Introducing the Employee Effort Score ( EES )

A while ago during a round table with Belgian leading customer experience experts, a colleague of mine dropped the following line: “Treat employees better than customers and focus on employee centricity”

I looked around the table and all I could see where faces expressing “What?!?”

Isn’t that sacrilegious in a customer-centric era? There’s a huge debate in life: what came first, the chicken or the egg? In business, the debate is: who comes first, the customer or the employee?


Customer advocacy is a hot topic these days in the boardroom , focusing a lot on the topic in our projects and installing customer advocacy frameworks to improve on the results from NPS etc got us thinking about the effect between employees and customers. What about employee centricity? What about employee engagement?

Designing customer experiences requires you to understand the challenges that must be overcome to meet both your customers’ needs, as well as overcoming the challenges of your employees to deliver the experience.

After all: businesses do not innovate or service, your people do! From sales to operations and support, everyone is responsible for their own little part in the overall customer journey. How your employees perform daily, directly affects your customer experience. The more engaged employees are, the happier they will be to deliver a good experience to customers.


Given the importance of employee engagement and its long-term effects, can we measure it, like we do with customer engagement using metrics like CSAT, NPS and CES and keep track of your engagement initiatives?

Most importantly: should we measure it? Our opinion: Measure employee engagement just like customer engagement and link the metrics.

There are tons of material out there to explain customer metrics we already did a blog about eNPS and the link with NPS ..

now let’s see if we can apply the same thinking to CES (customer effort score)  vs employee effort score or what you could call EES


The employee Effort Score ( EES )

You know CES? The metric called customer effort score, next to NPS and CSAT, this is a metric gaining a lot of interest in organizations. It measures how much effort a customer is required to put forth in order to complete some task with an organization, whether it’s to buy a product, to get an issue resolved, or to do something else.

If you’re not familiar with CES, it’s a metric created by CEB (now Gartner ), based on the following questions, using a 7-point verbal scale :very difficult (1) to very easy (7):

  • The company made it easy for me to handle my issue.
  • It took less time than I expected to handle this issue.

Through their research, CEB discovered that service interactions are four times more likely to create disloyal customers than loyal customers. From our experiences we can surely relate to this. Customer retention is directly linked to the service or lack of service the organization can provide.

Creating an employee experience is the first step towards delivering a customer experience that is both profitable and sustainable. 1 of the main pillars defining employee experience is the effort they need to put in.

Im not talking about the effort that the employee puts into his or her work every day. I’m referring to the effort it takes for the employee to do his job, i.e., are there processes or tools that hinder their ability to do their jobs in an efficient manner?

In my customer experience projects, I’m usually also asking these type of questions:

  • How can we make it easier for employees to do what we ask them to do?
  • What’s keeping employees from delivering the great experience that your customers deserve?
  • How can we simplify workflows and processes?
  • How can we become easier to do business with – internally?
  • What complexities, organization structures, complications, and bureaucracy do we need to optimize or even remove?
  • How do we reduce effort for employees and then, ultimately, for customers?

When we make it difficult for employees to do their jobs, it translates to the experience they deliver for their customers. Even if the task the employee is trying to do is not directly related to a customer and his experience, the frustration that effort evokes will manifest itself in the employee-customer experience somehow.

Why aren’t we measuring and understanding the employee effort like we do with CES? We should ask employees a variation of the CES questions:

To what extent do you agree with the following statement:

  • The company made it easy for me deliver the desired customer experience
  • The company made it easy to perform my daily tasks.
  • the company made it easy for me to help my customers

We should leave some sort of comment field on top and perform text mining and sentiment analysis on it to get insights in comments.

So this is what we would call the Employee Effort Score ( eES).

It’s a metric used to measure the effectiveness and efficiency of employees executing their job.

While typical employee engagement surveys measure a general level of satisfaction, there’s no further definition of “satisfaction”.

And while Employee net promoter score (eNPS) clearly focuses on building a group of positively tuned promoters (promoting the company as a great company to work for, or promoting its products and services)within the organization. Neither of these two metrics provides accurate insight into a service or process shortcomings.

