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Employee journey mapping: everything you need to know

employee journey

The experience that your employees have in your organization has a direct impact on your business. The better the experience that you offer at each touchpoint in the employee journey, the more likely they are to become happy, engaged and productive members of your team. And given the recent shift in employee expectations and the increasing demand for improved working environments, the employee experience has never been so important. In fact, according to a 2021 report by Isolved, 92% of HR leaders said that employee experience is now a top priority for them.

The first step in improving your employee experience is understanding the entire employee lifecycle. And this is where employee journey mapping becomes a vital resource to have in your HR toolbelt. An employee journey map can help you better understand the experience your workforce has at each stage of their time at your company. That way, you can identify what you need to improve in order to offer the best possible experience. This, in turn, will help you attract and retain loyal, engaged and productive talent in your business.

What is the employee journey? 

The employee journey, also known as the employee lifecycle, covers every touchpoint that an employee has with your company. The journey begins when a candidate applies for a position with your company and ends when an employee leaves their job. The primary stages of the journey relate to attraction, recruitment, onboarding, retention, development and separation.  

Notable experiences within the earlier stages of the employee journey include an employee’s first job interview, their first day at work, and their first performance review. When an employee has a good experience at each of these initial touchpoints, it sets them up to have a positive overall experience at your company. And this is the first step in making a good impression so that a new employee is motivated to become an engaged and productive member of your workforce. 

What is employee journey mapping? 

Employee journey mapping is the process of creating a defined timeline that covers each stage of the employee lifecycle. The aim is to identify the ‘moments that matter’ for employees so that you can improve each touchpoint and offer the best possible employee experience. That way, you can build an engaged, loyal and productive workforce.

The most important aspect to consider when you map your employee journey is the perspectives of employees at each stage of their lifecycle. 

How many applicants accept your invites to interviews? What percentage of candidates accept your job offers? How do new employees feel about your onboarding processes? Do employees feel they are being offered enough training and development opportunities? Do they get valuable feedback from their performance reviews? What are your retention levels like?

In terms of separation, at which stage of the employee journey do leavers tend to become disengaged? Why do employees leave your company? What would they improve about your employee experience? Are they happy with your organization’s management style?

You can find answers to these questions by collecting feedback at each touchpoint of the journey. For example, during onboarding and performance reviews, by sharing employee satisfaction and engagement surveys, and by conducting exit interviews. You can also find valuable feedback from sites like Glassdoor where ex-employees are more likely to be honest about their experience with you and what they would change.

What are the benefits of employee journey mapping? 

There are a number of reasons why it’s important to map the employee journey:

  • The biggest benefit is that it provides you with a visual representation of the employee lifecycle that helps you understand how your staff experience every interaction they have with your organization. This provides you with the insights you need in order to improve each touchpoint in your model so that you can offer the best possible experience to employees. And this is vital because the better the experience that employees have with you, the more likely they are to remain at your company and become productive and engaged members of staff.
  • By gathering the right employee feedback at every stage of their lifecycle you can identify at which points employees feel engaged and disengaged. In other words, you can determine what you’re doing well, and what you need to improve in terms of your internal processes. You can also collect valuable information to help you define the experience that you can offer, helping you create job descriptions that give candidates a clear understanding of what their role involves
  • The feedback you collect from employee satisfaction surveys and performance reviews can help you design learning and development strategies that encourage your employees to build on their skills and realize their full potential.
  • Above all, by implementing measures to improve your overall experience, you can improve your reputation as an employer and attract the talent you need to build a loyal and driven workforce

What steps are included in the employee journey?

There are numerous stages in the employee journey. Generally speaking, though, they can be broken down into 6 specific phases. These are attraction, recruitment, onboarding, retention, development, and separation.

It’s important to understand what employees expect at each of these stages. That way, you can balance their expectations with those of your organization.

We are now going to look at each of these 6 phases. For each stage of the journey, think about the experience that your employees have, what they might be feeling, and whether there are any potential barriers that you need to address. 

