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Quickly evaluate the maturity of your existing employee experience program

Organisations don’t master employee experience (EX) overnight. XM Institute research shows that they evolve through five stages of maturity as they gradually build the six XM Competencies and 20 XM Skills. Use the EX Maturity Assessment to evaluate how you are currently performing in each of these Competencies and Skills and determine where your EX program falls across the five maturity stages so your organisation can start making progress towards your EX goals.

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As organisations master the six XM competencies, they evolve through five stages of maturity

1 Investigate

The organisation is not focused on EX as a strategic opportunity. Companies in this stage should work on identifying the “best” first steps and building buy-in with senior executives to acquire the resources needed for moving forward.

2 Initiate

As leaders see the potential value in EX, they investigate how EX can help their organisation and kick off isolated pockets of EX activities. An ad-hoc or part-time team is usually formed, often drawing from existing employees in other roles, to head up the company’s effort to take coordinated actions to educate executives, define the initial strategy, and formalize Voice of Employee efforts.

3 Mobilise

Once executives view EX as a strategic priority, the organisation taps into full-time EX staff who distribute insights and drive experience improvements. This is a powerful stage where the organisation begins to see results by finding and fixing pain points, sharing insights, involving employees in closing the loop, and defining what good EX looks like for the entire organisation.

4 Scale

With strong EX practices in place, the organisation systematically uses insights to identify and improve experiences and invests in engaging the entire workforce in EX. Companies in this stage should work on consistently using EX metrics and insights to improve EX and track the impact of their EX efforts. They should also deeply integrate EX into HR processes to reinforce good EX behaviours in all employees.

5 Embed

In this final stage, EX Skills are ingrained across the organisation and it is able to rapidly adapt to shifts in the marketplace. Mature EX programs enable an organisation to continuously learn, propagate insights, and rapidly adapt to the needs and expectations of all relevant stakeholders.

What does it mean to be in Stage 1

How should your company advance its EX maturity? By building six XM Competencies.

Any company can improve portions of its employee experience (EX), but only those that go beyond superficial changes will be able create lasting differentiation and increase employee loyalty.

Your performance breakdown by competency

  • Very weak
  • Weak
  • Adequate
  • Strong
  • Very strong






1 out of 5.0

To effectively manage employees’ experiences, an organisation needs to articulate a clear EX strategy and then coordinate the execution of that strategy across a number of different people and projects over multiple years. This competency is about architecting, aligning, and sustaining successful EX efforts. We’ve defined three XM Skills under this competency:

XM strategy

To keep their EX activities all aligned, organisations must develop, share, and maintain a clear vision for their EX efforts. A strong EX program follows a well-defined EX strategy that ties to business and talent objectives, is developed with cross-functional input (including executive sponsors and key stakeholders, and is reviewed and updated on an ongoing basis).

XM roadmap

As EX success requires companies to coordinate across a number of different teams and projects over a long period of time, firms must develop and track their progress against a plan with well-defined streams of effort. This roadmap should identify which experiences (employees, journeys, tools/routines) the organisation considers the key areas of focus and plans to tackle first.

XM governance

To manage all their EX activities, organisations must establish and maintain the organisational structures that provide the appropriate decision-making, alignment, accountability, and conflict resolution. This includes having a strong core EX team to lead the effort, defining methodologies and managing the day-to-day activities of the EX measurement program(s), mobilizing a cross-functional working group to address roadmap projects and issues identified from employee insights, and gathering input from employee representatives from across the organisation (e.g., advisory council) on critical EX program governance decisions/actions.

1 out of 5.0

For EX efforts to have a lasting positive impact, they need to generate strategic and financial value for the organisation. This competency is about identifying and tracking the right metrics to ensure EX efforts achieve well-defined business objectives. We’ve defined three XM Skills under this competency:

Value planning

Organisations should start their EX journeys with a clear definition of what they want their efforts to achieve. This involves forecasting the specific business value of improved EX (e.g. increased retention, discretionary effort, decreased turnover) and defining how exactly this value will be tracked.

Value delivery

The context in which organisations deliver experiences is constantly changing – employees’ expectations change, competitors change, business strategy changes – which means companies need to continuously track the value they are creating and make ongoing adjustments to employee experiences. This involving reviewing and refining goals and underlying value models based on new learning, changing market conditions, and shifting business requirement.

Metrics management

A strong EX program identifies key metrics using X- and O-data and then uses those metrics to drive operational priorities. This includes defining a core set of EX metrics that are consistently used across the organisation to prioritise and align EX activities as well as uncovering the key drivers (both operational and experience) that impact those core EX metrics.

1 out of 5.0

People tend to gravitate towards the status quo, so a successful EX program must overcome people’s inertia and their natural resistance to change. This competency is about making sure that the organisation has the appropriate skills, support, and motivation to achieve desired EX results. We’ve defined three XM Skills under this competency:

Ecosystem communications

People are more likely to stay aligned with transformation efforts when they understand why things are changing, so EX programs must keep employees and partners informed about the value and progress of their EX efforts. To be effective, communications should define key messages and cascade them through management layers and across teams, reaching all levels of the organisation. These communications should use a range of formats to resonate with different internal audiences, tapping into existing communication channels as much as possible.

