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Employee Experience Glossary: The Most Important Terms You Need to Know

Employee Experience Glossary

Just what is the employee experience, anyway? Here’s the ultimate employee experience glossary to help guide you!

There’s no doubt that employee satisfaction and morale can have an impact on everything from acquisition to retention for both employees and customers — and ultimately business growth and sustainability. That’s why getting the employee experience right is a competitive advantage for companies across industries. 

So just what is employee experience, anyway? We’re glad you asked. Check out our employee experience glossary packed with must-know definitions of employee experience (also known as EX) and other top terms to keep in your handbook as you build your strategy.

Employee Experience Glossary: Defining the Terms

Always-on surveys An open channel that is easily accessible for employees to share top-of-mind feedback in the moment, whenever they like.

Brand promise — The promise an organization makes to employees about what it stands for and what they can expect during interactions between employees and the organization.

Burnout — Stress, exhaustion, sleep loss, irritability, difficulty concentrating, and lower productivity. These are some signs of the emotional and physical toll that can result from being overworked or treated unfairly or not having enough control, support, or work-life balance while on the job. 

Chief human resources officer (CHRO), Chief People Officer (CPO), and Chief employee experience officer (CEEO) — A relative newcomer among other C-level roles, at last there’s a seat within the C-suite for human resources and employee experience leaders. Depending on the organization, this role may be called the chief human resources officer (CHRO), chief people officer (CPO), or chief employee experience officer (CEEO). This C-level role usually oversees key functions, such as employee benefits, reviews, conflicts (and mediation), retention, and, ultimately, the overall company culture and employee experience. 

Company culture — When your organization has a shared reason for doing what you do and how you do it, that’s your company culture. Your brand promise, company mission, company vision, and core values are all part of the fabric of your business’s company culture.

Company mission — Whether your organization’s goal is to offer the highest quality products and services, offer the best value, innovate in your field, or inspire customers, this is your company’s purpose and the very reason why you’re in business. 

Company vision — While mission statements spell out a given organization’s reason for being in the present moment, vision statements are intended to look further ahead and help guide companies to their future potential. 

Contingent worker — Members of the workforce who are not full-time employees, such as contract workers, consultants, freelance workers, etc.

Continuous Response Model — The next evolution in employee experience that goes beyond static pulses, takes into account a variety of direct and indirect data, and most importantly, is designed for action. In a continually changing and highly uncertain business climate, the ability to quickly and continuously respond to all types of feedback is paramount. 

Company view — A traditional understanding of the employee experience through the lens of the company. Achieved through the solicitation of employee feedback via annual engagement surveys and monthly/quarterly pulse surveys. Provides general understanding of journey moments (e.g. candidate experiences, onboarding and training and cyclical moments).

Core values — What your company stands for and how your organization positions itself to employees, customers, and other key stakeholders. A set of shared principles all employees are expected to uphold. 

Culture fit — During the interview screening process, employers often evaluate whether potential employees embody the organization’s core values, how they will contribute to the company’s mission and vision, and how they will add to the overall company culture. 

Deskless workers — A majority of the worldwide workforce (80%) is made up of employees who do their jobs out in the field, on the frontlines, or on the go, usually away from a computer screen. 

Digital feedback or signals  — Feedback captured via always-on and triggered surveys embedded within your company’s intranet and software applications, making it easy for employees to provide their opinions on anything from policy changes and workplace safety to management support and service delivery. Also provides valuable insight into how effectively your technology stack is performing in providing your employees with the information and resources needed to perform their jobs well.

Direct feedback or signals — How employees share their opinion about you when directly solicited via annual and pulse surveys, idea factories, social media conversations, and crowdsourcing.

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI), Diversity & Inclusion (D&I), Diversity, Inclusion & Belonging (DIB) — Three common terms that are used to describe formal programs, policies, initiatives, or statements employers create to demonstrate their commitment to increasing diversity — across a variety of identity categories, such as race and ethnicity, gender, disability, age, sexual orientation, and more — and fostering more inclusive, equitable, and welcoming workforces.

Employee effort score — An emerging corollary to the popular customer experience metric — customer effort score, which is used to measure how easy or difficult it is for a customer to complete a given activity, such as seek help from customer service. In the employee experience context, employee effort is used to measure how easy or difficult it is for an employee to complete a given activity, such as perform their job duties or get an issue resolved by HR. 

Employee engagement — The level of enthusiasm and dedication an employee feels toward his or her job, often reflected in their individual performance. Employee engagement is not the same as employee experience. Rather, employee engagement is an outcome of employee experience.

Employee experience (EX) — Encapsulates the entire journey an employee has at an organization: every moment, interaction, touch point and transaction from interview to exit. Employee experience is not about what companies do; it’s about how companies make employees feel. To truly understand and improve the employee experience, companies must make the shift from only focusing on the company view to also capturing the employee and personalized view.

Employee experience action platform — Software that enables continuous employee listening and response by capturing employee information and feedback in the flow of work and automatically alerting leaders with AI-powered insights to enable quick action. An action platform can provide the type of information to answer employee questions quickly, help managers identify and address issues before they become big problems, and give leaders the insights that can help the company stay its course. 

Employee view — A progressive, holistic understanding of the employee experience through the lens of the employee. Achieved when employees are given the opportunity to share their feedback in the daily flow of work via always-on surveys and triggered surveys. Made more powerful when combined with employee signals.

