Organizational Wellness

Employee Journey Map: Enhance Your Employee Experience

Nov 7, 2023
Last Updated May 10, 2024

In recent years, the question of why employees leave has become increasingly important. While employee turnover has always been a normal part of business, the pandemic caused a mass exodus of workers from their employers. In fact, about half of working Americans are actively seeking new job opportunities, according to Gallup.

In response to this Great Resignation, many organizations are delving deeper into the employee experience and its effect on retention. By fully understanding it, HR and other decision-makers can create a better work environment, address employee concerns more effectively, and ultimately increase job satisfaction. To start this exploration, one effective tool is an employee journey map.

What Is an Employee Journey Map?

An employee journey map is a tool for identifying and charting specific aspects and influences along each stage of the employee lifecycle. Create a comprehensive visual representation of events and touchpoints to gain insights into the employee journey. This allows businesses to effectively identify strengths, weaknesses, and negative experiences.

In other words, an employee journey map gives employers an easy-to-digest picture of the entire employee lifecycle, from first interaction and onboarding to eventual offboarding and exit. The most effective maps take this even further, providing detailed information about each touchpoint and how it relates to the next steps along the journey.

What Are the Benefits of Creating an Employee Journey Map?

To start, why do employees leave in the first place? For some, it’s simply a question of pay — employee time is valuable and deserves compensation. But salary isn’t always the deciding factor. In fact, 56% of employees say that company culture is a more important consideration than simple base earnings.

An employee journey map makes it possible to understand how an organization’s culture may be affecting its personnel. Simply put, journey mapping allows companies to see the stumbling blocks that are tripping up their best people. For businesses that want to optimize the employee experience and promote a happier, more engaged workforce, this creates several clear advantages:

Improving Negative Experiences

If an organization isn’t meeting or beating employee expectations, they need to know why. A thorough journey map dials in on those underwhelming touchpoints and experiences to help decision-makers identify areas within the employee journey that are having the most profound negative effect. These can then be reevaluated and revised.

Replicating Positive Experiences

Employee journey maps also help emphasize the parts of the employee journey that are working well. And as vindicating as that can be, the real value is in the ability to take the relevant aspects of those positive experiences and apply them across the rest of the journey. 

Discovering Hidden Experiences

Not every touchpoint along the employee journey is obvious. Many experiences and interactions may fly under the radar but still affect the employee. An effective journey map takes every interaction into account so that all experiences along the path can be quantified, evaluated, and optimized.

Optimizing Talent Acquisition

Want to retain the best people? You have to find them first. Employee journey maps put the employee experience under a microscope, providing insight into the details and data associated with every position within the company. Recruitment managers can use these insights to create detailed, data-backed job descriptions that answer the unspoken questions of top candidates.

And, considering that a 2022 survey of talent acquisition professionals identified “data-driven recruitment practices” as a top hiring trend of the year, employee journey mapping may be the deciding factor in competitive hiring over the coming decade.

Locating Opportunities to Foster Equality and Inclusion

Lack of diversity can be a serious problem in most workplaces. A deliberate and strategic focus on diversity and inclusion has a direct impact on an organization’s bottom line; hiring for diversity in age, gender, ethnicity, and other factors improves employee productivity, and companies with diverse management teams generate on average 19% more revenue than those with below-average leadership diversity. Mapping can help uncover biases and inequalities in the employee journey, refining the employee experience to be more friendly to a more diverse selection of hires. 

Fostering Employee Engagement

Non-engaged employees represent a risk, accounting for an estimated $7.8 billion in lost productivity every year. On the other hand, engaged, dedicated employees drive their organizations forward and demonstrate 23% greater profitability. That’s a lot of money to leave to chance. Employee journey maps help inform the decisions that promote employee engagement, so you can be sure that the experiences you provide to your workforce are empowering and motivational.

Stages of the Employee Journey

To better understand the employee experience, employee journey maps break the lifecycle down into four different stages:

Stage 1: Recruitment

The recruitment stage includes all of the interactions and experiences that happen before the hire is finalized, from initial contact onward. It is during this stage that the employee will begin formulating an opinion about the company, which may be difficult to alter. Looking at the recruitment and hiring journeys can help you streamline the process to meet candidate expectations so that when they accept your offer, they’re doing so with a positive mindset.

How long does the recruitment process take? What are your offer acceptance rates? Are you finding people who meet the qualifications for the position? Mapping the journey in this stage will give you clear answers and help you optimize the way you hire. And given that the cost of hiring and outfitting new employees may amount to as much as three to four times the position's annual salary, cutting out unnecessary and counterproductive aspects can mean better returns.

