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The Employee Experience

Book Description

Ever notice how companies with the best service also have the happiest employees? That’s no accident. 

Do you want to build a strong, successful organization? Start by ignoring your customers. Really. Instead, focus first on creating a better employee experience, or EX. Your employees interact with customers, make them smile, and carry your brand message from the warehouse to the front lines. If your employees are having a great experience, so will your customers.

            In The Employee Experience, employee engagement pioneers Tracy Maylett and Matthew Wride reveal the secrets not only to attracting and retaining top talent, but to building a deeply engaged workforce—the foundation of organizational success. With deep insights into the dynamics of trust and mutual expectations, this book shows that before you can deliver a transcendent customer experience (CX), you must first build a superlative EX.

With real-world examples and more than 24 million employee survey responses, Maylett and Wride reveal a clear, consistent pattern among the world’s most successful organizations. By establishing a clear set of expectations and promises—collectively known as the Contract—and upholding it consistently, employers can build the trust that leads to powerful engagement.

Whether in business, healthcare, education, sports, or nonprofit, these organizations are consistently more successful and more profitable, enjoy sustainable growth, and win the battle to keep today’s rarest resource: talented people. Blending rigorous research, detailed case studies, in-depth interviews and expert insights, The Employee Experience will teach you to:

  • Make the employee experience a core part of your strategy
  • Understand employee expectations and bridge the “Expectation Gap”
  • Establish rock-solid Brand, Transactional, and Psychological Contracts that breed trust and confidence
  • Build an employee-employer partnership in creating something extraordinary
  • Turn employee engagement into fuel for customer satisfaction, profit, and growth


Attracting talent, retaining top performers, and creating an environment in which employees choose to engage drives results. The Employee Experience shows you where truly extraordinary organizations begin…and how to build one. 


TRACY MAYLETT, Ed.D, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, is the CEO of DecisionWise, where he currently advises leaders across the globe in leadership, change, and employee engagement. Maylett holds a doctorate from Pepperdine University and an MBA from BYU. He is a recognized author, and teaches in the Marriott School of Management at Brigham Young University.


MATTHEW WRIDE, JD, PHR, is the COO of DecisionWise. With an extensive business background, Wride brings a fresh approach to organization development and leadership consulting. He is passionate about helping leaders create winning employee experiences. Wride holds a JD from Willamette University and a master’s degree from the University of Washington. 

For over two decades, DecisionWise has advised organizations and leaders in more than seventy countries on leadership, assessment, talent, organization development, and the employee experience. Visit us online at www.decision-wise.com.

