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In the era of the "Great Resignation," many companies are reckoning with the vital role employee experience (EX) plays in business success. Great EX can create profound improvements in every facet of a company: CX and brand loyalty, revenue and profits, retention and innovation. Today's EX leaders are recognizing this effect and using big data to drive bigger improvements in employees’ work-lives.

Traditional EX satisfaction surveys can help identify past problems, but can’t make the leap to predict future ones. To do that, business leaders need deep analytics from a variety of EX KPIs. Analytics software can measure almost anything, and depending on a business's particular goals, some EX KPIs will prove more important than others. Here are some metrics that enterprise leaders aren't necessarily tracking, but should be.

Retention and turnover

Happy employees are more likely to stay, but how do companies move from that truism to effective retention strategies? While basic retention and turnover numbers can offer some insights, improving outcomes relies on understanding who is staying and why. Narrowing the focus to the retention rates among the highest and lowest performing groups of employees adds depth to the picture; low overall turnover can create a false sense of security for companies that aren't keeping top talent, but low turnover in the most valuable performers is a clear sign of success.

For understanding how effective hiring and onboarding teams are, the 90-day success rate for new staff is a key metric. If new hires are leaving immediately, it might speak to problems in the recruitment process: are the company's ads communicating the right expectations, in places where great candidates will be looking? Attrition at this stage can also point to problems in the new-hire training program: too little structure, unclear expectations, or conflicts with training staff. The proportion of voluntary to involuntary turnover can illuminate problems in candidate selection; if recent hires are getting fired at a higher rate than in the past, it's time to revisit the organization's recruitment and hiring strategies to bring in higher-quality talent.

Beyond the 90-day acclimation period, there are clues to the experience of the employees who stay. Internal promotion rates give a better indication of employees' happiness than length of employment alone, because the most ambitious hires will quickly look elsewhere if they aren't finding internal opportunities for growth and advancement.   

Time on the job

Overtime is a costly resource, and overusing it can cause employee morale to suffer. Besides the excess salary expenses, studies have shown that after more than a 50-hour week, productivity and job satisfaction drop significantly. And when employees can't maintain work-life balance, their physical and mental health suffers, increasing the likelihood of burnout.

Excessive overtime can also point to failures in planning and project management. Monitoring the amounts used at the individual and team level can help organization leaders identify where the resources are going, see what interventions can be made to create more realistic project timelines, and take action before mismanaged time causes an employee exodus.

Time off the job

Surprisingly, the best employees are often also the ones taking the most vacation days. Besides the numerous health benefits of vacations, employees who take vacation time are signaling that their workload is reasonable and that they have confidence in their colleagues to handle the work. These are signs of a strong, well-managed team and positive EX.

On the flip side, chronic absenteeism is an indicator of poor EX. When people stop showing up to work, it's often related to the work or work environment. They may be experiencing burnout; the office may not be a welcoming space due to harassment or poor management; low morale might be pushing them to spend time job-searching instead.

Naturally, there are significant ripple effects to employees going AWOL. Aside from the substantial labor and administrative costs involved in hiring temp workers, excessive absences can also cause declining productivity and elevated stress among those still on the job. Unchecked, this poor EX can turn into poor CX as customers encounter understaffing in key areas like support.

Reviews and advancement

As a supplement to regular employee satisfaction surveys, simple NPS questions can also provide a temperature check for an organization. If employees wouldn't recommend working for their employer, it's likely they won't stay there much longer, either.

Reviews on third-party job review sites like Indeed and Glassdoor can also be useful for organization leaders by revealing strengths and weaknesses that may not be obvious internally. These reviews show how the business is perceived by the employees on the ground, and what they consider the most urgent areas for improvement. Anonymity is not always conducive to accuracy, but it can encourage employees to express their thoughts more candidly than they would in an ESAT questionnaire.

The right tools

As the adage goes, when all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. It's largely true; the tools at your disposal inform your approach to problems. That's why it's essential that businesses empower their employees with an enterprise business software tech stack that sets them up for success. But besides measuring profitability, or time spent on a project, how can leaders really know if they've selected the right technology?

One broad metric to watch is adoption. If an organization implements a brand-new ERP system, but employees aren't using it, it may indicate that sufficient training resources and evangelism efforts weren't dedicated to the implementation. There's also valuable insight to be gained from measuring how effectively the software's available features are being deployed. Indicators like the addition of automated workflows or decreased time spent on manual data entry can illuminate whether the software is doing its job, and provide a starting point for evaluating the strength of the entire tech suite.

What next? 

If an organization is going to do the work of deeply understanding the employee experience, it needs to be ready to take action on the findings. Employee morale only improves when people feel heard, so if leadership isn't ready to make changes, any resources invested in measuring EX are at risk of being wasted.

As with most things, maintaining open communication is integral to success. Successful EX leadership means communicating any follow-up steps being taken in response to the data collected, so employees know their input is being taken seriously.

Improving EX is a consistent, continuous process. When it's approached as a one-and-done project, companies don't see sustained benefits from it. In contrast, collecting and acting upon EX data as an ongoing process opens the door for new ways to improve CX, drive revenue, facilitate collaboration and innovation, and build a workplace where high-performing employees stick around for the long haul.

Zoho offers a suite of intelligent enterprise business software, including an award-winning CRM suite, the industry's only comprehensive analytics and BI platform, and a powerful low-code development ecosystem.