the ability to drive change are just two benefits of having a dedicated person in charge of the employee experience. But whatever the structure, it's up to all leadership members to ensure employees are engaged and have a positive experience with the company.


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