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Employee Journey Maps & Continuous Listening for Employee Experience

Using Employee Journey Maps and Continuous Listening to ‘Un-Fluff’ Employee Experience

Perhaps you've heard of journey maps? Journey maps are most often used to help organizations identify and understand the marketing moments that matter most for consumers. Chances are, as I’m typing this, details about how and when you use various products and services are being attached to personas to help companies ranging from cell phone providers, to airlines, to retailers decipher your experience as a customer.

If these personas and the accompanying journey maps can be used to inform marketing, product design, and customer experience strategies, can the same exercise also be used to better understand the employee experience? Can mapping the moments that matter to your employees similarly inform communication planning, decision-making, and well-being strategies?

A few years back, I attended a manufacturing company’s global summit with 20 fellow senior leaders. Each table setting featured printed agendas with various strategic and financial topics to be addressed sequenced down the page – all leading to the final topic that was mine to cover, Employee Experience (4:00-5:30 PM).

By the looks on attendees’ faces as I entered the room, the agenda might as well have read: “Now, it’s time for 90 minutes of fluffy stuff to stand in the way of you and your company-paid happy hour.” I took it as a challenge.

I began by asking each leader to tell me what motivates them. As expected, each answer was businesslike, and many were just a slight variation of the one given by the highest-ranking leader in the room. As the responses traveled about halfway around the table, I interrupted.

“Start over,” I said. “This time, tell me what actually motivates you.” Eyes widened and I saw a few awkward smiles. I just told this boardroom of intelligent, influential leaders that they were not being authentic. I asked them to decide to be vulnerable with the other 19 men and 1 woman (sigh) seated at the table.

Then it happened. Sincere, truthful responses.

“Providing for my kids.”

“Making my family proud.”

“Mentoring the next generation.”

“Knowing my work has purpose.”

“When I am trusted.”

“Learning new things.”

“Leaving things better than when I found them.”

Now, we were getting somewhere!

I then asked the group if those answers would have been the same if I asked them 10 years ago. I got lots of heads shaking “no,” and some nostalgic banter that I eventually had to curb around livin’ the crazy single life.

This ice-breaker set the tone for a journey mapping activity where each attendee wrote down high moments in their careers as well as low ones. They were asked to think back on their motivations at each point in time. Then, together, they explored the impact those moments had on their employee experience and further, how each moment influenced future expectations and outcomes.

As a team, they started to dig into what behaviors were being demonstrated by their leaders and peers at each pinpointed moment, and how those either enabled or detracted from their experience. They shared how their engagement suffered, how they stopped giving 110%, how they felt less empowered and less innovative during those low moments.

They highlighted how their moments that mattered would build upon each other, and past negatives or positives could often add intensity to whatever was happening at the time. They talked about what interventions, communications, policy changes, or actions could have turned a negative moment into a positive one.

Coaching conversations started happening and “aha’s” were shared with the group. Eventually, the room was hit with the reality that they themselves were influencing the high and low moments their own employees and peers might be having. They began respectfully challenging each other and the team to make improvements.

All of this great discussion was happening based on what they assumed could be going on with their teams. Imagine if they had data to prove it? Even more, the data to anticipate it?

As the magnitude of the lost opportunities for ideas, performance, effort, customer care, and talent retention became abundantly clear for this team of leaders, so too did the need to better understand the varied motivations of their people and those moments that matter.

I lay this all out to illustrate that employee experience is not “fluffy.” It may sound like the latest HR buzzword or too touchy-feely for some, but the reasons why employees join your company and why they stay have very real business implications. A recent Perceptyx webinar entitled, “The 15 Essential Practices for Employee Experience” indicated that companies with great employee experience are also more likely to perform well financially, innovate more, and have higher rates of customer satisfaction.

How Listening Informs Employee Journey Maps

In August, Perceptyx facilitated a roundtable discussion with a small group of companies to discuss how to attach personas to journey mapping during the decision-making process and uncover the potential impact to the employee experience before the action is taken. The goal was to seek out those tangible and intangible elements of the workplace experience – technology, resources, autonomy, opportunities, and so on – that will set their company apart for talent.

One of the companies that participated in the roundtable, C.H. Robinson, had previously partnered with Perceptyx and shared how they are using data gathered through continuous listening to create “an Employee Experience Journey Map as a guide for understanding the emotional journey for both employees and managers.” They’re also using the activity to enhance change management by targeting different messages to different personas and building out accompanying resources for their leaders to reference during interactions.

Given the varying needs and motivations of employees, especially post-COVID, employee experience can feel impossible to pin down. The pace of disruptions and uncertainty over the past year have created a clear mandate for companies to expand how they think about engagement. To understand what motivates employees now, personas must be reframed to be less about simply job role, tenure, or geography, and more about factors such as well-being, stress management, flexibility, and inclusion. Employees are increasingly basing their decision to stay with a company on these new measures, yet many employers have yet to incorporate these factors into their listening and engagement models.

An Employee Experience Playbook prepared by Perceptyx discusses how continuous listening and open communication are crucial for gaining the insights needed to fine-tune the employee experience. Implementing employee listening and people analytics programs allows companies to ask the right questions of the right people at the right time. 80% of companies surveyed are now augmenting their once-a-year census surveys with lifecycle sensing, episodic pulses, multi-rater feedback, and real-time dialogue to engage their employees at scale.

Just like consumer insights that are used to inform a commercial customer journey, employee insights can be similarly applied to create, inform, and improve your employee experience journey.

How can we help you generate the insights needed to “unfluff” dated thinking about the employee experience? Let’s get the conversation started.

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