Employee Engagement vs. Employee Experience: Key Similarities and Differences

Employees are as vital to a company’s success as cash flow, and that’s why businesses focus on engagement. Because ultimately, employees want to feel like the company they work for cares if they stay. However, 52 percent of exiting employees say that their manager or organization could have done something to prevent them from leaving their job but didn't, according to a study by Gallup.

Is this disconnect caused by a lack of engagement? Or is it due to a problem in the emerging concept of the employee experience? The two terms seem similar, and there is overlap. It’s essential to know the differences and how businesses can approach employee engagement and their experiences with those differences in mind. This article will help define employee engagement and employee experience, where the two are similar, and when to treat them differently.

Defining Employee Engagement and Employee Experience

Managers often use the terms employee engagement and employee experience interchangeably, leading to confusion. Here’s a look at how they’re defined.

Employee Engagement

This concept is the commitment and connection an employee has to your business. Qualities of employee engagement include feelings of togetherness, support, and recognition.

If you have good levels of employee engagement, you’re likely to see strong retention, performance, customer satisfaction, and stakeholder returns. It’s a great metric to track, especially when turnover is high.

Employee Experience

What employees witness and encounter in their workplace—their perceptions—is the employee experience. Businesses are naturally concerned with what their customers experience throughout a transaction or contractual period. But since employees are one of the most valuable resources for an organization, employers are investing in meeting their overall physical and emotional needs.

Employee Engagement vs. Employee Experience

Although engagement and experience are similar, they require different approaches when it comes to management.

How Employee Engagement and Employee Experience Are Alike

By now, you can tell engagement depends on the quality of the employee experience—but one is not replaceable by the other. Good engagement emerges from the employee experience when there are clearly defined roles, a sense of camaraderie, helpful feedback, immediate rewards programs, and continuous learning. It considers whether you are meeting all employees’ psychological and emotional needs. When they are, businesses see creative team performance at its best.

Where Employee Engagement and Employee Experience Differ

The differences between employee engagement vs. employee experience, although subtle, must be understood.

  • The first difference is that experience flows from the employer to the employee. For a positive employee experience, organizations must commit to providing resources that promote the physical comfort and the psychological well-being needed for those employees to perform at high levels.
  • Secondly, whereas a positive workplace environmental experience is the responsibility of management, engagement is a two-way exchange between employees and managers. The focus should be on communication in a workplace built to encourage workers to achieve productivity goals.
  • Finally, the employee experience considers the employee’s humanity and goes beyond comfort and salaries to create a holistic and rewarding work environment with high engagement.

How To Encourage Employee Engagement

Engagement is organic, rising from an employee’s feeling of being supported and rewarded with something they value, working in an optimized environment, and knowing their work contributes to a greater good. Can you see how businesses that improve their employee experience will have more engaged employees?

Improve the Quality of Employee Life

Consider your employees’ commute times, parking, tools, technology, office space, constructive feedback, motivation through rewards, and any other factors that impact getting their jobs done. In what ways can you intervene to create a better experience for your employees?

Help Managers Become Coaches

Empowerment and inspiration are most effective coming from management and direct supervisors. Help your managers and supervisors grow into coaching roles with tools that allow them to motivate and reward employees directly.

Develop Your Employer Branding

Just as you have a brand you want to promote to customers, you also need a brand as an employer. This brand should be consistent from recruitment to an employee’s exit. Consider what will attract employees to your company beyond getting a paycheck.

How Rewards Genius Helps Improve Employee Engagement and Experience

Increasing employee engagement is one of the most valuable investments you can make—and there are many digital tools you can use to incentivize engagement. Many of our HR customers use Rewards Genius to order, send, and track digital gift cards in one easy dashboard.

If you’d like to see how Rewards Genius can help you improve the experience and engagement of your teams, email sales@tangocard.com

Want more thought leadership from Tango Card? Sign up here to be alerted when we post new content, host webinars, and speak at events.

Is Tango right for you? Let's talk.

Now you know why Tango is trusted by companies around the world. It’s time to discover how Tango can work for you.