EES instantly incorporates employees’ feedback into the process of continuous improvement. Any EES feedback directly refers to a specific process or customer interaction which, for whatever reason, may or may not match individual employee’ expectations.

It measures how easy it is for an employee to do their work accordingly, efficiently and autonomously.

The underlying principle is that employees will be more engaged, when they can do their job more efficient and productive, focusing on real customer added value taks.

Off course employee engagement is not exclusively linked to employee effort.

We believe a combination of eES, eNPS system makes the HUMAN-side of your business more transparent.  Make it a part of an ongoing operating system. Only in this way you have a comprehensive actionable set of insights to drive continuous improvement programs.


Vincent Defour

Digital transformation expert

M +32 495 45 75 71

10 Inspiring Zappos Human-centric customer support stories

When support is amazing, it has a value to the organization that is hard to quantify. Think of those companies that are consistently rated as service excellence powerhouses.  What are their lines of business?  Zappos is such a powerhouse, acknowledged by experts worldwide for the service they deliver. It just sold shoes online when it started.

Today it is the epitome of service excellence. Their reputation is their selling point.  There are plenty of online e-tailers that compete in their space.  But their service – oh wow – their **service** is what really sets them apart.

As a result, they don’t focus on competing on price, because they don’t have to. They are selling shoes, yes.  But what are they really selling?

Service. That’s right, the best darned service out there. Crazy good.   We’ve found 10 Zappos story that inspired us and we think you will love them too.

5 big things that make all the difference in a human- centric service organisation

Human-centric services means that the company is committed to providing you tailor-made services and solving your issue through understanding your business and what you need.

This type of service approach is focused on building a relationship with you and your business. It dramatically differs from the more traditional productcentric service that focuses on pushing your products or solving the issue and moving on. Generally, human-centric support means that you will experience a warmer and more “real”  conversation about the services and issues that you are having, allowing for a positive relationship between you and your service provider.

Many of our clients are moving in the direction of human-centric services as it allows for a better understanding of their customers hence providing an near personal experience that adds value to their customers problems. Skipping old fashioned segment approach, but value you for your needs and expectations and that specific point in your “customer life-cycle”. It’s an area in which I had the privilege of assisting my clients to think human-centric, not only from a customer point of view, but also think employee-centric. As they are the key to delivering real human experiences, off course assisted by the technological innovations that are available today.

If a company wishes to improve their services, why can’t they do it? Super service is a tough thing to measure.

Usually i start this type of projects by asking my clients the following question :  “What makes a great customer experience?” it is typical to get numbers and statistics back. There are off course Net promoter scores ( NPS ) ,  service level agreements (SLAs), or key performance indicators (KPIs). In contact center support “95% first contact resolution (FCR)” is typical. “Average speed to answer (ASA) of less than 30 seconds” is another favorite goal.  In customer service support “One hour time to resolution (TTR)”, and target referrals rates. I’ve even heard a mind-numbing “Our objective is to keep more than 90% of all types of calls to under five minutes.” Sometimes I’ll hear algorithms that crunch combinations of these stats i. It sounds simple, you can measure it with software, math, and automation. Perfect.

But if we are trying to care for customers, why are we only measuring performance using such hard measures when communication and service is a soft skill? 

Teams are made up of real people, with hearts and minds. Successful employees will deliver results against whatever thresholds that management sets.  What’s going on in those places where their service is delivered with a heart?  How is it that those teams really love what they do, care for each other, and genuinely feel for their customers?  What’s special there? Can we also measure this and what is the main pillar here?

It has been my experience that a leader in the heart of service teams can increase the quality of customer experience more than the manager who is adept at only using statistics. In this age of big data and metrics available from omni-channel in our service organisations, could it be that stats are better suited for understanding the operational aspect , rather than being the basis for rating customer experience in it’s totality ?

May I suggest : look for different standards of excellence, those with a more human-centric viewpoint. I further challenge us to look at how we lead through inspiring our people to really care about the way they interact with customers and how we can measure culturally aligned


So what does a company have to do in order to empower and enable their employees to be a dominating force in a competitive space ?

Besides dedication and commitment, it takes specific structure and focus on certain things.

I’ve identified 5 big things that make all the difference, and all 5 must be present.

Here’s how a company supports and builds a highly functional service organisation that can consistently deliver a world-class customer experience:



The service employees must be well-trained and totally comfortable with the parameters of their job and beyond! They must be aware, adept, and curious of things outside their immediate job description. This means a complex matrix of curated documentation, knowledge transfer programs, peer coaching, ongoing education, attending customer sessions, and more.



Simplicity comes from sleek, stable, mature services. Robust self service options and agent-centric tools are paramount. 360 degree customer views are a necessity today, as is clean accurate customer data. [note: If yours is an omnichannel organisation, this is a tricky one, from its sheer inherent complexity.]

The company should make sure the support teams have bug-free tools, and be willing to implement tools that employees expresses interest in getting. Employees will think of things that the company never thought of, for their own processes as well as customer-facing processes and even service features. Listen to them. This is gold. Engage in bottom-up continuous improvement programs. Think lean culture!



Businesses do not innovate or service, people do! Your employees are the ones servicing your customers. From sales to logistics, everyone is responsible for their own little part in the overall customer journey. How your employees perform on a daily basis, directly affects your customer experience. The more engaged and satisfied employees are, the more happy they will be to deliver a good experience to customers.



It is a systemic structure that continually offers new knowledge or understanding to the customer in a passive way. In other words, the customer who calls in for support gets something more than just the removal of an irritation. They get something in return; maybe it’s an offer, or a tip or shortcut. But it’s something. And the company needs to make sure the employees can have these things ready to go for customers. Employees should not feel like they have to ‘ditch it’ when a customer calls, or when there is a new service launch.



Cultivate employees’ ability to fix stuff and make people happy, or even decline a problem customer’s unreasonable demand. Take on abusive customers yourself, away from your employees. Your employees usually are in support roles because they like to help people. Service & Support is where loyalty happens. This is where relationships are built. It’s also what feeds your employees’ souls and makes their days memorable. Empower them to have control over their choices, then reward the great ones they make. Celebrate great saves.
Management Summary

When the service teams are constrained through micromanagement of process, policy, and budget, it is opportunity missed and money wasted.

Blind adherence in a randomly selected metric will usually cause unintended consequences. Constraining resources, and discounting service teams’ potential value will yield apathetic employees; the good ones will leave because they are doing the majority of the work for no payback from the organisation, even if they love their colleagues. Without continued efforts to free teams from mundane tasks, the creative ones will exit, making retention of high performers impossible.

If these unfortunate things happen, you will see it. Symptoms of missed opportunity may include high turnover, increased staff absenteeism, missed SLOs/SLAs, declining morale, and declining reputation.

If you see this, fear not. The good news is that it is also entirely reversible, because support personnel genuinely want to see things get better, and they are full of ideas on how to make that happen.

When an organisation empowers that service teams to function like a cherished, valued asset, that company’s service is poised to be a powerhouse of excellence, generating positive reputation and customer loyalty.


Vincent Defour

Digital transformation expert

M +32 495 45 75 71



Winning experiences in the post digital age

Today’s customer experience is characterized by the following:

Expectations are rising at an exponential rate:

  • Customers are adopting new technologies and tools faster than ever, expecting a certain level of convenience and user friendliness across all channels and industries;


  • At the same time they crave for authentic, relevant and emotional experiences that make them feel special and personally addressed.

Customers are not thinking in terms of channels, it’s no longer about what’s digital and what’s not. It’s all about their intrinsic need, emotions and experience.


Your challenge as a business is not only to create relevant customer experiences at the right time and place. It’s also about maintaining consistency of those winning experiences across all channels.


Global and local businesses around us, are slowly adapting to the above customer trends.

  • On one side of the spectrum, we see physical point of sales investing in technology and digital touchpoints within their traditional shopping journey. Think about the use of smartphones while shopping (for example searching product information by scanning QR codes or paying for your groceries with Android Pay or Payconiq), virtual fitting rooms and fully automated self-checkout systems.

