Employee Engagement Is A Team Effort

Engaged employees are valuable assets to any organization. Our recent study found that engaged employees are more committed, try harder, and want to make things better at their companies. They trigger a virtuous cycle of great customer experiences resulting in more loyal customers and strong financial results.

Because of these benefits, it is no surprise HR departments list employee engagement as a key area of focus over the next three years. Similarly, customer experience (CX) professionals are working hard to harness the power of an engaged workforce in the service of customers. Yet findings from a survey of 300 HR professionals at companies with 1,000+ employees reveal that human resources professionals are more likely to be disconnected from their company’s customer experience efforts:

  • When asked about their involvement in customer experience efforts at their companies, just over half the HR pros felt they were considerably helping their company become more customer-centric, yet only one in five were significantly involved.
  • In contrast, only 20% of CX professionals agreed they were getting considerable assistance, and another 20% indicated that HR was not helping.



Closing this HR-CX gap can significantly impact a company’s customer experience efforts. HR professionals at organizations whose customer experience is well above average are twice as likely to be significantly involved in company CX efforts. These HR groups also have more explicit responsibilities around customer-centricity and employee engagement.

CX professionals who expect success need to strengthen HR’s involvement in customer experience and work through the journey together. After all, HR usually controls what is said and done to get employees excited about the company, their roles, and change efforts that affect how they do their jobs. The HR team houses the experts in processes that impact employees, including employee communication and training, rewards and recognition, and performance measurement and management.  

Working together isn’t always easy. According to HR professionals, key obstacles impeding them in the quest to become more customer-centric include: lack of bandwidth, HR leadership not defining customer-centric culture as a priority, and the company not including HR in strategic efforts. Just under a quarter of HR organizations indicate they have not been engaged at all by the customer experience team.

So how can HR and CX professionals play for the same team? Begin by educating each other on their respective objectives, goals, and priorities. As each party understands and learns to speak each other’s language, everyone will be better positioned to identify collaboration opportunities. When it comes to working together, there are responsibilities requiring expertise from both groups that can help to raise employee engagement in its customer experience efforts including:

  • Adjust recruiting and hiring processes to attract candidates with customer-centric competencies
  • Develop measurements, awards, and incentives to support desired customer-centric behaviors
  • Build review processes to evaluate employees on their demonstration of company core values
  • Develop employee communications that reinforce the importance of a customer-centric mindset
  • Incorporate customer experience into training and employee on-boarding
  • Evaluate managers on the engagement levels of their employees

Another opportunity for HR and CX teams to collaborate is in measuring employee engagement and acting on employee feedback. Our research with HR professionals found that over 60% of companies measure employee engagement at least annually and nearly half of companies’ executive teams put a high or very high priority on taking action based on results. This is important because employees are a valuable source of information on the employee experience and the customer experience.

Customer feedback can also yield insights on employee strengths and opportunities for the workforce to serve them better. HR and CX professionals should share their respective learnings and use these insights to guide their decision-making.

The bottom line is that engaged employees are essential to creating great customer experiences and better business results. To win the hearts and minds of employees, HR and CX teams need to work together. The investment in this relationship will be well worth the effort.


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