There’s a new HR term in town: employee experience. But what does it mean and how does it differ to employee engagement?
Engagement. Experience. What’s the Difference?
By now, we should all be familiar with the concept of employee engagement. But just in case, here’s a refresher.
Kevin Kruse, CEO of online learning platform LEADx, defines it as:
“the emotional commitment the employee has to the organisation and its goals.”
The theory is that employees who have good jobs and are well managed will be happier, healthier and more fulfilled. Which means they’re more likely to drive productivity, perform better and be more innovative.
While employee engagement may sound highly positive for all involved, it actually has little to do with employee happiness or satisfaction. Someone could love their job but they may not be productive and therefore they would not be classed as engaged.
At its core, employee engagement is about employees being willing to do more for their pay cheque.
In practical terms this means engaged workers do the extra hours required without being asked. They might pick up rubbish from the shop floor because they take pride in their workplace. Or they could go above and beyond to service a particularly tricky customer problem.
Research has shown that engaged employees make a positive impact on the bottom line:
- the most engaged employees put in 57% more discretionary effort on the job and were also 87% less likely to resign
- firms with highly engaged workforces outperform their peers by 147% in earnings per share
Despite there being clear reasons like these for its popularity, employee engagement has come under fire. Critics claim it’s too business focussed at the expense of employees enjoyment of their work and wider needs.
This has resulted in the emergence of employee experience as a new way of perceiving the employment relationship.
Employee Experience – More Than Engagement
Is this a case of semantics? Do the two concepts really mean the same thing? DecisionWise thinks not, defining employee experience as a much broader concept than engagement:
“The employee experience is the sum of the various perceptions employees have about their interactions with the organization in which they work.”
This includes everything from employees’ preferred technology to providing meaningful work and a fair, flexible and inclusive working environment.
By taking an employee perspective, organisations shift the focus from what they can do to get more from their people to understanding the real experiences of their employees. Once they have gained that insight, they can then find ways to meet their needs.
Unlike employee engagement, this isn’t a once-a-year survey that’s carried out and then forgotten. Employee experience is a strategic approach to how a business considers its people, placing their views at the heart of everything it does.
Treating Employee Like Customers
When a business decides to change the way it operates, it will always consider the impact on its customers’ experience. Businesses that value their employees’ experience do the same.
From a practical perspective this means employers think about changes from their employees’ viewpoint asking questions like “how will our people perceive this?”
By identifying every touchpoint an employee has with the organisation across the entire employee lifecycle (from hiring to retiring or firing), employers consider how their people, see, hear, believe and feel about every aspect of their job.
Deloitte’s comprehensive framework highlights the following elements as important to employee experience.
By understanding what employees want, organisations can involve them in shaping the experience on offer. Blending employees’ expectations, wants and needs with those of the organisation, enterprises can rebuild the way they operate.
What’s in it for businesses? Here we come full circle as employee experience can be seen as a means of delivering employee engagement with all the benefits it entails.
It’s obvious that improving employees’ experience will naturally improve their involvement too. And when engagement levels are high, so are business profits.