Employee experience – why it’s so important

14 June 2019
14 June 2019 Tenaka

You may have heard the term ‘employee experience’ thrown around in performance reviews, presentations, and even sales pitches. Turns out, employee experience isn’t just a cool-sounding HR buzzword, it’s actually a huge contributor to your bottom line. I decided to dish the deets on all things employee experience; what it is, why it’s so important, how to get started, as well as my own story.

What is employee experience?

In a nutshell, employee experience is a comprehensive look at all of the factors that make up the relationship between employee and employer. The employee experience starts at the very moment a potential employee submits their CV and finishes at the exit interview. Implementing an employee experience can be as simple as making sure a new employee has settled in alright or as complex as developing an internal communication system.

Why is employee experience so important?

At the end of the day, your business cannot run without its employees.


The best way to attract and retain employees is pretty simple: create an environment that makes them want to come to work for more than just the salary they receive at the end of the month. Every aspect of the employee experience – from the onboarding process to the implementation of technology – can impact the performance, behaviour and employment lifetime of your employee.

My own employee experiences

I for one have experienced both sides of the employee experience.

The good and the bad (and the oh so ugly!). Because of this, I feel that I can confidently add my two cents on this topic.

As the saying goes – first the worst, second the best!

My (really) bad employee experience

From the moment I started working at this company, I was on my own. I didn’t receive any kind of training and there were no internal or external systems to follow.

During the quiet days, I would try to use my time in, what I believed to be, a productive manner. I would research different companies that could use our services, enhance the company’s social media presence and increase the size of our database.

My actions wound up getting me accused of ‘not knowing my place’. ultimately, I was told that my efforts were useless and so was I.

I honestly couldn’t believe it.

My confidence, not only at work but as a human being in general, was shattered.

Because of certain aspects of my personality, I can’t say that my performance decreased based on my manager’s treatment. But, I became trapped in this vicious cycle – similar to an abusive relationship. My every action was performed in the hopes that my manager would be happy.

I lived in a constant state of fear.

Sounds fun, no?

Multiple breaches of contract, multiple (unlawful) salary decreases, verbal abuse, slander – you name it, my manager did it.

The worst part was, there was nobody I could report this to.

My manager was the owner and director of the company.

The end result was after I tried to resign three times, my resignation was finally accepted and I left the company.

Unfortunately, the ‘abuse’ persisted and eventually I had to pursue a legal course of action.

Thankfully my story has a happy ending, which you can read about below.

My (really) good employee experience

Arriving at Tenaka, still a wee bit scarred from my previous employment experience, I was blown away by the on-boarding process.

On my first day, the team welcomed me with muffins and cappuccinos. Each person put in the effort to get to know me better.

Within my first week, I received a decent amount of training from two very busy bosses. They carved the time out of thin air to best equip me for my new position.

After a month I had my first performance review and another after three months. These were the only formal reviews I had, however, I was often checked in on, given feedback on my performance and given additional training when needed.

When my birthday rolled around a few months later, I was shocked to receive a personalised cake that screamed ‘Tash’.

I felt really special, appreciated and valued.

We have an ‘open office’ policy: if something needs discussing, we discuss it. There aren’t hushed conversations behind closed doors and there’s a level of transparency that I don’t think is the norm.

These days I wake up in the morning excited to come to work, which is something I’m really thankful for.

How can you get started on improving your employee experience?

Reading this article is a great place to start!

For reals though, when you are deciding where to start, you need to take a long look at the issues your company is facing and how to meet these specific needs.

For example, if your staff turnover is on the increase with employees leaving shortly into their contract, your employee value proposition might not be a true reflection of the actual working conditions at your company.

Or, if you are failing to attract and retain the industry talent you desire, you might need to re-evaluate your recruitment and retention processes.

By asking the right questions, you are on the right track to making your company a place where the right people want to work.

The best place to start is by gathering data, which can be complicated.

Luckily, that’s where design thinking (or human-centred design) comes in!