Every job you’ve ever had can be thought of as a journey you took. You applied, interviewed, got hired, learned the ropes of your core responsibilities, achieved milestones, were likely given feedback on your performance, and grew as a person. Perhaps you progressed at the company, getting a salary bump or a promotion. Then, after a while, you left the company for a new opportunity.
As an HR professional, you know that your employees go through various stages during their tenure. You likely have a good general idea of what your team members experience during these pivotal phases and have implemented changes to improve the employee experience at your organization.
However, there’s a more effective way you can continue to cultivate a stellar employee experience: by putting pen to paper (well, more like keyboard to Google Doc) and creating employee journey maps.
Employee journey maps are exactly what they sound like—“maps” of the journeys your organization’s employees experience during their time there, from the moment they apply to the moment they leave.
Here’s the definition The Predictive Index, the company behind some well-known talent optimization assessments, gives: “Collectively, the employee journey is everything workers experience and feel during their tenure at a company. Employee journey mapping is the visual representation of this experience.”
Employee journey mapping has a lot in common with customer journey mapping, which is how companies pinpoint what their customers experience to identify ways they can refine those relationships. As Marc Holliday, a Senior Product Marketing Manager for the Oracle NetSuite Global Business Unit, states, “Like with customer experience mapping, HR teams develop personas that represent different segments of the workforce and then focus on optimizing the experience for each persona.”
While you have a good grasp of what employees in different types of roles experience at your organization, it’s best to work through that knowledge and create documentation that digs deeper to identify trends into the different stages for workers in various roles, what they need during those stages, and what they feel during those stages. For example, you might already know there are some hiccups with setting up new hires in your benefits program. However, you can better understand what new hires find frustrating about the benefits enrollment process via employee journey mapping.
From there, you can be more proactive about minimizing or eliminating those frustrations. That’s ultimately the goal of employee journey mapping. Once you gain a clear picture of what employees are feeling and experiencing as they move forward with your company, you can take the necessary steps to make small improvements to boost employee engagement and, in turn, reduce your turnover rate.
To start mapping the various employee experiences at your organization, you should identify what you want to achieve from this exercise. For example, you might want the first iteration of your organization’s employee journey maps to focus on the basics—only the main touchpoints and pain points employees have with the company during their tenure and potential solutions to those pain points. Then, you can make the following iterations of the project more complex by exploring more touchpoints, pain points, and solutions.
Once you’ve identified your goals and parameters for the project, it’s time to move to the next step: research.
As an HR professional, you already understand what life is like for employees in different departments. However, you should expand on your foundation of knowledge with research, both qualitative and quantitative.
Collaborate with others on your team to get their viewpoints on employee experiences at your organization. They’ll be able to give you fresh insights because they observe and interact with employees in different contexts. The VP of Marketing, for instance, might point out that most employees on her team start to look for promotion opportunities at the company after they’ve been there for a year and a half. Or, the Director of Software Engineering might point out that many junior developers end up leaving the company around their second anniversary.
After getting context from people leaders, dive into the most important part—listening to employees and documenting how they describe their own experiences. You can set up 1:1 interviews with workers in different roles and levels to get a holistic overview. Or, you can send a company-wide survey that helps employees remain as anonymous as possible. The software developer who’s only been there for one year will have a very different take than the one who’s been there ten years, the marketing manager who’s been there five years will have their own thoughts, and so forth. No matter how you decide to collect the information, be sure to let employees know what your purpose is, so they can be at ease about taking part.
Previous exit interviews are also a great source of qualitative information. By combing through them, you can gather interesting information about what previous employees thought about working at your organization, such as:
If they felt like they had the proper support and resources to do their jobs well
How they described your organization’s culture
Why they decided to take a new job at a different company
Dig into any quantitative data you have, too. If you haven’t already, you can crunch the numbers to determine information like:
Your turnover rates
The average tenure length in each department
The average time your hiring process takes
Once you’ve collected qualitative and quantitative data, you can start creating employee personas for different types of roles and experience levels at your organization. If you have a company org chart, you can use that as a guide. For example, after looking at the org chart and taking stock of everyone on the marketing team, you might decide to have personas for entry-level marketers, mid-level marketers, and senior-level marketers.
