By: Dr. Laura Hamill and Jason Lauritsen
As a human resources expert, leader and employee in the industry, you’ve probably noticed the tendency to rename (or “rebrand”) HR practices:
- Employment becomes Recruiting becomes Talent Acquisition
- Appraisals become Reviews becomes Conversations
- Training becomes Development becomes Learning
- Orientation becomes Onboarding
Same practices but with new, more modern names.
This has been going on for decades. So, when the phrase “employee experience” started appearing with increased frequency over the past several years, it would be no surprise if your first thought was “here we go again.”
Employee experience (EX) has quickly achieved buzzword status in HR circles. 2018 was even declared “the year of employee experience.” Books have been written about it. Companies are focused on it. There’s no doubt it has captured HR’s interest and curiosity.
What Is Employee Experience?
Given all we’ve seen, it’s easy to assume that employee experience is a repackaging of a concept we are already very familiar with: employee engagement.
It’s so much more than that.
The arrival of employee experience represents an advance in our understanding of how employee engagement occurs. Experience and engagement are not the same thing, but they are most certainly intertwined. Employee experience represents a breakthrough in understanding and practice that can finally help us solve the riddle that is employee engagement.
The History of Employee Engagement and Employee Experience
Historically, psychologist William Kahn first introduced the concept of employee engagement. It was a simple and powerful idea. According to Dr. Kahn’s research, the conditions of work contribute to the degree which an employee will engage (“to express and employ their personal selves”) or disengage (“withdraw and defend their personal selves”) in their work.
For the past three decades, we’ve tried to measure, manage and cultivate employee engagement in the workplace with underwhelming results.