Open Menu
Strategic Consultancy

Spot the difference: EX

Back to our blog

Everyone’s talking about Employee Experience – it’s one of HR’s 2018 buzzwords. But how is it different from Employee Engagement? Our Head of Insights & Analytics breaks it down.

With Employee Experience (EX) as a rising trend, is there still a place for Employee Engagement (EE)? Surely, one makes the other unnecessary? We don’t think so. In fact, the two concepts shouldn’t be competing for your budget: you need both to unlock your people potential and add value to your business. So what’s the difference between the two? And how do they fit together?


Employee Engagement is the outcome of a great Employee Experience.

We all know about the link between Employee Engagement and business performance. However, Employee Engagement scores globally are on the decline, despite all the effort organisations put in to improving it. In many organisations, EE is literally someone’s job. So why are we seeing this trend?

Simple: we’re in an experience economy, where memorable events are the product that customers – or in this case, employees – remember.

The issue is that many organisations aren’t focusing on what matters to their people: the experience they get at work. Sure, we’re looking at areas of EE concern to tackle based on our annual survey; areas that often sit comfortably under HR’s remit. But are we designing and delivering a holistic Employee Experience aligned to our business goals and Customer Experience (CX)? Is HR (as the owner of values and culture) involved in office redesign or process improvement. Probably not.

But what if they were? What we gave our people great experiences at every employee touchpoint? We’d see a rise in engagement.


Engagement is a point-in-time measure, EX is not.

Employee Engagement is usually a point-in-time measure gathered in an annual engagement survey. Employee Experience on the other hand is a dynamic, continually changing phenomena. It needs to be understood and addressed as and when: it needs continuous listening. Real-time data tools like pulse surveys and always-on feedback systems have replaced annual surveys in the EX organisation.


That’s because today’s EX organisation is data-driven. These companies build (or buy) analytical capabilities to integrate data from different People & Culture disciplines (think performance, health & wellbeing, diversity & inclusion, physical workplace design and leadership). Standard, right? Where EX organisations go further is in gathering data from customer experience, brand, technology and financials, and joining it all together to paint a picture of EX versus performance.


Employee Engagement is “an HR thing”. Employee Experience “a better business performance” thing.

Employee Engagement is often seen as something HR owns – sometimes it’s even a departmental KPI! But because Employee Experience is closely related to brand, marketing, customer experience, technology and facilities, it’s seen as a critical component of running a sustainable business. And HR gets left out in the cold.

This shouldn’t be the case. Employees are more than a workforce: as advocates they can promote your EX and products and services. The potential for employees as advocates goes far beyond referral schemes. This can be a serious competitive differentiator. One that means the traditional lines between HR, Customer and Marketing teams should fade as you start to treat your employees as your first customer.

And once you’ve broken down those barriers? You’ll start to see growth, innovation and increased performance. Plus, of course, those increased Employee Engagement scores.

July 2, 2018, Reetta Makinen