I was asked this month about “employee experience” and if it is the same or different to “engagement” and what, as a leader, you should know about it.

Employee experience is different to engagement and it is different to customer experience. There seems to be some belief that employee experience is about seeing employees as customers and giving employees what they ask for to keep them happy. This is dangerous thinking because employee experience is far from this and to think otherwise may stop you from exploring the concept further.

Employee Experience is about making sure that employees have meaningful and positive interactions with your Company at every stage of the employment cycle. From the moment someone applies for a job ad to the day they leave. That’s a pretty big task, right?

The reason organisations are investing in this is because employee engagement is essentially the output of experience. Whatever your employee experience is will inform your levels of employee engagement. Therefore, they are two interrelated, but different concepts.

Does this mean engagement surveys are dead? Far from it. They are an important point in time litmus test on how your organisation is performing in the eyes of your employees. Provided that you do something with the information you receive from the engagement survey, they are a very valuable tool and I still believe the best place to start for most businesses.

Unless you are in a large business that has the ability to hire an Employee Experience Manager, here are my tips for where to begin


Getting started

  1. Run an engagement survey so you know your base line. You can use a professional survey provider, or you can use a tool like survey-monkey which has pre-populated engagement survey questions. (There are also a number of apps and technology platforms that will do smaller, more frequent engagement surveys with samples of staff. These are great alternatives for larger organisations that find annual surveys too cumbersome and slow to obtain the feedback.)
  2. Check the questions to make sure they suit your workplace and be prudent with the demographic questions asked. The more you ask around demographics, the less responses you may receive due to perceived lack of anonymity.
  3. Once you have the results analysed, it is time to understand them. Engagement surveys do have limitations as not everyone will complete it, and everyone can read and interpret questions differently. So, if you want to get the best understanding of the information, run focus groups with volunteers from your staff to discuss some key areas. Lead them through a group discussion and have staff provide you with what your organisation can stop-start-continue doing in these areas.
  4. Create an action plan based on the employees’ feedback AND SHARE IT WITH THEM regularly. It needs to be a living document where staff see progress to the plan.


Moving to employee experience

Now you can build on the plan from the engagement survey by looking at your employee life-cycle; attraction, recruitment, on-boarding, development, well-being, retention, separation. This is where you can review these through an employee experience lens and help to develop a positive culture.

What is the leadership capability in the organisation? Are there opportunities for collaboration? What is the physical layout of the workplace? Is there a sense of purpose in the organisation? How is innovation fostered? Are teams empowered? Do we have a culture of learning?

All of these questions and more will allow you to continue to build on the plan and actively work on improving your employee experience. If you are keen to jump in right now, there are a number of white papers available online about employee experience and a few books have been released in the last 12-18 months that are great resources.

Next Steps

Like the sound of this, but you don’t have the resources to begin? We’d love to help. Just contact us for a confidential discussion!


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