Employee Experience

Successful employee journey mapping – the dos and don’ts

Employee journey mapping is a great way to help you identify the moments that matter most to your business and to your employees. As you start your journey mapping process, keep these common pitfalls and best practices in mind to ensure success.

An employee journey map is a way of visualizing the various stages an employee goes through in their time with a company, allowing you to identify pain points and critical moments where employee feedback and action is needed to close the gap from a current to a desired state.

Read more: Using employee journey mapping to identify every moment that matters

If done successfully, journey mapping should give the organization clear direction on next steps. But it can become an exhaustive iterative process if it isn’t set up correctly with your end goals in mind. Here’s a few things to take into account when starting out with employee journey mapping.


Look at each phase from multiple angles

Each stage in the employee journey is different, so it’s important to look at each individually while considering multiple components of the stage. For example, if you just look at a stage from the vantage point of an employee, you may miss important considerations related to current business challenges. In that example, you may have employee feedback on your onboarding process that tells you employees do not feel supported, but that insight becomes much more tangible when you pair that with the knowledge that the onboarding team is currently very short staffed.

For each phase in the journey, make sure to consider the following:

  • KPIs: What are the critical metrics and business outcomes associated with this phase?
  • X (Experience) Data: What exists today in terms of experience data? What is missing?
  • O (Operational) Data: What operational data currently exists to help you understand or measure this phase? What is missing?
  • Business/People Issues: What are the key business and people challenges currently at this stage and what do you anticipate in the next year? What are the current or impending people-related initiatives that will impact this phase of the lifecycle? What major changes are upcoming or in the works?
  • Core Experiences: What are the critical moments, events, and aspects of the employee experience at this stage that drive employee engagement, outcomes, and business value? What are the experiences that matter in light of organizational challenges and changes?
  • Future State: Where do you want to be 2-3 years from now in terms of experience measurement and management? What type of data and intelligence do you need to make better, quicker decisions? What are the key business/research questions that need to be addressed?

Know your end game

An effective employee journey mapping process should always start with clearly defined outcomes. Without them, it’s impossible to know when the journey if complete or how you’ll use it to drive improvements.

Here’s a few questions to ask yourself up front:

  • What does a best-case output of the journey mapping work look like?
  • What will this work inform?
    • How will it influence people, processes, and tools?
    • How will you measure its success?
    • What problem are you trying to solve?
  • How are you aligning this process and conversation to the metrics that matter and the current business problems in the organization?

Be intentional about who you involve

This can be a tricky balancing act. It’s important to avoid “decision by committee” by involving too many people in your journey mapping session, however it’s essential to ensure those familiar with various steps in the journey are involved as they’ll have the best knowledge of all the components you need to take into account.

Here’s a few roles to consider including on your journey mapping exercise:

  • Cross-functional HR
  • HRIS owner
  • Learning and development representative
  • Cross-representation of key employee groups
  • Corporate and internal communications
  • Business leaders and frontline managers

Focus on key groups within the organization

Within any organization there will be multiple employee journeys — after all one person’s pathway through the organization is likely to be very different from the next person’s. But here is where it’s important to keep the end-game in mind - don’t get lost in small differences, otherwise you risk overcomplicating the process with too many journeys with very minor differences between them.

Think about distinct and significant groups, such as remote versus corporate office workers, where clear differences in experience exist or are already apparent. Take a retail company for example, the experience of your frontline employees in your stores is likely to be very different from that of your marketing team in your corporate office. In contrast it’s unlikely there will be significant differences between different store departments, say menswear and children’s clothing.


Take a ‘one size fits all’ approach

Don’t feel like you have to use a specific template or format to create your journey map. What is most important is the framework behind what you create – from there, organizations often use whiteboards or large sticky paper to brainstorm their journey maps.

Allow your journey map to stagnate

As the organization changes — say for example a reorganization occurs or a new succession planning process is put in place — you’ll want to revisit and update your employee journey maps to reflect any significant changes.

Journey maps are a supporting tool for the organization, the frequency with which you update them should be based on how you are utilizing them internally and the extent to which the organization and the roles within it have changed.

Remember - it’s a tool, not a solution

Most importantly, remember that journey maps are just a starting point to help your organization identify the next steps necessary to improving your overall employee experience. Journey maps should be a part of forming a broader employee experience strategy, - the real value and impact will come from the actions the organization takes whether that’s gathering additional feedback or giving people in the organization the tools they need to make improvements at each moment that matters.

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Elizabeth Kampf

Elizabeth Kampf is a contributor to the Qualtrics blog.

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