More companies hire ‘employee-experience managers’ to help improve worker productivity, loyalty and retention
By Ray A. Smith
Jan. 18, 2023
One of the fastest-growing roles at U.S. companies aims to address a rise in worker burnout and disengagement.
The job of employee-experience manager barely existed several years ago. Now the position ranks fifth in LinkedIn’s 2023 list of the 25 fastest-growing jobs. It is the first time the role appears on the networking site’s annual ranking, which tabulates the job titles that grew the most and have reached a critical mass among LinkedIn users over the previous five years.
Employee-experience management joins a long tradition of fanciful corporate monikers used to describe people-support roles, from director of well-being to chief happiness officer. And, 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.
Still, many in the job say it is much more technical. Employee-experience managers track and analyze daily workflow, office aesthetics and employee surveys to determine how engaged and satisfied workers are in their jobs. Employee-experience managers’ primary aim is to improve staff productivity, loyalty and retention, they say.
Many companies created the role during the pandemic as many staff shifted to remote-work, struggled with burnout and quit or switched jobs at some of the highest rates in decades, employers and HR officials say. In a June Gallup survey of more than 15,000 U.S. workers, about half described themselves as not engaged at work—meaning they did the minimum work required—a turn from the record engagement levels of the early days of the pandemic.
As senior program manager of employee experience and engagement for the city of Bend, Ore., Joshua Romero says his main job is to play employee advocate. One of his more recent tasks included revamping the municipality’s holiday party to include employees more in its charitable giving, selling raffle tickets to raise money for a local nonprofit nominated by staff. He is now examining how to cut the time employees spend in meetings and make the ones they do participate in more efficient.
“Some are meetings that we might not even need to be having, but we have a culture within our organization where people’s go-to is ‘let’s do a meeting,’ ” he says.
A good part of the job involves describing to people who might be befuddled by the title what exactly an employee-experience manager does, adds Mr. Romero, who previously worked in communications for the city and took the newly created employee-experience role last year. “I’ll sometimes say I do professional development or leadership development, and people know what that means,” he says.