Using Journey Mapping to Understand and Measure Employee Engagement
Fewer than half of employees would recommend their employer to a friend according to Glassdoor. Would you? Or have you? Allegis found that 69% would not take a job with a company if they had a bad reputation – even if they were unemployed!
The employee journey has many parallels with the customer journey and tolerance of a poor experience is lower. Businesses need to know that their reputation is now shared more widely than ever before. Expectations of how a company will drive our own personal agenda are high and, should they fall short, the ability find out about a better alternative and change is much easier now than in the past.
So if you’re looking to create an “employer brand”, one where top talent shouts “I want to work for them!”, there is good news and bad news. The good news is that whether it’s intentional or not, if you have employees you already have an employer brand. The bad news is it may not be the one you want.
The first step is to know what that is today, be clear about what you want it to be in future and get creative about closing any gaps.
This must be done in the context of your company’s purpose. Why do you do what you do? (beyond making money), what do you do that no other brand does? What makes you excited about working there?
Define what a ‘great place to work’ looks like
Thankfully, journey mapping can help define what a ‘great place to work’ looks like. It’s a valuable tool that gives us an understanding of what it’s like to be a customer and it helps organise the thinking and prioritise activity. It shows how well the brand promise is being kept, or not, and it brings people together from different functions to see the impact of their combined efforts.
I see many organisations map their customers’ journey successfully and reap the benefits of doing so. Far fewer, however, apply the methodology to their people, resulting in a missed opportunity.
The perception of your brand, and of your employee’s engagement with it, will vary depending on what stage they are at. A graduate looking across the sector for reasons to work for you will see things differently to a new hire going through the recruitment process, versus an employee who’s been in their job for 10 years or a high level employee who’s just been promoted into a director’s role.
Understanding the importance of employee engagement is one thing but knowing how to go about it is another. This is why journey mapping is effective, it helps to create empathy and understand around how they might be feeling, the challenges they face, or how they will change depending on the employee and how big the gap is.
A familiar methodology
The methodology for mapping an employee’s journey broadly follows the same structure as mapping customers’ experiences:
- Define the journey – Be very clear about the journey they’re on. You may have a particular experience in mind such as the recruitment process, the first 30 days or going through a restructure. To help you find that starting point, you may want to map all of the events across the entire journey from brand awareness, performance reviews and ‘a typical day’ to promotion, exit and retirement. Then you can choose which one(s) you want to drill down into to become a journey in its own right.
- Who are they? – Whose perspective do you want to map the experience from? Employee personas will be much the same as for consumers – who are they, what are their goals for that journey and why, what are their pain points?
- Map the journey – Set out the stages, and for each one look at what they do, think and feel. What do they hope for, wish you would do, or provide? Are they motivated more by flexibility and support than money? How can work fit around their lives better? Capture the internal issues you have as a business that help or get in the way.
- Metrics – What data or information do you have access to that shows how well you’re doing the important things?
- Validate – Sense-check the journey and conclusions with other employees and overlay other relevant feedback you’ve captured elsewhere.
- Do something – Take action. Agree the priority areas that need focus and who’s going to do it then keep people updated on progress.
One simple exercise to help prioritise your next steps is to plot out everything your employees have said, identifying the most important against an axis of ‘how well do you do them?’. Assuming you have collected this data, figure 1 shows an example.
if you have an issue in the top right quadrant, where it’s important to employees and you do it well, make sure you protect it and share the stories. If there’s an issue bottom right, where you do things well but employees don’t much care for it, either explain where the value is and why it must be done that way or consider if you are wasting resources on it. Bottom left, where it’s not important and not done well, ask why you do it at all.
The key area is top left – if there are things your people say are significant but you’re not meeting their expectations, that’s a key area to start.
When running journey mapping workshops you should also consider:
- Be aware of the possibility of opening a cans of worms, which in a way is what you want but make it clear that none of the comments need be attributable to an individual. Remember that any suspicion that confidentiality is not protected will suffocate the quality of insight.
- Make the session fun but keep reminding people of the need to stay in character and role-play the personas. Help them to avoid drifting back to their subjective selves.
