Why employee engagement is a part of the employee experience

Why employee engagement is a part of the employee experience
4 minutes read

Employee engagement is a measure of the relationship between employee and organisation. It attempts to measure the enthusiasm and motivation to further the best interests of the organisation. In layman’s terms, it could be described as how motivated your staff are to do the work and go the extra mile for the benefit of the whole. To us, employee engagement exists at the intersection between intrinsic motivation and extrinsic motivation at work. Some view this as a proxy for productivity, while others may confuse the term with employee experience. So, today we discuss why employee engagement is a part of the employee experience.


Measuring employee engagement

Why do we want to measure employee engagement? Is it a measure of the health of the organisation? Is it a proxy for productivity? Does it validate the approach of management? In general, an organisation with high employee engagement may be expected to outperform an organisation with low employee engagement. Alas, the same can be said for individuals, with high employee engagement implying ‘bought in’ and productive. Typically, employee engagement is measured via survey. The questions range from asking about how plans are communicated to how successfully groups collaborate. If the overall index is high, management look for ‘hot spots’ of problems. Where the index is low in a particular team or department, the problem may be the manager.

Unfortunately, such a survey is potentially vulnerable to a whole range of weaknesses. These might include the context of the individual at the time they complete the survey to the way the questions are ordered and worded. Similarly, not all employees believe that such a survey is anonymous. This can give rise to misleading responses, hiding the real issues. Furthermore, where teams score low on the index, the answer is not necessarily a bad manager. It could be a tough internal customer, a poor system that they use or geographically disparate locations. The real danger of such a survey is the potential to jump to conclusions or to sow suspicion as to the motivations behind the survey. Now, let’s discuss how employee engagement is the outcome, taking into account many factors.


Employee experience is broader than employee engagement

To some, this point is blindingly obvious. To others, it may come as a surprise. Your employee experience is much broader than employee engagement. Engagement is the result or outcome of a person’s intrinsic (or internal) motivations mated to their extrinsic (or external) influences. In truth, most managers and organisations fail to understand the intrinsic motivators of their people. They simply do not spend the time delving deep enough to uncover what makes them ‘tick’. That leaves the extrinsic influences that may or may not motivate them to perform and strive to further your interests.

Employee experience includes all facets of your organisation’s proposition for your employees. It ranges from your external brand and how you communicate to the technology they use and how they book holidays. It stretches from offer to office, policy to practice, diversity to sustainability, colleagues to customers and leaders to lights out. In short, employee experience is the context within which your employees do their work. Measuring employee engagement is like looking at the football scores. Sure, it tells you that your team performed well, but the mix of hundreds of factors influenced that outcome. Similarly, a win today against a high-ranked team does not automatically mean a win next week against a low-ranked team. If a simple survey could turn around the fortunes of a football club seeking success, HR would be in charge of the club.


Building an engaging employee experience

Have you ever been to a nice hotel where everything just worked? From the moment you arrived you felt good. Services wowed you. The food was excellent and the facilities top notch. Room service couldn’t do enough. Booking was simple and you had a great night’s sleep. You awoke facing the rising sun and a clear blue sky. The extra energy and enthusiasm meant that you tried out the gym and had a swim in the pool. Fantastic. In this context, you are highly engaged because of the hotel experience. Now, imagine there was mould on the ceiling in the room, room service didn’t pick up the telephone and rain ran down the window. You may be a little less ‘engaged’ at this point. In this simplified example, you can see how the outcome can change based on a variety of factors.

Employee experience is both contextual and the result of an elaborate mix of extrinsic influences. The trouble is that you don’t know which ones are pulling in a negative direction and which are positive. Some may cost nothing to fix whereas others may require sizeable upheaval to achieve. Thanks to breakthroughs in neuroscience, such perceptions, associations and emotions can be measured through studies to help us understand the extrinsic motivators. Maybe the problem is the manager. Maybe it is the job tasks. Perhaps a slow system, a lack of training, flexi-desking, claiming expenses or the culture itself that drives low engagement. Either way, we need to measure the real root causes if we truly want to improve it.


Engaging experiences for employees

If you believe that people should be happy just to get paid, this article is not for you. If you want to identify managers that people might not like, also look away. However, if you want to provide an experience that attracts, motivates and retains staff, start thinking beyond employee engagement. With a combination of anonymous surveys, blind interviews and neuroscience studies online, we can start building an experience that encourages engaged employees. In summary, let us help you put employee experience improvement as one of your strategic goals.

If you would like to find out more, why not reach out via email or simply call us to arrange an introductory chat. Alternatively, why not read a little more about our neuroexperience service.

Finally, why not take another 4 minutes to read about declining workplace productivity.