The best CX starts with making life better for employees


The need to build a better corporate culture is something HR leaders have discussed since I first began my HR career. And many companies have taken baby steps to prioritize the needs of their workers and improve employee experience.

Unfortunately, not every initiative did much to improve the employee experience (EX). I’m looking at you, ping pong tables, casual-dress Fridays, and break room cashew dispensers.

Maybe things are beginning to change. Pushed by the disruption caused by COVID-19 and backed by some solid data, HR finally has a quantifiable reason to create a better environment for workers: companies that create a great EX tend to also deliver a superior customer experience (CX).

Improve employee experience: The CX connection

This link between the employee experience and CX really shouldn’t be surprising.

“To be able to give that ultimate world-class experience to your customers, you need to build it inside your organization,” says Enrique Rubio, founder and CEO of Hacking HR, a global learning community of HR leaders and practitioners. “We can’t give what we don’t have, right? But data shows that when your employees are engaged, treated with dignity and respect, valued, and offered opportunities for growth within your organization, they embody those values and pass them onto your customers.”

The opposite is also true. Workers who feel unappreciated, mistreated, or ignored convey their dissatisfaction to customers. And unhappy employees who don’t put your customers first won’t help your company meet its goals or drive desired business outcomes.

“We often do things in HR because it’s the way we’ve always done it, not necessarily because it’s the right way to do things now,” says Lars Schmidt, founder and principal of Amplify. “It’s time for HR professionals to understand the priorities of their organization and design a people strategy that aligns with them.”

These were just a few of the fascinating topics recently discussed as part of our LinkedIn Live series, The Rise of HXM. On the season finale of our series, I was thrilled to explore the connection between EX and CX with my cohost Lars Schmidt and our special guest Enrique Rubio. (You can watch this week’s replay here.)

Bringing EX and CX together

But how can we connect the dots between doing the right thing for employees and delivering a positive return on investment for the business? Rubio listed three key steps:

  1. Understand the metrics of success of your organization
  2. Think about the processes intended to improve employee experience
  3. Identify the connection between those processes and your business goals

This exercise can be enlightening. “You may find that some processes aren’t really contributing to the organization’s success,” he continues. “Or you may discover that there are a few improvements that wouldn’t cost much to implement but would have an outsized contribution to achieving your goals.”

HR can bring the acumen to merge these elements. “Being able to understand the business priorities of the organization, designing a people strategy that aligns to that, connecting it to the data, and developing those layers of insight and understanding, that’s the magic,” says Schmidt. “That’s how HR can actually drive influence.”

Caring for the whole employee is the first step

Human experience management (HXM) technologies can help HR teams better understand employees holistically and deliver an improved EX. “The next frontier for HR professionals is to think of employees in their entirety, in their own humanity,” says Rubio. “We need to provide growth and learning opportunities but at the same time be flexible because of what they’re going through outside of work. That creates interesting opportunities and challenges.”

In past generations, employees were expected to leave their personal lives at the door of the workplace. But the pandemic threw a spotlight on a host of personal issues employees face every day – from family care pressures and homeschooling children to mental health. We can’t ignore that anymore.

Not all companies have risen to the challenge yet. “A friend who works for a big company told me he’s had to report to the office every day since the pandemic began,” Rubio recalls. “So stressful. And in one year, no one from HR ever reached out to this employee to ask how he was handling this.”

The mental health of our people must be a priority to HR. “And it doesn’t have to be complicated,” he adds. “It can start with something as simple as asking people what they’re going through, how they’re feeling, and what they need.”

This is where technology can play a role, too. Powerful employee-listening tools make it simple for organizations to perform routine pulse checks to understand how employees are doing. These tools can also provide front-line managers and HR leaders with actionable insights they can use to make improvements and close experience gaps.

No. 1 HR priority: Improve employee experience 

And that’s what today’s workers expect from employers – the recognition that they are people with real needs and requirements. HR’s role is to find ways to meet those needs, so employees can do their best for the business every day.

“If you treat your people with dignity and respect and if you value them and provide growth opportunities, they will reflect that back in the way they treat your customers,” Rubio says. “But the flip side is also true. If you’re not providing any of these values, everyone else will feel it, too.”

Although the relationship between EX and CX is clear, corporate culture won’t change overnight. But HR leaders who shift from focusing primarily on processes to truly understanding what their people need can begin architecting the changes that not only increase employee engagement but also drive amazing business results.

Embracing HXM can help your business create the best possible experience – no matter where you sit in the organization – so your people can be productive, and your business can be profitable. You’ll get the tools to sustain your momentum and stay on track. And you’ll have what you need on your intelligent enterprise journey, so you can build an agile organization where everyone wins.

HR, better.
Employees, happier.
Businesses, healthier.
Learn more about modernizing the employee experience HERE.


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Laurie Ruettimann

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