Employee Experience V Employee Engagement - The Difference

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It’s important to know what employee engagement v employee experience means. So what are the characteristics of employee engagement? And what, exactly, is the difference between employee engagement and employee experience? In a nutshell, the employee experience is the input side of things, while employee engagement is the output you want from your people.

When you improve the employee experience that people have at your place, you also automatically get employees who are more engaged with their role and better team engagement, too. This means improved employee engagement is your goal, and employee experience is the means to the end. 

Ovation Incentives is a respected industry expert in employee experience and employee engagement. We understand everything about contemporary and traditional employee engagement and employee experience strategy. Read on to know exactly what you’re talking about!

What is Employee Engagement?

What is employee engagement? What are the characteristics of employee engagement? Our employee engagement definition makes clear the strength of the mental and emotional connection employees feel towards the work they do, their teams, and the organisation as a whole. 

One person could feel very little connection with their role and the company, leading to a ‘do the minimum’ outlook that means their productivity isn’t as good as it could be. They could even end up being disruptive, having a negative impact on other employees’ feelings of engagement. Another person could be fully engaged, inspiring them to be more creative, determined, thorough, and all those other good things that make a top class worker.

Employee engagement is the emotional commitment a person has to the organisation and its goals, which means they are emotionally committed to their organisation. It’s more than just a job, it comes with more meaning, more importance. And that’s why properly-engaged employees have an excellent attitude. 

They’re positive, inspiring and great to have around. They’re creative, work hard, and encourage others to do the same. They go the extra mile without having to be asked. They’re naturally collaborative, responsible and reliable. And all that means they’re a pleasure to work with. When everyone at work is engaged, it feels fantastic. Work is a pleasure, and it feels like you’re all in the same boat.

What is Employee Experience?

What’s the expert definition of employee experience? An employee experience defines the person’s perceptions about his or her journey through the many touch points they come across at a particular company. It begins when they first qualify as a candidate for the job, and it only ends when they leave the business. As such, the employee experience encapsulates what people encounter and observe while they work for the organisation. It involves the ways they understand, internalise and interpret all the different experiences and interactions they have with their employer, and the context underlying them.

As you can see, it’s very different from employee engagement. So what are some of the key factors affecting employee experience? It’s a broad picture.  Something as seemingly simple as the work environment can engage people. When the place they work in is comfortable, neither too hot nor cold, equipped with everything someone needs to do their best job, it’s a positive experience. At the other end of the scale if their work isn’t meaningful, they won’t feel engaged no matter how beautiful, comfortable or even luxurious the workplace is.

Performance management is another factor. Your work might be meaningful but if your excellent performance is never appreciated, maybe you’re never thanked or even acknowledged, your employee experience suffers. When there are great growth opportunities, plenty of potential for skills development, and trustworthy leadership, the entire work experience is a lot better than it would be if there’s no potential for growth, no way to further develop your skills, and your boss isn’t doing anything to change things.  

Why Employee Experience is Important

So what are the primary reasons why employee experience is vitally important? As we’ve already mentioned, someone who isn’t engaged at work can easily become a negative influence who brings others down. A great employee experience reduces staff churn simply because everyone likes to be there and wants to stay. 

The same goes for staff retention, as people settle down for the long haul. The longer you can keep hold of good people, the better it is for your bottom line. A good employee experience boosts engagement, and engaged employees are always more productive. Word of mouth means an excellent employee experience attracts the top talent in your sector, giving you a substantial competitive advantage. A good employee experience drives more profit and, of course, it results in a much better customer experience.

Difference Between Employee Experience and Engagement

The employee experience relates to all aspects of the journey an employee takes with a company, and employee engagement is an ongoing part of the employee experience. The employee experience is affected by every interaction a staff member has with an organisation, right from the early pre-hire days to their current employed status. All of these varied interactions influence employee engagement.

Engagement describes the basic psychological needs that an employee has before they can work well. It covers a person’s emotional and social needs as well as the purely practical aspects of work. For example doing work you’re good at and enjoy as opposed to work you don’t enjoy and are not very good at. It’s important to connect everyday tasks with higher purposes, for example goals and targets. It’s clear engagement comes before performance.

Managers can provide the conversations, the recognition and the feedback that drive employee engagement, which in turn drives a great employee experience. You see how an employee’s level of engagement influences their experience. But how, exactly, do you assess it?  

How to Assess Employee Experience

There are several ways to assess and measure employee experience. What could an employee experience strategy involve? You could put in place employee experience surveys, where people can either anonymously or openly reveal what they like and dislike about working with your company. It’s the most common technique and it’s great for collecting quantitative employee experience data.

Focus groups are handy for adding context to your survey data. And existing staff metrics feed into your store of wisdom. A high employee turnover rate or churn rate gives you a strong hint that all isn’t well. A lot of employee referrals means you’re doing things right, a company your employees recommend their friends and family members apply to. Because unhappy people don’t deliver good customer service, your customer satisfaction feedback will provide clues, as will the number of employees progressing within the organisation as opposed to leaving.

Tips to Improve Employee Experience

Can you improve the employee experience, therefore also improve employee engagement? The answer is yes.  Employee journey mapping gives you an excellent way to describe the employee lifecycle, really handy when you want to assess where staff members are along their journeys. Something as simple as improving the company’s internal communications helps, particularly important when you have people working remotely or from home.

If you can give new employees a really good, positive onboarding experience, you’ll set them up for a happy working life. Investing in people’s wellness means a lot, a good way to help employees feel they’re valued. And when you invite employee feedback – and respond properly to it, - you make friends and influence people because it’s clear they matter to you. When you provide exciting, inspiring career development guidance and programmes you make your employees feel valued, and always sharing customer feedback with staff makes certain the good news gets out there to inspire even greater efforts.  

Now you know what are the characteristics of employee engagement

Now you understand the difference between employee engagement and employee experience. Employee experience and employee engagement complement each other perfectly. When you deliver an outstanding employee experience, employee engagement levels shoot up. The result is, everything is done better. From the moment they begin to the point they leave, every employee gives their best efforts to their job, their colleagues, and the business that employs them. And when everyone’s happy, bottom lines benefit. Would you like to test-drive a demo of our superb employee incentives system? Alternatively, feel free to get in touch to discuss the potential.