Expertise building

Since EX requires people to learn a new set of behaviours and practices, organisations will need to build, proliferate, and enhance key EX skills across the organisation. This includes activities like integrating key EX capabilities into the organisation’s competency model and performance management system, partnering with external organisations for training and support to build and enhance essential internal capabilities, and providing training and coaching to extend capabilities across the organisation and beyond just the internal experts.

Role-based enablement

Companies must ensure that their employees have the skills, training, tools, and motivation to successfully adopt experience-centric behaviours. Organisations need to have a clear change management plan that articulates what mindset and behaviour changes are required from each employee group for successful EX transformation. And since positive reinforcement is key to changing behaviours, organisations should recognize and celebrate the individuals and teams who demonstrate desired EX practices.

1 out of 5.0

To improve the employee experiences it delivers, an organisation must be capable of collecting and processing a constant flow of X-data and O-data, and then transforming all that data into useful information. This competency is about capturing, analyzing, and distributing actionable insights across the organisation. We’ve defined three XM Skills under this competency:

X-data & O-data integration

Companies can generate actionable insights by combining operational data (O-data) – such as employee lifecycle stage, historical performance, and business metrics – together with experience data (X-data) – such as engagement, satisfaction, eNPS – in a single system. Bringing these disparate data sources together will facilitate the use of advanced analytics, help build employee segmentation, and ultimately yield richer insights.

Experience monitoring

To identify and capture the appropriate signals from the appropriate audiences at the appropriate times, EX programs must apply robust and methodologically sound approaches for survey design and feedback collection. This involves activities like adjusting the portfolio and design of listening posts based on latest findings and organisational priorities as well as combining solicited feedback with unsolicited (e.g., internal or external social platforms) and behavioural data where possible.

Insights discovery

EX efforts must constantly analyze X- and O-data to uncover meaningful insights and prioritise the most valuable actions. Companies can generate deeper, richer insights when they analyze the data by segments and when they blend together quantitative and qualitative feedback. This analysis should cross multiple employee listening touchpoints and use ad hoc surveys to diagnosis findings more thoroughly.

Insights distribution

EX truly becomes valuable when companies share X- and O-data insights in the right form, at the right time, and tailored to the people best equipped to act on the information. This skill includes creating customised alerts and dashboards that are synchronised to the operational and decision-making cadences of managers and executives. These insights should be customised based on role and relevant results and should be presented alongside other employee or organisational operational data.

1 out of 5.0

Gathering and disseminating insights is all well and good, but ultimately, value is only generated when an organisation acts on what it learns. This competency is about building organisational mechanisms to prioritise and continuously take action based on EX insights. We’ve defined three XM Skills under this competency:

Immediate response

Any successful EX effort must include the capability to systematically follow up with people who are affected by an experience – as indicated by their feedback or discovered through analytics – and fix the problems that are uncovered. This includes giving managers and teams the tools to analyze, understand, and discuss EX results in a meaningful way as well as putting systems in place to create accountability and close the feedback loop (e.g., ticket systems for HR in ‘always on’ feedback portals).

Continuous improvement

Organisations need to make ongoing changes to operational processes based on a continuous flow of X- and O-data insights. This skill often includes a well-defined process for diagnosing and prioritizing potential areas of employee experience improvement based on how those improvements would impact experiences and business results.

Strategic decision-making

Organisations should use insights from X- and O-data to make strategic decisions. This includes having executives review EX insights and metrics as an explicit part of their criteria when making large-scale strategic decisions. Enterprise-wide EX goals and objectives should be cascaded from the executive team throughout the rest of the organisation.

Process integration

In addition to making decisions based on insights, organisations should infuse those insights into key operating processes and systems. For example, an EX program should leverage employee X- and O-data to design and refine curriculum planning and training design (from new hire to leadership) and inform enterprise transformation efforts, such as organisation redesign, M&A integration, etc.

1 out of 5.0

While finding and fixing problems is necessary, it alone is not sufficient for capturing people’s hearts and minds. This competency is about using approaches and tools to take a human-centric approach to identifying and creating new experiences that differentiate the organisation. We’ve defined three XM Skills under this competency:

Experience visioning

The foundation of this competency is uncovering opportunities for disruptive new experiences. One of the ways companies can implement this capability is by creating journey maps, which will allow them to understand employee needs and perceptions over time and across different phases of the employee lifecycle to uncover opportunities for improvement. Other valuable activities here include building employee personas and looking for inspiration for new EX practices from different industries and different domains (e.g., CX).

Experience design

Once companies have identified a potential opportunity, they need to apply human-centric approaches to create or improve that experience. This involves following a defined human-centered design process – such as design thinking or human-centered design – to create technologically viable, economically feasible, and emotionally resonant experiences.

Experience integration

It’s not enough to just design new experiences. Strong EX requires organisations to develop the processes, systems, and training that will enable them to deliver new experiences in a consistent fashion. And once they’ve rolled out a new experience, they need to keep resources assigned to it until they’ve proved that it’s creating the desired employee perceptions.

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