It’s the question on the working world’s lips: What is the employee experience? Let’s start with a simple definition.
The Employee Experience (EX): is the quality of emotional connection that an employee has with a company. It is shaped by their interactions with people, policies, processes, and technologies during significant moments in their journey with your company.
Now that we’re on the same page about what the employee experience is, we’ll use the rest of this guide to explore:
- Employee experience vs. employee engagement
- Why the employee experience is important
- The four pillars of the employee experience
- How technology supports a human-centric EX
- Why focus on it now and next steps
But wait — weren’t we just buzzing about employee engagement?
Employee engagement — the energy and effort employees bring to the job every day — is absolutely tied to the employee experience.
And though engagement drives KPIs like retention, productivity, and profitability, in isolation, engagement initiatives aren’t working. That’s because engagement is a result of the employee experience, not a driver.
Need proof? Bersin Associates notes that companies are spending more than $1 billion each year on “engagement.” But the number of engaged employees has stayed static (around 30%) for more than a decade.
Ultimately, the winning strategy is to look at the day-to-day activities that will lead to the results you want — the overall employee experience.
Learn how to drive engagement in our manifesto:
The Employee Experience Revolution
By considering the entire employee lifecycle, you take a holistic approach to life at your company — top to bottom, onboarding to alum, people to tech.
And when all of those things are working in tandem, your entire company goes from simply surviving to positively thriving.
Companies want workers aligned and engaged. Workers want to be nurtured and inspired. So, the trick to achieving this balance, and creating an aligned, inspired employee experience?
Our research found four main pillars — and they may not be what you expect.
Behavioral science shows that employees perform best when they have positive intrinsic, or internal, motivation. When employees get pleasure from doing their work, doing the work is a reward. In other words, employees do best when they like their jobs.
Kazoo surveyed employees in 600 companies to get their views on the employee experience. 93% of them found that having connection, meaningful impact, appreciation, and growth in their jobs mattered to them.
Thus, the four pillars emerged
🧩 Connection: The bonds between an employee and their manager, coworkers, and your company’s mission and values.
🎯 Meaningful impact: The employee’s sense that their work matters — to your company, to themselves, and to the world at large.
👍 Appreciation: Knowing your work has value and being recognized and rewarded for your contributions.
🌱 Growth: Learning opportunities, continuous feedback, and ongoing support for career development.
Get actionable tips for each of the four pillars in:
The Employee Experience Cheat Sheet
Just like we think about customer experience, we should think about employee experience, too: as something deeply rooted in human emotion and psychology. Because even in this data-driven day and age, your workers are human. And your employee experience should be, too.
But that doesn’t mean we can take technology out of the equation.
As you idly browse the HR corners of the internet, you’ve likely stumbled across headlines like “Is ‘Human’ Disappearing from Human Resources?”
The answer, of course, is no. In fact, the goal of HR tech is to tap into the powers of technology — like instant connectivity, social sharing, and data tracking — to better serve the needs of human workers.
Like the ability to connect with each other. To sync goals across teams and departments, and track their progress. To measure the impact they’re having on their organization, and the world.
If your performance management tech is removing the human from human resources — and from the employee experience — it may be time to reassess your technology. Or at least, to rethink the way you’re using it.
See how Kazoo aligns and inspires businesses with our all-in-one Employee Experience Platform
EX: Why now?
In his 2017 book The Employee Experience Advantage, Jacob Morgan noted that this focus signaled “the next evolution of the workplace.”
Here’s why. With five generations in the workplace, an always-on culture, and a competitive talent market, the working world has changed. By necessity, the world of work has evolved from a “get a paycheck” culture to a culture where employees want more from their work than a salary. And they’re increasingly less shy about asking for it.
Winning companies want that, too. That’s why we’ve seen giants like Google, LinkedIn, Apple, and Adobe shift away from sporadic employee engagement programs to a more holistic approach.
Your next steps
So, if employees’ experience is personal, variable, and ongoing, how can you deliver a great employee experience?
For starters, invest in the four pillars: connection, meaningful impact, appreciation, and growth (don’t worry, our Cheat Sheet can show you how.)
But if you’re truly ready to transform your experience and win the future of work, learn how Kazoo’s all-in-one Employee Experience Platform can help.