The last two years have brought a multitude of new facets to what is considered TO BE the “workplace.” No longer is the workplace sequestered to only a 9-to-5 spent in an office cubicle. Now, it includes remote work – which can look like someone sitting in a home office, at a dining table, or relaxing on the edge of a pool – virtual meetings, and many more forms of communication outside of face-to-face office interactions. With these facets comes the question: what is the employee experience and how do these changes affect the experience as a whole? 

It’s important for a company to take note of how the employee experience has changed and how to counter any negativity that has come with the changes. A positive employee experience can be inspiring, motivational, and uplifting to those that need it most in the changing world that is the workplace. Employee experience, employee lifecycle, employee feedback/engagement – all of these phrases sound similar but just different enough that you stop to think. We want to clarify these terms for you and show you how each relies on the other to help an organization recognize what their employees need to do in order to do their work successfully. 

Defining Employee Experience

What is employee experience? According to IBM Smarter Workforce Institute and Workhuman Research Institute, the employee experience is “A set of perceptions that employees have about their experiences at work in response to their interactions with the organization.” While this sounds great, it doesn’t truly provide an explanation of what the employee experience is, why it’s important, and how an organization can utilize employee feedback to improve their experience through HR data. 

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Expanding on the definition from IBM, we can consider the employee experience to be a collective of the employee’s journey with your company and how different changes within the company affect their day-to-day. No longer are employees limited to choosing jobs solely based on pay. The changes seen within the workplace due to the pandemic have empowered employees to take jobs that fit their lifestyles, provide growth opportunities, and instill in them a greater purpose/perception of their voice being heard. 

Why is Employee Experience Important? 

Now that we’ve defined employee experience, let’s explore why it’s important. It’s one thing to receive employee feedback on their experience, and it’s another to actively implement changes or improvements for the outcome of a better employee experience from start to finish. The employee experience encompasses the entirety of the employee’s journey with your company – this includes interactions prior to hiring– all the way through exit interactions upon an employee’s choice to leave the organization. Understanding this shifts the focus from solely using employee engagement as an HR metric to focusing on the people who make up the organization. 

Ultimately, the more cared-for the employees feel, the more likely they are to invest themselves in their work, leading to better performance. The more time spent prioritizing a “people first” approach, the better the results will be for long-term success. While employee engagement is a critical metric for HR and company data, it’s a small part of the big picture view focusing on the cultivation of employee experience through all facets of the employee lifecycle including, but not limited to:

By laying out all areas of the employee experience, it’s clear to see why it is important. Let’s expand further now on the employee lifecycle, employee feedback/engagement, and how the employee experience connects. 

The Employee Lifecycle and Where Employee Experience Fits In

Since the employee experience, as previously defined, encompasses all that an employee will encounter throughout their time with your company, you may be wondering what the difference is between this and the employee lifecycle. The employee lifecycle, as you may know, is a common HR tool utilized to identify different phases of an employee’s time with the company and where HR can optimize the progress of the employee. 

In the two graphics below, you can see that there are a few intersections where the lifecycle phase/stage is the same as the employee experience. Well, this is because HR has identified key stages in the life cycle – the same stages where an employee’s experience may go beyond the typical day-to-day.

Flowchart detailing the seven steps in the employee experience journey. The steps are attract, hire, onboard, engage, perform, develop, depart.
Credit: Ryan Pendell, 2018 Gallup Post: Employee Experience vs. Engagement: What’s the Difference?

Since the employee experience is the culmination of experiences during their time with an organization, it makes sense that the employee experience follows closely the path of the employee lifecycle. This makes it easy for you as an HR professional to use a familiar metric to track a relatively new perspective covering the full picture of experience beyond just employee engagement. 

Employee Experience Tracking Through Employee Feedback 

A key difference to note here is the employee experience as a whole and the singular facet that is employee engagement. While employee engagement is vital to taking a pulse on the company from an employee perspective, it is not the full picture. It also is not just happiness or satisfaction with a job. Employee engagement is the investment of an employee in the company’s success and how connected they are to doing the work because they connect with the company values and are “in it for the long run.” 

Employee engagement can be measured in a number of ways including establishing clear personal goals, email open and click-through rates, surveys, one-on-one meetings, and retention rates. By evaluating these different tactics, you are able to see into the perspective of employees who are invested, and sometimes, those who are not invested (this provides just as much useful HR data as invested employees so you know where there’s opportunity for improvement). 

A Unified Effort for Employee Experience Helps HR Professionals Understand the Big Picture

With the growing availability of resources related to the employee experience, it’s a no-brainer for you to start considering the big picture view of the employee lifecycle. Don’t silo yourself to employee engagement – although useful, it is a very narrow view of the employee experience as a whole. It’s important to have metrics on your company at your fingertips for every stage of the employee lifecycle. We, at Employee Cycle, are here to help you take a collective of employee feedback and evolve it into usable HR data geared toward understanding and improving the employee experience for a more human-centered, data-driven approach to success.

Start your free trial with Employee Cycle to see how an employee’s feedback at stages along their life cycle can be utilized as HR data to actively track and improve the employee experience as a whole, leading to increased employee lifetime value (ELTV).