Attraction

This is the first stage of your employee journey, and it is where potential applicants are first exposed to your employer brand. This is a vital stage because if a candidate’s first impression of your organization is negative then they are unlikely to accept a job offer from you.

Think about the following:

Where do you advertise your job openings? How can candidates apply for positions? Do you communicate directly with all applicants? Do you promote the value you have to offer as an employer?

Overall, though, the best way to improve this initial stage of the employee journey is to focus on building your brand and reputation. Think about what you have to offer potential applicants and whether your EVP is strong enough to attract candidates with a genuine interest in working at your company.

Recruitment

The next stage of the employee journey is recruitment. This is when an employee passes from applicant to employee, and the experience they have at this stage has a big impact on the opinion they form of you as an employer.

The best way to improve this touchpoint is to use the right tools to streamline your recruitment processes so that you can focus more on building positive experiences. It’s also important to create clear and informative job descriptions so that applicants understand their roles and your expectations. 

Here are a few tips to consider:

  • Be specific about the skills and abilities you are looking for so that nobody wastes their time.
  • Involve your existing employees. Encourage them to refer potential candidates and to share opinions on the skills new team members should possess. Ask managers to sit in on interviews.
  • Offer attractive benefits and compensation to keep you competitive as an employer and help you attract top talent.  

Onboarding

Once you have hired a new employee, the next stage in their employee journey is onboarding and orientation. This is where you give employees more information about their roles and responsibilities. This is also where you share all the tools and resources they will need to perform their duties. Plus, you should be giving new hires the opportunity to ask important questions at this stage. All this will help employees understand how to blend into your company culture.

During this stage, make sure you share enough information so that new hires understand your goals, attitudes, and values as a company. You want them to understand the role they will play in helping to build your organization. Check out this onboarding checklist for more information about this stage of the employee lifecycle.

Here are some tips to help you make this stage a positive experience:

  • Make employees feel welcome and provide them with as much information as possible.
  • Be as clear as possible about your expectations.
  • Provide as much training as possible.
  • Conduct regular check-ins to see how new employees are settling in and if they are integrating well with the team.

Retention

Once you’ve got your new hires settled in and ramped up, you need to make sure they are happy enough to stay at your organization. This is a vital stage of the employee journey because if your employees are not satisfied and decide to leave, then the time and money you invested in sourcing, hiring and onboarding them will be wasted.

Essentially, this is all about doing what you can to provide a working environment where your employees are happy and motivated.

There are a few strategies you should implement to improve your chances of nurturing happy employees:

  • Focus on building relationships with your employees.
  • Foster a culture of respect and transparency.
  • Promote open lines of communication amongst all team members. 
  • Seek out employee feedback and measure team morale frequently.
  • Understand what motivates each of your employees.
  • Implement a rewards and recognition program to keep your employees motivated.
  • Build a nurturing and supportive culture that promotes employee satisfaction and engagement.

Development

Another vital touchpoint in the employee journey that will help you retain employees is offering opportunities for them to develop their skills. It’s important to make your employees feel valued and challenged and that they have a clear career path in your organization. That way, they won’t be tempted to seek opportunities for professional development elsewhere.

Here are a few tips to help you improve this stage of the journey:

  • Meet with employees regularly to discuss their goals.
  • Regularly assess the knowledge and skills of all your employees.
  • Provide regular training opportunities.
  • Encourage external learning and reward employees who learn in their own time.
  • Get your managers to work with employees directly to help them prioritize the areas that require further development. 
  • Encourage your team members to be responsible for their own development.

Separation

The final stage of the employee life cycle is separation, also known as offboarding. This is what happens when an employee leaves your company. This might be due to retirement, new employment, or personal reasons. It also includes employees who you lay off

Whatever the reason for leaving, it’s important to provide a positive experience at this final stage. Aside from anything else, when a team member leaves, it has an effect on your other employees. And this can impact your overall employee journey.

