Skip to content

Employee Experience

Understanding what is driving your employees

The Employee Experience Definition: The employee experience is the sum of perceptions employees have about their interactions with the organization in which they work.

There is a good deal of confusion about the definition of “Employee Experience.” When individuals and organizations are defining Employee Experience, there is a fairly large range in their descriptions. Part of the reason for this confusion is that we tend to mix similar concepts, or use these terms interchangeably:

  • Organizational Culture
  • Employee Experience
  • Employee Engagement
  • Employee Satisfaction
  • Employee Well-being
While some of these terms directly relate to creating an overall employee experience, they each have their own meaning. So, let’s clear up some of this confusion around the definition of Employee Experience by defining these terms individually.

What is the Definition of Organizational Culture?

Organizational Culture is what we build. It is a set of values, norms, guiding beliefs, and understandings shared by members of an organization and taught to new members as the way to feel, think, and behave. Simply put, “it’s the way we do things around here.”

Culture can be deliberate or organic. Either way, all organizations have a culture. This culture sets the tone for the behavior of the organization. The key difference between Organizational Culture and Employee Experience is that culture is what we build. Employee Experience is the result of that culture.

What is the Definition of Employee Experience?

The Employee Experience (EX) is the sum of perceptions employees have about their interactions with the organization in which they work. Employee Experience is an organization’s culture through the eyes of its employees. Think of it this way—Employee Experience is the operating system or “OS” for your people. If this OS or environment is effective, it will attract, retain, and engage your employees. Employee Experience is what we measure when we survey employees. It tells us how they perceive their organization’s culture.

Employee Experience is based largely on employees’ perception of what is going on, and not always on the reality of what occurs. It also relies heavily on whether expectations are aligned with the actual experience. This is why two employees, working in nearly identical environments or cultures, can have vastly differing Employee Experiences. The Employee Experience (EX), therefore, depends largely on perceptions and expectations. Employee experience is not limited to an employee’s interactions, it can be anything the employee sees, feels, or hears while they are working for a company. Remember that every interaction an employee has from start to finish will greatly affect their overall employee experience.

As we did the research for the book The Employee Experience: How to Attract Talent, Retain Top Performers, and Drive Results,” we reviewed over 40 million survey responses. We developed this equation as a result of what we found:

EX =

Experiences + Expectations + Perceptions

 Unmet Expectations + Unmet Experiences

Most organizations fail to understand this concept. They believe that creating a stellar Employee Experience is a matter of tossing out a few perks that they believe to be universally appealing, then calling themselves “great places to work.” Yet their workers are still disengaged, and they move on to places where their Employee Experience is better aligned with what they’re looking for. Everyone has their own idea of what a perfect employee experience looks like. As a company, it is important to recognize what matters most to your employees and cater to their needs and wants.

What is the Definition of Employee Engagement? What is Employee Well-being?

Employee Engagement is an emotional state where we feel passionate, energetic, and committed to our work. We fully invest our best selves in the work that we do. We bring both our emotions and our actions to our work— our hearts, spirits, minds, and hands. Employee Engagement is our “reward” for creating a superlative Employee Experience.

Often, when we talk about Employee Engagement, we are confusing it with Employee Well-being. We think it is about employees “feeling good,” “being happy,” or being well.” Employee Well-being is about how your job affects your overall health and happiness. That is certainly important. But does this cause employees to act?

Employee Engagement involves both feeling and doing. We use the analogy of bringing our hearts and spirits to the party. This involves “feeling.” It’s critical—we must “feel engaged.” This is where Employee Well-being comes into play. I both “feel” and “am” well. But Employee Engagement also requires action. This is where the minds and hands are added. I both “feel” and “act” when I am truly engaged.

When it comes to both the Employee Experience and Employee Engagement, most organizations are getting only half of the equation right—they focus on the “feel,” but not on the “act.” When you measure your employee experience via survey, you will have direct insight into your employee’s engagement and well-being.

What is the Definition of Employee Satisfaction?

When I am satisfied with something, such as a meal, I don’t necessarily do anything about it. Satisfaction causes me to feel good about that meal, but doesn’t cause me to act. I probably wouldn’t go out and look for places to recommend that meal to others. I may or may not come back. I certainly wouldn’t say I was “delighted.”

women exercising autonomy to work at cafe

When we talk about Employee Satisfaction, we are referring to those elements that don’t necessarily cause me to do anything, but are critical to my relationship with the organization. These may include elements such as safety, tools and resources, perks, or even compensation in many cases. These factors don’t motivate me, but if they are not present, I am demotivated. These are much like the Hygiene Factors described by Herzberg.

Employee Satisfaction is transactional. It is a “this-for-that” relationship. Like a bank account, as long as the employer is depositing sufficient funds (compensation, satisfactory workplace, benefits, safety, etc.) into the satisfaction account, the employee is willing to contribute effort commensurate with these deposits. Employee Engagement, on the other hand, is transformational, resulting in employees giving their discretionary effort.

Companies should analyze both employee satisfaction and employee engagement to fully understand and improve the employee experience.

From Organizational Culture to Employee Experience to Employee Engagement

When distinguishing between Organizational Culture, Employee Experience, and Employee Engagement, it may be helpful to think of it this way:

Organizational culture is what we build. Employee Experience is what we interpret and measure about culture. Employee Engagement is what we feel and do because of the Employee Experience.

Download a Sample DecisionWise Employee Experience Survey

At DecisionWise, we care about improving your company’s employee experience. Our experts can design a custom listening strategy for you with our award-winning employee experience survey technology, guide you to fully understand your data insights, and help you get the results you want.