The Employee Experience: Interview With Authors Tracy Maylett and Matthew Wride

The Employee Experience Book

(This article and interview originally appeared on
Shawn Murphy, CEO and Co-founder of Switch And Shift recently talked with authors Tracy Maylett, Ed.D and Matthew Wride, J.D., P.H.R. about their new book, The Employee Experience: How to Attract Talent, Retain Top Performers, and Drive Results. The book explores what is shaping up to be the hot HR topic of 2017—the employee experience. Maylett and Wride are chief executives at DecisionWise.


S&S: What’s behind the momentum in organizations to begin evaluating their employee experience? How do we know it’s not a management fad?

Maylett: We can thank the recent push in employee engagement for a good part of this momentum. Organizations have discovered clear ties between engagement and operational performance. Engagement has become more than a nice-to-have, HR-sponsored idea. When something has financial measures, ROI, profitability, quality, attrition, etc., tied to it, that tends to get the attention of the entire organization.  The Employee Experience Book
The Employee Experience, or “EX,” is the sum of perceptions employees have about their interactions with the organization in which they work. Organizations now realize engagement is only a part of the human equation regarding these measures. Sometimes EX is positive, sometimes it’s negative. But it’s always there. EX directly impacts performance. The way in which employees perceive their experience is a strong predictor of organizational performance. Emphasis on performance certainly isn’t a fad, so it’s important to understand all the indicators associated with that performance. Understanding EX is foundational.


S&S: What trends do you see regarding the connection between employee experience and customer experience?

Maylett: There has been a great deal of attention focused on creating a stellar Customer Experience (CX). There is no doubt customer satisfaction is rocket fuel for the bottom line. However, today’s organizations are burning billions in fruitless efforts to create a profit-boosting CX. Many companies fail to recognize their employees create the customer experience. The employee is the face of the company. The Customer Experience (CX) is a direct result of the Employee Experience (EX). CX = EX. We call this the “Law of Congruent Experience.” Employees will deliver a Customer Experience that matches their own Employee Experience. And some organizations are finally realizing the sole focus on CX is a backward attempt to delight customers.

Read the Book: The Employee Experience

Wride: Over the past several years, the trend has been to focus intently on customer experience while many times ignoring those who interact with the customer on a daily basis:  the employees. We try and remind business leaders to lay a foundation built on a well-functioning employee experience rather than obsessing over whether a customer spent 32.3 seconds on the website as opposed to 36.9 seconds last year. If you want a superlative customer experience, start by creating an environment that fosters and promotes an engaged workforce.


S&S: Talk about the role employee expectations play in the employee experience. What are other important factors?

Maylett: There has been a great deal of research in both clinical and organizational psychology that points to the fact that expectations form the basis of relationships. Every relationship, be it husband and wife, parent and child, boss and subordinate, or company and employee, has a “Contract.” This contract is a set of expectations for all parties involved.
Some of these expectations are explicit (“You will work X hours per week, and I will pay you Y amount”). Others are implicit (“I will work extra hours on this project because the company will take notice next time promotions come around”). This set of expectations, or a contract, is always being reinforced, violated, or renegotiated. Our research shows whether this contract is honored has a greater impact on the relationship than does the environment in which that relationship operates.

In the workplace, this means one’s engagement is less dependent on foosball tables, Taco Tuesdays, benefits, and compensation than it is on whether the individual’s expectations are met. Much of our EX perception is based on how well expectations are fulfilled. If expectations aren’t aligned, an expectation gap is created, causing disengagement.

Wride: Expectations are these ephemeral atomic elements that either build or destroy relationships. Yet, we don’t spend nearly enough time worrying about them. Instead, we focus on getting down to the “real work” of the day that might consist of meetings, memos, spreadsheets, and forecasts. Of course, that stuff is incredibly important, but not at the expense of building alignment within one’s team.


S&S: Whose responsibility is it to have a positive employee experience—executives? Middle management?

Maylett: In our book, ENGAGEMENT MAGIC®: Five Keys for Engaging People, Leaders, and Organizations we state that engagement is a 50/50 proposition. 50 percent of the responsibility is on the company. The organization must create the environment that encourages employees to choose to be engaged. But it’s still a choice; employees must choose to engage.

