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Corporate Wellbeing Employee Engagement Employee Experience Employee Wellbeing Best Practices

How to Design Your Employee Experience for Maximum Engagement 

Happy people in an office

Great employee experiences empower people and give them a satisfying workplace where they are fully engaged. 

A broad set of factors have changed employee experience and engagement over the past three years, specifically in the past six months.  

While organizations focus on competitiveness, transformation, building trust, relationships, location, and talent, at Virgin Pulse, our insights show a different focus for employees. Employees focus on work location and environment, change management, health, wellbeing, benefits, and feeling like they belong. These areas aren’t mutually exclusive; rather, all these factors play into the employee experience and how they engage with their workplace.  

Employee experience is not to be mistaken with employee engagement. While engagement is the emotional state where we feel passionate, energetic, and committed toward our work and in life, employee experience represents the entire employee journey. This means focusing on engagement or experience alone is no longer acceptable. It takes both positive experiences and engagement to create a satisfying workplace, and research from Gartner and MIT show how impactful intentional employee experience and engagement can be: 

  • Less employee turnover: 60% of employees report high intent to stay with their employer 
  • Increased productivity: employees are 52% more likely to report high discretionary effort and are 69% more likely to be high performers 
  • Greater revenue and profits: experienced-focused leaders have 25% higher profits  

The time to make the shift toward creating the kind of organization where employees are engaged and connecting employee experience and engagement is now.  

Creating the kind of organization where most employees are fully engaged requires designing and developing an engaging experience at work for each employee every day. This is the opportunity to connect employee experience and engagement. A great employee experience provides a holistic and personalized view of touchpoints of cognitive, emotional, sensory, social, and behavioral responses during all stages of the employee lifecycle. This positive experience encourages employees to continue to seek those experiences, which leads to an increase in engagement.  

Employee experience is also made up of moments shaping how we feel about the organization, our work, and who we work with. For example, how we meet and interact with our coworkers has recently required significant redesign because of the increase in remote working. Bringing co-workers together in person for the first time brings forward several different emotions. While we want to believe this is a positive experience, if it is not well designed, it can have neutral or negative impacts. But when we have a great experience, it’s usually because most of the moments involved were positive, and very few were negative. 

Employees are involved in countless processes that shape their journey – from hiring to becoming alumni – and their impressions of how the organization orchestrated their experiences are what determine their overall perception of the organization. Research shows that when employers prioritize proactive and intentional employee experience and engagement, they face less employee turnover, experience greater productivity from their employees, and increase their overall revenue and profits.  

Shifting your employee experience to create the engagement you desire: Three areas to focus on when creating a positive and engaging employee experience  

Design for your people 

When we think about creating an experience, it is important to ask:  

  1. How do we want our employees to feel about working here? 
  2. Who am I designing for? 
  3. Why? 

For HR leaders, this shift from a benefit-first strategy to an outcome-driven, people-first strategy allows us to architect a specific experience for our employees, not just a benefits experience that’s a one-size-fits-all solution.  

This also requires a shift in how we think about department silos. HR departments are made up of multiple teams focused on specific aspects of the employee experience. For example, one area focused on benefits, another recruiting, maybe you have a wellbeing team, or internal communications. When we look at experience through the lens of the employee, they don’t think in departments, only what was the total experience. Employees could be impacted by inclusion, wellbeing, development, or communication issues, and they aren’t thinking about all of the different departments that go into one experience, rather, they see the total as either good, neutral, or negative. The goal with employee experience is to have more good experiences than negative. 

We want to develop an experience that provides the tools, benefits, and resources altogether that create a holistic approach to benefits and employee experience. These experiences should be connected and integrated with one another to create whole-person engagement.  

To create a well-orchestrated experience, organizations need a wellbeing partner that understands the behaviors and motivations of an individual, not just their health status. In fact, only 30% of a person’s health status compromises healthcare claims data; the other 70% comes from lifestyle and environment, including social determinants of health. Leveraging these two sets of data, you can precisely target tailored programs to ensure the best personalization and optimize your investments. A wellbeing partner like Virgin Pulse supports individuals at work and in life, using data to predict and serve up relevant actions that support the whole-person experience that leads to engagement and outcomes.  

Infuse behavior change to achieve sustained engagement and desired results 

We want to approach behavior change with small, actionable steps that motivate employees to continue forming healthy habits that lead to healthy routines that lead to sustained engagement. Depending on where your organization is and where a specific individual is in their employee and life journey, three elements must converge at the same moment to make a change happen – motivation, ability, and a prompt. 

An effective program demonstrates clear outcomes, and at Virgin Pulse, we’ve seen these results from clients: 

50% sustained engagement  

Average 6+ daily interactions per member 

5 out of 10 members reported decreased stress level 

7 out of 10 members improved clinical metrics across BMI, blood sugar levels, and blood pressure  

16% experienced productivity gain  

35% increase in targeted solution enrollment  

Capturing your employees’ attention in an overwhelmed workforce 

Employers should focus on delivering value in the context of attention span by simplifying and orchestrating what their employees care most about in small, digestible, and individualized interactions. This allows employees to take charge of their benefits experience and make positive changes in their health journey.  

By maintaining a steady focus and a healthy workflow that presents information and benefits in an easily digestible form and allows employees to take charge of their experience. Benefits should be placed intelligently and integrated into a daily routine for it to really be useful for your employees. The critical components are: 

  • Meaningful everyday interactions 
  • Personalization for your employees’ needs and what motivates them 
  • AI-based nudges that know about your benefits plan and can serve up the right resources at the right time based on what changes they need to make  

“Despite years of focus on employee engagement, three-quarters of employees don’t have the types of experiences at work that invite them to share their full potential. Creating the kind of organization where a majority of employees are fully engaged requires designing and creating an engaging experience for each employee every day,” Laura Walmley, EVP & GM Employers at Virgin Pulse, explains.  

Now, more than ever before, employees expect, need, and value health and wellbeing programs, so how can you develop benefits and wellbeing programs that create a whole-person experience? 

By creating a modern approach to health, wellbeing, and employee experience, you can help your employees eliminate barriers – real or perceived – and make it easier for them to access care, health, and connection to improve their daily lives. 

When we look at things like engagement, lifestyle and behavior change, health gap closure and condition improvement, overall performance, and culture within organizations that have adopted a wellbeing program that focuses on the whole person, we see significant cost savings and overall improvement of their employees’ wellbeing.  

“Orchestrating the full person experience and thinking about it through the lens of the employee and then inserting in the behavior change facet is very important. We want to make sure there are more positive experiences than neutrals or negative because that is key to delivering engagement and the outcomes you’re looking for,” Brooke Ossenkop, VP of Marketing at Virgin Pulse, elaborated. 

An intentionally designed employee experience puts people first to deliver the business outcomes you need. Whether you’re looking to increase your utilization, improve employee satisfaction, or decrease stress, Virgin Pulse is here to help you create a whole-person, engaging, and empowering experience.   

Ready to learn more about designing an employee experience that delivers engagement?