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Is Employee Experience more Important than Employee Engagement?

One of the most interesting ideas articulated in Deloitte’s 2017 Human Capital Trends report is the idea of employee experience. Deloitte believes that employees are increasingly demanding a “holistic, end-to-end experience from their employers.” But what does that mean, and how might your organization address “employee experience”?

What is “employee experience”?

Given the links between employee engagement and productivity, performance, and profitability, it’s important to address this issue. Unfortunately, employee engagement rates have remained flat for years. Deloitte argues that a narrow focus on engagement leads to isolated efforts that are insufficient to support improvement. Gallup seems to agree; they argue that employers should “look beyond engagement as a single construct.” Organizations should improve the employee experience as whole, starting as new hires and continuing through retirement.

What does addressing employee experience look like in practice?

At heart, it means thinking through how the employee experiences every aspect of their work on a day-to-day basis. Organizations can then redesign any element that can improve the employee’s experience. You might change your onboarding procedures to make them easier and smoother for new hires. Or you might deploy self-service applications that ease employee access to HR-related information. You might re-design the spaces in which employees do their work, to facilitate not just individual work but also collaboration and even recreation. Fundamentally, the idea “is to improve and simplify life at work,” according to Deloitte.

Does addressing employee experience work?

Deloitte highlights an interesting example. Ford Motor Company solicited feedback and input from employees about their experiences. They write, “Ford found that many employees felt that people processes were overly administrative, complex, and not always useful in getting their work done.” As a result, Ford’s HR team conducted an experiment. They segmented the workforce into three groups and began “working to create simpler, integrated, customer-focused processes and tools.” The impacts to employee engagement and effectiveness were profound enough that Ford now considers these efforts to address employee experience as “integral to the company’s focus on innovation.”

How can you get started with employee experience?

A related concept, design thinking, is fundamental. This refers to the process of evaluating and redesigning aspects of employee experience with the aim of simplifying and improving the work experience. To that end, think of employees as internal customers. Above all else, employee experience needs to be made a high priority, with buy-in from leadership, and a consistent focus. A haphazard and half-hearted approach will simply be insufficient to create real change.


CoAdvantage, one of the nation’s largest Professional Employer Organizations (PEOs), helps small to mid-sized companies with HR administration, benefits, payroll, and compliance. To learn more about our ability to create a strategic HR function in your business that drives business growth potential, contact us today.