Employee Experience vs. Employee Engagement: A Comparative Study

Employee Experience Defined: It's More Than a Buzzword

In 2015, when Airbnb announced that they were appointing a Global Head of Employee Experience, many people asked themselves, “What is that? Is it like Chief of Casual Fridays?” Since then, numerous articles, books, and blogs have appeared that refer to employee experience as a “buzzword,” a “trend,” or a “fad,” none of which suggest permanence or imply the kind of game-changing transformation that the concept’s true believers—ourselves among them—are certain it demonstrates. The disturbing result is that many business leaders remain likely to dismiss employee experience as just one more corporate flavor of the month.


If only there was some concrete evidence to support the idea that creating memorable workplace experiences—ones which touch upon every aspect of how employers and employees relate to each other—is more than just a passing fancy. Well, we’re happy to tell you that we’re working on it, and the early numbers strongly suggest that ignoring this new reality would be a shortsighted mistake for any company looking to thrive in today’s technology driven, employee-first workplace. “It’s time to create an environment that encourages people to be at their best“—a workplace where people actually want to work.

Employee Experience AppIs Employee Experience in Your Job Description?

A Staffbase-conducted survey of LinkedIn members in May of 2017 revealed that there were 2,975 people in companies around the world with anywhere from 201 to more than 10,000 employees who had either “employee engagement” or “employee experience” in their job titles. There were more than two and a half times as many employees with “engagement” in their title versus those with the word “experience.”


This result in favor of “employee engagement” was no surprise. Since the 1990s, organizational leaders have been preoccupied with the concept, which to this day drives an entire industry of study and analysis with a massive influence on the way companies think about their employees. But what about the way employees think about their companies? What about “experience?”


A Deeper Look at the Numbers

We tabulated the number of experience professionals in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and India. We focused our lens on the US, looking at factors like career level, company type, and location (hint: San Francisco is the place to be today, but Boston might be the place to be tomorrow); and we asked the question whether having “employee experience” in your job title might be a smart career move. Finally, we examined the companies that have already taken great strides in making the employee experience a major part of their business strategy.

Worldmap EmployeeEngagment versus EmployeeExperienceA Strategy of Putting People First

While we’re on the subject of top companies in the employment experience movement, let’s return to Airbnb. Their employee experience appointment was an acknowledgement that it was high time to redefine HR functions based on the idea that employees—and their experiences at work—drive the success (or failure) of an organization. The genesis of this idea represents one of those eureka moments that seem obvious only in hindsight, although successful entrepreneurs and executives seem to have been acting on it for years.


In a 2010 interview with HR Magazine, Richard Branson sagely remarked, “There’s no magic formula for creating great company culture. The key is just to treat your staff how you would like to be treated.” We might add that the key is also to treat your staff how you would like your customers to be treated. Think of it as the Golden Rule for creating a fantastic workplace culture.


The Future Is Already Here—It's Just Not Evenly Distributed

One thing seems abundantly clear: established, forward-looking companies are aligning around strategies related to the implementation of the employee experience concept. Given that smaller businesses often copycat the practices of market leaders, the question is just how long it will be before other companies take up arms in the employee experience revolution.


We invite you to have a look at our eBook Employee Experience vs. Employee Engagement: A Comparative Study and see for yourself what kind of evidence we found to support our conclusion that the employee experience is gaining traction worldwide.


Download Free Study Employee Experience vs. Employee Engagement


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Written by Robert Grover

Robert Grover lived and worked in New York City for many years as an editor in and around the book publishing industry. Since moving to Germany in 2014, he has been teaching ESL in various corporate settings, and has recently begun thinking and writing about technology and social media as it relates to the changing nature of work.