At the same time, these originally ‘brick-and-mortar’ players try to emphasize their “physical” strengths by maximizing the emotional customer experience within the shop/agency. This leads to new concept stores (concept store Mediamarkt Wilrijk, CRU, …) where it’s all about sensing, feeling, experiencing…


  • On the other side of the spectrum, we see pure online players like Amazon and Cool Blue opening their own physical shops, because they also believe human interactions matter.



In order to face the above challenges and create winning experiences across all channels, we identified 4 best practice transformation tracks:


Walk the customer talk

Everything starts with truly understanding customer needs. According to Brian Solis, Customer Experience expert, you should architect the ideal customer journey for your target persona’s. Develop your touchpoints around micro experiences that stick.  Use storytelling to emphasize your company’s purpose (authenticity) and make it fast, easy, fun and simple (customer effort score). Think about online retailers who insert a personally relevant handwritten message into your ordered package.


Reinvent your core

It’s one thing to have an amazing marketing department which excels in designing winning experiences but putting these into practice is a business wide undertaking. That’s often the hardest part. As process experts, we still see most of our clients struggling with ensuring continuous customer value across all touchpoints. Common pitfalls are:

  • Troubles aligning business and IT to the ideal customer journey; causing friction and bottlenecks between the client facing roles and the back office;
  • Difficulties to create ‘channel less’ experiences;
  • Mismatch between modern front-end interfaces and tools and obsolete back-office applications; causing waste along the journey and affecting overall user experience;


Get your data sorted out

In addition to aligning and optimizing your processes, you should get your data sorted out. You never had so much data. Think of your social media data, transactional data, process data and all other digital touchpoints… a gold mine of information. The challenge there is to find the right patterns between all data streams in order to turn data into actionable insights for your marketing and sales departments. Personification, which is often seen as the way to raise customer loyalty, can only be achieved with the right algorithms. This requires digital skills and customer understanding across all business departments. Because getting this wrong, mistakes in your attempts for personal messages and services, does more harm than good.


Reinvent the human part

Digital excellence supports convenience and user friendly transactions but brand loyalty requires emotional experiences which you can only achieve via human interactions.  That’s why we believe your employees become key in today’s (post)-digital era. Your employees can help your brand and business on so many levels:

  • Service delivery (correct product/process knowledge and customer centric attitude);
  • Winning experiences (truly engaged and happy employees go the extra mile in delivery, showing passion, empathy and creativity);
  • Free marketing or brand advocates (truly engaged and happy employees will create a positive buzz);

Your challenge is to engage them!

Dorothée Laire

Customer experience architect

M: +32 473 31 60 50

Human interactions are key in our (post)-digital age

The digital era afflicts all sectors and still leads to a lot of insecurity and questions in today’s boardrooms. It’s our human nature to show resistance in a changing world. Every sector, every business can either fear or embrace digitalization.


Today, we notice a positive evolution. More and more sectors, ranging from retail to banking and other B2B services, saw opportunities and have started their digital transformation. Businesses are widely investing in digitizing their processes, building new digital interfaces and offering new digital services to customers.


Along the way companies notice “technology is not the holy grail”.

Technological advancements will be widely available. The tools and interfaces we use as customers and consumers will always evolve… but in the end what’s really changing? We remain human beings, driven by emotions and aspirations. Human emotions are at the heart of every move we make, driving our attitudes and behaviour, not technology. We still have the same basic and social needs, even in the (post)-digital age.


Once all your competitors offer an omnichannel experience and win efficiency through digitization, your competitive advantage deviates to humanity. Building human connections with your customers becomes your critical challenge. Especially in our (post)-digital era where human interactions with brands and businesses become rare and therefore more valuable (law of scarcity). Given the convenience of digital channels, customers who are putting effort into visiting your point of sale or offices, expect a splendid welcome and service!


We see a lot of clients, in various industries, struggling with finding and implementing the right balance between their digital and physical customer interactions. Common challenges are:

  • Ensuring consistency across all channels;
  • Assuring end-to-end convenience or user experience;
  • Crafting and offering emotional experiences;
  • Using data to offer a personalized service;
  • Difficulties to install a customer-centricity across all departments from front to back;
  • Difficulties with engaging employees;


The winners will be the ones who made their digital transformation a human transformation. Sure, you need to excel in your digital capabilities and channels to compete within your industry (operational excellence via automatization/ robotization and offer user-friendly digital services) but in the end you will make the difference with your people. We believe your employees and their evolving role remain key!


