The Employee Experience Manager: What Do They Do, How to Become One?

You may have heard about The Employee Experience Manager – one of the most trending jobs in 2024. But what do they do? How do you become one? I lay it out!
Daan van Rossum
Daan van Rossum
Founder & CEO, FlexOS
I founded FlexOS because I believe in a happier future of work. I write and host "Future Work," I'm a 2024 LinkedIn Top Voice, and was featured in the NYT, HBR, Economist, CNBC, Insider, and FastCo.
October 16, 2023
min read

At the beginning of this year, the LinkedIn News team reported on the 25 roles that are growing in demand

These are the 25 fastest-growing job titles over the past five years and the trends defining the future world of work. An exciting finding is that Employee Experience Manager is number 5 on the list – the first time it appeared. 

The authors quote a rise in skills-based hiring, demand for hybrid work, the employment landscape, and a murky economic outlook as reasons for people to potentially orient themselves onto other jobs. 

What does an Employee Experience Manager do?

Let's start by defining Employee Experience.

Employee Experience is the total series of meaningful interactions employees have throughout their employment with your company. 

The Gallup model highlights the key stages of Employee Experience Management, from attracting talent through their departure.

The Gallup Employee Experience Model
The Gallup Employee Experience Model

2023 McKinsey research found that more companies would embrace an EX-focused operating model

Companies will "allocate disproportionate resources towards moments that matter in this model." 

For example, by bringing HR, IT, and Operations together to plan, develop, and roll out the highly critical onboarding process

Similar to designing a Customer Experience journey, HR will design the entire experience of an employee from (pre) start to finish and measure and learn along the way. 

This means that HR truly takes charge. HR specialists are "the driving force in bridging cross-functional silos and overcoming the patchwork of fragmented data and processes." 

In particular, the Employee Experience Manager.

So what is an employee experience manager?

The Employee Experience Manager maps out all the moments that matter in an employee’s journey at a company and works with key stakeholders across the organization to deliver a delightful employee experience that drives productivity, engagement, and retention.

Some ways they do this include:

💡 Inventing new ways of marrying work and the workplace, given massive changes in how, when, and where people work.

💡 Promoting employee well-being.

💡 Creating and delivering recognition.

💡 Delivering internal communications.

💡 Designing and delivering culture and community events.

💡 Analyzing meetings and seeing how they can be more productive. 

💡 Delivering specific programs for key elements of the EX Journey, such as onboarding. 

💡 Writing and executing employee engagement surveys by using employee engagement survey providers and the solutions that answer their insights. 

💡 Create and execute change management programs and communications to ensure employees aren't left behind during times of change.

💡 Listen to and be an advocate for employees in the organization.

💡 Designing and optimizing the physical workplace. 

That’s a lot to take in. 

The Life of an Employee Experience Manager

I asked Alpha Bagley, the Regional Employee Experience Manager at Funding Societies, a prominent fintech startup in Singapore, how to best describe the scope of this role. Alpha said it simply but profoundly:

“My role is to ensure that every employee at our company feels valued, supported, and engaged. I am dedicated to bringing our vision, mission, and values to life through every program and interaction we have.”

This reminded me of how Dan Schawbel, a global thought leader on Workplace Experience, described the future of Employee Experience in an article for Meta Workplace.

“Workers long to feel engaged, included, and connected. They want to feel inspired by their company’s leaders and feel they are also being listened to. They want to have access to the technological tools they need to succeed, and they want to enjoy their work and feel connected to a bigger purpose.”

This need from employees and, equally, the opportunity for employers makes it highly understandable that the role of Employee Experience Manager is rising.

I spoke to Cheryl Ader-Dunne, a global thought leader on this topic, and the US Employee Experience Practice Lead – Strategy for Ogilvy. 

She shared that the Employee Experience Manager is relatively new and that more companies may embrace it as a critical role in 2023.

Some other facts about this trending role per LinkedIn (all US data):

  • Most common skills: Employee Engagement, Onboarding, Employee Relations
  • Current gender distribution: 83% female; 17% male
  • Median years of prior experience: 3-5
  • Top Roles transitioned From Office Manager, Human Resources Business Partner, Program Manager
  • Remote job availability: 24.7%

Must Have: an affinity for data and humans

One of the key aspects that will make or break the Employee Experience is data.

A good Employee Experience Manager will be highly data-driven, as personalized experiences yield higher results than those that are not. 

Only from good data can Employee Experience Managers create journeys and identify key moments within them that they know will make a meaningful difference in the day-to-day experience of working at that company.

