Hand-in-Hand: Employee Experience vs Employee Engagement

Lisa Ardill

Content Editor at Workvivo

5 Jul 2023

Whether it’s large conglomerates or small startups, employee engagement and experience are key drivers of success. However, while the terms are often used interchangeably, they possess characteristics that set them apart. Here’s our guide to employee experience vs employee engagement.

What do we mean by employee experience?

Employee experience (EX) is a comprehensive term covering all the interactions an employee encounters with an organization during their employment. This journey involves various touchpoints, from initially drawing the interest of prospective candidates to conducting their exit interviews. Interestingly, more than 77% of individuals assess a company’s culture before applying for a position.

The journey of the employee

From the moment employees join a company, they participate in numerous procedures that shape their overall perception and employee experience. The journey that is most commonly recognized includes these six distinct stages:

  • Attract
  • Recruit
  • Onboard
  • Engage
  • Develop
  • Exit

What impacts employee experience?

EX has a considerable impact on engagement and retention rates within organizations. Studies show that individuals with a positive employee experience exhibit an astounding 16-fold increase in engagement levels compared to those with negative experiences. Moreover, content employees are eight times more likely to remain with their current company.

However, organizations shouldn’t prioritize EX solely for the sake of EX itself. Instead, they must leave superficial efforts behind and move from the traditional to a more employee-focused strategy.

McKinsey & Company categorizes EX into three primary areas. The first, Social Experience, emphasizes fostering positive socialization, encouraging efficient teamwork, and cultivating a constructive work environment. The second category, Work Experience, looks at the organization’s proficiency in enabling meaningful work and offering autonomy, control, flexibility, and growth opportunities. Finally, the third category, Organizational Experience, focuses on developing a well-defined purpose which aligns with the company’s vision, enhancing technology for improved experience, and increased productivity.

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Examining the employee experience

According to Deloitte’s research, a substantial majority (84%) of business leaders acknowledge the significance of EX. However, a mere 9% feel sufficiently equipped to tackle the issue. This discrepancy reveals a glaring gap between aspirations and actualities which must be closed.

Leaders can employ various viewpoints to examine the intricacies of EX. Adopting multiple perspectives allows for the development of a more comprehensive understanding.

Mapping moments that matter

Within the domain of Human Resources, particular moments hold substantial importance in shaping an employee’s experience in their workplace. One such instance is an employee’s first day. Termed as “moments that matter,” “moments of truth,” or “wow moments,” these should be woven into an employee’s journey to establish distinctive and lasting impressions.

An organizational approach

When looking at employee experience from the organization’s viewpoint, the emphasis is on gauging how it influences a company’s performance. By using a top-down strategy, the employee experience is adapted to optimize productivity and profitability. As an example, companies may decide to use tactics like extending incentives.

Being employee-centric

When leaders embrace the employee perspective, their attention turns to the individual. Assessing the employee experience from the staff member’s vantage point requires posing a variety of empathetic inquiries, such as evaluating their happiness, productivity, motivation, support, and discerning what genuinely concerns them.

What do we mean by employee engagement?

Employee engagement is built upon the emotional bond that individuals form with their organization. It represents the degree of devotion, dedication, and emotional involvement that staff members have towards their tasks and workplace.

A commitment to the enterprise’s vision and mission, a desire to contribute to its future, and a sense of personal accomplishment and satisfaction in their work are all behaviors an engaged employee exhibits.

So, what influences employee engagement?

Relationships with peers

Individuals with close relationships with co-workers tend to exhibit higher engagement and happiness in the workplace. These connections not only offer support and a feeling of inclusion, but they also encourage teamwork and communication within and across teams.

Trust in management

Fostering trust in leadership is essential for employee engagement. Leaders need to actively connect with their staff and demonstrate transparency in their practices. A survey involving close to 6,000 employees disclosed that only 29% of the respondents believed HR was aware of their wants and needs, underlining the importance of cultivating a setting where employees’ voices are recognized and valued.

The working environment

When employees feel valued and supported in the workplace, engagement increases. Those who are most likely to look for employment elsewhere don’t receive the recognition they feel they deserve. In fact, they’re nearly twice as likely to, which highlights the correlation with retention rates.

Progression opportunities

Employees should have a sense of long-term prospects within a company. A majority, exceeding 50%, would weigh up exiting their current role if opportunities for growth and training were unavailable. As a result, avenues for career progression, employee development schemes, and training are all crucial factors in promoting employee engagement.

The manager-employee relationship

An influential manager-employee rapport can serve as a trigger for elevating employee engagement, encouraging superior efficiency, increased productivity, and enhanced overall job fulfilment. Indeed, a Gallup report revealed that the manager was accountable for more than 70% of the disparity observed in engagement evaluations.

It’s not always employee experience vs employee engagement; there’s a strong link between them too. Employee experience encompasses the unique events an individual encounters throughout their tenure in an organization, whereas engagement refers to the broader relationship or affinity they establish with the company. Those with a good employee experience are engaged and vice versa.

Engaged employees exhibit passion for their work and demonstrate commitment. Indeed, when employees are engaged, there’s a 41% decrease in absenteeism, a 21% rise in productivity, and a subsequent 22% growth in profitability. Considering this, employee engagement is the desired outcome for organizations.

On the other hand, employee disengagement carries a substantial cost. It’s estimated that the UK alone suffers a £340 billion annual loss due to expenses related to recruitment and training, diminished creativity and innovation, and a higher frequency of sick days.

Workvivo’s here to help!

Want to engage your employees like never before? Workvivo offers an all-in-one platform every single colleague can access, helping you deliver an exceptional employee experience. Book your free demo to learn more.