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Employee Experience: What It Is, What It Isn’t, and Why It Matters

24 March 2021

4 Min Read


All employers invest in the customer experience (CX), but what about the employee experience (EX)? 

As businesses increasingly realize that their workforce is their greatest asset, employee experience is gaining traction as an important line item in employers’ annual budgets.

But what is employee experience, exactly? Is it just another buzzword for employee engagement? How does an employee’s learning and development journey fit into the experience discussion? And is EX here to stay?

What Is Employee Experience?

The term “employee experience” is the combined sum of experiences an employee has during the recruitment, employment, and post-employment phases of a job. This includes the interactions with others, the policies, procedures, and processes one faces. It also includes the culture of the organization, the total rewards (pay, benefits), the physical environment, and the job itself. 

How Does Employee Experience Differ from Employee Engagement?

The combination of all the factors mentioned above create an experience that ultimately influences the level of engagement an employee feels toward their employer. Engagement is the degree to which an employee is willing and able to be their best at work. Experience is proactive. It’s about shaping what will happen. An employee’s workplace experience drives their level of engagement.

A helpful way to understand the difference between EX and employee engagement is to think of EX as input and employee engagement as output. 

The employer is responsible for the input—the ways employees experience working at a company. The impact of that experience triggers the output, or the naturally occurring benefits of creating a positive EX. 

The Importance of L&D in Employee Experience

Learning and development is one piece of the EX pie. But it is an important piece that can affect every other part of the employee lifecycle. It is no surprise that 94% of employees in LinkedIn’s 2019 Workplace Learning Report said they’d stay at a company longer if it invested in their learning and development. Therefore, if done well, the “outputs” from a learning and development program could lead to improved engagement, performance, retention, and more.

With so much focus on experience as it relates to both learning and employees, it is important to highlight their differences and how they intersect. 

  • Learning experience is just one part of the overall employee experience.
  • A learning experience is not the same as a learning experience platform (LXP). However, an LXP greatly improves the learning experience, and as a result, part of the employee experience.
  • Improved engagement, performance, and retention are all outcomes of an employee’s learning experience that affect the overall employee experience.

The Future of EX

It may be the latest buzzword, but employee experience is here to stay. In Josh Bersin’s recent article on his report, HR Technology 2021: The Definitive Guide, he describes the changes in the HR Tech market as “shattering.” He says there has been a complete inside-out shift that focuses entirely on employees, not on HR. 

The report provides insights on trends that all speak to a future dependent upon employee experience. Employers would benefit from paying attention to these trends to remain competitive and to attract—and keep—great talent. 

A few of these trends include:

  • The arrival of employee listening tools that are “revolutionizing the world of employee voice” that help employers identify experts in their company or when employees are overworked
  • “Experience databases” to manage all of the feedback data mentioned above
  • Easily integrated platforms focused on managing all aspects of employee health and wellbeing
  • Even new systems that are challenging LXPs

What are you doing to design the best employee experience at your company? If you’re not sure where to start, consider modernizing your learning and development program. 

Download our free buyer’s guide, Navigating Today’s Changing Learning Platform Landscape: A Guide for Choosing a Next-Generation LMS to learn how Schoox delivers an engaging learner experience and learning management functionality all within one system.

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