Gazing Into The EX Crystal Ball

by | May 19, 2022 | Customer Experience

How to know what you don’t know

Employee Experience (EX) and Market Research (MR) work hand in hand. Why? Because you can’t have the one without the other. Gone are the days of suggestion boxes and generic birthday emails with Dear Colleague in the first line… Today, businesses need to do much more to ensure a positive EX.

But how do you find out what people think, feel, and experience if they don’t say anything? And why does it matter?

First, you need to find out what you need to know to know what you don’t know…

Let’s put it more plainly:


need to find out

what you need to know

to know

what you don’t know…

Problem is, when you conduct surveys, you run the risk of polarised opinions. They also don’t give you the “meat” of what’s going on in employees’ lives.

Or what they need.

The suggestion box must fall

Organisations must understand where their employees come from culturally, personally, professionally, and socially if they are to formulate a solid organisational cultureand EX.

Send a generic survey and hope to get enough responses to make the insights statistically significant? Nope. Not enough.

Install recording devices? Certainly not!

Doing proper research into EX has become increasingly complex because employees’ ideas of what they need have changed over the past decade.

Even Microsoft SA is doing it

Modern Workplace Business Group Lead at Microsoft South Africa, Colin Erasmus, believes that, in hybrid and digital working environments, investing in people and EX impacts engagement, retention, customer satisfaction and profitability.

So, if you were thinking of throwing in the towel and hauling the suggestion box out of storage (that’s if you can find it at all), here’s why you shouldn’t:

  • 57% of South African employees feel that EX is important because they perform better when they feel valued
  • 27% of respondents feel EX is non-negotiable
  • 41% of respondents feel companies focus more on sales than their people – yikes!
  • 67% of respondents say they need more and better communication and leadership from managers
  • Companies that invest in EX are 4x more profitable than those who don’t

Point is, EX is not a luxury anymore. If you want your employees to engage and be productive, it’s is a necessity.

What to do?

You need information about individuals’ professional productivity, personal life events, intra-company relationships, customer relationships, cultural preferences, and comfort levels at work.

Then you need to take all that information and determine the effect the organisation has on your people.

It’s also important to get a general idea of what’s going on outside the box – the metaphorical one. What’s the general theme in the market? What are competitors doing to secure a positive EX?

Before you bulk-buy nanny cams, there are faster and more effective ways to improve EX:

1. Quantitative and qualitative research

  • Quantitative: internal data (employee turnover, absences, promotion applications), employee value proposition calculations, employee efficiency metrics, etc.
  • Qualitative: exit interviews, anonymous feedback, one-on-one discussions, workshops, etc.

You need both these research types to balance the numbers with the personal responses. Combine them, and you have a clear idea of what makes who tick.

2. Surveys and focus groups

  • Yes, surveys do work effectively, especially when collecting quantitative data that can be easily captured and analysed.
  • Focus groups are excellent at collecting qualitative data, and it involves getting to know your employees on a more personal level.

Granted, not all employees will be 100% engaged, but at least you’re making an effort!

3. Social listening

While businesses dread the thought of it, most employees use social media daily – including during office hours. But that’s not bad if social media is a tool for EX.

Social listening means tracking mentions and conversations about the company on social media platforms. In the past, companies only used social listening for customer mention purposes, but the trend has expanded into connecting all aspects of the business.

It allows you to track your employees’ social interests and get to know them on a more social, relaxed level. In addition, you create a sense of community where employees can connect comfortably.

4. Observe closely

Don’t just look; notice. Don’t just hear; listen. This is where feeling valued comes in. When employees notice that you actually listen and recognise them during a brainstorm, event, or conversation, they’ll automatically feel more valued and worthy in your team.

That said, looking over their shoulders will defeat the purpose. So, instead of eyeballing them and making them feel pressurised, try to observe them in more casual settings.

5. Use EX measuring tools

Employee Experience (EX) tools are there to do all the heavy lifting of assessing and understanding your current EX.

Think of it as intra-company Market Research (MR): analysing your work, people, and company culture to identify any missing pieces of the organisational puzzle. Once you’ve identified gaps and cracks, you explore solutions to improve them.

But wait…Does all this really matter?

In other words, do employers really need to know all these things about their employees? Isn’t that too much for some people? You may find that some employees are happy to have a more personalised engagement, while others aren’t so eager to open up their personal lives at the office. Listen. Listen deeply. That’s how you can come to truly understand what each employee needs, so you can think cleverly to appeal to those who prefer not to mix work and play.

People, then performance, then profit

In a nutshell, you can improve your EX by:

  • Exploring employees’ changing needs, behaviours, fears, and expectations to diversify your organisational culture
  • Assessing these changing needs, behaviours, and concerns to adjust your business according to what your employees need to thrive
  • Getting a deeper understanding of how your employees communicate to promote a transparent organisational community
  • Actively listening to your employees to make them feel valued and noticed
  • Getting InteractRDT in to do the heavy lifting for you!


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