While you want your personas to provide a holistic representation of the varying experiences at your organization, don’t get too lost in the weeds while you’re segmenting. For example, if you only have one employee in a certain role, you can weave their experiences into a slightly broader persona within their department.
Circling back to advice from Marc Holliday (from Oracle’s NetSuite Global Business Unit), these personas are “fictional representations of a segment of your workforce.” So, if you’re creating a sales rep persona, you can review all the data you have from current and former sales reps and pull the common themes into the persona. Holliday recommends including their “goals, expectations, challenges, and measures of success.” Here’s an example of what a basic employee persona could look like.
As you’re creating these personas, you should identify the various employment stages at your organization. For example, the employee journey at your company might look like sourcing and recruiting, pre-boarding, onboarding, getting set up with compensation and benefits, continuing to learn and grow, continuing to engage, getting recognized for contributions, getting performance feedback, leveling up at the company, and leaving the company.
From there, you can pinpoint how each persona goes through these various employment stages. A sales rep persona and accounting persona won’t have the same experiences during sourcing and recruiting, pre-boarding, onboarding, etc. As you’re working on these different stages, there are some key questions you should ask. Kristen Ruttgaizer, the VP of People and Culture at Igloo Software, recommends asking these four questions for every stage of the journey:
1. “What is the employee trying to do?”
2. “How is the employee feeling?”
3. “What are the barriers?”
4. “What are the supports (digital or human)?
- Questions by Kristen Ruttgaizer, VP of People and Culture at Igloo Software
Once you’ve gathered the necessary data and finished creating your employee personas, it’s time to build your maps for the different personas. Be sure to account for the different ways employees can leave your company, too. Ruttgaizer advocates creating journey maps for employees who resign or have their employment terminated.
And according to Holliday, by outlining “the company processes and touchpoints for each stage” and including “any problem areas,” you can then examine “the transitions between stages and look for points in the journey where an employee might feel lost or disengaged.”
How you present that information is up to you. You can create more straightforward maps or get a bit more creative. No matter how you decide to show the information, make sure it’s concise and easy to follow.
With your new employee journey maps, you can start to see where your company needs to step up its employee experience game and start taking action. Taking that action begins with sharing the findings with the leadership team so you can find optimizations together.
For example, you might realize that the different personas are universally unhappy with your company’s onboarding process, complaining that it feels stale. In that case, you can collaborate with the leadership team to find solutions, such as adding fun team-building games to the onboarding process. Or, you might see that the majority of your marketing employees are frustrated with navigating career advancement at your company. In that case, you can set aside time with the VP of Marketing to find a solution (perhaps creating a mentorship program is the answer).
Getting input from employees on these solutions is important as well. Depending on the solution, you can survey employees before or after implementation to see how they feel. Going back to the examples above, you could survey new hires after they’ve completed onboarding to determine how they felt about specific team-building games. You can survey marketing employees before you build the mentorship program to see what they’d like to get out of it.
As you’re analyzing the information you’ve gathered from your new employee journey maps and brainstorming solutions, remember to share your findings with the entire company to promote transparency. Sharing your findings will keep everyone in the loop and help the employees who participated in the mapping exercise understand that their time and effort ultimately amounted to something—the company is actually taking positive action based on their input.
Once you’ve implemented solutions, don’t let your employee journey maps collect dust. Instead, treat them as living documents. Employee journey mapping shouldn’t be a static process. As your organization changes, your employees’ perceptions and needs will as well. Make it a point to regularly update your employee journey maps (for example, twice a year or every time your organization goes through a major change), so you always have the most accurate picture of the journeys your employees are on.
An org chart that helps with succession planning can help you get organized. Sign up for a trial Pingboard account to understand your employees better than ever and create a stellar work environment for each of them.