How to Hold Leaders Accountable for the Employee Experience

The Next Practices Weekly call series has become a well-attended and wide-ranging discussion for HR leaders each Thursday at 11am ET / 8am PT. On this week's call, i4cp Senior Research Analyst Tom Stone facilitated a conversation with Judy Albers, i4cp's Director of Research Enablement. She shared insights from a tool she created for i4cp members earlier this year, Holding Leaders Accountable for the Employee Experience. Here are some highlights from the call:

  • First, it is helpful to understand i4cp's point of view on employee experience, and especially how to measure it in your organization. For this, see the article The Essential Metrics of High-Performance Employee Engagement, by Lorrie Lykins. Further, i4cp member organizations can learn more about employee experience from the many resources at the Employee Experience Research Series.
  • Regarding how to hold leaders accountable for the employee experience, Albers first shared some i4cp research data to set the context and establish why this matters:
    • Organizations that actively hold their leaders accountable for the employee experience are 18x more likely to cultivate healthy cultures.
    • The fitness of an organization’s culture is a predictor of long-term financial success: High-performance companies are nearly 6X more likely to have a very healthy culture compared to               low-performance organizations.
    • Culture is a proxy for productivity: in one i4cp study, culture fitness explained 19% of the variation among organizations’ employee productivity.
    • Leaders are the linchpin: high-performance organizations are 8x more likely to hold their leaders accountable for employee outcomes.
  • Albers also noted this powerful finding from Microsoft's WorkLab: "On average, each additional point of engagement reported by employees correlated with a +$46,511 difference in market cap per employee. Put simply, companies with highly engaged workforces had better financial outcomes. Leaders need to treat employee engagement with the same strategic importance as business and financial outcomes."
  • The toolkit Albers created walks through a five-step process for building a business case for holding leaders accountable for the employee experience.
    1. Be clear on why leader accountability matters.
    2. Decide on outcomes and metrics. Albers noted the most common culture metrics in organizations (talent acquisition and retention metrics, talent mobility metrics, talent development metrics, DEI metrics, and well-being metrics), and the need for organizations to choose a few most important ones for them to focus on in terms of leader accountability.
    3. Get inspired by high-performing companies.
    4. Assess your organization's culture health. A culture assessment scorecard, such as one provided by i4cp, can be a helpful tool in determining the baseline and then tracking the relevant metrics over time.
    5. Present your business case.
  • The toolkit then walks through a five-step implementation process:
    1. Get executive agreement on the metrics.
    2. Collect the right data.
    3. Give leaders access to their metrics.
    4. Help leaders improve.
    5. Later, tie metrics to performance or advancement. Albers noted the importance of not starting with this connection on day one, and even suggested delaying this step for as long as a full year.
  • Participant Poll Question: Does your company hold leaders accountable for any aspect of the employee experience?
    • 47% Yes
    • 53% No
  • Participant Poll Question: If yes, what are employee experience metrics tied to?
    • 63% Performance Reviews
    • 37% They're part of the biz ops reviews
    • 31% Bonuses or increases
    • 10% Promotions
  • Participant Poll Question: What methods are you using to collect culture data? The most common answers were annual or semi-annual engagement survey, a dedicated culture survey, and frequent pulse surveys. Additional responses included:
    • 360 feedback
    • Focus groups / listening sessions / fireside chats
    • eNPS
    • ERG feedback and involvement levels
    • Exit and stay interviews
    • Attrition and retention data
    • Performance reviews
    • Great Place to Work survey
    • One-on-one meetings 30 days after joining
    • Town hall feedback
    • CEO listening sessions
    • Weekly timecard questions
    • Skip-level meetings
    • Recognition process
  • Participant Poll Question: How are you helping leaders improve their employee experience scores? The most common answers were formal coaching and formal training. Additional responses included:
    • Mentoring
    • Monthly metrics / dashboards / quarterly top-level OKRs
    • One-on-one work with leaders
    • Providing an action planning resource guide
    • Town halls
    • Monthly check-ins
    • Social recognition / pointing out the positives
    • Talent review process
    • Assessments
    • Peer coaching / manager peer group discussions
    • Follow-up for those below a threshold
    • Implementing a consistent IDP (individual development plan) process
    • Inclusion ambassador cohorts
    • Tools to support stay interviews
    • Role playing sessions
    • Annual culture day
    • Work on specific opportunities
    • A hiring manager portal with resources
    • Establishing core leadership values and behaviors

Links to resources shared on the call: