Several of my clients have wondered whether employee engagement is better than employee experience methods. Some expressed the view that “employee experience” is just another name for “employee engagement.” They wanted to know what is the difference and if there is a difference, which should be their focus. Employee experience is much more than traditional employee engagement. Employee experience cuts to the core of why employee engagement has been difficult to define and, often, inappropriately measured.
What’s the Difference?
Employee engagement is traditionally measured by quantitative or qualitative methodologies. What was measured, how it was measured, and how it was analyzed and interpreted were defined by leadership. I have often argued that such methods missed the mark with respect to capturing micro-dynamics of human complexity.
Employee experience is an emerging methodology that disrupts the traditional hierarchical production of knowledge while ignoring the perspectives of the employees. Employee experience takes an objective view of organizational culture from the perspectives of the employees. It leverages participatory action research and places high importance on the employees’ perspectives, as opposed to a management perspective.
Quantitative and qualitative data are still used. However, it is the rich qualitative data that will better capture the human complexities often overlooked in traditional employee engagement methodology.
Employee engagement involved efforts, tactics, and methods of fostering employee commitment to their work and to the organization. However, it generally majors on external activities and incentives that research has proven to have minimal effect on engagement goals. This process is more related to external control.
UNPACKING EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT STRATEGY
Employee Engagement Challenge #1 – Identifying Measurements: The looming challenge for traditional employee engagement strategy is that previously identified measurements of engagement have given way to one single, universally reality: employee engagement is not static and addressing it cannot be reduced to a boilerplate strategy. It involves human beings, human interactions, and human experiences. It involves relationships, trust, and commitment.
Employee Engagement Challenge #2 – Human Dynamics: Measuring employee engagement is difficult because it involves a complex dynamic that cannot be reduced to boilerplate strategy. What motivates an individual differs from one person to another. So, measuring for a static set of measurements does not capture the complexity of human dynamics.
By contrast, employee experience strategy more effectively captures the nuances of diverse human perceptions, perspectives, and experiences, as it engages employees in changing the culture.
is one more important than the other?
While employee engagement and employee experience differ, in my professional opinion, the two are not mutually exclusive. The movement toward employee experience reveals a shift from a focus on external control methodologies to an intrinsic-influential strategy that facilitates the meaningful involvement of employees.
According to the Penna Meaning at Work Research Report, value, meaning, and purpose is the engagement cocktail that fosters a highly engaged employee culture. The employee experience methodology is in itself an engagement activity. By following the employee experience strategy, employee engagement will follow.
RETHINKING THE STRATEGIC PHILOSOPHY
Is Your Cultural Transformation or Employee Engagement Strategy
External Control-Based or Intrinsic-Influential based?
There are two foundations of employee engagement and cultural transformation strategy: 1) External Control-Based; or 2) Intrinsic Influential-based.
External Control-Based Strategies
Top-down approaches to leadership are not effective in all aspects of an organization. Therefore, leadership should consider a different approach to culture and engagement.
Any external means of control does not yield sustainable results. What happens instead is a steady process of investing in the next training trend, hoping for better results. It’s time to stop wasting time and resources on external control-based strategies of employee engagement.
Intrinsic Influential-Based Strategies
Intrinsic influential based strategies honor the inherent, innate, inborn, inbred, congenital, connate, and natural aspects of individual team members. These strategies leverage the diversity of human experiences, innate talents, and personal values.
Employee engagement strategies that are based on intrinsic values are the source of n the interpersonal influence that drives sustainable results and a commensurate return on your investment into your teams.
Including these considerations can enhance your influence and institutionalize your intrinsic influential strategies.
ADD THESE POWER-PLAYS TO YOUR INTRINSIC INFLUENTIAL STRATEGIES
INCLUDE HUMAN RESOURCES
Human Resources needs to be at the helm of organizational changes, whether that involves, policy, strategy, or otherwise. They are the gatekeepers. If you are calling on them for only disciplinary, hiring, or firing services, you are missing out on a valuable stakeholder who should be at the helm of orchestrating the team.
🔯 RELATIONSHIP – TWO WAY STREET
This is where any employee engagement efforts fail. You can go to a million emotional Intelligence, team-building, and authentic leadership training. None of it will avail much if management doesn’t engage with the team. This requires relational and authentic leadership competency that foster the trust, the absence of which erodes organizational culture. Relationship is fostered through one-on-one interactions that are authentic and meaningful. It is not developed from flash cards, communication tricks, or tactics. It comes from the heart and not everybody is good at it. Understand that every manager is not necessarily leadership material. This is one more reason that Human Resources has to be involved.
🔯 LEARNING AND DEVELOPMENT
This aspect of engagement has to have relevance to the individual employee and it should not focus solely on internal advancement. It should be focused on where the employee wishes to go in their ideal career. This should include an assessment of current knowledge, skills, and abilities with an eye toward equipping the employee to advance, or become, what aligns with their natural talents and interest. It should include tuition reimbursement for college-level courses or professional certifications.
🔯 OPPORTUNITY I PROMOTION I DEVELOPMENT
This includes internal promotion-specific training and development. Do not make the mistake of developing this progressive plan without understanding the individual for whom it is developed. Develop it with the employee, again, with an eye toward natural skills, talents, and abilities.
- Where do they want to go within the company?
- What types of tasks do they enjoy?
Note: This only works in an organizational structure conducive to promoting from within. This is germane to retention and morale.
🔯 LEADERSHIP I TRUST I RESPECT
We are back to authentic and relational leadership competencies. The quality of engagement/relationship between managers and their teams determines how well this aspect goes. However, the organization has to be structured to allow the manager to grant the highest possible levels of autonomy to the team.
Micro-managers are not suited for the call, in this respect. The entire team should be allowed input, have that input respected and considered, and they should be allowed to be a part of upper-level decision-making regarding those suggestions. In fact, empower them to come up with the solutions and involve them in implementation.
🔯 CLOSE THE FEEDBACK LOOP
Micro-managers are not suited for the call, in this respect. The entire team should be allowed input, have that input respected and considered, and they should be allowed to be a part of upper-level decision-making regarding those suggestions. In fact, empower them to come up with the solutions and involve them in implementation. CLOSE THE FEEDBACK LOOP
Keep the communication loop open. It looks as though feedback is being devalued or ignored if you fail to implement suggestions without communicating why it was not implemented. This is a colossal morale buster that will quickly sidetrack any engagement plans.
Linda F. Williams is a Certified Executive coach who shows exhausted C-Suite executives how to Increase the bottom line with less stress, less conflict and plenty of time for personal and family life. She is a trained psychotherapist, nationally recognized behaviorist and Management Consultant. Williams is an award-winning cultural transformation expert. She is the founder of WhoseApple Dynamic Coaching & Consulting, and the Award-Winning author of the Best-Seller, WhoseApple is it, Anyway!
Tags: Cultural Change, Cultural Transformation, Emotional Intelligence, Emotional Intelligence Coach, Emotional Intelligence Coaching, Emotional Intelligence Expert, Employee Engagement, Employee Experience, Execuive Leadership, Executive Coach, Executive Coach In Grand Rapids Michigan