Bringing Employee Experience to Life

October 15th, 2019

The term “employee experience” is hot – in a global 2018 study of five hundred CHROs, 83% of organizational leaders emphasized a positive employee experience as crucial to organizational success.1 There is also evidence that organizations with a strong employee experience have twice the innovation and customer satisfaction and higher profits than organizations with a weaker employee experience.2

However, despite this enthusiasm, there is not a lot of clarity on what the term means and what exactly organizations should do to improve it. We, therefore, began a study of this topic earlier this year. In this new report, The Four Levers of Employee Experience to Create Sustainable Results, sponsored by Medallia, we focused on one primary question:

How should organizations create a compelling, delighting, and sustainable employee experience that results in high-performing, satisfied employees and loyal customers?

Some of the Myths and Realities We Uncovered

Over the course of our investigation, we encountered some very strong perspectives on employee experience. Some of the “myths” we identified early on in the research are below – as well as the counter-balancing reality we discovered through our reading and interviews (see Figure 1).


Figure 1: Myths and Realities of Employee Experience | Source: RedThread Research, 2019.

So, given the realities of employee experience, what should organizations do? Our research identified some very actionable steps organizations can take.

The Four Levers of Employee Experience

After analyzing the breadth of what we learned, we identified four critical levers of employee experience: a clear philosophy, a supportive culture, articulated accountability, and an aligned measurement approach (see Figure 2). When combined together, these four levers can have a powerful impact on employee experience.


Figure 2: The Four Levers of Employee Experience | Source: RedThread Research, 2019.


  • A clear philosophy: Identifies a target audience and clearly defines employee experience and its relationship to employee engagement.
  • A supportive culture: Anchors employee experience to the culture via employee-centric values, beliefs, and assumptions that reinforce five essential behaviors: collaboration, transparency, psychological safety, alignment, and feedback-sharing.
  • Articulated accountability: Distributes responsibility for employee experience strategy and large-scale issues among senior leaders. It also centralizes responsibility among individual contributors for sharing meaningful feedback and among mid-level leaders for effectively responding to it.
  • An aligned measurement approach: Takes into consideration an organization’s data analytics maturity and a clear data analytics strategy aligned to key business metrics.

The most progressive organizations we interviewed were able to use these four levers effectively to create a clear and compelling employee experience.

Within the report, we provide details on how organizations can approach each lever and provide numerous quotes and examples of organizations who have done each one well. While interviewed organizations’ outcomes varied based on what they were trying to influence, the below quote from Greg Pryor at Workday sums up nicely many of the themes we heard:

“Our first belief, and we think about our values in that order, is that happy employees enable happy customers. Happy customers want to innovate with us. The ability to have great innovation allows us to attract happy employees and do really interesting work, and that creates a virtuous cycle.”

Greg Pryor, senior VP of people and performance evangelist at Workday

For more on each lever – and examples of how companies have brought them to life – we encourage you to download and read the full report. You can also join us at Workday Rising, where we will share the full results of this research for the first time.

Heather Gilmartin Adams


  1. “The New CHRO Agenda Employee Experiences Drive Business Value,” Wadors, P., ServiceNow, 2018.
  2. “Building Business Value with Employee Experience,” Dery, K. & Sebastian, I.M., MIT CISR Research Briefing, 2017.