Similarly, the employee experience is half of the responsibility of the employees. Many leaders can point to employees that will constantly chose to have a negative employee experience (remember, EX is all about perceptions), despite any management effort. However, the organization is still responsible for the other 50 percent.

Managers and supervisors are the foot soldiers with the direct connection to employees. They are the beginning and end of in-house EX management. In other words, we are ALL responsible for creating and maintaining a positive EX (even the employees).


S&S: What role does the Employee Value Proposition play in engagement?

Wride: The Employee Value Proposition is simply one component of a well-functioning employee experience. It’s what we call the “brand contract.” It’s those expectations an organization has about what it needs from future and current employees, intertwined with expectations these same people have about what it will be like for them personally within that organization. (Sorry, that was a long-winded answer). To the extent an organization’s EVP properly bridges the chasm separating the organization’s needs from the employees’ expectations, that organization will be more successful in attracting and retaining the type of talent that will help it win.


SA&: Where do leaders go astray when intentionally developing their employee experience?

Maylett: Leaders are most likely to go astray when they fail to intentionally design an EX at all. A poor EX most often is created when leaders neglect the EX, or allow an EX to form unintentionally and without concerted design. EX must be intentional. EX is like culture; it will develop, whether it’s planned or not. When an organization purposefully creates a positive EX, rather than letting it unintentionally develop, the EX more likely will reflect the positive values of the organization.

Wride: It’s like parenting. When I became a parent, I was cocky. I thought I had the natural ability to be effective. Wrong!  I had to work at it, and I needed to make it an intentional area of focus. Most leaders are high achievers, which makes them believe they are talented across the spectrum. They fall into the same trap I did with parenting. They erroneously believe prior success in other areas means they have the inherent talent to manage, motivate, and engage human beings. For a small percentage, that might be true. But our employee survey responses tell us for the clear majority of leaders, they need to improve their people skills.

Call to Action - Employee Experience Book Bestseller

Forget Customer Experience, Think Employee Experience

Forget the Customer Experience, Think Employee Experience

Forget Customer Experience, think Employee Experience

Article by Tracy Maylett originally published on (TLNT).

“Taking care of the customer is our number-one priority.”
“The customer is always right.”

At least that’s what I’ve always been told. And I’ve practiced it, preached it, and believed it. But, I’ve learned that approach is short-sighted. Maybe the laser focus on the Customer Experience (CX) has worked in the past, but this single-minded approach doesn’t cut it any more. There’s more to it. Maybe it’s time to think “Employee Experience” (EX) first.

Read the Book: The Employee Experience

Let’s step back a moment. Is the customer still king? Sure… kind of. Reports by the American Customer Service Satisfaction Index show that leaders in customer service outperform the Dow by 93 percent, the Fortune 500 by 20 percent, and the NASDAQ by… hold on… 335 percent!

However, according to The Consumer Conversation 2015 report, only 37 percent of businesses surveyed said they were “able to tie customer experience activities to revenue and/or cost savings.” Good for the one-third that say they’re doing it. Too bad for the other two-thirds. That’s a lot of wasted money and effort. In fact, an Accenture report concluded that half of companies’ CX initiatives do very little to retain customers or increase revenue. With the market for customer experience management services and technology predicted to hit nearly $11 billion by 2020, the customer-comes-first focus has some heavy money tied to it.

It’s Your Employees!

The customer is the reason you have a job to come to. Still, few organizations are getting it right, despite investments in customer care programs, marketing, and extensive customer survey platforms. The answer isn’t in buying customer loyalty and affection. It’s not in increasing the marketing budget. It’s not bribery. And even innovation doesn’t last long—competitors out-innovate the innovators. The answer is right in front of you. It’s your employees!

The problem is, most organizations today are so obsessed with the Customer Experience that they ignore the primary factor in creating that experience—your employees. Few organizations treat employees as though this were true.

