The Employee Experience: the secret sauce to change, evolution & success in CX

The same truth exists with the employee experience. Here is why I believe it is pivotally more important to focus on EX, immediately and impressively, versus CX: EX enables CX.

In 2009 Seth Godin gave a TED talk where he talked about the ideas of ‘tribes’ and the need for people to be led.  The context of this was about movements, momentum and change.  The immediate application came in the form of brands and companies who have the ability to organize and mobilize their customers.  A year later Mr. Godin shared the Japanese concept of ‘otaku’ – people with an obsession.  To me there is a clear connection – the idea of creating a tribe of people who have an obsession.

The idea of otaku is where the Employee Experience needs to begin.  If you expect, or more often, need your employees to be passionate with the satisfaction of customers and the application of their craft, the first step is common-sensical: get them onboard. Apply practices and communications that make them believers in the otaku of your brand. The result is natural: personal investment in making change possible, regardless of how challenging that change is. Employees will have varying degrees of otaku, those with little otaku will self select out over time leaving you with brand obsessed team members.

Kathy Bloomgarden wrote a piece on “companies that value their employees” recently and her callouts are indicative of how to create a roadmap towards Employee Experience.  She notes the following:

  •  Shared values
  • Inspiration
  • Make learning part of the job

Applying these ideas to our concept of Employee Experience might look like this:

 Shared Value

The simple interpretation is culture, but it is so much more than that.  Perhaps values don’t need to be pasted on a wall, but to be honest, many companies would benefit from just that.  If you want your employees experience to be positive, they need to be able to agree to and be empowered with a foundation for decision making.  It will drive decisions ranging from customer engagement to spending, from time management to critical thinking – but only if they are thoroughly understood.


Responsibility to shareholders or turning a profit is a given.  What are the tenets that get your teams out of bed in the morning?  Keeping them late in the evenings and contributing in an ongoing manner? Employees expect their companies to remain solvent, it is assumed in their acceptance of a position.  There must be something more which guides them in their use of technology, tools, decisions and communication beyond the tables stakes of keeping their job.

Make learning part of the job

This is the silver bullet.  A concept that is both so clear and so challenging that most fail to fully activate it. Daily learning should be deeply intertwined within shared values & inspiration.  Consider the reduced friction onboarding a new technology or changing an operational process would have if learning everyday, was a shared value.  Consider further how impactful it would be if you hired people who expected that (tip: you probably already have them.)

I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. – Maya Angelou

If you haven’t noticed, let me call attention to the lack of mention of flex hours, daily catering, unlimited vacation, open board meetings and remote work involved in this discussion of Employee Experience.

Perhaps these tactics are appropriate or even desired within your Employee Experience, but they are not the tenets.  Companies who are concerned with implementing non-traditional or cultural benefits like these are rightfully apprehensive, but not for the reasons they think.   If your Employee Experience isn’t indicative in how your teams will take advantage of the benefits, you have skipped a step.

I believe highly successful companies have bought into this hook line and sinker.  Virgin, Apple, Google, REI, Campbell’s & Patagonia to name a few.  And though no one is talking about the  term “Employee Experience”, it is clearly at their center. These companies have been practicing for some time – and it enables them to pivot and change with greater ease than most.

I believe in our age of digital transformation and Customer Experience, the first consideration is foundational: it is hard and it feels vulnerable – how do you define your Employee Experience?

Leadership is solving problems. The day soldiers stop bringing you their problems is the day you have stopped leading them. They have either lost confidence that you can help or concluded you do not care. Either case is a failure of leadership. – Colin Powell