Better people experience design will improve your organisation's performance

People experience (PX) and people engagement are often used interchangeably but they are not the same thing and understanding the difference is very important for people leaders when deciding where to put their limited time, energy, and resources.

In simple terms, PX is the cause driven by individuals' lived experience of the workplace. People engagement is the effect and how work makes you feel.

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To expand on this simplification, PX is a more holistic evolution of employee experience (EX).

While EX is concerned with all aspects of employee interactions and experiences within work, PX goes a step further and considers how our experience of work can impact life outside of work (and vice versa). In doing so, recognising that individuals are people first, employees second.

Critically, the PX approach steals from the user experience (UX) approach which is data driven and predicated on constantly collecting feedback from the end user to inform the ongoing development requirements to enhance user experience.

Adopting a PX approach means positioning the employee (and wider business stakeholders) as the customers.

Building in feedback loops, data points, and enabling open dialogue is critical to clearly understanding the needs of the individual, team, and organisation.

This is an evergreen process of 'people needs analysis' which informs the development requirements of PX design.

So, what is people engagement?

People engagement is ultimately the measure of an employee's sentiment towards their employer, their colleagues and their work.

More than sentiment, engagement is a measure of the degree to which an employee is committed to applying their time, energy and effort towards the attainment of their role or organisational objectives. 

Bluntly, do they want to show up and are they motivated to do their work?

Engaged employees have a higher sense of purpose, belonging, connection, and intrinsic motivation compared to their peers who score lower for engagement.

Where this becomes most compelling is when paired with the increasing global data set measuring the impact of engagement on wellbeing and performance.

The data on employee engagement is clear; higher engagement leads to higher performance.

The Gallup Employee Engagement Q12 Meta-Analysis: 10th Edition (2020) shows that organisations in the top quartile for engagement vs those in the lowest quartile achieve:

  • +23% profitability
  • +18% productivity
  • +10% customer loyalty

On top of the commercial impact, those same organisations also experience significantly higher employee wellbeing, lower absenteeism and lower turnover:

  • +66% wellbeing
  • -81% absenteeism
  • -31.5% employee turnover

So yes, engagement matters and your PX will have a significant impact, positive or negative on levels of engagement, so it is worth taking the time to be intentional about how you design it.

There are numerous individual factors which impact employee engagement, but here are some general areas that you can focus your efforts on which universally improve engagement:

  • Ensuring people are aligned to meaningful work
  • Investing in building trust in leadership, especially with immediate line managers
  • Creating a positive physical and psychological environment
  • Giving employees the chance to grow as people and as professionals
  • Make sure people feel a sense of belonging (social connection)

PX is the physical and psychological experience of work added to the impact the experience of work has on our ability to thrive in life more broadly. PX experience should be intentionally designed based on constant analysis of people and organisational needs.

People engagement is the measurable output of the experience of work and is a way of quantifying the degree to which people are able thrive in life and work.

If PX impacts engagement and engagement impacts performance, it stands to reason that organisations who intentionally design PX around the enablement requirements of their employees will create higher levels of individual and collective engagement, leading to higher levels of individual and organisational performance, at all levels.

Luke O’Mahoney, founder of SapienX