Every organization has a customer. If you’re in retail, it’s the person buying your ripped skinny jeans. In technology, it’s the person downloading your software. In education, it’s the student. In government, it’s the citizens of the community. The customer is the reason the organization exists (and why you have a job).

But with the increased emphasis on CX, we treat CX as if it’s both the end goal and the process by which we obtain that goal. A superior CX is like a garden. A healthy garden from which we can harvest fresh produce is the end goal. But you can’t create results by waving a wand and taking daily measurements. You have to attend to the activities—planting the seeds, watering, fertilizing, weeding—that create the outcome you’re shooting for.

Your employees are the soil and nutrients in which your CX grows. If you have a foundation of engaged employees, your CX will be taken care of. Conversely, without a garden bed of great people who choose to take care of your customers, all the technology, surveying, innovation, and massive investment in programs won’t keep your CX from dying on the vine.

An extraordinary Employee Experience is the basis for successful Customer Experience. The degree to which your employees are nurtured and cared for dictates the degree to which your EX efforts will bear fruit. In other words, EX = CX.

Last Fall I walked into a bakery that was in a section of a supermarket. Despite being housed within a large store this bakery was privately owned. It was known for its pastries, and I had my mouth set on a fresh apple fritter. As I stood at the counter, I overheard a man I assumed to be a supervisor chiding the teenage counter worker in the back room. Others nearby also heard the berating. I rang the counter bell, and the young girl came out. The first words out of her mouth were, “What do you need?” Not, “Welcome,” “How are you today?,” or “Would you like a sample?” She didn’t even have the courtesy to look me in the eye.

My first thought was to walk away from the bakery. But as I thought about it, I realized it wasn’t the fault of the teen in front of me. My Customer Experience was a direct result of her Employee Experience. I asked for the manager, let him know what I had overheard, and then gave him a lecture on taking care of his employees (I’m a consultant, that’s what I do). I walked away, without purchasing the best fritter in town. (As a side note, the bakery closed over six months ago, and still hasn’t reopened.)

Your employees are your brand. If your brand is a promise, your employees are responsible for fulfilling that promise. They are the face of your brand—the face of your business to the customer. Many companies sprint past EX on their way to building their CX. It doesn’t work. The CX is the result of the engagement and behaviors of your employees.

Think of it this way. The last time you experienced a customer snafu, did you ask the question, “What type of experience are we providing for our employees?” Probably not. That’s HR’s job. You’re solving more important problems. But, odds are that problem was the direct or indirect result of someone failing to correct a problem, step up to quality issues, provide that extra bit of customer service, build a relationship, or fulfill a promise or obligation.

The Law of Congruent Experience

EX has the ability to change the direction of the needle—up or down—on whatever metric you choose: customer satisfaction, quality, revenue, patient satisfaction… you name it. Think about the costs of implementing a world-class customer service effort in an environment where employees are disengaged. Some organizations even go to extremes to design employees out of the system, coming up with elaborate schemes to keep employees from damaging the customer relationship. Why? The Employee Experience is poor, and employees simply don’t care about delighting the customer.

We call this The Law of Congruent Experience.  It says: Employees will deliver a customer experience that matches their own experience in the organization.

Indifferent employers mean indifferent employees. Indifferent employees create indifferent customers. Think about the employee that was just berated by her supervisor. Do you really think that the next apple fritter will be served up with a smile and a “thank you for your business?” Doubtful.

Despite the title of this article, I’m not advocating ignoring your CX. But there’s a step that many businesses leave out in their quest for the holy grail of Customer Experience—the Employee Experience.
EX = CX.

Get the book, The Employee Experience

5 Reasons NOT to Quit Your Job in 2017

Man thinking as he looks at tablet

5 Reasons NOT to Quit Your Job in 2017

Article by Tracy Maylett originally published on
As I valiantly fought the annual Christmas lights battle again this year, detangling the matted mess of strings that were to be placed across the front of my house, it hit me (as it does every year): Why not just get rid of these lights and start over?

5 Reasons NOT to Quit Your Job in 2017

Read the New Book: The Employee Experience

Each year, we immerse ourselves in the after-holiday sales, where decorations go on sale for as much as 75% off. The purpose? To replace the strings of lights we disposed of after the last annual “Unveiling of the Lights” fiasco, just a month earlier. For us, lights have become “disposable.” It’s easier to move on with another set than to keep trying.

