Long ago, employees were just utilized as a resource to make more products and earn more business. However, a few decades back the idea of employee engagement was born and the focus shifted to caring for and valuing employees. The more engaged the employees, the more productive and healthier the business. But now… the buzz is all about employee experience!
So, what is the difference between employee engagement and employee experience? If you think both are the same, that isn’t entirely true. Let’s take a simple example to understand the basic difference.
Assume that you buy a used car at a junkyard and spend money to make it look brand new. The car will indeed look beautiful, but what about its performance? In order to improve how the car performs, it makes more sense to focus on the engine.
The short-term adrenaline shot that boosts the old car temporarily is the employee engagement part.
On the other hand, the holistic view of focusing on the core of the car’s performance is related to employee experience.
Employee engagement involves the short-term measures organizations adopt to improve employee morale, while employee experience adopts a long-term perspective.
Employee Engagement Vs Employee Experience
Employee engagement is related to how the organization travels an extra mile to create a positive attitude and behaviour among its employees. It looks at the commitment level of employees and how better it can be improved to help them become more productive.
Employee experience is the total sum of the employee’s perceptions about their interaction with the organization on a day-to-day basis.
In simple words, it is the measures taken at an organizational level to make employees happy and glad to come to work every day.
In a nutshell, if you focus on employee experience, employee engagement is bound to happen. However, if you just focus on employee engagement, that is not enough.
Why Is Employee Experience More Important Than Employee Engagement?
Employee engagement is a one-way approach that aims at doing something to employees. Traditional ways of employee engagement reach out to the employee in the following ways:
- Inspire – Connecting with employees about the value and vision of the company and their future career growth.
- Incent – Creating programs to reward and reinforce the desired positive behaviour.
- Inform – Letting the employees know regarding the priorities and company objectives.
- Instruct – Providing coaching and training to help employees grow, improve and achieve.
- Involve – Listening to concerns of employees and addressing their needs.
On the contrary, employee experience is a double-sided approach that is designed along with the employees. Each and every day, employees have an experience and it is this experience that counts in the long run. It is more proactive than reactive making sure that the everyday experience is positive and enables the employees to perform their best.
In addition to this, employee engagement initiatives are often viewed as holding a short-term focus. Incentive programs or flexible working are short-term fixes that can quickly boost the percentage of engagement. But over time, the effect wears out and scores return back to normal levels. In order to make real gains, you need to adopt a more holistic approach and look at the big picture.
Employee experience takes a bird’s eye view of three environments that matter the most to employees – culture, technology and physical. Companies that invest in employee experience initiatives not just have happier employees, greater profits and higher customer satisfaction, but also their employees turn out to be their brand ambassadors. When people hear about what a good place it is to work for, it directly translates into positive feelings about your company.
Ways To Improve Your Employee Experience
Implementing employee experience is a big challenge given its broad scope. To add to it, the work environment is getting complex by the day.
According to statistics, nearly 80% rated employee experience as important, but only 22% reported that their companies were actually excellent at building a unique employee experience.
Here are a few ways to get you started on the employee experience momentum:
Not all companies devote much energy towards communicating internally as they do externally. After all, employees are your key stakeholders. Consider sharing good news and bad with your employees first and foremost. Ensure that there are open lines of communication and value your employees’ voices too.
2. Get Social
It’s important for all team members also to get to know each other. Just as you check in with the employee’s well-being, team members need to check in with each other as well. This will improve support across peer levels which is very conducive for a positive work environment. Lunch-ins together, team outings and other team building activities will help in this case.
3. Remove The Barriers
What will make your employees’ work and life easier and non-burdensome? We build systems to support the regular work and business processes. The same can be done to simplify the day-to-day tasks of employees.
Take a look at your system and simplify processes like onboarding, expense reports, vacation requests, etc. Streamline the systems that touch your employees and let them know that you are here to support them at all times.
4. Alter Hiring Practices To Encourage Diversity
Studies have shown that a diverse workforce yields great benefits not just for the organization but also for its employees. With a diverse workforce, comes the perks of increased creativity, enhanced talent retention and a greater sense of employee belonging.
5. Respect And Encourage
Constantly ask employees for feedback to know what’s working and what’s not. This provides the leadership with valuable insights and empowers employees to create an environment that is friendly to all.
At the same time encourage your employees by offering challenging projects, acknowledging their efforts and rewarding them in creative ways.
6. Adopt Design Thinking
Rather than sticking to pre-defined processes and regulations, facilitate the employees to design the processes, physical environment, training, etc.
Design thinking initiatives will naturally energize the employees and put them at the centre of becoming architects of their own workplace. Now, this will foster freedom, empowerment and a greater sense of buy-in.
Finally… Focus On The Big Picture!
Your workforce is your most valuable brand asset. So, ensure that they are happy and content at all stages of the employee lifestyle. Focusing on employee experience, lets you focus on the bigger picture and improves your bottom line.
So, improve your employee experience, and you’ll find that you have a naturally engaged workforce!