Posted: 12 Apr. 2021 10 min. read

The rise of employee experience

Bringing employees to the forefront of designing work

Think for a moment about why you chose the career you chose. Think about your craft and your passion: about the impact you make and why you do what you do. Think about what you love doing.

Now think about how impossibly hard it is to get things done.

Over the last decade, there has been a sharp increase in workplace complexity. There are an average of eight to 11 technology platforms for HR technology alone and numbers are growing. It’s harder to do a job today than yesterday and it’ll be harder tomorrow. So how do we make the employee experience better?

A need to get employee experience right

Many businesses have made significant investment in simplification and new technologies. Organisations that actively design their employee experience have:

  •  2x more innovative activity
  • 2x the customer satisfaction
  • 2.5x the chance of higher profits than competitors.

Despite this, few have realised the expected productivity, fiscal, and customer experience benefits. Results are underwhelming.

The reward for getting it right, however, is high. When employees spend less time trying to work out how to do their job, and more time doing, organisations are twice as innovative and can double customer satisfaction. Their profits are also 2.5 times more likely to be higher than their competitors.

Power of the workplace experience

Great workplace experiences have profound impacts on employees. Employees who routinely remove repetitive tasks, add more value and spend more time engaging with people3. Employees are happier and more fulfilled.

There are deep-rooted reasons for experiences being so powerful. For many, the never-ending search for positive experiences can drive our life goals. Experiences are embedded deep within us and evoke strong feelings. Joy. Sadness. Frustration. Pride. Delight. Anger. Achievement. Boredom.

The need for positive experiences is as real for our personal lives as it is our business lives, and we’re increasingly blurring the lines between them.

Designing with and for the employee

For many organisations, employee experience stops at measurement or merely implementing new technologies. While important, measuring an experience is not the same as designing one. There is more to employee experience than better technology.

From our perspective, employee experience design has one objective: to shift employees from asking ‘how do I do my job?’ to ‘how do I excel at my job?’

Organisations do this by answering three critical questions:

  1. What tangible experience do our employees need to excel?
  2. How do we deliver, support, and sustain that experience?
  3. How can technology enable and accelerate the experience?

There are subtleties at play here. Organisations typically ask these in reverse order and start with technology. A technology-first approach is more comfortable and less ambiguous. However, technology-first results in the underwhelming outcomes mentioned above.

A good experience is coordinated, precise, and purposeful. They are designed with and for the employee — they are not external stakeholders to the process.

Designing for so much more

Intentionally designing your employees’ experiences will yield great business results and create significant opportunity. Actively considering and creating employee experiences allows organisations to substantially impact the world around them.

The workplaces we design and deliver are experienced by employees for a considerable duration of their lives. And we should strive towards an excellent vision for the world. We have become responsible for creating workplaces that provide employees with an environment where they can excel and thrive.

This responsibility implores us to continually ask what kind of lives we want employees to have? And what kind of life do we want for ourselves?

The decisions we make will shape the world around us. Designing frictionless experiences enriches employee lives, and in turn, we enriching our own lives.

We should design experiences that give back time; that allow us to pay attention and slow down. We should create experiences that spark genuinely transformative ideas.

The experiences we design are more than work, and more than money.

They’re a lifetime for your employees. That’s the impact that truly matters.

Article published in Make Magazine, May 2020 to This article was first published in Make, a Deloitte publication celebrating creativity and design, and the work we make. Volume 03, Issue 01. 

More about authors

Grant Show

Grant Show

Director, Consulting

Grant is a design and strategy leader who specialises in human-centred design systems and employee experience design. Grant leads Deloitte’s Digital Employee Experience practice nationally with a focus on making the experience of work engaging, purposeful, and productive.