5 steps to designing meaningful employee experiences

Updated: Jul 12, 2018

Today’s employees are more demanding than ever before. In a world where daily needs are met at the touch of a button, what can HR departments do to deliver more meaningful employee experiences at work? Nigel Borowski from ME+ breaks it down.

Let’s start with the needs of employees. Research by the Harvard Business Review and The Energy Project identified four things that make employees more engaged:

  • Value – being cared for by your boss

  • Purpose – finding meaning and significance in your work

  • Focus – prioritising one task at a time

  • Renewal – being able to take breaks at work

With this in mind, the trick to designing employee experiences (EX) that help people do their best work and achieve their ambitions is to think of the process in five stages:

  1. The inspiration to take action

  2. Triggering a decision to actually take action

  3. The action itself

  4. Validation of the action through a reward (a benefit or positive outcome)

  5. Participation in sharing the story so others can benefit too

These five stages form something called the ‘employee experience curve’. The more they’re repeated, the more habitual this process becomes.

We understand some larger organisations may find it daunting or disruptive to change their set HR agenda, but an ‘agile’, quick-start approach can help overcome potential resistance. This approach also has five steps (in pink) that work in tandem with the five stages of the employee experience curve (in blue), making the curve look like this:

  1. Capture today’s real experience How well do you understand the real experiences of employees today? What insights do you have? What does the data you have really tell you? Are you getting a real picture or do you need to ask different questions of different people?

  2. Define the desired experience vision What experiences do employees want? Do customers enjoy the experience of working with or buying from you? How do employees need to behave to create the experiences customers want? Do employees accept responsibility for their role in creating these experiences? Building a clear picture of the desired employee experience combines the drivers and aspirations of employees with the value that they collectively bring to customers.

  3. Identify the experience gap What’s the gap between the real and desired employee experiences? How is the current real employee experience impacting your business? What tangible value will be realised by moving towards the desired employee experience?

  4. Take action to close the gap Put employees in control. Focus on what employees need to do to close the gap. How can employees improve their own experience? Are they capable of directing their own experiences? What’s getting in the way? What support do they need?

  5. Measure progress and sustain change How do you measure employee experience? How will progress be monitored? Communicate your starting point and the desired benefits to employees, customers and other stakeholders.

Try introducing these steps in your HR agenda. You’ll find that meaningful experiences for your employees leads to increased productivity and improved retention for your organisation – and a career path everyone in your workforce can aspire to.

The remaining five posts in this blog series will take a closer look at each of our five steps in turn, starting with Step 1: Capture today’s real experiences.

This blog post was written by the career experts behind ME+ – the career management app from Telos Partners. Find out more about what ME+ can do for you at me-plus.co.uk.


This is the first in our blog series on Designing Meaningful Employee Experiences.

Next: Step 1: Capture today’s real experience