Stage 2: Onboarding

Once hired, the new employee enters the onboarding stage. It is in this stage that they become familiar with their responsibilities, expectations, and the company culture. This includes any training they will need to function within established processes and operate relevant tools and systems. Successful employee onboarding bridges that gap between potential and performance, ensuring that the hires you’ve invested in are capable of providing a positive return.

Unfortunately, onboarding is one area where many organizations can fall flat. According to Gallup, only 12% of employees agree that their employers provided an effective onboarding process. Still, if you can beat the odds and onboard your hire comprehensively, your new employees will be nearly 3 times as likely to be satisfied in their new positions.

Stage 3: Development and Retention

With the paperwork finished, the initial training complete, and the employee fully up to speed, they now enter the development and retention stage. This encompasses day-to-day experiences that help employees improve their skill sets, like employee reviews and evaluations, as well as any additional education or training they may pursue. Experiences that impact retention are equally important. Development and retention typically make up the bulk of the employee journey.

Your employee journey map ideally must include valuable opportunities for professional improvement. SHRM reports that 29% of workers will consider leaving a job if their organization does not provide them with opportunities for growth, and according to the 2023 LinkedIn Workforce Learning Report, opportunities for career growth and learning new skills are the most important factors to workers ages 18–34.

Stage 4: Exit

Even among highly engaged employees, there comes a time when it makes sense for them to move on to other opportunities. The good news is that you can optimize the exit stage of the employee journey, encouraging your best employees to someday return — or to at least continue to recommend your company to their friends and associates. Mapping this final stage should give you better insight into not only how your employees feel about the offboarding process, but also their overall experience with your company.

A well-designed offboarding process is crucial to efficiently and effectively manage the departure of an employee from your organization. For example, in a recent survey from Beyond Identity, 83% of survey respondents admitted to retaining access to company accounts after leaving it, and 56% said they used that access to damage a previous employer.

How to Create an Employee Journey Map 

The idea behind the employee journey map — plotting, tracking, and evaluating the experiences throughout the employee lifecycle — is fairly straightforward. That said, creating an employee journey map could take some legwork. Here, we provide a brief overview of the five steps to mastering it.

  1. Determine the scope of the employee journey map

Employee journeys don’t all follow the same route — not even within the same organization. In all likelihood, individual departments (or even teams) within your company will need to create their own employee journey maps. To make the most efficient use of your time and resources, prioritize those departments that seem to have the most issues with employee engagement and turnover.

  1. Establish consistent metrics

Employee journey maps are built on data. That means before you can evaluate or measure any area within that journey, you need to decide on your metrics. Using the same metrics wherever possible throughout the journey map makes it possible to see connections between different stages. Selecting consistent metrics is likewise important when working across teams or coordinating the employee journey map for multiple stakeholders.

  1. Conduct employee research

Your next step should be to build employee personas based on the roles of your employees and begin accounting for the interactions they have throughout their lifecycle. Your research will need to incorporate information from performance reviews, surveys, and other reliable sources. Include insights provided during exit interviews, and don’t hesitate to set up interviews with current employees to help fill any gaps you may have.

  1. Apply insights

Data in hand, you can now create a detailed employee journey for each role. This will not only help you understand the experiences your workforce encounters,  but should also underscore which touchpoints improve the employee experience and which diminish it. Review your processes using these insights and make changes wherever necessary.

  1. Incorporate employee feedback

Employee journey maps should be fluid and constantly evolving to more accurately reflect the reality of the employee experience. As such, you will need to measure the impact of your map and reach out through surveys to gather vital employee feedback. Then apply it to continually refine your approach.

And remember: Your employee journey map is only as valuable as you’re willing to make it. Take the insights it provides and focus on improving the employee experience. You’ll enjoy the many advantages of fielding a more-engaged workforce.

The Journey Begins…

Employee journey mapping can help you identify the parts of the employee lifecycle that need to be improved, but you shouldn't stop there.

By prioritizing the employee experience, you can demonstrate to your people just how important they are to your organization. Let them know you care by investing in their success. And then take things further by investing in their health and wellbeing, with a company-sponsored plan from Wellhub.

Want to learn more? Click here to talk to a Wellbeing Specialist today, and give your employees the support they need to do (and feel) their best!

Company healthcare costs drop by up to 35% with Wellhub! (* Based on proprietary research comparing healthcare costs of active Wellhub users to non-users.) Talk to a Wellbeing Specialist to see how we can help reduce your healthcare spending!



Wellhub Editorial Team

The Wellhub Editorial Team empowers HR leaders to support worker wellbeing. Our original research, trend analyses, and helpful how-tos provide the tools they need to improve workforce wellness in today's fast-shifting professional landscape.


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