How To Measure Employee Experience (& Not Be a Total Milhouse)

Lisa Ardill

Content Editor at Workvivo

7 Dec 2022

Building an exceptional environment for your staff is key if you don’t want to end up as the Milhouse Van Houten of the corporate world. To achieve that, it’s crucial that you effectively measure employee experience.

If you don’t invest in employee experience and giving your people purpose, you risk being viewed as a company that people need to ‘sell their soul’ to work for. 

There’s an outdated view that when it comes to enjoying your job, there are two options: you either take an all-consuming and wildly fulfilling position that aligns with your personal values, or you opt for the better-paid role that effectively requires you to sell your soul in the process.

Newsflash: it’s entirely possible to reward your people with good pay and nice perks and give them a great employee experience. It’s not an all-or-nothing, mutually-exclusive setup.

But investing in the emotional connection your employees have to their role can never be an add-on, and it should never be something you do once, pat yourself on the back over, and carry on as before. 

In the golden era of The Simpsons, Milhouse challenged Bart to sell him his soul for $5. And what 10-year-old trickster wouldn’t take that bargain? Bart confidently tells his friend: “Listen: you don’t have a soul, I don’t have a soul, there’s no such thing as a soul!”

Bart is the one who sells his soul, but it’s Milhouse we see as the episode’s antagonist. It’s a solid reflection of how it goes in the working world too; people might be judged for selling their souls and taking a job at your company, but you’ll always be the bigger evil.

The truth is this: every company can work harder at giving their people a meaningful employee experience. You don’t have to be the UN or WHO to offer a career in which people can find passion and purpose. But you do have to seek feedback from your employees and react appropriately.

So what really sets a company apart is their ability to measure employee experience. If you don’t make a point of asking your people what’s working and what’s not – and actively listening to their feedback – then you can’t truly know how the experience you’re giving them is holding up. 

Focus on these 10 key areas when measuring employee experience

What are the building blocks that make up an employee’s experience? These are the things you need to consistently review. 

  1. Employee satisfaction  An obvious but super important metric to measure. If your employees aren’t satisfied with elements of their job, whether it’s their workload or how flexibly they’re allowed to work, then you’ll need to take action.
  2. Employee productivity – How productive your employees are shouldn’t be your top concern, but it can be an indicator of their experiences. Research shows that happy employees work faster and achieve 13% higher sales than their unhappy colleagues.
  3. Employee wellness – Overall wellbeing is based on much more than a person’s job alone, but it’s absolutely a contributing factor, and one that needs to be taken seriously. 
  4. Employee retention – Your retention data can reveal a lot about the employee experience you deliver. If people are leaving in droves, there’s probably a pretty good reason, and it definitely needs your attention.
  5. Employee referrals – If your employees aren’t submitting referrals, they’re probably not recommending you as an employer to their peers… a tell-tale sign of poor EX! 
  6. Employee engagement – How much your employees engage with company initiatives and campaigns can offer insights into how much they’re enjoying their work environment.
  7. Employee net promoter score – If you’re not sure where to start, using a standardized system can be a great way to get the ball rolling around employee feedback. 
  8. Quiet quitting – If your employees are sticking around but don’t feel passionate about their work, employee experience is the likely culprit.
  9. Employee rating websites – Have you ever checked your Glassdoor rating? Browse sites where employees can give honest, anonymous feedback to get a feel for sentiment on the ground.
  10. Customer ratings – How satisfied your customers are can say a lot about how happy your employees are too. 

How to measure employee experience

1. Embrace the humble survey 

A survey might seem like the obvious answer, but why complicate things? Besides, it’s how you craft your survey, what you do with it, and the steps you take after you’ve gotten it back that matter. 

Employee surveys let you gather quick and targeted feedback from your teams. You can send out shorter surveys throughout the year to supplement a bigger annual one, giving you a consistent view. This also helps you catch any issues with your employee experience as they pop up, rather than only finding out about them all once a year. 

If there are specific aspects of your employee experience that you want to learn about, you can tailor surveys to those exact moments too. A short onboarding survey for any new joiners can help you refine a critical part of your employees’ journeys, for example. 

The best thing about employee surveys is that they open up two-way communication. A great employee experience embraces dialogue and transparency over traditional top-down communication, and surveys are an easy way to make that a reality. 

What questions should you ask to measure employee experience? Since so many things impact an employee’s time at your company, your questions can cover everything from how much they trust the organization to how many friends they have at work. 

For a full list of tried-and-tested survey questions you can pick and choose from, see our previous blog post.

2. Let the data do the talking

You’ll want to supplement your qualitative data with some facts and figures. That can seem daunting, but with the right tools to hand, you’ll be able to take a deep dive into all sorts of analytics. Just don’t let Milpool Milhouse anywhere near them

Can you identify a disengaged employee from an engaged employee? Do you know how many of your employees are reading your internal communications, particularly with the advent of remote work? Even if you do, it’s hard to truly gauge employee sentiment and measure employee experience with traditional tools like email. 

An internal communications app like Workvivo can give you detailed reports on how often people are engaging with your content, the impact of your company goals and values, the tone of voice people respond to most, what needs to change with your onboarding processes, and more. 

3. Open a digital forum for feedback 

While surveys can be great for gathering anonymous feedback, there’s also the option to have a more open discussion in an online forum. Setting up a Workvivo Space and using it to pose (and invite) questions from across the company can go a long way. 

As well as encouraging dialogue and feedback around your employees’ experiences, it’s a great way to break down the barriers that typically exist between leadership and people at other levels of the organization.

Making a habit of open conversations that anyone can take part in sets a strong precedent. It helps employees feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and feedback more often, which is something that’ll make a big difference to how accurately you can measure employee experience. 

Keep these tips in mind and you’ll successfully soar right past an employee experience that screams ‘sell your soul’. If we’d published them a couple of decades earlier, Milhouse probably could have dodged an argument with his best friend. 

But that probably would’ve made for a pretty boring episode of The Simpsons…

This article was originally a thumbstopper in Vivowire, our expertly curated weekly newsletterSign up to get stories like this delivered straight to your inbox!