Dorothée Laire

Customer experience architect

M: +32 473 31 60 50

Great employee experiences, just like customer experiences, don’t just happen by chance!

Today’s customers are changing but so are your employees.  According to professor Nick Kemsley, co-director of the Henley Business School Centre for HR Excellence,  we should view today’s employees as consumers. Here’s why:

  1. A rise in portfolio thinking. Employees think long-term and build a portfolio for future positions. Very few employees are joining companies for life.
  2. Low barriers to switching.LinkedIn’s advent of socially recruiting the passive candidate has made it easier for employees and employers to find each other.
  3. War for talent. Employers are getting more aggressive at poaching your employees.
  4. Personal brand equity. People wear brand name clothing and drive cars as a status symbol. The employee résumé or current logo beside their profile is important for their personal brands, and landing that next gig.
  5. Changing attitudes to work and needs. For some consumers, the product they associate themselves with is more than the product, it’s an aligned purpose or belief of the brand. Employees want more than a job, they want a calling that aligns with organizational purpose.

In light of these changes, and the emergence of a new type of employee, the question arises: “Are we really engaging with the needs of the new employee?” Let’s not forget, employee engagement is as critical to business performance as customer engagement.

In order to better understand your employees and identify the best way to engage them, we suggest using Employee Experience Journey Mapping. Employee Experience Journey Mapping is a methodology based upon the very successful Customer Experience Journey Mapping methodology (Service Design Thinking).  Employee Experience Journey Mapping can be used to better understand specific employee journeys and craft better employee experiences.

According to experts employee journey mapping is every bit as important as customer journey mapping, and needs to be focused on before organizations can get the customer journey right.

By understanding and mapping the experiences employees have with the organisation, people, processes and technology, you can better understand their behaviour and the eventual business outcomes.


Get to know your employees better.

Just as all customers are unique, employees are all different. Their needs vary based on their role, department and work style. Particularly in larger companies, it can be difficult to know each and every process a group uses and how different teams interact with one another. An employee journey map can help expose the areas in which different teams are having success, where they may be wasting time and resources, and where they’re experiencing unnecessary gaps or bottlenecks.

Discover what motivates your workers and what’s standing in their way.

Companies that are experiencing disengaged employees, low productivity, or poor customer service can likely attribute some of that to a mismatch between demands and expectations put on employees and the resources they are provided with. It’s not that companies don’t care about their employees (at least, we hope not); it’s that many organizations lack insight into the daily experiences of their workers, a problem that an employee journey map can help solve.

Personas can also be a helpful tool when mapping the employee journey. Equally to buyer personas on the customer side, employee personas involve researching the characteristics and personalities of real people and identifying their key behaviors, aspirations and goals. The use of persona’s into the journey map process makes it easier to spot:

  • opportunities and gaps in personnel,
  • barriers within the processes and applications employees use that may be keeping them from doing their jobs effectively.

Dorothée Laire

Customer experience architect

M: +32 473 31 60 50

The link between NPS and eNPS

Engaged employees direct their energy toward the right tasks and outcomes, driving customer advocacy.

As described in our pervious post on employee engagement, compensation and benefits matter to employees, of course. But when it comes to engagement, other aspects matter even more:

  • a strong sense of purpose,
  • autonomy,
  • opportunity for growth,
  • and a sense of belonging, being part of a bigger group.


Given the importance of employee engagement and its long term effects, you surely want to measure it and keep track of your engagement initiatives.

Measure employee engagement just like customer engagement and link both metrics

Just as NPS provides strong descriptive and predictive power with customers, it works just as well among employees. eNPS is a simple metric that can be used for front-end, back-end and managerial employees alike. Experience demonstrates a strong correlation between NPS and eNPS.  The reasons that customers become advocates or detractors highly relate to the level of employee engagement.


