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HR’s 5-Step Guide to Employee Journey Mapping in a Hybrid World

Mar 1, 2022| Reading time: 17min

BY Emily Connery

VP of People and Talent

Gone are the days when the customer experience was the only experience defining an organization’s success. In a Forbes article, author and futurist Jacob Morgan wrote: “In a world where money is no longer the primary motivating factor for employees, focusing on the employee experience is the most promising competitive advantage that organizations can create.” Morgan’s statement aligns with the position of HR leaders – more than 25% name employee experience as one of their top priorities in direct response to the Great Resignation.

The employee experience encapsulates everything an employee feels and learns during their time with a company. At each stage of their journey, employees experience different pain points and motivations that impact productivity, engagement, and retention. The rise of hybrid work only amplifies these differences, as remote and in-office employees have contrasting needs and roadblocks.

The key to improving that experience—and, by extension, improving business outcomes—is to identify and overcome shortcomings in the employee lifecycle. Employee journey mapping is the best means to this end.

Employee journey mapping is the process of creating a visual story of employees’ interactions with your company. Much like customer journey maps allow you to step into your customers’ shoes, employee journey maps help you see your business from your workforce’s perspective. A visual story of the employee journey offers valuable insights into the employee experience and helps you uncover both positive and negative points.

Here are five steps you can take to implement employee journey mapping in your organization.

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1. Gather information on employee experience

Data is the backbone of employee journey mapping. The goal of mapping is to enhance the employee experience, and collecting information both directly and indirectly from employees allows you to identify friction, gaps, and areas to improve.

Collect existing data

Look at the information you already have available that can tell you about the employee experience in your organization, such as churn rates, tenure statistics, exit interviews, and employee productivity. Once you gather this information, cross-check data points and find trends that indicate points of interest across the employee lifecycle, such as:

  • Attrition rates. How often do employees quit? When do you see the most concerning rates? Say you identify a trend where new employees quit after one month on the job. That might indicate that the onboarding experience is too overwhelming or inefficient.
  • Tenure statistics. How long do your employees stay with the company on average? Do remote employees tend to stay longer than in-office employees or vice-versa? Imagine you notice a considerable number of employees leaving after two years. This can indicate that the opportunities your employees crave around career advancement, promotions, and pay raises aren’t present at an optimal rate.
  • Exit interview data. Why did employees leave? This is one of the best sources of information you can get on employee experience since it allows you to hear directly from former employees why they left the company, what they enjoyed, and what they disliked. In most cases, this is also some of the most honest feedback you’ll get.
  • Productivity. Is employee engagement high? Are employees reaching their goals consistently? Do you notice elevated rates of absenteeism? Are in-office employees more productive than remote employees? Low employee productivity may indicate that employees don’t find their tasks meaningful, that managers don’t offer enough support, or that remaining engaged while working from home is hard.

Conduct new research

Next, you can dive into the current state of the employee experience at your organization by collecting new data on goals, motivations, problems, and expectations. Hybrid work models are new for many companies. If that’s the case for your organization, more recent data will allow you to dive deep into potential issues remote workers are facing. To collect these data points:

  • Interview current employees across the business. Collect employee feedback from people with different levels of experience, different positions, and different work models (remote and in-person), so you can understand how each of these factors impacts the employee experience.
  • Send out anonymous surveys. Anonymity ensures you receive unbiased feedback from employees, complementing the interviews you conduct face to face.
  • Look at 1:1 data. Managers use 1:1 meetings to find performance blockers, discuss goals, and gauge direct reports’ feelings—all crucial input on individual employee experience.
  • Evaluate company culture. Does your organization foster a positive culture where feedback is encouraged and employees aren’t scared to openly share it? Do you have systems in place for people to easily reach out to HR? Surveys and 1:1s are great data points, but unless company culture is positive and open to criticism by default, this data might not be entirely accurate or usable.

Analyze the data in a people analytics platform

Once you collect the information relevant to your organization’s employee experience, you need to analyze it. The best way to get a holistic view of the many data points you gathered is to use a people analytics platform to centralize employee engagement, performance, survey, and interview data in a single place. Bringing every bit of intel together in this way makes it far easier to spot the trends that will inform your employee journey mapping process.

2. Create employee personas

Personas paint a clearer picture of the different experiences employees go through so you can better assess distinct pain points, goals, and priorities within your workforce.

That said, it’s important to remember that a single journey won’t be an accurate representation of every employee’s experience. As a result, it’s helpful to pick a handful of key cohorts to map out. For example, a salesperson and a software developer will have different paths and experience distinct feelings, as will someone with an entry-level position versus a manager. Hybrid work models exacerbate these differences. Someone who was hired and onboarded remotely will have different perspectives and pain points from someone who went through the entire employee journey in person.

Start with the data you collected to create your employee personas. Identify cohorts that share attributes such as goals, pain points, and desires. Then, include demographic data to find commonalities between the cohorts, including age, role, and tenure at the company.