Employee journey and employee lifecycle — Two terms that are used to describe all of the key phases and milestones staff members experience throughout their time with a given employer, including the recruiting process, receiving an offer, onboarding, training, performance reviews, professional development, promotions, and more.

Employee lifecycle management — Tools, tactics, and strategies employers use across the employee lifecycle to optimize key performance indicators, such as employee engagement, performance, retention, satisfaction, and more.

Employee lifetime value (ELTV) — Just as customer lifetime value is a measure of the value customers contribute to the business bottom line throughout their duration as a customer, employee lifetime value is metric used to determine how much individual employees contribute from their start date to their last day on the job

Employee resource groups (ERGs) — Staff-run company organizations that are open to employees to join and meet with coworkers who have a shared background. For example, Medallia’s ERGs include communities for Black employees, LGBTQ+ staff, women in tech, and more.

Employee satisfaction — A measure of how happy employees feel about their jobs, which is often assessed via surveys.

Employee sentiment — A qualitative employee experience metric that helps companies understand the views, attitudes, and opinions of their workforce to gauge whether these feelings are negative or positive.

Engagement survey — Used to collect qualitative and quantitative data to measure and analyze how employees feel and track their overall commitment to their role and the organization. 

Full-time employee (FTE) — The IRS defines full-time employees as those who work, on average, 30 hours per week or 130 hours per month for a given employer.

Gig economy — A popular term that’s used to describe a growing number of workers who earn their income through temporary, project-based work, as opposed to through full-time employment.

Human resources (HR) — Department responsible for seeking out, interviewing, creating offers for new hires, hiring, onboarding, and training employees as well as overseeing company benefits, performance reviews, conflict mediation, and more. Human resources is made up of several sub-functions, including talent acquisition and people or talent management.

Indirect feedback or signals — Data sources that show what and how employees are feeling about your organization that aren’t expressly designed to solicit/gather feedback (e.g. chatbot transcripts, helpdesk tickets, performance reviews, etc.).

Moments of truth Also known as moments that matter, these are key instances during the employee lifecycle that can have a significant impact on the employee experience, such as when an offer of employment is first made.

Non-traditional workers — Depending on the context, this can refer to a few different kinds of workers, including contractors or temporary workers, employees with a criminal record, or those who identify as a given gender entering a field dominated by a different gender.

Objectives and key results (OKRs) — A framework used within organizations to help teams and employees establish goals that produce measurable outcomes. 

Onboarding — The process of welcoming and training new hires, introducing them to their role and the overall company, and, ultimately, setting them up for success.

Retention — A key employee experience metric that’s a measure of how employees are retained — or remain with the company — over time.  

Peak moments — Also called peak experiences, these are all the small ways employers can surprise, delight, and recognize employees on an ongoing basis — such as over email or in 1:1 check-ins — to help team members renew their commitment to the work they do and help define their overall employee experience. 

People analytics — Also known as workforce analytics, HR analytics, and people data, these are all types of staff information, data, and metrics that employers collect and keep track of, inclusive of employee experience KPIs. 

Performance management — Processes and procedures used to evaluate and boost staff performance, such as reviews, 1:1 meetings, and more. 

Personalized view — Key everyday moments that illustrate the impact on specific events that are personal to an employee and can determine their overall experience, whether positive, negative or neutral. Personalized moments can trigger a feedback mechanism during an activity, change or potential frustration, including getting a new manager, transferring to a new department, or getting passed up for a promotion. It’s a key opportunity for leaders to reach out, connect and check-in with employees at these critical times and allow for another opportunity for feedback.

Signals — What employees say about the company, collected from direct and indirect experience data points (e.g. surveys, transactions, chats, voice calls, website visits, PTO patterns, performance reviews and more).

Social listening — The practice of monitoring all of the public mentions of your brand and leadership across social channels, blogs, and forums, such as Twitter, Instagram, Reddit, Glassdoor, and more. These conversations can have a huge impact on your reputation, and, importantly, your ability to attract, engage, and retain employees.

Text analytics — A process or technology used to analyze or assess the meaning of large volumes of written communication to reveal common themes, insights, emerging trends, sentiment, recurring topics, and more.

Triggered surveys — Designed to engage employees during or after a task, activity or event has transpired. 

Turnover — When employees leave a given employer. Many organizations track this metric, also referred to as attrition, on a monthly or annual basis.

Voice of the employee — The thoughts, feelings, and sentiments of staff, as captured through surveys, social listening, town halls, and other forms of feedback.

Wellness — Company initiatives, programs, and benefits, such as full insurance coverage, generous parental leave, free yoga classes or gym memberships, exercise clubs, and more, that are designed to help promote the holistic well-being of employees to help contribute to greater employee satisfaction, experience, and retention.

Workforce — All of the employees and contractors that work for a given company.

Work-life balance — There’s a time for work and for being off the clock. Companies that don’t offer that balance between both, however, are more likely to have employees overloaded with job duties that prevent them from spending time with their families and friends and even resting or exercising. There’s a reason employees want work-life balance, and a reason employers should prioritize it: because having a poor work-life balance can lead to lower morale and productivity as well as burnout and turnover.

360 reviews — While more traditional reviews are conducted 1:1 between employees and their supervisors, 360 reviews, also known as 360 feedback, offer workers the chance to get feedback from their peers, direct reports, and other colleagues from across the organization.

Like this employee experience glossary and want to know what doors an employee experience strategy can open for your organization? Download Medallia’s A New Model for Employee Experience: Continuous Response whitepaper.