Similarly, it wouldn’t make sense to design or even propose programs at key points in the journey without data to substantiate the validity or need. 

Employee Experience Managers need to embrace data from internal surveys to external social listening data. 

Christie Hoffman, presenter of the fantastic People Ops & Flip-Flops podcast, added:

“The only way to deliver a best-in-class EX is to ask your people the right questions. The answers are all there with your people.”

Dan Schawbel, whom I mentioned before, also recently partnered with LumApps on an exciting new interview series, where he talks to leaders about their perspectives on the employee experience. 

In this series, Kelly Ann Doherty, Chief Administrative Officer at the innovative real estate platform Mr. Cooper, shared about their People Health Index (PHI). 

"The PHI looks at several metrics, everything from our engagement surveys to turnover data to performance. We also look at how much time people take off — because if you're not using your PTO, that's a flag for us, too. Specific to experience and engagement, we use the Great Place to Work survey.”

If it wasn’t clear already, the data is important, but it supports our human journey at work. 

“It’s about the whole human and the role of work in their lives,” shared Marcus Buckingham, ADP’s Head of Research, People and Performance, on Lars Schmidt's new podcast Redefining Work

Marcus spoke to the importance of thinking about people before, during, and after work to craft a solid employee experience journey. 

Is The Employee Experience Manager just a repacked HR role?

Ray Smith reported for the Wall Street Journey on the LinkedIn study and called Employee Experience Managers “One of the Hottest New Jobs.” 

Gregory Giangrande, Chief People Officer and Chief Communications Officer at Ellucian, took offense and took to … LinkedIn to share his response. 

“Do you hear that sound? It is me banging my head on my desk! This is a front page WSJ article - have you heard - of the new, creative, out-of-the-box progressive thinking for a new role called Employee Experience Manager - dedicated to - wait for it...improving the employee experience! Silly me - I thought that was my job as Chief People Officer! And hey - did you know that this is a hot, growing new job, not just a repackaged HR job, because it is "technical," according to the article? It involves improving worker productivity as well as wellness.”

According to Gregory, the article's authors seem to think that typical HR roles are just administrative or soft skills focused and that it’s invoking stereotypes from the 70s. 

Fair, and the article does state, "Yes, some of what these “EX” managers do looks a lot like repackaged HR functions, such as helping new employees get set up in the job and organizing training sessions.” 

What we're talking about here is a new, dedicated role to Employee Experience, which highlights the importance of it.

And it's not just about the Employee Experience manager: the LinkedIn research highlights five HR roles as trending, including the aforementioned Chief People Officers, Employee Experience Managers, and the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (D, E & I) Managers, HR Analytics Managers, and Heads of Rewards.

This shows that HR as a whole is playing a much bigger role in organizations. 

It reminded me of what Peck Kem Low highlighted in her opening remarks at the Singapore Human Resources Institute (SHRI) conference: 

“In last two years, HR has really stood up to the challenge and delivered more than organizations, business leaders, and employees could have asked for.”

Back to Cheryl, who added that there's an opportunity for HR to become much more part of the business itself:

"How do we move the Employee Experience Manager from solely an HR role to a holistic part of business strategy? That's what I want to know."

How to become an Employee Experience Manager?

Given the long list of deliverables and responsibilities above, it’s no surprise that you must have a big heart for people and the desire to make a meaningful difference in their (work) lives. 

Beyond that, back to Alpha, who recommended some other key skills to have or develop:

  • Strong communication and interpersonal skills (verbal and written)
  • Understanding of employee engagement and retention
  • Project management
  • Data analysis and reporting
  • Emotional intelligence/empathy
  • Culture, diversity, and inclusion awareness
  • Change management
  • Good understanding of HR policies and processes
  • Time management and organizational skills

Long Story Short

Let me wrap up this article with the key highlights.

  • In 2023, the Employee Experience ranks 5th among the 25 fastest-growing job titles in LinkedIn's Fastest-Growing Job Titles. It’s the first time the role has been included. 
  • Employee Experience encompasses all meaningful interactions from talent attraction to departure. As companies shift to an EX-focused model, the Employee Experience Managers are responsible for enhancing key moments, including well-being, recognition, and communications.
  • Data plays a big role in doing EX well, as it’s crucial for personalization and identifying key moments in the employee journey.
  • If you want to become an Employee Experience Manager, focus on strong communication, project management, and data analysis skills and develop emotional intelligence, awareness of culture, diversity, and inclusion. Explore best HRIS Software to boost employee experience may help.

As companies become more employee-centric, I expect a further rise of Employee Experience Managers in 2024. 

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