There have been a number of buzzwords trending in the Human Resources space over the years all with the explicit outcome of holding onto employees and ensuring that your organisation is a cool place to work. In my time I have seen the buzzwords (and related strategies) progress from “Retention” to “Attraction and Retention” to “Engagement” to “Employee Value Proposition” (EVP) and now “Employee Experience” (EX). But isn’t EX just another way of saying EVP? And isn’t that the same as Employee Engagement? Someone pass me a thesaurus!

So what is EX?

Employee Experience is the sum of the various perceptions employees have about their interactions with the organisation in which they work” Tracy Maylett & Matthew Wride

So isn’t that Employee Life-Cycle (ELC)? Well apparently, not – ELC is part of the broader EX concept. The key difference here is that ELC has a beginning and an end, from recruitment to exit and all the HR parts in the middle. EX is much more than EVP, ELC, the table tennis table by the kitchen, the company bar and dress down Fridays.

So if EVP is the a sum of all the offerings provided by an organisation in return for the value an employee brings to the organisation and Employee Engagement is the result of a well thought out and compelling EVP then where does EX fit? Confused yet?

An effective EX strategy ensures that

employees are engaged at each stage of the employment lifecycle, as examples: recruitment; onboarding; career growth opportunities; reward initiatives; performance processes and perhaps exit. Disengagement at any point in the ELC leads to a poorer EX. If your aim is to run a successful business with happy employees and clients, then you had better understand what it is that your employees want. Today. So how do you create a winning employee operating environment? There are a number of tools out there that allow you to test EX, EVP, Engagement, satisfaction, culture. Choose what works best for you but understanding your people is a leadership challenge that should be a standing agenda item at every Exco meeting.

The client is King and customer service is our top priority? Richard Branson perhaps says it best “look after your staff and they’ll look after your customers. It’s that simple.”

I love my job, not because I have an obsession with HR, reward, organisational development or consulting. That’s what my organisation does and although I am exceptionally proud to represent it in doing so, I love my job because I love the way I feel when I am at work or doing my job. It is a combination of interacting with my colleagues, the environment, the flexibility, the values, the growth, the impact we make, the innovative thinking, the laughs, the exciting future prospects and yes, the company bar. Do we have a formal EX strategy? Well no, but we are small enough to not need one. We can still look each other in the eye and see that the light is on. We are flexible enough to cater for different personalities, cultures, life experiences and still give all of our employees a home where we have a common purpose and shared values.

I acknowledge that many organisations need a more formal approach and a leadership driven strategy to ensure that it provides an environment that encourages a great EX. Having said that though, whichever acronym you prefer to use in your organisation, let’s not overcomplicate things. Let’s simply ensure that our organisations are a Cool Place to Work (CPTW). . .


Written by Craig Raath, Executive Director at 21st Century


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21st Century

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About 21st Century

21st Century is one of the largest full-spectrum specialist Remuneration and Reward consultancies in Africa, with national and international capability. We have more than 60 skilled employees, and service over 1700 clients, including Government, Parastatals and two thirds of the companies on the JSE. We place a large emphasis on sustainable remuneration, transformation and social upliftment, and are focused on your organisation's strategy at all times... assisting you to achieve your business objectives, drive your company's performance, engage and retain your staff and comply with legislation.