Employee experience vs. employee engagement – what’s the difference and why does it matter?
In this article, we’ll take a look at:
- A working definition of the employee experience
- How it is different from employee engagement
- Why both are important
- How they can both be designed to maximize returns on investment
To begin with, let’s understand how both terms are related:
Employee Experience vs. Employee Engagement
Let’s start with employee experience.
Defining this term first will make it easy to see their connection.
The employee experience is the sum of experiences and interactions an employee has with an organization.
It begins pre-hire, from the moment the employee first comes into contact with the brand. And it ends post-hire, after their last interaction.
This journey is called the employee life cycle, according to Gallup.
Gallup breaks this journey into seven segments:
- Attract – How a company reels in the best talent
- Hire – Choosing the right candidates
- Onboard – Orienting, socializing, initial training, and integrating the employee smoothly
- Engage – How motivated, involved, invested in, interested in, and enthusiastic employees are about work
- Perform – Employee performance, productivity, and output
- Develop – Career development and education solutions
- Depart – Learning from employees as they leave, and providing them with a positive experience as they do so
Each of these stages can be examined in close detail.
But in this article, we’ll take a look at the employee experience as a whole – and why engagement receives so much attention.
Designing the Employee Experience
Having a management framework, such as the one above, helps professionals in a few ways.
On the one hand, it helps break down the model into manageable chunks.
Each stage of the employee journey can be clearly defined. Goals can be set and measured. And those goals can be improved upon.
Plus, having a set of measurable goals helps demonstrate its value.
For instance, the employee experience can be directly connected to important business metrics:
- Improved engagement can increase employee productivity and output
- Employee onboarding and training can decrease time-to-productivity and learning timelines
- Post-exit experience management can help identify reasons for departure – which can, in turn, be addressed and rectified
These are just a few ways that employee experience management can generate ROI.
Demonstrating that ROI is one of the top challenges faced in employee experience management.
Because executive support is so important in this burgeoning field, let’s look at a few tips for getting it:
- Discover what matters to business leaders. That is, find out what their aims, values, and goals are. This can help you create programs that fit their needs, as well as employees’ needs.
- Choose goals that support leadership’s agenda. The employee experience can improve many business metrics, as mentioned. However, it is important to choose metrics that matter to the leadership.
- Design a plan and a case for improving those metrics. Follow a framework, such as Gallup’s framework or a change management framework. Then create a plan that can help improve your target metrics.
Aligning the interests of the employee experience function with the organization’s aims is critical.
This step can literally mean the difference between getting funded – or getting rejected.
Maximizing Employee Engagement
Employee engagement, as covered above, is one facet of the employee experience.
In general, it refers to how invested, motivated, involved, and enthusiastic an employee is about their work.
Employee engagement receives particular attention from many professionals – and for good reason.
The more engaged an employee is:
- The more productive they are
- The better their performance is
- The longer they are likely to stay with a company
Research has corroborated this:
- Globally, engagement levels are around 15%
- More than half of Americans are actively scouting job opportunities
- Udemy found that nearly half of US full-time office workers were bored or disengaged at work
- And Udemy also reported that disengaged workers are 2.5 times more likely to quit
But when it comes to maximizing engagement, what is the best route?
There are a few possible prescriptions.
But the best fix, of course, will be the one that fits your organization’s needs.
Here are a few steps to follow when improving employee engagement:
- Find factors that contribute to disengagement. Surveys, feedback, software usage data, and other information can help you diagnose the problem.
- Address those weaknesses. A structured change management plan can help transform targeted business elements, such as processes, tools, or culture.
- Measure and improve. The more you test, adjust, and improve your engagement program, the better its results will be over time.
Maximizing engagement can positively impact a number of business functions and metrics.
However, as mentioned, it is only one facet of the overall employee experience.
A holistic approach to employee experience management is the best way to improve every aspect of the employee life cycle, from engagement to onboarding.
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