We live in a do-over society—a culture where mulligans are the norm. And this culture doesn’t just apply to seasonal decorations. “Out with the old and in with the new” applies to the way many are beginning to view employment as well. It’s a new phenomenon that would have been completely foreign to previous generations of workers.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the unemployment rate has plummeted, while the number of open positions has increased. We have entered the “Age of the Employee.” That means the Employee Experience—the sum of perceptions employees have about their interactions with the organization in which they work—is even more important to employee retention than ever before. So, employee, you have the upper hand in this game. And that’s a good thing… isn’t it?

It seems that as we approach the end of the year, we see a flood of articles with headlines like, “Why 2017 is the Year to Change Your Job.” While moving out of a toxic career makes sense, viewing a job as “disposable” can also be dangerous. So, before you quit your job, keep a few things in mind:
First, the logical side:

  1. Job switching is stressful. The well-known Holmes and Rahe stress scale ranks changes in employment as one of the most impactful of life’s stressors. Dismissal from work, business readjustment, change to a different line of work, and change in working hours all rank among adjustments that significantly affect personal health.
  1. There may be a waiting period. While the allure of different compensation or work environment may be enticing, a move may be also financially taxing, even if it doesn’t appear so when the job offer is accepted. For example, many companies have benefits policies that may not kick in for a period of time. Benefits like health insurance and 401(k) often have waiting periods that can be costly in both the short and long term.

And the not-so-logical, but equally important side:

  1. Mastery takes time. Let’s face it. For the first three months of employment, you’re more likely to be a liability than an asset, regardless of how valuable you think you are. Then, at the three-month mark, you may graduate from liability status to simply being a non-nuisance. It’s often not until (at least) the six-month mark that the real contribution kicks in. If a job shift occurs every 18 months (which is starting to be perceived by some as a sign of “promotability” or value), you might have less than a year of true productivity before moving on—not enough time to master a role. Yet, mastery has repeatedly been shown as one of the key factors in job engagement. Are you ready to spend a good part of 2017 as an apprentice again?
  1. Growth is a process. My first professional-level job was a real challenge. Because this was a retail job, the hours left little quality time for family. In that role, I was cursed at (many times), underpaid, confronted in supermarket parking lots, and dragged into court by dishonest employees. I quit, but it took me six years to do so! However, I’ll always value those years, because I grew. I’m grateful for all the times I was yelled at; they forced me to learn. I apply that learning nearly every day in my current profession. In an environment where jobs are disposable, too many take the easy way out of employment, and never grow because the grass is always greener elsewhere. Which brings up the next point…
  1. Maybe you’re the problem. Why are you thinking of making the switch? Working conditions? Growth opportunities? Compensation? All of these are valid reasons. But job interviews often reveal that employees’ reasons for leaving current or previous jobs boils down to what the employer supposedly does or doesn’t do. However, often it’s not just this job;  it has become a pattern in their lives. What’s the common denominator here? Are most employers tyrants? Will that new job really value your talents more than your current job? Or, maybe… possibly…is the problem, you? Before making the move, it’s often valuable to look in the mirror. Do these same issues seem to follow you wherever you go?

Before you change jobs in 2017, consider the above. Maybe that switch isn’t what you want after all.

By the way, I know a guy who’s willing to pay well for untangling and hanging Christmas lights. Interested?

Get the book, The Employee Experience

Podcast: Understanding The 3 Employee/Employer Contracts

Employee Experience Triangle Model

DecisionWise CEO and author, Tracy Maylett discusses his upcoming book. He also talks about the three types of contracts employees experience when working for an organization including answers to the following:

1. What are the three types of contracts?
2. What are transactional components of The Contract and how do they work?
3. What are brand components of The Contract and how do they work?
4. What are psychological components of The Contract and how do they work?
5. How does a business leader manage these components to create a better work environment?

See how these contracts form your Employee Value Proposition (EVP). Download a sample survey and report.

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