Table of Contents

  1. Dedication and Acknowledgements
  2. Foreword
  3. Introduction
    1. Employee Engagement
    2. Engagement Magic®
    3. Beyond Engagement Magic
    4. Our Goals
  4. Part I: Great Expectations
    1. Chapter 1 You’re Digging in the Wrong Place
      1. CX (Not Indiana Jones) Is King
      2. You Can’t Get There From Here
      3. Throwing Your Employees Under the Bus
      4. Digging in the Right Place
      5. EX = CX
      6. Congruent Experience
      7. Defining the Employee Experience
      8. Enlightened Self-Interest
      9. The Age of the Employee
      10. Your People are Your Brand
      11. Chapter 1. You’Re Digging in The Wrong Place: The Chapter Experience
    2. Chapter 2 The Expectation Gap
      1. Trying to Predict the Future
      2. To Expect is Human
      3. Turnaround
      4. Mind the Gap!
      5. Susan
      6. Interference and Distortion
      7. There’s Always a Gap
      8. Expectation Gaps Matter . . . a Lot
      9. Dear, Did You Forget to Take Out the Trash Again?
      10. Your Company Doesn’t Exist. Your People Do.
      11. The Kansas City Way
      12. It’s Your Responsibility
      13. Chapter 2. The Expectation Gap: The Chapter Experience
    3. Chapter 3 Ask Your Doctor about Expectation Alignment Dysfunction
      1. What is Expectation Alignment?
      2. The Problem with Unknown Expectations
      3. The Long Lunch
      4. The New Metric For Organizational Health
      5. Zappos’s Failed Experiment?
      6. The Six EA Pillars
      7. Ask Your Doctor About EAD
      8. EAD Symptoms And Causes
      9. Preventing EAD
      10. EAD Recovery
      11. Chapter 3. Ask Your Doctor About Expectation Alignment Dysfunction: The Chapter Experience
    4. Chapter 4 An Intentional Framework
      1. Shaping Beliefs
      2. I Get It, But How?
      3. First, Challenge Your Inheritance
      4. Leaders are the Custodians of the Employee Experience
      5. Design Thinking as a Business Management Tool
      6. Design Thinking in Action
      7. Better Design Through Three Lenses
      8. Becoming Mindful and Deliberate
      9. Control Expectations by Understanding Your Contract
      10. The Contract is Much More Than Words On Paper
      11. Why is the Contract Like an Iceberg?
      12. The Expectation Triangle
      13. Three Contracts in One
      14. Chapter 4. An Intentional Framework: The Chapter Experience
  5. Part II: Three Contracts
    1. Chapter 5 The Brand Contract
      1. What is the Brand Contract?
      2. Unanticipated Consequences
      3. The Employee Value Proposition
      4. What Defines the Brand Contract
      5. What The Brand Contract Does
      6. A Mechanism for Expectation Alignment
      7. How the Brand Contract Affects EX
      8. A Canary in Your Coal Mine
      9. Preventing Brand Damage
      10. Chapter 5. The Brand Contract: The Chapter Experience
    2. Chapter 6 The Transactional Contract
      1. What is the Transactional Contract?
      2. An Overlooked Workhorse
      3. Written and Verbal Contracts
      4. Transactional Doesn’t Mean Soulless
      5. Intention and Interpretation
      6. Supporting the Transactional Contract
      7. Red Flags
      8. Taking Nothing for Granted
      9. It’s not Just About Laws and Rules
      10. Chapter 6. The Transactional Contract: The Chapter Experience
    3. Chapter 7 The Psychological Contract
      1. Leadership and the Psychological Contract
      2. Someone’s in Charge
      3. Matters of the Heart Can Be Hard
      4. Powered by Expectations
      5. Studying the Psychological Contract
      6. Created, Interpreted, Examined, Acted Upon
      7. Mom’S on the Roof
      8. What Forms the Psychological Contract
      9. Don’t Wait Until it’s Too Late
      10. Psychology and the Employee Experience
      11. An Alien Concept
      12. Making Sense of the Contract
      13. Time for a Contract Revision
      14. Aligning the Psychological Contract
      15. Chapter 7. The Psychological Contract: The Chapter Experience
  6. Part III: Trust
    1. Chapter 8 Moments of Truth
      1. Mots and the Contract
      2. Reinforce, Violate, Create
      3. Rubber, Meet Road
      4. Indirect Moments of Truth
      5. Chronos and Kairos
      6. The Right Moment
      7. It Comes Down to Trust
      8. Trust Accounts
      9. More Trust, Greater Agility
      10. Once More into the Breach, My Friends
      11. Sorry Seems to be The Hardest Word
      12. It’s About Character
      13. Chapter 8. Moments Of Truth: The Chapter Experience
    2. Chapter 9 Engagement Magic®
      1. Magic at the Center
      2. CHG, One More Time
      3. Looking Through The Lens
      4. Life’s Worc
      5. EX and The Five Elements
      6. The EX and Magic
      7. Chapter 9. Engagement Magic: The Chapter Experience
    3. Chapter 10 Building the EXtraordinary
      1. Asking the Right Questions
      2. Bread Crumbs
      3. Olivia’s EX
      4. Expectation Alignment
      5. Three Contracts
      6. Moments of Truth
      7. Magic
      8. The Customer Experience
      9. Three Ingredients
  7. Appendix Comparing the Three Contracts: Brand, Transactional, and Psychological
  8. Index
  9. Additional Resources
  10. Eula