Distinguishing Between Employee Experience and Engagement

by Jody Ordioni

Although the terms employee engagement and employee experience are used as synonyms there is a difference between them- a subtle one, but a difference nonetheless. Employee experience is mostly one-sided. It focuses on creating a work environment or space where their need for comfort and efficiency are fulfilled. Employee engagement, on the other side, can be considered an element of employee experience. It is successful only as a two-way communication channel between the employee and the management.

Delivering Positive Employee Experience

The experience of employees is used to determine the recruitment, retention, and productivity of workers. To measure the impact of positive employee experience on employee engagement and retention, Globoforce’s Work Human Analytics and Research Institute along with IBM’s Smarter Workforce Institute carried out a study, the Employee Experience Index. It surveyed roughly 22,000 employees, spanning the geographical distance of 43 countries. The study zoned in on six principals that result in a positive employee experience. These include:

Where employee engagement is solely focused on employee productivity that enables completion of the job, experience considers the workers as actual human beings. Employee experience, as the study proves, is not simply about a feel-good factor of the work, rather creating a holistic experience of and in the workplace.

The research also reveals that companies that rely more on delivering a positive employee experience through recognition, empowerment, and feedback to employees, gain greater returns on assets and sales. To achieve this superior level of productivity, it is important for managers to realize this subtle difference between employee engagement and employee experience.

Experience, what does it mean?

According to Amanda Ponzar, a career advisor and hiring manager at Alexandria, the rise of the bamboozling term of employee experience in the year 2017 has left the Human Resources baffled. The HR industry has tried to understand and quantify the phenomenon of employee experience. However, some critics considered the term to be nothing more than a fancy-term to waste time. Ponzar, though, is of the belief that employee engagement is one of the bonuses that employee experience generates.

She also emphasizes that employee experience is the perspective that each employee has of the company. The various interactions of the employee with the company aggregate to form the experience. To create a positive employee experience, companies should look into increasing the overall quality of the life of their employees.

More often than not, companies confuse the experience with ‘perks’ to increase the levels of engagement. Yet, superficial systems do not retain the loyalty of the employee compared to a general increase in the quality of the environment of the workplace.

Engagement vs. Experience

Engagement and experience are facets of the same paradigms, as Lisa Barrington, of Arizona, based Barrington Coaching, argues. To make a long argument short, employee experience is the totality of the experience of the employee, including the pre and post-employment phase. It depends on various factors such as interpersonal relationships, the work culture of the company, interaction with the policies and procedures, etc. The totality of all the experiences, major and minor, hold an influence over the level of engagement the employee has with the company and its culture.

Engagement of the employee depends on the psychological involvement of the employee in their job. It functions as a result of the connections they build with their co-workers and leaders, which helps them to show commitment to the organization. The employees who have positive experience generally show higher levels of engagement with the company’s vision and mission.

Consider Employee Perspective for Experience

The primary causes for disengagement can be understood as follows:

In conclusion, employee engagement can be understood as a one-time or short-term change. Employee experience, however, encompasses the entire milieu of what it’s like to work in a company. Both works in tandem, to develop an understanding of the impact employees have on the organization and collaborate globally.

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