A Changing Landscape: Employee Engagement vs Employee Experience


Historically, employee engagement and organizational culture have been a primary focus for corporations. However, there is a new trend popping up called Employee Experience (EX) that may change everything.

What is Employee Experience (EX)?

According to Forbes, “EX is the totality of an employee’s experiences, so it encompasses all of the narrower aspects of how an employee perceives his everyday life at the office, both good and bad.”

What are the trends surrounding EX?

Deloitte University Press reports several trends around the EX challenge:

  • Organizational culture, engagement, and employee brand proposition remain top priorities in 2017; employee experience ranks as a major trend again this year.
  • Nearly 80 percent of executives rated employee experience very important (42 percent) or important (38 percent), but only 22 percent reported that their companies were excellent at building a differentiated employee experience.
  • Fifty-nine percent of survey respondents reported they were not ready or only somewhat ready to address the employee experience challenge.

Is Employee Engagement Dead?Cliff Ettridge Quote

A piece written by Imperative states the three sources of fulfillment in our careers (and lives) are relationships, impact, and growth. They are about living fully, not just being engaged.

“I find it quite paternalistic,” says Cliff Ettridge of The Team, “The idea of employee engagement, and the idea of an organization reaching down to people and saying, ‘Right, we’re now going to engage you on our terms.’”

Bottom line: Employee engagement is a component that can help improve the overall employee experience, but is not enough to keep employees happy or productive.

How is EX measured?

EX can be intimidating to implement and measure. Deloitte offers several ways to begin improving EX:

  • Elevate the employee experience and make it a priority
    Recognize that employee experience is valuable.
  • Designate a senior leader or team to own it
    Someone must take the lead in facilitating a new employee experience.
  • Embrace design thinking
    Listen to employees, gather data and develop employee personas
  • Consider experiences for the entire workforce
    Think about all segments of the business. Different things matter to different people. Make sure you are accommodating as many interests as possible.
  • Look outside
    Scour the web (LinkedIn, Glassdoor) for information and identify weak points for your company to address.
  • Enlist C-suite and team leader support
    Senior leaders can be accountable for the employee experience through goals, rewards, and other performance programs.
  • Consider the impact of geography
    Understand where your employees are. Think about cultural differences and interests.
  • Measure it
    Utilize surveys, past candidate interviews and performance evaluations to build an understanding of the issues in your organization.

Bonus Research

In a study conducted by the Human Capital Institute, employees were asked, What is the one thing you wish your organization could be doing better to build great employee experiences? Here are the primary takeaways:

  • Emphasize or enable the role of the manager in employee engagement efforts
    “We need to educate manager and individual contributors on the effects of engagement and what they can do about it.”
  • Leader sponsorship and participation is important
    “Employees need to receive top-down messaging. We need to get executive leadership to participate and make engagement top of mind.”
  • Communication and feedback are critical
    “Build a feedback culture with open dialogue to allow issues to surface.”
  • Act on surveys/monitor progress
    “Ongoing real-time monitoring of engagement levels/trends would help us to position results as part of the manager/leader information scoreboard in the same way as budget and customer issues.”
  • Develop/train/invest in the skills and potential of employees
    “I want my organization to do more training to improve the skills and competence of staff. We need to motivate them so that we can better retain them.”
  • Focus on employee experiences that impact the larger organization
    “Our organization needs to take a more strategic and holistic approach to the employee experience and employee engagement.”

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