In a 2014 interview with ToyNews, LEGO designer Samuel Thomas Johnson recounted his unique journey to landing a job with the world-famous toy company.

Growing up, Johnson had always wanted to work for LEGO. His passion was so strong that, when he was 8 years old, he wrote a letter to the company to express his dream of getting a job there and to ask how he could make that dream a reality. Johnson received an encouraging response, which included a list of general qualifications a designer must have to work for LEGO.

Fifteen years later, as a young graduate, Johnson applied for a job at LEGO — and got it.

Every CEO wants a Samuel Thomas Johnson, someone who actively dreams of becoming the perfect employee for their company. Unfortunately, such candidates are exceedingly rare these days. Most people come to a company by accident: The employer has an open position, the candidate sees the job ad and applies, and the two parties agree they’re right for each other.

Now, this arrangement can still lead to long-term employment, but if the employee’s and employer’s expectations are not aligned, that new hire is likely to leave after a short period of time. Such quick turnover is costly for an employer, which is why the employee experience is so important. Employees are the lifeblood of a company, and a great employee experience keeps those employees satisfied, productive, and happily working for the organization.

Why the Employee Experience Matters

Relatively few companies have discovered the full power of a great employee experience to positively impact business performance. As Jacob Morgan shows in his book, The Employee Experience Advantage, organizations that heavily invest in employee experience are:

• named 4.4 times more frequently on LinkedIn’s list of the most in-demand employers in North America
• 11.5 times more likely to appear on Glassdoor’s “Best Places to Work” list
• featured 28 times more often on Fast Company‘s “Most Innovative Companies” list

The rules of the talent market are being rewritten. Top candidates no longer prioritize salary or benefits. They prefer more intangible incentives, and that means the daily experience of your employees is your competitive edge and main differentiator in this market. Employee experience matters because that’s how you give high-performing employees the memorable, comfortable, and innovative experiences they want from their employers.

How to Build the Kind of Experience Your Employees Actually Want

The employee experience is a lot like the customer experience: Just as you need to know your customers well in order to offer them the best solutions for their problems, you need to understand your employees well if you want to give them experiences that meet their workplace needs.

It’s worth remembering that building a great employee experience requires more than just creating a relaxed atmosphere full of ottomans, game rooms, and creative office layouts. What employees are really looking for is a culture of autonomy, appreciation, purpose, trust, and continuous learning.

Conducting a Climate Survey

The first step in crafting a great employee experience is to conduct an organizational climate survey. The goal is to understand how satisfied and motivated your employees currently are, and to understand whether or not employees feel valued by your company.

You want your climate survey to yield a holistic view of your employees and your organization. To get such a view, you need to ask the right questions. In particular, your survey should engage with these six factors that commonly influence the employee experience:

  1. Personal requirements: What skills, traits, and motivations does an employee bring to the company, and what expectations do they have of their employer?
  2. Organizational framework: How challenging is the work? How good are the working conditions? How is collaboration between team members? How are relationships between managers and employees?
  3. Employee commitment: How committed is the employee to their job? How well do they identify with the company and its purpose?
  4. Employee behavior: How much effort does the employee put into their work? How strongly do they stand up for their team and the company?
  5. Employee results: How satisfied is the employee with the job? Does the employee feel supported to pursue further development and career goals?
  6. Business results: How have specific employees contributed to meeting sales targets, making improvements, and implementing innovations?

Asking precise questions about these six areas will help capture employees’ perceptions of and experiences with your company. Ideally, you should have employees complete a climate survey on a semi-regular basis, as employee sentiment can change over time. You also want the survey to be fun and short, as employees will be much more likely to participate. Aim for 7-8 questions maximum.

Tracking KPIs

Once you’ve collected data from your climate survey, you can convert it into key performance indicators (KPIs) and insights that will help you design and enhance the employee experience. The KPIs provide information about the most important aspects of the employee experience, and tracking them will help you understand what areas of the employee-employer relationship need improvement.

In particular, there are five key metrics to track:

  1. Employee engagement score: How committed are employees to their teams and the wider organization?
  2. Employee well-being score: How satisfied do employees feel? Do they have healthy work/life balances?
  3. Employee retention score: How willing are employees to stay with the organization for the long haul?
  4. Leadership score: How satisfied are your employees with their relationships with their supervisors? Do employees feel leaders are appropriately communicative and transparent?
  5. Learning and development score: How satisfied are your employees with their opportunities for professional development in the organization?

Your KPI scores in each category may be used to establish goals for the general improvement of the employee experience. For example, a high level of dissatisfaction regarding the leadership team indicates the need for increased training for leaders, or perhaps changes to the organizational culture.

Organizations should invest as heavily in the employee experience as they do in the customer experience. While it’s good to have a “customer is king” mindset, employees are as important to your business as your consumers are. Employee happiness is vital to your organization’s success.

After all, happy employees make happy customers.

Peter Navarro is responsible for employer branding at Sixt SE.

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