Let’s Talk About EX: Why It’s a Mistake to Back Off in Tough Times

Positive employee experiences attract top talent, leading to increased profits and efficiencies. Read the article further to understand the role of communications in EX and CX.

We’ve heard it before in business: When times are good, you should advertise. When times are bad, you must advertise. A study conducted by McGraw-Hill during the recession in the first half of the 1980s looked into companies that maintained or increased advertising. The research found that those who continued advertising through tough times showed a sales increase of 275% compared to 19% in the companies who cut their advertising budgets.

What if we applied this same adage to the employee experience (EX) and customer experience (CX)? Research confirms that the employee experience directly affects the customer experience. In fact, poor or absent employee communications are costing organizations an average of $19 million a year and that’s just the financial hit on specific business initiatives.
What about the monetary impact of poor comms on productivity and employee attrition? The results are likely to be equally as concerning.

As organizations navigate the new economic and professional landscape born out of the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, they must weigh employee satisfaction high on the list of priorities to improve customer experiences and business outcomes.

What is EX?

The employee experience encompasses every interaction that happens along an employee’s journey within a company. This includes the work, relationships, and responsibilities directly connected to an employee’s role, as well as their work environment, engagement, well-being, and other experiences.

Leading global analyst Josh Bersin found that companies that get this right are more likely to exceed their financial targets, delight customers, create a sense of belonging, be a great place to work, engage and retain employees, adapt well to change, and innovate effectively.

So how does that impact the customer experience?

Understanding the Role of Communications in EX and CX
Positive employee experiences attract top talent, leading to increased profits and efficiencies.

Every employee, regardless of department, location, level of experience, or time spent with the company, plays an active and important role in supporting the customer experience. Employees are truly the backbone of every organization.

With Covid-19, economic uncertainties, and increased flexibility in the work environment, the work landscape has shifted immensely in recent years. As a result, employees have reported feeling disconnected from their organizations, burnt out, unsupported, and unsatisfied with their roles and companies. This makes it more difficult for business leaders to deliver an excellent employee experience.

In this new environment—where companies’ workstyles may include remote, hybrid, or return-to-office initiatives—organizations are asking a lot of their workers. This means organizations should also be giving them a lot in return. Employers have a responsibility to create an environment where their workers can thrive, and those that do will see high returns as a result.

Consider a resort vacation. Every element of a resort is curated to provide an immersive and relaxing experience. The sights, smells, and hospitality all contribute to the overall experience. A good resort will hit each mark, providing clean rooms and friendly, smiling faces. But an excellent resort will exceed expectations, reaching customers at every touch point with thoughtful, elevated details to ensure guests have a memorable stay—leading to referrals and additional visits.

Employee communication works in the same way. By directly affecting the hearts and minds of employees, businesses see better work performance from their staff, which leads to customer satisfaction, referrals, and increased revenue. Plus, when employees feel appreciated, engaged, and respected throughout their day, they are more likely to stick with the company long-term and to speak highly of it to other potential talent and customers.

By meeting and exceeding employee expectations, organizations set a foundation for greater customer experience and financial success.

Don’t Back Away from EX During Tough Times 

In order to consistently provide a high-quality customer experience, organizations must also deliver consistent, high-quality employee experiences. This means staying committed to the important details and initiatives that help employees succeed and thrive. Taking the “safe option” of cutting back during tough times will yield short-term gains at a long-term cost—proving dangerous to the company’s success.

Instead, organizations should invest in their employee experience to foster a greater sense of employee satisfaction and benefit the customer experience as a result. When employees are happy and engaged, they provide superior service—pleasing customers, increasing efficiency, and more.

Implement Strategic Communications to Improve EX

Building and executing an effective communications strategy is the key to improving and maintaining a positive employee experience By focusing on the needs of each employee and using the right technology, organizations can create personalized content and reach employees through their preferred channels—wherever they work.

This understanding establishes a solid foundation for the employee experience, which will lead to greater employee engagement, happiness, and retention in the long run. Below are four ways to improve the employee experience through communication.

Simplify Your Comms

In today’s climate, organizations that fail to offer a positive employee experience will see higher rates of turnover and dissatisfaction that will ultimately lead to financial loss and a negative customer experience.

The first step to curating a positive employee experience is to simplify messaging. Too often, organizations want to be everything for everyone. Instead, business leaders should identify a selection of company values to connect employees with their work and each other.

Beyond the messaging, the methods through which companies communicate should be user-friendly and standardized. Simplifying your comms with a single platform that can communicate across numerous channels, for instance, helps create an environment that is inclusive and accessible for each employee, providing employees access to the tools, resources, channels, and people who will help them do their jobs well.

Cut Through Noise

Managing the barrage of messages employees receive on a daily basis depends on a variety of factors, such as location, workflow, and department.

As organizations continue to navigate changes, it is essential to make people feel included wherever they are. Deliver communications that fit the situation and make your messages irresistible. Use the most impactful channels to meet employees where they are. Leverage personalization to customize your messaging for each employee to match their individual needs.

A Personalized, Omnichannel Approach

In order to deliver personalized, meaningful content that is seamless, integrated, and consistent across the entire workforce, business leaders must select the right channels and use them at the right times.

Email, mobile, digital signage, intranet, and social messaging platforms are all valuable, but what times are people available? Which platforms do they prefer? When are they most responsive? With constant change, flexible working hours, and increased messaging writ large, consistency is key when it comes to internal comms—but so is personalization.

Implement an omnichannel approach to employee communications that focuses on leveraging technology to deploy personalized content across select channels. Leverage automation to help track employee behaviors and to comb through data to identify the best channels for effective employee communication. This can also be achieved by auditing existing channels to see what does and does not work, surveying employees, creating employee personas, and measuring your comms engagement.

Strategic Storytelling

Connecting with your employees requires appealing to their emotions by sharing empathetic, memorable, and emotive narratives. The power of storytelling improves engagement and provides a more meaningful approach to communication.

Storytelling helps your organization provide aligned, consistent messaging that reduces miscommunication, increases trust, and establishes loyalty and respect. It also invites employees to join the organization’s journey. When considering how to share your company’s story, you must go beyond text. Consider the right channels to share images, text, audio, and video. Using a variety of multimedia formats will help ensure your messaging is eye-catching and engaging.

In the end, the employee experience is about elevated, impactful messaging that demonstrates an organization’s inclusivity, empathy, and understanding of its employees. While it may seem like a smart move to cut costs around EX initiatives in times of hardship, this cost-cutting can be incredibly dangerous and lead to companies losing top talent, customer satisfaction, and revenue. The companies that provide consistently strong employee experiences will rise to the top of the marketplace.


Eoin Bryne

Chief People Officer, Poppulo

Eoin leads Poppulo’s Global HR and People Function for Poppulo, a leading communications experience software company. Eoin has a wealth of experience in designing and implementing strategic HR and people engagement initiatives, as well as in sales operations, administration, and broader HR functions.

Eoin leads Poppulo’s internal communications function, harnessing Poppulo’s own platform to drive employee engagement. Eoin’s other areas of interest include the future of total wellbeing, company culture and employer brand.