Are they the same thing, with just different names? Which has an impact on our bottom line? Perhaps some questions you have once asked. We’re going to answer these questions, unbiasedly as possible.
Employee experience, in a nutshell, is the entirety of the employee journey from the time they received the invite for an interview in your organization up to the time they have decided to move on. It encompasses the overall “experience” from culture to welfare to purpose and meaning.
Employee engagement, on the other hand, is an area inside employee experience. This is often driven by initiatives aiming at getting your employees to be emotionally invested in the success of your organization, which in turn creates a high-performing work environment.
Yeah, I know…the definition of employee engagement above is too “employer-centric.” Like yourself, we believe that employee engagement should be inclusive, where both employer and employee benefit from it. We believe that employers must be invested in the overall well-being of their employees if they want them to be invested in the success of their workplace. This means that employers must figure out what they are willing to give in exchange for what they want to receive from their employees.
When an employee joins a company, their level of engagement is high, but over time this naturally starts to dip. When this happens, organizations will start offering perks and planning employee activities to improve happiness—we call them adrenalin shots. But these shots will not last. Over time, engagement will drop again, and then more perk is introduced. Costly, I must say.
For this reason, that the term “employee experience” became a buzz word in the HR world. Employee experience is not defined by employee happiness at work because happiness is tied to satisfying basic needs, which are relatively subjective and driven by the moment. Offer free gym, free shuttle, free snacks, or sponsored work from home setup—these things give employees the feeling of happiness, but they don’t create a sense of connected motivation; the meaning to be always the best at what they do.
Happiness is short-lived and always subjective. Meaning is focused and rooted deeply in purpose, which creates a long-term solution that addresses the primary issues in the workplace.
We are not suggesting that you pivot your focus from employee engagement. Employees are humans who also need enjoyment. However, employee engagement is not the critical driver of performance, meaning does. And that’s how we differentiate Employee Engagement (popular short-term fix) and Employee Experience (meaning and long-term solution) from each other.