- Ensure you invite people from similar levels across the business. It may mean doing several workshops but, depending on the culture, having your boss in the workshop is one thing; having their line-manager too (or beyond) can be intimidating. People either say nothing or say what they think others want to hear.
During the mapping activity, your line of questioning should be aimed at identifying what they care about most. These are good discussion topics for team meetings too.
- How do potential employees find out what it’s like to work for you?
- What makes you distinctive as an employer and how are you communicating that message?
- What are your employees saying in terms of what you’re getting right? What do they find most frustrating?
- What would employees never say? (positive or negative)
- How many of your employees engage with your social media activity, have ‘liked’ your Facebook page or follow your LinkedIn page?
- Why don’t more of your employees share their views? (for example Glassdoor)
- What perceptions do your employees have in terms of how their customers think about them?
- If employees were given a branded t-shirt or jacket to wear in town at the weekend, would they be proud enough to do so?
Brands want their employees to be true brand advocates; telecoms giant O2 talks in this video about their challenges and how they rewarded employees for being brand ambassadors.
Measuring employee advocacy can actually be straight forward. If one of your employee value propositions is that you are ‘innovative’, ask them exactly that, to what degree do they think you are innovative? Make sure you link your questions directly back to the values.
The NPS approach is also commonly used as a form of measurement: “On a scale of 0-10, how likely are you to recommend this company as a place to work?”. Brands can explore what employees are scoring them and dive into the relationship further; those who are promoters perform one set of behaviours, whereas passives and detractors tend to display a different set of actions.
Journey mapping unveils the real culture
Brands need to ensure they’re not just paying lip service, putting up posters around the office that speak to being ‘a ‘great place to work’ is not a solution or way to drive engagement. The impact of what your ‘leaders’ do and say cannot be underestimated, their actions build evidence for employees of what the company culture is really like.
During a journey mapping session I facilitated, a leader of a professional services firm said defiantly that he would not make time to go out and talk to his clients to understand them better unless he could bill the client for that time.
This was also a business with stated values of giving exceptional and distinctive client experiences. You can imagine the deflated feeling in the room this then created. Worse still, the good talent will recognise this and potentially move to a competitor who is delivering the promised experience.
Some time ago, I was consulted on the customer experience of a utility company’s contact centre. Their leadership team was satisfied with the apparent high-levels of engagement reported by their internal survey. However, the reality couldn’t have been more different, their people were totally disengaged because they had to compensate for the persistent problems that management wouldn’t address.
Employees would type out feedback rather than leave it on a post-it note because they feared their handwriting would be recognised. They would rather tell friends they were unemployed than say who they worked for and they only ticked the “I’m highly engaged” box in the survey because they believed it was a prerequisite to getting a bonus.
Beneficial journey mapping outputs
Complacency can be real damaging force. Business leaders may say: “We’re doing well, we’re making a profit, customers are satisfied and we have talented people who know what they’re doing. Why change anything?”. Journey mapping will however help you surface what to change and why, the activity itself isn’t the end-game but far from it. It’s a means to an end where it gives a business the evidence as to why it should do things differently.
These insights will generate engaging stories to showcase your employer brand, take these examples from L’Oreal, Zappos and Cathay Pacific. Other leading brands such as Homeserve actively encourage their employees to leave reviews online, using metrics such as their Glassdoor score as a key performance indicator.
There are real commercial benefits too, TemkinGroup helped quantify those last year in a research study that looked at the difference between genuinely engaged and disengaged employees:
87% of engaged employees will recommend your products and services to someone who might need them, versus 21% of disengaged employees.
82% of engaged employees would do something good for the company even if it was not expected, versus 19% of disengaged employees.
60% of engaged employees will make a recommendation about an improvement, versus 15% of disengaged employees.
Journey mapping the employee experience creates clear tangible benefits. A brand that does what it promises, attracts better talent and drives retention, this is something that doesn’t rely on paying top salaries. Employees are then empowered to give the best customer experience possible and proud to tell friends that they work for a great company. For your employees, customers and the bottom line, this truly is the best news you can hear.