Once you have your cohorts, it’s time to personify each of them. Give your personas a name and a narrative, and be clear about:

  • Who this persona represents
  • What their goals and priorities are
  • What their pain points and frustrations are

Take the following employee personas as an example. Amelia and Jonathan represent two distinct segments of employees at the fictional company TIC. Both personas are portrayals of groups that share similar characteristics, giving HR leaders at TIC an authentic overview of the distinct experiences different employees go through.

Persona 1: Amelia, 45, joined TIC as a remote sales rep with 15 years of experience. Amelia wants to reach a managerial position and wants to be recognized when she does a good job. She finds it hard to be assertive and often feels like the communication between in-person and remote employees is lacking and doesn’t set her up for success.

Persona 2: Jonathan, 23, joined the same company as a junior software developer with two years of experience. He goes to the office every day and only works with other in-office peers. Jonathan wants to gain experience as a backend developer and network with the company’s many high-profile clients. He thinks the company doesn’t provide enough transparency on career advancement options and isn’t happy with the current benefits package.

3. Identify the key “moments that matter” for each persona

Interactions, challenges, goals, and feelings vary during the employee lifecycle. In order to assess these variations, you must first identify the most significant stages of the employee journey for each persona.

Stages like onboarding, compensation, and performance management are of universal importance, but others will vary depending on the persona. For example, the growth and development stage will matter more to a new employee than to an experienced leader. The key moments that impact the persona’s employee experience are the ones you should include in each map.

Take Amelia and Jonathan as examples. The onboarding process is important to both of them. Their first days and weeks are when they receive training on work processes and tools, meet their managers, and learn what their day-to-day will look like. Since onboarding greatly impacts their employee experience, this is a stage the HR leader at TIC would include in both of their journey maps.

On the other hand, the digital communication process isn’t key to Jonathan’s experience at the company. He’s in the office every day and works strictly with other in-office employees. But for Amelia, digital communication is crucial in her remote work. She depends on digital channels to communicate with clients, direct reports, and her manager. When drawing employee journey maps, the HR leader at TIC would include digital communication processes for Amelia but not for Jonathan.

4. Chart your employee journey maps

Once you have each persona and their journey stages solidified, it’s time to draw the visual story of your employees’ journeys: the employee journey maps. The finished products will give you a holistic view of the employee experience across the entire lifecycle.

Traditionally, you’d resort to manually drawing tables and filling them out with the information you gathered. Manual processes, however, are time-consuming and error-prone. The simplest and most effective way to chart your story is by bringing the data together in a more automated way.

Luckily, with a platform like ChartHop, you can use real-time data to understand the journey of different persona cohorts, such as all L1-L3 employees in sales and marketing. To start, you can create a report that brings in people by level, department, or any other factor to define the cohort. Then you can bring in data on key journey points that you care about, such as time since last promotion, trends in tenure, demographics, if they used their learning stipend, or any relevant people analytics you want. Once you add these focus areas, ChartHop will automatically update each report based on how those points change for the people who fit that persona cohort.

5. Identify areas for improvement in the employee experience

You can now analyze the employee journey maps and identify areas hindering the employee experience. Armed with insight into both broken and optimal processes, as well as friction points, you’re in the ideal position to develop strategies that improve the employee experience at your company. Examples of shortcomings you may identify in the employee journey include:

  • The employee onboarding process fails to set employees up for success. It lacks information and doesn’t provide enough time for employees to understand their responsibilities. One way to mitigate these issues could be to include additional materials in the onboarding files and make information about the organizational structure and key responsibilities for each individual easily accessible long-term. This will help new employees get to know their peers and their manager and become fully acquainted with their new role.
  • Communication between remote and in-office employees is inefficient. Managing a hybrid workforce is challenging. You may start by providing more tools for asynchronous communication, including video calls, messaging channels, file sharing, and discussion boards. Encourage both in-office and remote employees to share their opinions on these new tools on a regular basis so you can consistently improve communication.
  • Remote employees feel disconnected from company culture. Working remotely can quickly become isolating and make employees feel like they don’t matter to the company as much as in-office peers. To help mitigate these feelings, you can implement a yearly, all-expenses-paid company meet-up where employees can work and meet in person. On a more frequent basis, you can host all-virtual team social events where everyone can get together remotely and connect with their peers. Also, remember that some of your remote employees might actually live close by and not know. Make it easy for them to find out by creating “About Me” profiles on each employee and a map that shows where they live. This way, you can foster connections between the employees who tend to feel more alone and left out of the company.

Employee journey mapping isn’t a “one and done” deal

Against the backdrop of meaningful changes to the talent market, improving the employee experience isn’t just a plus, but rather a necessity for organizations. While hybrid work becomes the norm and the Great Resignation keeps getting greater, employee experience gains momentum as the backbone of talent retention.

Keep gathering feedback from new hires, people who leave, and employees who switch their work models. Companies that use employee journey mapping to closely monitor how employees’ feelings and needs change have the tools to continually improve the employee experience and retain top employees.

What else can you do to elevate the employee experience at your company? Meet our 2022 People Pioneers to get real-life examples from top HR leaders.

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