Put employees at the center of customer feedback loops

To make progress with the NPS system, you must incorporate customer feedback into your daily operations and close the loop with your employees. This means measuring NPS after important customer interactions (moments of truth) and quickly sharing the customer feedback with the employees most responsible for the experience. Be selective with your feedback loops to keep it manageable.  The focus should be on a few “moments of truth” that shape the customer’s attitude toward yours company.

The feedback loop is as much about reinforcing what your employees should do and are doing right as it is about correcting what they did wrong. Share both negative (to quickly act upon) and positive feedback. Hearing a customer’s descriptions of how an employee’s actions had a positive effect can be a powerful reinforcement of desired behaviors and reminder of the employee’s purpose.


Employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS) explained:

“How likely are you to recommend your employer to friends and family?”

eNPS is calculated as the percentage of promoters minus the percentage of detractors.


  • Promoters (score of 9 or 10): Employees feeling their lives are enriched by their relationships with their organization or leaders. They are loyal, typically stay longer and talk positively about the organization to friends and colleagues. Promoters go the extra mile to help customers and colleagues.


  • Passives (score of 7 or 8): Employees who are fairly satisfied, but not loyal. They rarely talk up their company. If a better offer comes along, they are likely to leave.


  • Detractors (score of 0 to 6): Employees who feel their lives have been diminished by their associations with their organization or leaders. They are dissatisfied by how they are treated. They frequently speak negatively about their organization and are likely to leave as soon as they find something better.


Note that most companies using the eNPS, use the following question “On a scale of zero to ten, how are you to recommend your employer to friends and family?” However, eNPS is an emerging science. In some cases, a second question “How likely would you be to recommend this company’s products or services to friends and family?” can yield an even more accurate measure for engagement.



A few tips:

  • Employee surveys must be kept confidential to encourage honest feedback.
  • Because eNPS is meant to be part of an ongoing operating system that can support coaching, action and continuous improvement, you should strive to collect eNPS data on a frequent base. Some companies survey all their employees every few months. Others survey a subset of employees on a staggered or rotating basis; for example by sending an eNPS survey linked to the onboarding process (to each employee x days after hiring, and again on every anniversary of the hiring date).
  • Speed of action. In an eNPS system, the surveys are short, and emphasis is placed on sharing feedback as quickly and as fully as possible at individual and team level.


We believe an eNPS system makes the HUMAN-side of your business more transparent. It helps you identify best practices and see which team leaders are doing great and which need more coaching. It shows you which elements of the employee experience drives customer advocacy and provides insight on how to improve employee experiences.


Dorothée Laire

Customer experience architect

M: +32 473 31 60 50

Common mistakes in culture & HR

We enjoyed reading Brian Solis’ research on common mistakes in culture & HR. We believe these are spot on and like to share them with you.


  1. The employee playbook was written before the internet was born. Many company cultures are risk averse, built around strict processes, procedures and rules. But the world has changed. Companies must create safe and empowered environments where employees can learn, contribute and take risks.


  1. Employee engagement is too often a monologue instead of a dialogue. Leaders must truly listen to employees (hear employees’ challenges, ideas and ambitions). A lot of managers talk about employee-centricity but very few work on ‘real centricity’ by focusing on building employee experiences and relationships…not just stakeholder and shareholder value.


  1. Email communication and meetings are stifling creativity and collaboration. A culture that fears taking risks is one filled with meetings. Meetings make people feel important, make people feel safe and reduce accountability in real decision-making. Holacracy, if well installed and implemented, is a great remedy ( Holacracy empowers people to make meaningful decisions in pursuit of a company’s purpose. Curious about holacracy, we are happy to connect you with our holacracy experts.


  1. IT isn’t created for the people using it. Companies put process and technology first, building their organisation around applications and tools they are familiar with rather than looking at how their employees connect, communicate and learn in their real lives. It’s time to make work human-centered. This requires empathy to see and do things differently.


  1. There is no employee experience, only employer experience. Managers need to embrace reverse mentoring to introduce empathy into traditional (rigid and risk-averse) cultures. Companies investing in human understanding and design will win. Start with employee journey mapping to better understand the day-to-day reality of your employees and craft winning moments of truth within their journey.


