Webinar Recap: Busting the 4 Myths of Employee Experience
In our latest webinar, RedThread Research co-founder Stacia Garr joined Perceptyx’s Senior Director of Research & Insights Emily Killham to debunk some of the most entrenched myths in the realm of employee experience (EX). This collaborative initiative did more than just dispel falsehoods; it outlined RedThread's new “4M Model” for understanding the Worker Experience.
However, the discussion extended far beyond metrics and models. Stacia and Emily discussed the common but flawed analogy between customer experience (CX) and employee experience, scrutinizing the shortcomings of a perspective that is overly simplified and often misleading. Arguing for a more nuanced approach, the conversation underscored the importance of a human-first paradigm that is driven by individual needs rather than rigid HR processes.
The webinar also explored the multifaceted nature of EX, emphasizing that organizations should not just cater to the 'what' of work but also pay significant attention to the 'where' and 'when' of the worker experience. This expansive view recognizes that both physical and digital environments are vital domains for improving the quality of life at work.
The insights gleaned from the session reinforced the notion that for real change to occur, every stakeholder — from senior leadership to frontline workers — must play an active role, underpinned by clear, data-driven actions and recommendations. Here’s a high-level overview of some of the main points from the webinar, which you can watch on-demand here.
It’s WX, Not CX
In an era marked by shifting workforce demographics, skills shortages, a highly competitive labor market, and escalating worker burnout, the concept of EX is undergoing a profound reassessment. Top-level executives are increasingly prioritizing what is now being reframed as the "Worker Experience" (WX), a term that RedThread uses to underscore a more holistic and human-centric approach.
Unlike traditional EX models that often concentrate on HR processes, WX places the actual experiences of workers at its core. It embraces the multifaceted nature of work, accounting for both the 'when' and 'where' of the work experience and insisting on the inclusion of motivation and mobilization components.
To better understand the need for a WX framework, let’s take a look at some harmful myths surrounding EX.
Myth #1 — EX is the Employee Version of CX
The prevailing notion that employee experience (EX) is simply the workplace counterpart to customer experience (CX) has been compellingly debunked, thanks to RedThread Research. At first glance, the employee journey and customer journey seem analogous, complete with similar "moments that matter.” Many leaders are tempted to overlay CX frameworks onto EX, essentially grafting the customer journey map onto the employee experience. However, this approach is flawed for multiple reasons.
The employee experience goes beyond a simple transactional or time-bound relationship. It challenges the conventional wisdom of HR management that often reduces an employee's relationship with their organization to a series of discrete events that are typically easy to measure, monetize, or manage. These events might be as straightforward as onboarding, annual reviews, or exit interviews. While undoubtedly significant, they make up just a fraction of the lived experience of an employee — between 3% to 9% according to RedThread Research's calculations.
The limitation of this narrow view is even more glaring when we consider the manifold ways in which work intertwines with our lives. As Perceptyx’s Emily Killham emphasized during the webinar, employment is not just a means of earning a paycheck. For many, it is a lifeline that secures essential social benefits such as healthcare, childcare, and retirement plans. It offers a path for personal development through skill acquisition, mentorship, and career progression. It also serves as a key component of our personal identities, offering a sense of purpose and a social milieu that can deeply affect our mental and emotional well-being — something that Perceptyx research has repeatedly reaffirmed.
Consequently, any framework that seeks to understand the employee experience must broaden its scope to capture these nuances. It must move beyond these reductive "moments that matter" that are tied to HR metrics and budgets, and adopt a more holistic perspective. This should encompass not just the work that employees do but also the conditions under which they do it: the tools and resources they have access to, the clarity of their roles and expectations, their opportunities for learning and growth, and the quality of their relationships within the workplace.
Myth #2 — Employee Experience = Digital Experience
RedThread’s work has also debunked the widespread myth that equates employee experience (EX) solely with digital experience. The dialogue surrounding EX has often zoomed in on "digitization," advocating for a more "consumer-grade" experience. While the role of digital platforms is unquestionably important, it's merely one facet of the overall worker experience. EX professionals would do well to learn from customer experience (CX) strategies, particularly the concept of the omnichannel experience, which thoughtfully integrates both digital and physical touch points. The objective is a holistic perspective that eschews the notion of prioritizing one dimension over the other, particularly as hybrid work models become more commonplace.
Questions that organizational leaders should be pondering include how physical office spaces are designed to encourage face-to-face interaction — even when some team members are not physically present. Similarly, how can performance management technology be integrated with physical artifacts like written customer feedback? Or how can digital-first employee experience surveys be effectively executed in a factory setting? These questions underline the necessity of merging digital and physical experiences in a seamless way to create a truly comprehensive employee experience.
Myth #3 — EX Management Is About Measuring Employees’ Experiences
Contrary to the myth that managing employee experience (EX) is chiefly about measuring it, RedThread has shown that real management requires far more proactive involvement. While vendors and practitioners may emphasize measurement tools and surveys, these metrics alone don't translate to effective management or improvement of EX. In organizations where only HR has access to EX data and insights, the scope for meaningful change is severely limited. HR represents only a small yet vital segment of the workforce, and by itself, can't induce transformative changes in employee experience. The real work begins when this data is placed in the hands of those who can enact change — namely, employees and managers. A holistic approach to EX transcends mere measurement and involves actionable insights that can be applied by a broad cross-section of the organization.
Myth #4 — EX Should Primarily Be About Employees
The belief that employee experience (EX) should focus solely on full-time employees is increasingly outmoded given current workforce dynamics. With a rise in market volatility and an accelerating skills gap, organizations are increasingly relying on contingent workers — freelancers, contractors, and temporary staff — to meet evolving business needs. McKinsey estimates that 36% of workers at large companies are contingent. By narrowing the scope of EX to only traditional employees, organizations risk alienating a significant part of their workforce. Legal and regulatory complexities around contingent workers exist, but these shouldn't deter organizations from considering their experiences too. Therefore, in a landscape of blended workforces, RedThread believes a broader view is needed: the concept of "Worker Experience" (WX), which includes both traditional employees and non-employee labor, to fully capture the human experience within an organization.
RedThread’s 4M Model: A Comprehensive Approach to Managing Worker Experience
RedThread’s 4M model — Measure, Monitor, Motivate, and Mobilize — offers a holistic blueprint for effective Worker Experience (WX) management. Rooted in research and practice, this framework extends beyond mere data gathering to actively drive change in the work environment.
- Measure: The first step is to identify the data that can illuminate the state of worker experience within the organization. This could range from employee engagement surveys to productivity metrics. The data must then be gathered and integrated for a comprehensive understanding of the work environment, taking into account the six core elements of WX discussed earlier.
- Monitor: Continuous monitoring is essential for keeping a pulse on WX. Dashboards and charts can convey this information effectively, keeping all stakeholders — from leadership to employees — informed of the current status and any changes.
- Motivate: Data is useful only if it leads to action. Leaders must stimulate workers' interest or enthusiasm for enhancing the quality of their work experience. This can be achieved through targeted initiatives, incentives, or even gamification techniques that make improvement a motivating endeavor.
- Mobilize: Finally, it's not enough to merely inspire change; leaders must also equip workers with the resources they need to make these improvements. This could involve organizational restructuring, provision of new tools and technologies, or offering a platform for employee-driven innovation.
Now is the time to move beyond simply measuring and monitoring your workforce. To get started, listen to the entire webinar or download our exclusive executive summary. Then, visit RedThread’s website to learn more about their work to connect people, ideas, data, and stories that empower organizations to make better decisions.