What is the Employee Experience?

The Employee Experience: Why Now?

Over the last few years, the term “Employee Experience” became a key focus in HR circles.

Why? In his book, The Employee Experience Advantage, Jacob Morgan claims that the Employee Experience is far more than a buzzword. The growing focus on the Employee Experience signals the next evolution of the workplace.

With multiple generations in the workplace, remote workers, and a competitive talent market, the game of work has changed. Jobs are evolving from a “get a paycheck” culture to a culture where employees want more from their work than a salary. Companies want that, too.

In this market, winning companies like Google, LinkedIn, Apple, and Adobe have shifted their investment away from sporadic engagement programs onto a more holistic approach. These companies have realized it’s time to stop looking at end results (engagement) and time to start looking at the day-to-day activities that will lead to the results they want—the overall Employee Experience.

The Employee Experience Defined

After surveying more than 750 employees at over 600 companies, studying industry research, and reviewing articles — one key definition has emerged:

The Employee Experience results from the connection, meaning, impact, and appreciation employees find in their jobs. The quality of the Employee Experience depends on how much these pillars are embedded in an employee’s cumulative day-today interactions with corporate values, coworkers, management, customers, work content, tools and technology, and even physical environment.

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employee behaviors to recognize and reward

The Four Pillars of the Employee Experience

In the ever-growing body of motivation and performance research, it is clear that employees perform best when they are intrinsically motivated—meaning that they want to do their jobs because of something inside themselves. This research has show that these four key pillars dramatically affect employee experience and motivation:

  • Connection: Feeling connected to my manager, colleagues, company, and community.
  • Meaning: Knowing my company, and the work I do, has meaning and purpose.
  • Impact: Knowing the work I do impacts my colleagues and my company for the better.
  • Appreciation: Feeling acknowledged and appreciated for my contributions.

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The Employee Experience Is:

  • Organic — An outgrowth of a collection of day-to-day actions that happen at the corporate, department, team and personal level.
  • Ongoing — It starts from the first day an employee enters the company and continues to evolve as the employee is with the company.
  • Interactive — The employee and organization both contribute to each employee’s experience.
  • Motivating — A good Employee Experience builds employees’ intrinsic (internal or self-driven) motivation to do the job.
  • Culture-Driven — Close to half of the employees in our Employee Experience survey said that culture was the biggest determinant of the employee experience.
  • Employee-Centric — Employee Experience is personal and varied. To a certain extent, employees drive their experience by opting in to the things that are most important to them.

The Employee Experience Isn’t:

  • A disparate set of engagement activities — Engagement activities like perks and surveys are often set up by companies for employees, but don’t enable employees to opt in to the things that matter most to them.
  • A one-off program — As a cumulation of interactions, the Employee Experience isn’t something that happens with a one-off reward or competition.
  • Top-down — Organizations can certainly influence the Employee Experience, but trying to dictate it often leads to toxic culture. Many times, it’s an outgrowth of an interactive, evolving process.
  • Generalized — Different employees in different jobs and different mindsets are going to experience their work in different ways. Customizing your experience efforts for what matters most to your company, department, team, and employee is critical.

So, if an engaging experience is personal, variable, and ongoing, how can your company deliver a great Employee Experience? Invest in the four pillars of the Employee Experience: connection, meaning, impact, and appreciation, and customize that investment to the things that matter most at your company on an employee, department, team, and corporate level.