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What is Employee Experience (EX)?

22 Aug 2019 - Blog

How can employee experience be defined? What difference can a positive employee experience make to your organisation and your company’s reputation?

Employee experience (EX) is so much more than a human resources buzzword. The very concept is changing the way we treat our employees, the way we motivate them and the success of our organisations. Rather than being a short-lived HR trend, forward-thinking companies are starting to place a real emphasis on this area, with some businesses going as far as to create specialised positions (such as a Chief Employee Experience Officer) to monitor the employee experience.

Despite the growing emphasis on employee experience, there remains some confusion about what it is, what it isn’t — and how to improve it. Below, we’ll explore:

What’s the Difference between Employee Engagement and Employee Experience?

Employee Experience Defined

What Is the Employee Experience Journey?

Why You Need to Prioritise the Employee Experience at Your Company

How Does the Employee Experience Relate to Customer Experience?

People Insight Can Help You to Improve Your Employee Experience

What’s the Difference between Employee Engagement and Employee Experience?

Just how many terms are we meant to memorise in human resources? Our heads are swimming with jargon and acronyms — do we need another term to add to the mix? Aren’t employee experience and employee engagement essentially the same concept under different guises?

While we’re all for simplicity at People Insight, we’re also about clarity and accuracy — which is why we have to tell you there is a very real difference between employee engagement and employee experience. 

According to Forbes, employee engagement is “The emotional commitment the employee has to the organisation and its goals”. Employee experience goes one step further, in that EX considers employee engagement over a period, at all touch points throughout the employee lifecycle, from the employee’s perspective. EX takes into consideration how employees see, hear, believe and feel about every single aspect of their employment.

At People Insight, we regard employee experience as an employee-centric way of thinking about the organisation. This necessitates leaders and managers putting themselves in the shoes of their employees. Whenever a decision is made in a company, employee experience should be kept in mind. You should be asking, internally:

  •  How will our employees perceive this?
  • What impression are we giving our people if we do this/act this way?

Employee Experience Defined

Employee experience is a complex topic and therefore difficult to summarise in one or two sentences, but an employee experience definition we like and support is as follows:

“Employee Experience is the sum of the various perceptions employees have about their interactions with the organisation in which they work.” 

Tracy Maylett & Matthew Wride

An employee experience comprises of three distinct areas:

  • Cultural environment — Does your company have an established set of values? Are these values well communicated? Do employees feel aligned with these values? Do employees feel listened to, rewarded and recognised? Do they have good relationships at work and with their business leaders? These are just a few cultural aspects to consider.
  • Technological environment — Is the technology at your company cumbersome or user-friendly? Do your employees have all the software and tools they require to perform the functions of their jobs? Are they able to use technology to communicate with each other and with their line managers? Does technology facilitate the exchange of real-time feedback?
  • Physical environment — Are your workspaces cluttered? Do you have an open-plan office or do employees have separate offices? How comfortable and ergonomic are the seats? What is the temperature like in your office? Are employees getting enough exposure to sunlight? Are you taking measures to make employees comfortable when you can?

Employee experience is not simply perks or “feel good” initiatives. Nor is it about the employer brand, or the external image of an organisation. It also isn’t only HR’s responsibility. While part of EX is in HR’s purview, other departments (such as operations and IT) have a huge role to play.

What Is the Employee Experience Journey?

To truly understand employee experience, we need to look at the employee experience journey. This journey looks at the lifecycle of an employee from candidacy through onboarding, performance, growth, and eventually exit. Employee disengagement at any of the stages below leads to a worsening employee experience.
employee experience journey

Why You Need to Prioritise the Employee Experience at Your Company

Times have changed. Employees have more choice than ever. Over recent years, unemployment has fallen to its lowest point in decades and the war for talent is a serious factor.

Given that employees now have the luxury of choice, they are starting to question what they want out of a career. Their attention has turned to their desire for meaning. They want a place where they enjoy working, rather than a job they do out of obligation, to pay the bills. They want a company whose values align with their own. They want a company that cares — and demonstrates that it cares — about its workforce.

A focus on employee experience can be an incredible recruitment tool. Increasingly, employees are sharing their experiences through websites such as Glassdoor. Reputation spreads quickly and companies with great employee experiences inevitably attract the best and brightest. This is why employee experience can be a great retention tool, too. Once employees find a company they love and they feel supported, employees want to stay put. This is why McKinsey has listed employee experience as a factor that is “essential to compete” in modern business.

To look at how a poor employee experience can damage a company in many ways, you only need to look at well-publicised stories about Sports Direct and Amazon. Such damage can be hard — or even impossible — to recover from.

How Does the Employee Experience Relate to Customer Experience?

Employee experience borrows heavily from customer experience management. Both use design thinking strategies to improve the culture, environment and experience for customers and employees. Over the decades, marketers have analysed and dissected the touch points across the customer journey. Now companies are working hard to do the same with the employee experience, addressing goal setting, relationships, pain points and other elements to improve employees’ day-to-day perception of their work lives.

It should also be noted that an organisation that solely focuses inward on employees wouldn’t survive. The employee experience and customer experience should be considered together. They should also be in line — for example, there shouldn’t be any marked difference between the way employees perceive a company and the way a customer perceives the company.

People Insight Can Help You to Improve Your Employee Experience

Now you know more about the employee experience, you probably want to know more about how to improve employee experience within your organisation. That’s where we can step in and help.

Whether or not you know what it is, every single company has an employee experience — whether it is a good one or a bad one is another question altogether. People Insight has helped hundreds of organisations revitalise their employee experiences. We do this by working closely with our clients to create employee surveys that will measure your EX, pinpointing problems and issues along the way. We have a team of qualified and experienced business psychologists who will help you understand and implement the results. There is no sense in rushing cultural change, particularly when you have interpreted the results of an employee survey incorrectly. At People Insight, we take employee experience seriously and we aim to make the world a better place to work — one company at a time.

If you want to take your employee experience to the next level and motivate your workforce to excellence, contact us today for a detailed employee experience survey.

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