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Exploring the Relationship Between Employee Engagement and Employee Experience

employee experience

The topic of “employee experience” tends to get the most attention when the job market is tight, and companies have to compete for the best talent. That’s unfortunate because employee experience should be important to all companies, all of the time, regardless of how difficult it may be to hire great people in the current market.

The employee experience significantly affects employee engagement, and that’s where the rubber of good intentions meets the road of great results. Employees who are engaged in their work find that work to be meaningful. They are willing to give their best effort and know that in doing so they can make things better for others, including both customers and colleagues. Naturally, this turns into greater tangible success for the organization.

However, employee experience is not as easy a concept to grasp as employee engagement. While it involves concrete things such as pay and benefits, it also includes morale, the physical workspace, work-life balance, and simply whether or not it feels good to arrive at work every day. The business world has recently become more competent in measuring employee engagement, but not so much with the employee experience. Sure, you know about “good places to work,” but what does that actually mean?

Companies that understand what employee experience encompasses and are able to measure, track, and improve it are best positioned to generate strong employee engagement and the many benefits it provides.

Employee Experience: What Does It Mean?

Employee experience is a “big picture” term. In many ways, it is about eliminating unnecessary barriers to strong employee engagement. A favorable employee experience results from the various positive perceptions employees have about their interactions with the organization for which they work. That can include a wide variety of issues, many of the routine and “every day”:  What is it like to ask a question of HR about benefits? If an employee needs a new piece of equipment, how hard is it to petition to get it? Is the physical environment clean and comfortable?

Many companies are discovering that, as it becomes more challenging to find top talent, the employee experience is strongly related to the customer experience. Investing in the employee experience can impact the bottom line because employees of a company that makes the effort to understand what they value and aligns the workplace with those values are more likely to provide their customers with a positive experience as well.

What Employee Experience Is Not

As important as it is to understand what employee experience is, it is equally important to understand what employee experience is not. Employee experience cannot be dismissed as minor perks like free snacks and discounted theme park tickets. Nor is it summed up as “talent management” or “HR development,” because it is possible for talent management and HR development to be outstanding in a company where the employee experience is lousy.

Employee experience is not the same as employee satisfaction. Face it: no employee will be satisfied every minute of every day in the workplace, and some employees will not be satisfied no matter what anyone does. Think of employee experience as the infrastructure that supports employee satisfaction, employee engagement, and other feel-good initiatives (including those free snacks).

Ah, but can’t you have great employee satisfaction, strong engagement, and fun perks without paying attention to employee experience? Perhaps, but not for long, because a company that pays no attention to creating a positive employee experience will ultimately suffer in terms of reduced customer satisfaction and may lose its ability to compete, which ruins things for employees as well.

How to Improve the Employee Experience

The first step toward improving the employee experience is to understand it. Surveys, focus groups, and plain old observation are methods companies use to understand the employee experience. Some companies have managers working “in the trenches” on a regular basis to understand what front-line employees do and what they experience every day.

Also, important to improving the employee experience is making it an explicit priority. In fact, assigning a senior leader to assume responsibility for measuring and improving employee experience is a good idea.

Finally, improving the employee experience should cover the entire workforce. That includes the person who delivers interoffice mail, custodians, the receptionist, customer service representatives, the graphic designer, the IT support desk worker, and the Accounting staff. Employee experience is comprehensive and leaves no one out.

Employee Engagement: What Does It Mean?

Employee engagement is the level of connection, commitment, and enthusiasm employees have about what they do every day at work. Engaged employees are motivated to put in their best effort, are committed to the employer, and generally, want to stay with the organization. An engaged employee is not one who shows up and “phones it in” until it is time to go home. Rather, engaged employees devote careful attention and care to their tasks because they believe their work matters.

Engaged employees are far less likely to leave for other jobs, which reduces turnover. They are also more likely to be concerned with pleasing customers, helping to improve the company’s financial performance. They tend to make the workplace better overall by serving as a good example to others and by behaving in a professional and friendly manner. In other words, your company needs a strong employee engagement.

What Employee Engagement Is Not

Employee engagement is not the same thing as the employee experience. Employee engagement is certainly a component of a strong employee experience but the two are not interchangeable. The employee experience is big. It is strategic and long-term, while employee engagement is more immediate and tactical. You can have great tactics, but without a sound strategy driving them, they will eventually stop being effective.

Employee engagement is also not the same thing as employee happiness. An employee may be quite happy for reasons that have nothing to do with work. Maybe their favorite sports team won a big game, or maybe they have a big party coming up. That does not necessarily mean they are going to be engaged in their work. In general, engaged employees are happy at work, but happy employees are not necessarily engaged at work.

Similarly, employee engagement is not the same as employee satisfaction. Employee satisfaction can be derived from nothing more than the agreeable exchange of the employee’s time and efforts for a paycheck of a certain size. The employee who is only there for the paycheck may be satisfied but is not necessarily engaged in his or her work.

How to Improve Employee Engagement

Improving employee engagement is more tactical than improving the employee experience. One of the most important things a company can do to improve employee engagement is to solicit feedback from employees about their jobs and really listen to that feedback. Suppose an employee mentions a friend whose company has issued its employees a mobile device that dramatically cuts the time she spends doing routine administrative work. That is worth knowing about!

You can also improve employee engagement by regularly providing feedback, especially if that means recognizing outstanding effort. Ensuring that employees know about training opportunities and can participate in them fairly easily is important. Notifying employees of promotion or transfer opportunities can also improve their engagement levels. Employees want to know what is going on in the company, and they want to be able to steer their careers in the direction they want to go.

How Employee Experience Drives Employee Engagement

Improving the employee experience is one of the most important ways to improve employee engagement. People can only stay engaged in their work for so long if their day-to-day atmosphere is unpleasant or difficult, perhaps because senior management is indifferent, their equipment and tools are inadequate or outdated, or the organization is woefully understaffed.

With the mobile revolution, countless businesses have discovered that an employee engagement app is a tremendous tool for improving both employee experience and employee engagement. Apps can help to drive improvements in employee experience through feedback tools and surveys, which can be instantly analyzed by the app itself, allowing information to be acted upon quickly.

These apps can also improve the employee experience by demonstrating, in countless small ways, that the employees matter. An app can notify workers whose shift is ending soon that a heavy storm is on the way, it can remind employees that the cafeteria is closing for two weeks for renovation, and so on. In other words, an app improves the employee experience by equipping employees with information that makes their days better and more productive.

Apps can also drive better employee engagement. What better way to deliver training modules than with an app, employees can use when their schedules allow? Employees can use apps to rate new processes and/or tools and feed that information directly to those in charge of ensuring those new processes enable employees to do well in their jobs. Apps can notify selected employees of advancement opportunities for which they may be qualified.

Companies have an “employee experience” whether they shape and cultivate it or not. When companies neglect the employee experience, that experience is more likely to be shaped by negative factors like rumors, disgruntled employees or outside media coverage. Companies that pay attention to the employee experience, learn to measure it, and use it to drive better employee engagement are the ones that stand to gain the most in an era when finding and keeping top talent is challenging.

If you are interested in exploring the possibilities of using a mobile app to drive better employee experience and employee engagement, you can try the HubEngage app for free. HubEngage is the platform that allows companies like yours to develop the exact employee engagement app you need to help employees maximize their engagement and enjoy the best possible employee experience.


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