Subjective surveys and performance reviews have long indicated that employee engagement and buy-in are the backbone of successful organizational objectives. Until recently, though, employee experience strategies have been missing a key ingredient: objective data.
Recent interventions of technology, accelerated by the dawning age of AI, are changing that. Here’s how employee experience data can help leaders not only improve metrics related to productivity and performance, but also set and fulfill organizational goals.
Between the pandemic and the mainstream adoption of generative AI, the ways we work have fundamentally changed. We’ve gone from top-down to matrixed organizations, from silos to networks, and from the office 9-5 to checking in anywhere, anytime.
In any era of change, business leaders must evaluate how their organization needs to pivot to be successful and competitive. Moreover, they--with their technology and HR leaders—must consider how to bring employees along for the ride without costly attrition, tool sprawl or heel-digging. That takes an employee experience strategy.
But—and it’s a fair question—how does a leader know if any given employee engagement initiative works?
Here’s why that matters. Data helps change the lens that leaders use to scrutinize and decide on management philosophies, office policies, and best practices for their business. Strategically using people analytics to inform those decisions helps improve employee satisfaction, which not only impacts employee engagement and productivity, but, consequently, contributes substantially to sustainable organizational success.
So how can a business use employee experience data to evolve the ways that critical organization-wide goals are set and met?
Traditionally, employee experience programs have been shaped by various interactions with peers, managers, and leaders in forums like 1:1s, performance reviews, and town halls. But EX encapsulates all of an employee’s interactions with an organization and its people. How a person experiences your organization is based on a multitude of factors that ladder up to both introspective and extrospective impacts.
Direct introspective impacts of an employee’s experience include:
Extrospective impacts include:
To break down introspective vs. extrospective impacts—the latter three have typically been seen as things leaders can visibly influence and invest in, compared to the former three impacts that are more fluid and subjective. The extrospective impacts, being more visible, pose a great opportunity for analysis and investment. After all, performance, growth, and connection are the bedrock of organizational development, not just personal development.
That’s why a more analytical approach to EX can be so powerful, particularly when enabled by technology that can more effectively measure teams’ productivity and engagement than traditional surveying methods could. Today’s people analytics landscape leverages data to gain deeper insights into employee behaviors, habits, and work patterns.
This shift enables a more balanced art and science approach to employee experience, fostering an environment where employees and organizations thrive in tandem.
Organizational goals serve as beacons that guide every aspect of a company’s direction specifically management and employees. They provide direction, foster unity, and establish benchmarks for success. Setting these goals, therefore, is not just an exercise in ambition, but a strategic endeavor that lays the foundation for growth and innovation.
Goals aren’t just milestones—they’re reflections of the company’s vision, strategy, and operational focus. The real power of these goals lies in their alignment with the workforce’s aspirations and insights, a process where data plays a pivotal role.
Why? Two reasons, one directly following the other.
1. Employee buy-in is the cornerstone of successful organizational goals.
When employees understand and align with these goals, they are more engaged, motivated, and committed to the organization’s vision. Achieving this buy-in starts with transparency and communication, but more importantly, it requires integrating employee feedback and insights about their work into the goal-setting process.
This is where data becomes indispensable. Insights—that is, data that has been refined and pivoted in a useful way—serve as windows into the employee’s world. From answers on voluntary feedback surveys to individual performance metrics to hours spent in meetings, each data point helps build insights for leaders and managers into what motivates, engages, and challenges employees.
2. When organizational goals are informed by EX insights, they are more realistic, attainable, and relevant. This isn’t to say that all business goals are developed from employee feedback (though a subset should be), but goal areas like growth, operational excellence, and capability building definitely should be fledged with employee experience and influence in mind.
Here’s how that cycle works.
Goals management is a tool to see all pertinent goals through a single pane of glass. Critical to goals management are:
“Companies tend to define a bunch of initiatives and do a bunch of stuff,” says Kevin Scott, Senior Director of Launch’s Management Consulting Studio. When initiatives lack objectives, he explains, there is no greater inspiring cause to keep employees aligned, and if the initiatives lack defined key results, it’s impossible to tell if the team is materially achieving goals or simply running on a treadmill. Finally, without established processes to review milestones or course-correct if an initiative isn’t on track, people feel disorganized, adrift, and unmotivated or unsure about tasks.
Managing goals effectively is key not only to project success, but to cultivating a more positive employee experience, one marked by a sense of teamwork and accomplishment. Goals management is itself a component of an employee experience strategy—one that make setting and achieving organizational goals a virtuous cycle.
Collecting and analyzing employee data involves a range of methods, from annual surveys to continuous performance tracking. It’s best to use the full range for the most complete picture. However, the biggest game-changer for most organizations is a centralized AI-enabled data platform. At Launch, we’re big fans of the Microsoft Viva suite.
Viva is a platform of different products that each individually help improve aspects of work defined within employee experience. Launch most prominently emphasizes Viva Insights and Viva Goals, but using the full suite maximizes outcomes for both the introspective and extrospective impacts of EX discussed earlier.
Together, these tools empower business and HR leaders to not only understand and improve the employee experience on a macro level, but also augment greater organizational decision-making and goal-setting. The company can tailor work environments and policies to better suit their teams’ needs, leading to a more engaged and productive workforce.
Note: It's crucial to approach employee data collection ethically and with respect for privacy. Transparent communication about how data is used and ensuring confidentiality is key to maintaining trust and willingness among employees to provide honest feedback.
The evolution of employee experience programs, especially with AI-enabled toolsets like Microsoft Viva, has dramatically shifted from just personal interactions to a more holistic, data-informed approach. Technology has changed the game, taking EX from a feel-good nice-to-have to a critical component of organizational goal-setting and growth.
By applying EX data, leaders can refocus and tune the way their organization sets and meets collective goals. Utilizing these insights helps ensure that their objectives are not only ambitious but also closely aligned with the day-to-day experiences and long-term aspirations of their workforce. This alignment fosters a more engaged and motivated team, leading to higher productivity and successful attainment of organizational goals.
Integrating objective data into an employee experience strategy isn't just a trend. As the market moves deeper into the age of AI, accessing and employing EX data in this way will fundamentally change the way companies set and achieve organizational goals in 2024 and beyond.