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Tracking your employee brand and employee experience

Brand tracking isn’t exclusive to gathering data on consumer perception of your brand; similar methodologies apply to both how the value of working at your company is perceived and how you follow through on that perception for your employees. 

From an employee experience (Ex) perspective, external perception of working for your brand and the employee experience your organization cultivates fall under a shared discipline. However, for brand tracking purposes, the major difference between them lies in the surveyed audience, what to track and the data available. Below, we’ll break down how to approach these two sub-disciplines of brand tracking and leverage them to improve employee recruitment, retention and satisfaction.

Employee brand tracking

Of the two types of employee tracking, the external perception of your brand as a place of employment is most similar to consumer-focused brand tracking. The audience you’re surveying doesn’t consist of current employees, and their relationship to the organization (as a potential employee) pertains more to how the brand presents that experience and itself, augmented by “word-of-mouth” employee testimonials, third-party coverage and similar factors.

As a result, employee brand-tracking surveys should target audiences consisting of potential candidates (e.g., same industry, certain job roles). The questions included should pertain to the communication and perception of elements such as:

  • Compensation and benefits (i.e., “total rewards”)
  • Employee experience, or the intentional and strategic effort to align the holistic employee journey with a brand’s purpose, promise and values, supporting employees doing their best work and improving recruitment, retention and satisfaction
  • Employee value proposition (EVP), or the strategic messaging framework that “packages up” the authentic and differentiating characteristics of what it’s like to work for an organization and guides the communication of that experience to all audiences. This includes:
    • Career opportunities
    • Organization prestige
    • Excitement and fulfillment related to the work itself
    • Employee community
    • Values

Ultimately, employee brand tracking comes down to whether or not people want to work for an organization.

Employee experience tracking

In contrast to employee brand tracking, employee experience tracking collects and analyzes the realities of working at or applying to work for an organization. It also assesses how that holds up against what the company presents to external audiences and their perception.

Employee experience tracking involves the collection of first-party data and feedback from current and former employees and candidates. There’s no comparable substitute audience for gathering this data. These three groups can provide the most authentic insight into the relationship between the company and employees since they live(d) the experience.

Where employee experience tracking and employee brand tracking intersect is word-of-mouth testimonials that internal parties contribute to public discourse (either via company messaging or independently). Their accounts can have major ramifications on external perception of the brand as an employer—positive or negative.

Both types of tracking can group and tag questions according to psychographic associations to uncover employee and candidate motivations via composites (i.e., determining the “derived importance” of various brand attributes).

What to track for employee experience

When tracking your employee experience, you’ll want to focus on “checking the pulse” of employees, both on an ongoing basis as well as related to specific events and initiatives. Survey questions need to remain consistent for benchmarking and general tracking, or to gauge impact of specific employee experiences  (e.g., new brand or Ex initiatives, various processes and trainings).

When to track employee experience

Employee experience tracking should be conducted periodically (similar to brand tracking for consumers). This allows you to continually monitor and improve employees’ day-to-day and long-term relationships with the organization and activate solutions as needed. For this, a short survey may be provided to employees on a quarterly basis.

However, tracking should also be implemented at significant stages of the employee journey to ensure the organization upholds its brand purpose, promise and values at critical moments and touchpoints. These include:

  • The application process for candidates (e.g., is the time between interviews too long?)
  • Onboarding (e.g., does initial training sufficiently prepare new hires?)
  • Regular assessments (e.g., managerial reviews)
  • Promotions, reorganizations and internal career progression
  • Following a rebrand
  • Following the adoption of new processes or resources (e.g., software implementation)
  • Departures
  • Following a reorganization or other major changes

What employee experience tracking achieves

Organizations that don’t provide employees with a reliable channel for expressing their feedback about the employee experience lose out on gathering critical input at scale. Employee experience decisions (e.g., benefits, software tools) made without consulting employees or gathering their feedback afterward not only run the risk of missing the mark but also of alienating employees who don’t feel heard or respected.

Employee experience is simply too important to an organization to gamble on assumptions about employee needs and wants.

Moreover, employee experience holds advantages regarding the wealth of data you can collect and your methods for doing so. Internal communications channels provide more control over survey distribution (e.g., ensuring delivery, monitoring the percentage of employees to complete the survey) and enable the collection of anonymized metadata.

Importance of employee metadata for tracking

Organizations conducting employee experience tracking should incorporate metadata to enable more granular segmentation for deeper insights. Similar to leveraging typing tools for external survey audiences, metadata like job titles, department, location and employment length provide organizations with the means to determine the effectiveness and resonance of various employee experience aspects for much more specific groups.

For example, if the survey reveals that a large percentage of managers don’t fully understand how to communicate the organization’s purpose to employees, you can identify that as a disconnect that requires dedicated training. Alternatively, if your tech support team expresses much stronger dissatisfaction with a software platform than end users, it’s worth investigating whether the organization should consider a replacement.

The insights employee metadata helps uncover can be invaluable—just remember to anonymize the data after collection to protect employees’ identities and ensure they feel safe from any reprisals following more critical feedback.

Challenges with employee experience tracking

The primary challenges that organizations need to keep in mind include:

  • “User-friendly” surveys—Remember that employees will need dedicated time to complete the survey during work hours (or for additional compensation). Additionally, the longer a survey is, the less likely it gets completed. Failing to respect employees’ time makes it more likely that the survey continually ends up at the bottom of to-do lists in favor of completing their normal responsibilities. 
  • “Moment in time” context—While all brand tracking surveys provide “snapshots,” this can particularly affect the results of employee responses. For example, answers will be far more favorable following bonuses than downsizing. However, this should have a fairly uniform impact on responses, so organizations simply need to bear in mind the context of when the surveys were completed.
  • Representative samples—Depending on how an organization conducts employee experience tracking, they may risk sending surveys to too many individuals who share the same employee identifiers or characteristics. If a disproportionate number of IT personnel, managers or other group is represented, it can compromise the statistical significance and utility of results.

Leveraging tracking to improve employee brand and employee experience

Employee brand and employee experience tracking helps any organization better understand the meaning and relationships that different employee and candidate audience segments form with the brand. And there’s no better method for gathering this data than asking them directly.

If an organization finds that their employee experience is lacking, the tracking data will guide where and how to begin remedying issues—whether that’s creating a new EVP; evaluating systems, rituals, cues and communications; or other priorities.

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