The elusive art of measuring Employee Experience

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People in the Employee Experience circle are not-so-secretly hoping to get their hands on an ‘Employee Experience Index’. A single number that can sum up EX performance and benchmark it against those of others.

The sense of urgency in their voices is evident. And for obvious reasons. 

An EX Index promises to quantify the ROI of all their people investments. It can be a powerful number to justify your EX strategy to the company leadership for more funds and resources. And it’s a number that will finally drive home what they’ve been trying to convince companies forever - that investing in people is one of the most important things you can do for the business.

But we’re nowhere close to finding that metric that will hold across every organization. For one, EX is subjective because human beings are so unique. 

“There is no definitive tool to measure employee experience because there is always going to be individual differences and subjective experiences.”  - Emma Bridger, Co-Founder of The EX Space

Now, that doesn’t mean that EX is entirely unmeasurable. It’s just that there is no *easy*, *standardized* and *universally proven* way to measure employee experience. Yet.

Measuring employee experience is unique to your company, your EX objective, and your initiative. Keeping this at the absolute forefront, we’re going to talk about

  • Why you should be measuring EX in the first place
  • Key types of metrics to measure employee experience
  • Why employee surveys are not the best or only way to measure EX

Why measure employee experience?

Peter Drucker rightly said you can’t improve what you can’t measure. Measuring employee experience is the only way to know if you are on the right track with your strategy and to know if your efforts are driving the intended results.

Your leadership also needs to be in the know. Measuring employee experience and the ability to quantify its impact will get your foot in the boardroom door. You’ll be able to make EX a business priority, justify the additional investments required, and get the necessary budgets to drive more such initiatives.

Measuring the effectiveness of your EX strategy is as crucial as your EX strategy itself. 

The ‘how’ is what we’ll answer next.

Key employee experience metrics 

There are three types of metrics you need to care about when it comes to the measurement of your employee experience strategy. 

1. Business level metrics: These are the numbers your leadership wants to know. The numbers your CHRO will present to the organization to show the overall impact of employee experience on the business. Some of these metrics are:

  • Employee Lifetime Value: Employee Lifetime Value (ELTV) is the net value an employee brings to the organization over time. This number is derived by subtracting all associated costs such as recruitment, onboarding, compensation, training, and the cost of employee turnover from the total value they are bringing to the company.
  • Voluntary turnover rate: The employee voluntary turnover rate is a metric that indicates the percentage of employees who leave a company during a certain period, typically calculated annually. 
  • Customer Satisfaction Score: Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT) is a straightforward metric used to gauge the satisfaction of customers with a product, service, or experience, typically gathered via surveys.
  • Time to productivity: Time to productivity refers to the period it takes for a new employee to ramp up and start contributing productively to their role within an organization, calculated from the point of their onboarding until they are fully contributing members of the organization.
  • Early attrition rate: Early attrition rate refers to the percentage of employees who leave an organization within a short period after being hired, usually the first few months to a year of employment.

Does your organization track any other metrics? Let us know!

2. Strategy level metrics: These metrics are of particular interest to the HR function and your CHRO to gauge the impact of their EX initiatives on people. These metrics can be:

  • Employee Satisfaction Score: The Employee Satisfaction Score (ESS) is a crucial metric, measured using surveys, to determine the extent to which employees are content with their job environment and role. 
  • Employee Net Promoter Score: Employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS) measures employee loyalty by asking how likely they are to recommend the company as a workplace.
  • Company ratings on social sites: Company ratings on social sites like Glassdoor, Ambitionbox, etc. reflect employee perceptions and reviews of a business. They offer insights into company reputation, employee satisfaction, and overall employer brand sentiment.
  • Employee absenteeism: Employee absenteeism refers to frequent or habitual absence from work. It can indicate employee disengagement, health issues, or workplace dissatisfaction among other things.
  • Employee performance: Individual employee performance can be measured in multiple ways - by tracking KPIs, through performance reviews, and 360-degree feedback, among other methods.
  • Contextual feedback: Contextual employee feedback is when employees are asked to share their feedback about a certain activity or touchpoint within the employee journey, immediately after it happens. For example, right after they’ve completed a compliance training session.

3. Tactical metrics: The last but equally critical and easy to report on data points are tactical metrics. These metrics reveal the implementation level success of various EX initiatives. These are usually generated by the technology platform you use. Some of the more commonly used tactical metrics are:

  • Response rate: The percentage of people who reply to or act upon a specific call-to-action.
  • Engagement rate: The percentage of employees who interact with content or with a workplace tool.
  • Employee effort score: A metric assessing how easy or hard employees find it to complete a task or interact with a system.
  • Average ticket resolution time: The average time taken to resolve employee queries or issues, represented as tickets.
  • Ticket volume: The total number of employee queries or issues reported in a given timeframe.

While we’ve named some of the metrics under each type for you, you can identify more such metrics based on your specific EX initiatives too.

What have we missed? Are there other metrics companies are or should be tracking? Tell us.

How to measure employee experience

The success of every EX strategy can be tracked through a combination of the above three types of metrics. Some of these are universal but choose the right ones for your company based on your objective and aim. 

At any point in time, your tactical metrics will always be the easier one to report on. This information can be easily pulled out and studied. 

But a good measurement of EX is always a combined look at all three types of metrics. In fact, choosing a combination of metrics is the best way to demonstrate the holistic impact of your EX initiatives.

For instance:

If you were to measure the success of your new digital employee onboarding program, what combination of metrics should you look at? 

At the tactical level, track the employee effort score - how easy or difficult it is for new hires to get access to everything they need and their engagement rate with the content that you share. 

At the strategic level, seek and track contextual feedback on how supported employees feel during their early days in the organization.

And at the business level, see how the new employee onboarding program is affecting early attrition. 

More examples of measuring employee experience

Let’s look at some more examples.

  1. If you’ve introduced flexible work arrangements like hybrid work to improve your EX, here’s how you can measure its success at three levels:

At the tactical level, track the utilization of remote work days.

At the strategic level, gather contextual feedback on how flexible arrangements impact work-life balance and overall job satisfaction.

At the business level, you can compare employee performance during the hybrid work phase to that of an earlier period before hybrid work was introduced.

  1. If you have upgraded your employee rewards and recognition system, then you can measure:

At a tactical level, the number of recognitions given, whether peer-to-peer or from leadership, and the types of rewards claimed.

At a strategic level, gather contextual feedback to understand how recognized and valued they feel within the organization and if they find the rewards meaningful.

At a business level, examine the correlation between recognition and key performance metrics, such as productivity, sales numbers, or customer feedback.

  1. If you have introduced an employee mentorship program, then you can assess success:

At the tactical level, using the number of mentor-mentee pairings and the frequency of their meetings or interactions.

At the strategic level, by collecting qualitative feedback from both mentors and mentees on the perceived value, challenges, and benefits of the mentorship program.

At the business level, by tracking career progression and retention rates of employees who have been mentored versus those who haven’t.

Employee surveys: The best way to measure EX?

“A lot of the data, and I will go as far as to say probably like 70 percent of the data that you can get on people are things that they're not actively telling you [through surveys]”. - Dr. Kalifa Oliver, Experience Coach & Executive Advisor
Employee surveys to measure employee experience

Employee surveys have their limitations. From survey fatigue to wrong timing and lack of openness, solely relying on survey results as a means to measure employee experience can backfire. 

Thankfully, HR doesn’t have to depend on surveys for insights.

You already have access to a lot of data that can be indicative of how the employees are perceiving their experiences within your organization. For instance, engagement rate with onboarding content, the response rate to surveys, IT ticket volumes, attendance records, software and tool usage, and more.

So use surveys to ‘hear’ what your employees have to say. But complement this information with other types of data to actually ‘listen’ to what they are saying. This will paint a far more accurate picture of how your EX strategy is going.

Easier said than done?

Employee data lies siloed in different systems and tools. Manually gathering this in one place is extremely challenging and for large global companies with a diverse workforce, it is almost impossible. 

And then when it comes to making sense of all that data - making the right connections and drawing the right inferences can become an insurmountable task for HR. 

That’s why almost every single EX consultant we’ve spoken to has told us that HR leaders need to stop trying to do it all and bring in the right data experts or technology to unlock the hidden stories in data. Whether it is in the form of a data scientist, someone who truly understands people data, or it can be an employee data platform like Tydy.

Two things are for sure: 

Measuring employee experience isn’t easy. 

But without measurement, you’ll never know if you’re doing the right things in the right direction. 

While universal metrics will remain elusive, tailored approaches unique to your EX strategy can offer the insights that you need. A combination of business, strategic, and tactical metrics will provide a comprehensive picture, bridging the gap between subjective experiences and quantifiable outcomes.

We know measurement to be a science. But in this case, it won’t be a stretch to conclude that measuring employee experience is both an art and a science.

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