Back To Basics: Employee Engagement Vs. Employee Experience

Employee Engagement Vs. Employee Experience

What are employee experience and employee engagement? Are they just human resources buzzwords? What is the difference between them? Why should organizations establish high employee engagement and a positive employee experience for your employees? 

Employees are known to be the essence of the organization, without them it is impossible for any organization to even exist, let alone function. This is what makes it extremely important for you to leave no stone unturned in appreciating your employee and enhancing their experience. However, you also have to make sure that you don’t mistake employee engagement to be employee experience. Agreed that these two words appear to be the same and there is some overlap, but employee engagement and employee experience are different concepts. It’s time to go to basics and learn about how they differ from each other as it will benefit both your employees and your organization in the long run. Continue reading further to know the difference between employee engagement and employee experience.

Employee Engagement Vs. Employee Experience

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Owing to the competitive global economy and tightening labor market, highly talented employees have a lot of freedom where they choose to work. Gone are the days when pay used to be the sole criteria that used to bait and retain the best of your employees. Now employees demand jobs that suit their lifestyle, provide them opportunities for consistent growth, and connect them to greater purpose and meaning. At the same time, organizations are becoming more transparent. Interaction in the organization can swiftly go viral and former employees can leave reviews about their past experiences on social platforms. The consequences for organizations can be severe as a negative remark can hinder their current workforce and the future of the organization. For these reasons, more and more organizations have started to focus on improving their employee engagement and employee experience. 

What is employee experience? 

You’d find employee experience taking the top spots of each organization’s priority list. In contrast to employee engagement, the word employee experience extends the approach to assess engagement at all the touchpoints in the employee lifecycle from the perspective of the employee. It encloses the technological, cultural, and physical environment of the organization. Employee experience brings your employees into the conversation to look at the work, which helps you to find out what they need to achieve their objectives and make them successful.

Employee experience constitutes the complete journey an employee takes with your organization. This consists of everything from pre-hire to post-exit interaction and everything else in between. It’s an employee-centric manner of thinking about your organization. When decisions are made while taking employee experience into consideration, you will think about how your employees will perceive this decision? and what impression are you giving to your employees if the organization moves this way? 

Employee experience foresees how the employees see hear, feel, and believe about each aspect of their employment. As mentioned, these facets expand from the process of recruitment throughout the last day of the employee at your organization. If you want to make the employee experience in your organization the best it can be, establish a culture where leaders and managers alike step in the shoes of your employees. 

What is employee engagement? 

In contrast to employee experience, employee engagement is a very top-down approach as the organizations decide what the employees need. It’s about finding routes to drive the commitment of your employees towards the goals of your organization.  You’re committing a huge mistake if your organization thinks of employee engagement as an event, incentive program, or fun perk. While being engaged at work will make your employee feel good but it is not at all a feel-good, team-building action. 

Employee engagement is established on a daily basis through the work environment and the relationship between the employee and the organization. Engagement consist of four key elements: 

a) Empowerment – the transfer of power from managers to employees

b) Energy – mental, physical, spiritual, and emotional 

c) Encouragement – a gesture to show appreciation, a bit of recognition, and a display of gratitude 

In agile frameworks, engagement mostly comes before the performance as it serves as the foundation to the consistent excellence of the employee. Even a highly talented disengaged employee can end up outperforming their peers but won’t be able to reach their potential until they feel supported and engaged at the organization. Unsurprisingly, managers play a critical role when it comes to employee engagement in their organization. As a matter of fact, 70% of the variance in employee engagement is due to the manager. Therefore, you are responsible for driving employee engagement which in turn drives an incredible employee experience. 

How employee engagement influences employee experience

Your employees’ degree of engagement – their mindset and behavior when they step into the organization each day – has a huge impact on what they contemplate about your organization. It sounds simple, yeah? Well, the truth is that majority of the employees in today’s time do not have their basic psychological needs met. As per the study done by Gallup

a) Only 3 in 10 employees agree that they received recognition or praise for the work done by them.

b) Only 4 in 10 employees agree that when they are in their organization, they get the opportunity they need to do their duty at their level best.

c) Only 3 in 10 employees agree that they have the tools and materials needed to do their work efficiently. 

Globally, only 15% of the employees are engaged at their organization while in the US only 33% are engaged. Evidently, organizations having a highly engaged workforce have a competitive advantage in their respective industries. 

Final take

So, what is the major difference between employee engagement and employee experience? To simply put it, employee experience is the input while employee engagement is the output your organization aims for.  By enhancing the experience of your employees, your organization will achieve more engaged employees. Improvisation of employee engagement is the end goal while improving the employee experience is the means to achieve that end goal. 

Employee engagement is a top-down philosophy as it aims to make the employees engage with the organizational culture, work, and purpose. On the other hand, employee experience is a bottom-up concept in which the work environment and processes are precisely designed around the employees. While employee engagement commonly focuses on the workplace and productivity, employee experience is focused on encompassing the employee as a human being. Employee experience is a much wider plus richer concept than employee engagement. It’s more focused on the employee and less on the employer. 

Now, it doesn’t matter if you have concerns related to employee experience, employee engagement, or performance management. Contact us right now to seek proficient assistance for all your concerns! 

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Gaurav Sabharwal


Gaurav is the CEO of JOP (Joy of Performing), an OKR and high-performance enabling platform. With almost two decades of experience in building businesses, he knows what it takes to enable high performance within a team and engage them in the business. He supports organizations globally by becoming their growth partner and helping them build high-performing teams by tackling issues like lack of focus, unclear goals, unaligned teams, lack of funding, no continuous improvement framework, etc. He is a Certified OKR Coach and loves to share helpful resources and address common organizational challenges to help drive team performance. Read More

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