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PHOTO: Jason Leung

Over the past decade it’s become clear that customer experience (CX) and employee experience (EX) are tightly intertwined. No wonder an IBM Smarter Workforce Institute report found companies in the top quartile for employee experience see triple the return on assets (ROA) of those in the bottom quartile: Energetic, engaged workers simply serve customers better, whether they’re fielding questions in a call center or writing computer code.

As EX ascends to its rightful place next to CX as a driver of business impact, the question of how to measure and analyze it becomes even more pressing. The answer is not as simple as just cross-applying the metrics one would use for CX. Employees spend nearly half their waking hours at work. They’re looking for purpose and meaning at the office, not just ping pong tables or free food.

EX can’t always be measured by asking the easy questions (e.g. “is my workplace clean?”). It also can’t be captured in metrics like Employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS), which is based on the misconception that people are as likely to recommend a workplace as they are to recommend a product or service. Instead, understanding EX requires companies to build a holistic view of each employee’s emotional and cognitive states as well as the broader ecosystem they work in. Throw in a dash of behavioral science — insight into what makes people tick and what ticks them off — and you’ve got the makings of an EX index that your company can use to focus its resources and drive impactful change.

5 Employee Experience Metrics Your Company Should Be Measuring

Established behavior science research offers guidance on how to measure EX. One set of metrics comes from Dr. Wilmar Schaufeli, professor of work and organizational psychology at the University of Utrecht. He suggests organizations look at three facets of employee engagement — vigor, absorption and dedication — to understand how they experience the company.

However, when it comes to EX, engagement is only part of the story. In order to take effective action on employee feedback, organizations need to understand external factors that drive employee behavior, like specific job characteristics, work environment, relationship with colleagues and leaders, and more.

In addition, if the ultimate goal of improving EX is to improve CX, organizations also need to measure EX’s impact on CX. There are many ways to be engaged at work that don’t improve results for customers. For example, are employees directing their vigor at serving clients or impressing their managers? 

In light of these considerations, I’ve added two more EX metrics to those proposed by Schaufeli. By surveying employees about these five factors, companies can start to understand where they already inspire commitment and passion in their employees and where they need to improve.

Related Article: How to Build an Employee Experience That Rivals Your Customer Experience

1. Vigor

This is the energy an employee is able to invest in their job and the resilience they draw on when the going gets tough. Vigor measures how an employee feels about their work rather than how they do their work. Survey questions that measure vigor include:

  • Do you look forward to coming to work most days?
  • Do you feel energized and inspired by the work you do daily?
  • Do you believe your work helps you achieve your personal career goals?

2. Absorption

Absorption is how vigor manifests in employees’ day-to-day work. It’s a state of being immersed in the task at hand and unable to pull oneself away. Survey questions that measure absorption include:

  • True or false: When I’m performing my job responsibilities, time passes quickly. 
  • True or false: There are many parts of my job when I feel fully engrossed, invested, etc.

3. Dedication

Dedication is long-term commitment and pride in one’s work. It measures how both emotion and action endure over time. Survey questions that measure dedication include:

  • If you were offered a similar job with the same pay and benefits, how likely are you to change?
  • Do you think you’ll be working here in six months?

4. Culture

An employee can’t sustain high levels of vigor, absorption and dedication without a strong, positive work culture to support them. Culture isn’t just benefits and perks; it’s a sense of fitting into a larger, more meaningful whole. Survey questions that measure culture include:

  • Do you feel supported by leadership, your manager and your colleagues?
  • Do you have the autonomy and control you need to do your job well and with confidence?
  • Are your corporate identity and mission something with which you feel aligned?
  • Does your organization have strong corporate values that you support?

5. Orientation Toward the Customer

A great EX does more than keep employees happy: it drives strong results for the customer. Organizations should check in to make sure employees are directing their energy toward this ultimate goal and others that are important to the company. Survey questions that measure orientation toward the customer include:

Measure of a direction of energy, rank 1 to 5, with 5 being the most energy and 1 being the least:

  1. Value for the company
  2. Value for your team members
  3. Value for yourself
  4. Value for the customer

Related Article: Want Better Customer Experience? Start with Your Employees

So I’ve Built My EX Index. Now What?

The biggest mistake most companies make when it comes to employee experience is collecting detailed information on their employees’ state of mind — then failing to use it. To build a great employee experience, a company must not only listen but act.

Not every piece of employee feedback occasions major structural or programmatic changes to an organization. In my experience, such feedback usually falls into three categories, each of which demands a different type of response, which I’ve dubbed “the three ex’s.”

Companies should:

  • EXplore findings that raise issues rather than resolving them or that cause considerable debate. For example, if employees in a particular department score low on absorption but high on vigor and dedication, carry out additional research to discover why these employees don’t feel engaged in their day-to-day work.
  • EXplain findings that contradict reality or that have their roots in misunderstanding or miscommunication. For example, if a large number of employees report that they aren’t sure what their organization’s corporate values are, simply publicizing those values can help clear up the confusion.
  • EXecute on findings that demand action in a deliberate or concrete way. For example, if multiple employees state they feel unmotivated due to low pay, it’s worth researching whether the salaries your company offers are in fact market rates.

The rise of EX is an enormous opportunity. Companies that solicit candid feedback from employees, then take action to close the loop will create meaningful change across their organizations — and improve results for their customers.