  1. Extrinsic rewards only have a marginal effect on employee engagement. HR policies and reward mechanism are dated and often irrelevant.


  1. Leaders haven’t connected the dots between customer satisfaction and employee happiness. Companies do not innovate or service, people do! Your employees are the ones servicing your customers. From sales to logistics, everyone is responsible for their own little part in the overall customer journey. How your employees perform on a daily basis, directly affects your customer experience. The more engaged employees are, the more happy they will be to deliver a good experience to your customers.


  1. Millennials! Too many (HR) managers state their biggest challenge are millennials. This means an entire generation is currently viewed as problematic simply because they were raised differently and the whole “command and control” workplace feels alien to them? Every generation is different and complains about the one before and after. This gets us nowhere. Let’s focus on change by enabling employee and customer aspirations.


  1. Companies try to create a ‘hip’ culture by investing in open space, cool desks, lockers and food programs. That’s great but remember those external motivators have a temporary effect on employee engagement. Playing darts at work does not get you out of bed. Companies cannot hipster their way to engagement.


  1. Truth be told, there is very little leadership these days. As a result day-to-day work remains dictated, not inspired. Employee engagement and satisfaction are assumed and not cultivated.

In summary, looking at the above mistakes and our experience in various sectors, too many companies try to raise engagement by launching disconnected initiatives (employee events, newsletters, wellness programs, …) . Such initiatives improve employee morale but have a mere temporary effect. They lack the specific mechanisms that lift employee engagement the most and link directly to purpose and customer advocacy.



Dorothée Laire

Customer experience architect

M: +32 473 31 60 50

The employee engagement gap

We would like to start this blogpost with defining employee engagement. According to professor W. Kahn (Pr. Organizational behaviour at Boston University) and his research, employees are far more emotionally and physically engaged with their job when they experience:

  • Psychological meaningfulness: a sense that their work is worthwhile and makes a difference,
  • Psychological safety: a feeling they are valued, accepted and respected,
  • Availability: routinely feeling secure and self-confident in a positive work environment,


We can relate psychological meaningfulness to company purpose and psychological safety to culture, leadership and respect. All aspects which very strongly correlate with employee engagement, as discussed in my previous blogpost.


We see employee engagement is winning interest from top executives in most companies. However research from Brian Solis (award-winning author, prominent blogger/writer and keynote speaker), shows employees and executives think differently about engagement and engagement initiatives.

First of all, do engagement programs work? Well, the answer is YES. Though overall engagement level in most companies remains very moderate, research shows engagement programs do have a statistically relevant impact with a 25% boost in overall engagement.


Looking deeper at the most commonly used engagement initiatives (see below),  research shows that overall small group interventions, job rotation and positive feedback or employee recognition are most impactful for employee engagement.

However the main driver for engagement remains the intrinsic psychological meaningfulness of the job, work itself. Without purpose, there is no foundation for engagement. And this works both ways:

  • Substantially higher engagement when employees believe their work matters to the company, society.
  • Substantially lower engagement when employees do not believe their work matters to the company, society.


Solis’ research shows that companies where employees can not relate their work to a clear purpose, have toxic engagement levels, with employees talking negatively about their company and putting strain on overall productivity.

Knowing daily experiences on the job and meaningfulness of the work are the main drivers for employee engagement, one could ask who’s responsible for employee engagement. The answer is every leader, manager within the business and not just the HR department as often thought.

A study, executed by Bain & Company, clearly shows better engagement results with a business led-approach.

Companies which lead in employee engagement are characterized by:


  • Line managers, not HR lead the charge;
  • Managers are well prepared (coached by HR) to hold candid dialogues with their teams on how to improve employee experience, ideally based on anonymous employee feedback (e.g. eNPS);
  • Teams rally around the customer, adding meaningfulness and purpose;
  • Engagement initiatives are tailored for different employee segments (employee persona’s), as within marketing ‘the’ customer does not exist, we all have different emotions and attitudes;
  • It’s all about the dialogue, not the metrics.
We hope the above insights help you on your path to employee and customer centricity

Dorothée Laire

Customer experience architect

M: +32 473 31 60 50



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