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Article5 min read

Why and how to use employee experience data in decision-making

Businessman working on a laptop in a cafe and holding papers
Alica Forneret, author

Alica Forneret

Culture Amp, Writer

Research consistently shows that employee experience (EX) is strongly tied to performance, productivity, and turnover. Leaders who collect, analyze, and utilize EX survey data can make well-informed decisions about everything, from salaries, to sales targets and benefit offerings.

Data collected at different employee touchpoints (i.e. onboarding surveys, pulse surveys, exit surveys) reflects the individual and collective employee experience - thus it shows you what your people actually need from the company in order to do their best work. Employee experience data can inform how you structure and execute on your employee experience strategy in ways that directly tie to employee needs and align with company goals.

In this article, we discuss why it’s important to use employee experience data when making decisions that impact your employees, and provide concrete examples of how to analyze your data, then put it to work. 

How to use employee experience survey data in decision making

Collecting reflections and commentary on what employees find challenging in their job can reveal opportunities for HR and leadership teams to provide better support. Once you’ve collected a wealth of data, it’s important to create a plan for how you’re going to use it. 

Considerations for using employee experience data

#1: Identify the objective metrics that are important to you: teams should identify exactly what metrics they’ll use to measure the employee experience. This will allow you to build a deeper understanding of the issues you’re facing and how to solve them. You might be surprised to find that many problems you’re facing can be traced back to EX.

#2: Learn about the objective impacts of employee experience data: though we know how to measure turnover, it’s important to examine what leads to it. Leaders should learn about the major connections that have been identified between employee experience and other objective metrics, such as productivity, profitability, retention, and customer experience. 

#3: Get granular with employee experience data: data can suggest a range of different conclusions, so be sure to examine your results from different angles to understand the full story. For example, if you know that you have an issue with customer churn in a specific region, look at the employee experience data for that region to help make connections and identify patterns.

Concrete examples of problem-solving with data

Here are a few examples of problems that you might encounter and solutions that referenced employee experience survey data.

Problem: members of your team are exhibiting signs of absenteeism

Solution: Employee experience data can provide insight to help you determine what might be causing that lack of engagement and how to help. For example, if the comments show that people need emergency childcare and can’t focus when they don’t have it, you might find that lack of flexibility is a problem. Once you’ve determined the root of the issue, you can devise a plan to address their needs with additional or different benefits.

An example from our COVID-19 Emergency Response Survey: Company A (financial services with 250 employees) launched a COVID-19 pulse survey. They found that many of their employees were concerned about their safety upon returning to the workplace. Within 24 hours of the survey closing, leaders shifted planning and communications to emphasize a phased approach, allowing employees to return at a pace that made them feel comfortable.

Problem: people seem to be leaving your organization because of pay (and only pay)

Solution: you might be assessing turnover and come to the conclusion that pay must be the primary factor. But looking into employee experience data might reveal that there are actually other issues. For example, some employees might be hitting roadblocks in their careers because of a lack of developmental opportunities that support their long-term goals. In response, your team could respond by setting up L&D programming or helping employees determine how they can achieve growth through mentorship. Once you understand what employees want or need, you can address those issues before they leave and use the insight from data to retain your remaining employees.

An example from our COVID-19 Emergency Response Survey: Company B (technology company with 1,600 employees) launched a pulse survey focused on COVID-19 and remote work. The results indicated that employees were “burning out” and unable to disconnect from work. Individual time off was not solving the problem as employees would only return to work and e-communication backlogs. As a result, the company instituted a company holiday one Friday each month so that employees could have a collective day to unplug without creating work backlogs.

Problem: your company needs to improve diversity efforts

Solution: it’s a common (and harmful) misconception that hiring people of diverse ethnic backgrounds will solve a company’s diversity issues. For a D&I initiative to work, it’s important to ensure that the environment and experience you provide for those employees are safe and supportive. Employee experience data can help you identify how your existing employees feel about diversity initiatives and efforts made by the company. This will inform how you need to improve in areas of inclusion, policy, and training for People Managers who need to learn about things like unconscious bias or anti-racism. This will allow you to create an environment where new hires can excel, so you can confidently make the effort to invite them into your team.

Referencing old data to make a new plan

Creating change with employee experience data doesn’t have to be time-consuming or costly. Of course, you can run new employee experience surveys to gauge where your employees are at right now. But you can also look at historical data to inform how employee sentiment has evolved up to this point and explore why employees are feeling this way today.

Learn about how to use onboarding data to inform your employee experience

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