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If you’re interested in the impact of your workplace on people, and indeed the impact of people on your workplace, you’ll come across many related and overlapping terms such as Culture, Employee Experience, Employee Engagement, Employee Value Proposition (EVP), and Employee Brand. Frankly, this much terminology can be confusing, and I imagine that it can also be pretty off-putting.

Are they all the same thing, and does it even matter?

Employee Engagement

Engage for Success

Engage for Success

Employee Engagement is generally considered to be the emotional and behavioural commitment of an individual to the success of the organisation. This is generally what’s measured in engagement

surveys. The influential Engage for Success think tank (that grew out of the UK Government-sponsored Engaging for Successor ‘MacLeod’ Report) go further and describe it in terms of an approach to creating the right conditions. Employee Engagement as a construct has been troubled by definitional inconsistency, perhaps because it has been appropriated by the survey industry with proprietary products to sell.

Employee Engagement is considered to be important as a driver of performance, and there certainly evidence to suggest that it is. However, as the multitude of proprietary models suggest, often in different ways, employee engagement isn’t a simple, unitary concept that really lends itself to a single measure or score, and any real attempt to understand the link to performance needs to consider the drivers of engagement.

Employer Brand

According to the CIPD, Employer Branding is “the way in which organisations differentiate themselves in the labour market, enabling them to recruit, retain and engage the right people.” So, it’s an image that an organisation deliberately cultivates and projects – though like other brands, to be effective it must match reality to be successful.

Although a strong Employer Brand should, in principle, lead to Employee Engagement, it’s aim is slightly different. Just as great branding can add economic value to an otherwise fairly standard product, a great employer brand should ultimately save money by allowing employers to compete less on salary, reduce recruitment costs, and increase retention. The benefits case of Employer Branding could, therefore, be argued to be more about the bottom line.

Employee Value Proposition

The Employee Value Proposition (or EVP),  “describes what an organisation stands for, requires and offers as an employer” (CIPD), and is also referred to as “the deal”. So, just like a business’s value proposition, which describes what the customer will get in return for their money, it describes what it expects from employees as well as what they can expect from the employer. This can be done at an overall level, or for segmented groups. This two-way deal, or psychological contract, is what distinguishes the EVP from the Employer brand.

I would argue that aim of the EVP is not radically different from the Employer Brand, but if done well it inherently involves dialogue and has the added benefit of clarifying expectations on both sides. An employer brand is a reflection of things that you offer or have done to make the organisation more attractive, but the EVP is both more employee focused and more grounded in the requirements of the business strategy. It should be honest (“we can’t pay market leading salaries but we can offer…..”). It requires a good understanding of your employees and their needs, as well as an understanding of the business needs.

Employee Experience

Finally, Employee Experience (EX) is a term that tends to be associated with the deliberate design of the interactions that an employee has with their employer over the course of their employment.

World Employee Experience Institute

World Employee Experience Institute

According to Ben Whitter, from 8Connect partner the World Employee Experience Institute, “from pre-hire to retire, using the experience as a lens, we can maximize all the interactions an individual has with an employer over the long-term to create a deep sense of belonging and co-create high performance and stronger business outcomes”.

Jacob Morgan, in The Employee Experience Advantage, also talks of taking a deliberate approach, but rather than taking a ‘hire to retire’ perspective, he talks about three environments to manage: Physical, Technological and Cultural. He presents evidence that ‘Experiential Organisations” that manage all three outperform those that don’t.

While the EVP is, therefore, about articulating a deal, the Employee Experience is about deliberately designing an environment and a set of experiences. It’s a step back from both Employer Brand and EVP, in that delivering a great Employee Experience allows you to articulate what makes your brand or proposition unique and special. The Employee Experience is something that appears to be gathering momentum in the workplace, and indeed the UK’s first dedicated Employee Experience conference, EXChange London was held this year (May 2018).

So What?

Employee Engagement, Employer Brand, EVP and Employee Experience – are terms that are, understandably, often used synonymously because there is a lot of overlap between them. What’s really important is understanding what’s important to your employees, and matching that to the strategic needs of your business. Whatever you call that, if you can do it, there are benefits to be had.

it is clear is that there is a trend a from simply measuring how engaged employees as a score to manage, to managing the conditions and employee’s experience of work. It is also clear that this is related to a movement from seeing treating people well as a ‘nice to have’ that sits alongside and possibly conflicts with performance, towards seeing treating people well as a driver of performance.

Very simply, we at 8Connect see treating your people as people, and treating their needs as important (within a set of strategic parameters) – a People-First Employee Experience – as a critical element of the future-ready organisation.

Where do people sit in your priorities?

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