Are we done with engagement?
In our recent webinar, ‘From employee engagement to employee experience: why it’s time to change perspectives’, we heard from two experts about what the differences are between engagement and experiences and why it matters.
Specialist engagement consultant, Jasmine Gartner, and People Business Partner at Sage, Emma Ayton, shared some practical advice around how to start creating those all-important, positive workforce experiences.
Here’s a roundup of what they said.
The relatively recent notion of employee experiences was likely borne out of a lack of progress with employee engagement, explained Jasmine. Organizations are turning to experiences to address stubborn disengagement levels.
Interestingly, only 24% of live webinar attendees claimed to have employee experience initiatives in place, versus 67% of attendees who had employee engagement programs in place.
Jasmine defined employee experience as the culture, use of technology and physical space which employees work in and, crucially, how they experience these on an emotional, intellectual and aspirational level.
Put simply, it’s about providing the right environment for employees to do their best work. Jasmine explained however, that finding the right balance is complicated by the varied and changing perceptions of the workforce.
Employee engagement, on the other hand, addresses two specific concerns for employees – that they won’t be listened to and that they won’t be treated fairly.
Whereas the employee experience is about creating a carefully balanced and delicate ecosystem for employees to thrive in, employee engagement focuses on listening to employees and allowing that to govern those experiences.
Whilst there’s certainly an overlap with employee engagement and employee experience, organizations have recognized that engagement is, in fact, an outcome of behaviors that result from positive experiences.
Emma shared her personal reflections and thoughts about the rise of employee experience and explained some of the changes Sage has implemented as the company transitions to a culture centered around colleagues.
Emma explained that the colleague experience at Sage very much looks at the entire end-to-end employee journey.
For Sage, the colleague experience differs from employee engagement because it’s not just about the ‘here and now’, but rather what is required for the future for employees to be successful.
Emma discussed how the shift of the role of HR leaders has also had an impact on employee experiences.
Whereas HR and People teams were once tied up with problem solving and relying on manual spreadsheets, the use of technology and HR automation has enabled them to now contribute on the more strategic, empowering them to concentrate on building great workforce experiences for their people.
Emma then provided practical advice on where to start when it comes to embracing an employee experience strategy.
Building great colleague experiences is not just driven from the bottom-up, but also top-down.
Understanding where the business is heading in the future will enable HR and People leaders to design employee experiences that enable the organization to move in that direction and hit strategic goals.
A good example of this would mean identifying future talent and ensuring they are nurtured to enable them to reach their potential.
To build great workforce experiences throughout the entire employee journey, organizations need to understand what the key touchpoints are. This also enables HR and business leaders to prioritize touchpoints for maximum impact.
For example, at Sage, one of those areas was performance management – improving this critical part of the employee journey had a huge impact for both individuals’ development and for company performance.
The advantages of having up to the minute, accurate data and analytics about your workforce is unquestionable. Emma explained that technology is the enabler here but points out that it isn’t just about having access to metrics and dashboards.
The impact comes from the business decisions you then make off the back of that insight, as well as the ability to identify risks and opportunities.
It’s no secret that employees are expecting more from their employers and their working lives – flexible working, recognition and career growth, to name but a few. These are all important drivers of colleague engagement and experiences, and so understanding what employees really think about them is vital.
Gathering this insight should go beyond traditional surveys though – business leaders need to hear it for themselves and likewise employees need to feel their voice is heard.
Not exactly. That was the message from both Jasmine and Emma. However, companies do need to tackle engagement differently in order to move forward.
Businesses who continue to address employee engagement with traditional methods will likely remain stationary; those who choose to embrace a culture that puts employee experiences first will ultimately see progress with productivity, engagement and company performance.
To hear this advice in more detail and first-hand from the experts, watch the on-demand webinar.