  • If an employee resigns, conduct an exit interview with them so that you can understand why they are leaving. Ask for open and honest feedback. Is there anything that you could have done to improve their experience with working with you?  
  • If you fire an employee, make sure you do it the right way. This includes following an established dismissal process, giving enough notice, and providing them with a clear and concise termination letter.

Best practices for creating an employee journey map

Now that we’ve discussed the various stages of the employee lifecycle, let’s finish by taking a look at a few best practices for creating an effective employee journey map. 

Above all, though, the best way to improve your employee journey is to engage with your employees at every touchpoint of their time with you so that you can better understand their needs and provide them with the best possible experience.

Segment your employees and create employee personas

Most companies will have a variety of different employee personas. These will depend on roles, departments, and level of seniority, among other factors. It’s important to keep this in mind when you begin the process of employee journey mapping, as the experience an executive has at your company is likely to be very different to the experience of an intern, for example. To the same effect, a finance administrator is likely to have a very different experience than an external sales rep. Make sure you take into account each and every individual experience at your company. 

Start by identifying your employee segments. Once you’ve done that, create a typical employee persona for each segment. Make sure you consider all the interactions each persona has with your organization. Are there any processes that might frustrate them currently? Are there any barriers preventing them from having a positive journey in your company? In terms of employee feedback, are there any specific departments where employees consistently report a lack of engagement or satisfaction?

Identify touchpoints that matter in the employee journey

When you create your map, make sure you identify all the moments that matter. In other words, the touchpoints that employees are most likely to remember when they leave your company. These usually include a candidate’s first interview with you, a new employee’s first day, and their onboarding experience. Memorable experiences also include performance reviews and any support they get for their professional development.

Did onboarding go smoothly? Did they receive regular communication from you? Are you providing enough information for employees to blend seamlessly into their new roles? 

The more memorable touchpoints you include in your map, and the more you focus on the employee experience at these touchpoints, the more complete your visual representation of their journey will be.

Create metrics for tracking your employee journey

Once you have created your employee journey map, you need to implement a strategy for measuring and monitoring each stage of the journey.

Make sure you define clear KPIs and objectives for each stage of your employee journey.  Obvious indicators include retention and turnover, but you should try to include goals that specifically target the employee experience. For example, you could set goals for improving your onboarding process, the channels you use for collecting employee feedback, or the training initiatives you offer employees. You could also implement regular pulse surveys to understand the experience your employees have at each stage of their journey. Any metrics related to onboarding, wellness and engagement are essential for understanding the employee experience.

Use the right tools to manage and collect employee feedback

The best way to ensure you offer the best employee experience is to use the right tools and software. The software you use should support you at each stage of the employee life cycle. Firstly, you need effective recruitment and onboarding software and an integrated employee portal. Secondly, you need tools to help you keep track of employee performance and support your L&D programs. Thirdly, you need tools for employee recognition, as this has a huge impact on building a positive, nurturing culture. Finally, you also need a platform to conduct employee surveys and appraisals so that you have access to honest and transparent feedback at each stage of the employee life cycle.

Factorial’s all-in-one solution supports you at each stage of the employee life cycle, including attracting, recruiting, engaging, retaining, and developing employees. Streamlining and automating all your HR processes with Factorial has a huge impact on improving the employee journey.

Focus on continuous improvement

Your employee journey map should be an ongoing process. That means you need to monitor your employee experience regularly and update your map periodically. Send out regular employee surveys to keep your finger on the pulse of how your employees feel. When you identify problem areas, implement measures to improve them. 

Most importantly, make sure you are as objective as possible when you create your map. Don’t design the journey you want employees to have – create the journey they actually have. This means listening to what your employees have to say by collecting feedback at each stage of the employee lifecycle. After all, the best people to describe your employee journey are your employees themselves. They are your most important asset when it comes to designing a journey map that improves your employee experience.

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