What is the employee journey?
The employee journey is made up of all of the moments that matter across the employee experience.
One way to think about it is in contrast to the employee lifecycle, which is often presented in a linear way like this:
While this tidy employee lifecycle can be a helpful tool for envisioning the employee experience, what it misses is the moments that matter. It’s built to account for and track the traditional pillars of HR.
The employee journey, in contrast, is built to capture the moments that matter and to embrace that the employee journey is not linear. In the journey, the focus is on the individual and mapping experiences that they may encounter at any time, regardless of if they’re a new or tenured employee.
Employees face a stream of challenges at work as they navigate their onboarding, daily work, and eventual departure. Employee Journey Mapping helps improve their overall experience.
What is an employee journey map?
An Employee Journey Map helps define and prioritize the work that needs to be done to ensure that the employee experience is top-notch. It lists many predictable experiences of an employee, from before their first day on the job until after their last day.
Visually, the Employee Journey Map represents the stages of an employee’s experience (like onboarding). Each stage of the Employee Journey includes Moments, or the touch-points employees encounter during those Journeys (like the "90 days check-in" or the "connecting a new hire with their buddy").
And at each of those Moments companies will send Communications, or helpful messages to guide people through those Moments (like "a manager guide to do a 90 day check-in", or "instructions for the new hire buddy").
Stages of the employee journey
Unlike the linearity of the employee lifecycle above, the stages of the employee journey are best thought of in a non-linear fashion - they could occur at any time and often in parallel.
A few stages that would be beneficial to include in your employee journey that are often not present in the employee lifecycle include:
- Manager education and support
- Life events (work anniversaries, parental leave)
- Holidays and observances
An important note is that you can’t predict all of the stages of the employee journey because you can’t predict all moments in someone’s journey. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try for as much coverage as you can, or that employee journey mapping is unimportant. In fact, it’s critical.
Why is employee journey mapping important?
Employee Journey Mapping allows you to proactively shape the employee experience and give people the support and guidance they need at the right time. The more proactive you can be, the better your performance will be as a company because people are not struggling to find basic information or understand expectations, they’re able to focus on performing their duties.
In addition to the impact on the employee, Employee Journey Mapping helps your HR team as well. Your Human Resources or “People People” genuinely want to be there for people at the right times, but we can’t be everywhere at once. Employee Journey Mapping allows us to understand what moments could possibly happen and gives us a tool to track what's happening across the organization and then we can proactively deliver the right information.
John Foster, who led the People Function at brands like IDEO, Hulu, and Truecar and used Employee Journey Mapping as a key component of the employee experience. At IDEO, a design company with human-centered design at its core, John learned the fundamentals behind experience design.
He explains that Journey Mapping is an essential first step, “When I start in a company - I introduce my team to the Journey Map in our first meeting.” He defines the People function around the idea that there is an employee journey and that designing and managing employee experiences is what the People function does.
“Employee Experience goes beyond the regular services HR that generally provides. With the journey map, we outline all the touch-points when an employee interacts with the company - and how they perceive those interactions. Once the journey map is complete, it's amazing! You can take a rookie new HR hire and say, this is how things work around here. Follow the map! It's like going into the Tube in London; you can get where you need to go because there's a tube map," John adds.
How to create your employee journey map
Creating an Employee Journey Map from scratch may feel like a big project. And it would be, if you didn’t have any tools or resources to lean on. So, before diving into the steps on how to create your map, I’ve listed some handy tools you can use:
- Use this Journey Map Visualisation when you first discuss the journey map with your team. It allows the team to understand the full journey and lets you review what’s already in place and what you may want to improve first.
- Use this Journey Mapping Worksheet when your team is ready to asses the work that needs to be done to improve the employee experience in your company. You can safe and edit this worksheet over time.
- Pyn's soon-to-be-released Employee Journey Mapper will allow you collaborate with your team to make your own Employee Journey Map. You can customize our Employee Journey Templates to make your own!
Now, let’s dive into the five steps to create your journey map:
- Identify moments that matter in the employee journey (Key Moments)
- Align Key Moments to company values and processes (Alignment)
- Ensure clarity or communications for each Key Moment (Coverage)
- Vary communications per employee segment, like department or location (Variations)
- Decide when/how the employee get the information/support (Distribution)
1. Identify moments that matter in the Employee Journey
Your employee journey will have different stages, like the “onboarding journey” and the “manager journey.”
Moments that matter are the touchpoints people encounter during their journey that have an outsized impact on the employee’s experience.
A positive experience during these moments may lift performance and engagement. A negative experience often has a long lasting negative impact on motivation and performance. So, it’s important to identify those key moments and have the right communications in place to support an employee as they encounter a moment. Click here to read our article on moments that matter for more information.
Example of a newly promoted manager: In the manager journey, a key moment is the day when a person is promoted to manager. The manager is hungry for information and clarity, and perhaps a bit nervous about managing their new relationship with their reports. They want to do well. If there is little or no information, clarity and support provided right at such a key moment, it will impact both motivation and performance.
The onboarding journey may be managed by People Operations, while the manager journey may be managed by L&D. Some companies hire a Head of Employee Experience who looks across the entire employee journey. To identify the moments that matter, you’ll want to invite representatives from relevant functions to indicate which moments of the journey they think matter most to employees.
John adds that it’s important to acknowledge that this process requires some technical skill. When working with your team, he shares, "There could be an initial shock when the rough sketch has so many red lights. A lot of people have never been exposed to a process map and they don’t understand terminology like stakeholder, process steps, or inputs and outputs. To turn a conversation on ‘employee experiences’ into a process map requires some technical skill and knowledge.”
He remedies this by sitting down with reports and skip level reports to work together on the parts of the journey map they are responsible for. “It both helps me to really understand their work, and it creates a great coaching opportunity for them. It's a great career development process for HR people to understand the whole function better,” John explains.
2. Align moments that matter to company values and processes
Your company will have company wide processes and values you want everyone to adhere to. Key moments are a perfect time to reinforce those.
The experiences of employees (during the moments that matter) should align with core values and processes of the company.
So, for every key moment, include ways to reinforce company values and processes.
- Example of a newly promoted manager: Your company may have set a company wide standard for weekly 1:1s which can be reinforced immediately upon promotion. Or if you have a company value like transparency, you may set the expectation with your new leader to cascade relevant information from management meetings to their reports.
John explains how his team prioritizes this alignment, "After we whiteboard a rough first journey map, I get everybody talking about what's working and what's not. Then we just label it to prioritize work; red, green, yellow. So, the tool itself is a way to evaluate the HR function and have tradeoff discussions about what we should be working on.”
3. Ensure clarity and communications for each moment
For each moment that matters during the journey, you’d need to send employees communications, or messages you send to support each moment.
Moments that matter are often moments of transition (e.g moving to a new team) or a moment that a manager or employee may not have a lot of experience with (e.g. parental leave) and therefore it is important to provide people with the clarity and support they need to successfully navigate them. Pyn's Open Library includes over 200 employee communication templates for all the moments that matter. You can use them open source, and as a Pyn customer, you can automate these messages based on triggers set in your HRIS.
- Example of a newly promoted manager: Almost immediately after being promoted, the new manager will have 1:1 meetings. Therefore, communications in those first days should include a guide for the new manager on how to structure a kick-off 1:1 with their new direct reports.