The Difference Between Employee Engagement vs. Employee Experience

Anna Straus, CEO at Sparck October 4, 2023

In the aftermath of COVID-19, the workplace landscape has transformed. These changes pose new challenges for employers. As workplaces evolve to include remote, hybrid, and in-person options, employees are increasingly asserting their needs and desires. For example, 45% say they would consider switching jobs if required to return to full-time office work, a clear signal that employee boundaries can't be ignored.

Alongside these structural shifts, there's been a decline in employee engagement. U.S. employee engagement reached its highest at 36% in 2020, only to fall to 31% by 2023. This trend suggests that leaders need to meet the evolving needs and expectations of their workforce to sustain engagement and productivity.

Gallup’s global indicators on employee engagement in 2022.

To help you navigate this, this article will explore employee engagement vs. employee experience. We'll delve into their significance, examine measurement methods, and discuss best practices for each.

By gaining a better understanding of the differences between employee engagement and employee experience, leaders can better align their workplace practices with employee values, creating a more fulfilling work environment!

Understanding Employee Engagement

Employee engagement is not merely about working for the paycheck – it embodies a deeper connection and enthusiasm a worker feels towards their job and organization! Employee engagement is the extent to which employees feel passionate about their jobs, are committed to our organization, put discretionary effort into their work and are willing to refer.

In times where remote and hybrid working settings are becoming the norm, employers must prioritize keeping their teams engaged and connected, even without a constant physical presence.

Employee engagement is derived from making meaningful contributions to the organization’s organization's success.

How to Measure Employee Engagement

One effective way to gauge employee engagement is through surveys, and Sparck offers a specialized tool for this purpose. Our survey focuses on seven key areas:

  1. Alignment: Do employees align with the organization’s mission, values, and goals?
  2. Growth: Are opportunities for personal and professional development available?
  3. Turnover: What is the likelihood of employees leaving within the next year?
  4. Valuation: How valued do employees feel?
  5. Fit: Are individuals well-suited to their roles?
  6. Collaboration: Is teamwork effective within the organization?
  7. Measure: What are your ENPS’s (Employee Net Promoter Score)? 

This approach helps employers understand their workforce's engagement levels and identify areas for improvement. Our survey is an important differentiator compared to others. For example, if you used Survey Monkey or a platform that has questions that haven’t been vetted by research and statistical validity, your results might not be as actionable or insightful.

Other ways to measure engagement include interviews, focus groups, and regular check-ins with employees.

Key Elements for Enhancing Employee Engagement

As leaders work to improve employee engagement, they should consider the following:

  • Foster Open Communication: Encourage open feedback channels.
  • Recognize and Reward Employees: The number 1 and number 2 reason why employees are leaving is because they don’t feel valued by their organization.
  • Career Growth: 94% of employees say they would stay longer at an organization that invests in their career development.
  • Employee Autonomy: 79% of employees feel more engaged when given autonomy, leading to increased performance.
  • People-First Culture: Prioritize employee well-being and work-life balance.
  • Upskill Your Managers: They have the most influence over their team's engagement - a 70% variance according to Gallup! This is the area that will get them the greatest return on investment.

Enhancing employee engagement is pivotal for organizational success and individual well-being. It requires a multi-faceted approach that includes scientifically validated surveys, open communication, career growth, personalized recognition, and a nurturing workplace.

Boost employee engagement by recognizing their unique ways of feeling appreciated. To do that, explore six distinct employee appreciation styles to express gratitude effectively!

Understanding the Employee Experience

Employee experience is a foundation for many important workplace aspects, including employee engagement. It encompasses how employees interpret their interactions with their organization, from the onboarding process and daily tasks to interactions with colleagues and management.

With the surge in remote and hybrid work environments, it is imperative for organizations to adapt their resources to foster a positive employee experience. 

The Impact of Positive Employee Experience

Never underestimate the long-term effects of employee experience! Research indicates that employees with a positive experience are 16 times more engaged and eight times more likely to remain with the organization.

Moreover, there is a demonstrated link between employee and customer satisfaction – a better employee experience often translates to improved customer relations.

5 Best Practices for Elevating Employee Experience

As leaders work to improve employee experience, these best practices are a useful guideline.

1. Onboarding and Career Growth

From onboarding to departure, make each phase a positive experience for employees. When an employee joins the organization, the onboarding process should be designed to make them feel welcomed, valued, and well-informed. As employees progress in their roles, they need avenues for career growth. Ensure employee departure is a positive experience by using offboarding best practices.

2. Management and Communication

Effective communication is the cornerstone of a positive employee experience. Encourage managers to hold regular one-on-ones to discuss objectives, challenges, and career aspirations. 

3. Inclusive Workplace Culture

Creating a culture of inclusivity involves more than just avoiding discrimination – it means actively promoting diversity and flexibility in the workplace. Offering diversity training programs and providing flexible working arrangements accommodate the varied needs of your staff.

4. Employee-Centric Growth Plans

Personalized growth plans can make employees feel like they are a crucial part of the organization's future. Work closely with your employees to identify their strengths, interests, and career aspirations. Offering personalized paths for growth not only motivates employees but also helps to retain top talent.

5. Trust in Leadership

Leadership sets the stage for an organization. Employees look to their leaders for more than just strategic direction; they seek inspiration, transparency, and ethical behavior. Leaders should consistently demonstrate the organization's mission, values, and objectives to help employees feel aligned with the bigger picture. 

What’s the Real Difference Between Employee Engagement vs. Employee Experience?

Employee engagement and experience are related yet distinct aspects of the workplace. Engagement focuses on short-term factors such as alignment with the organization's mission and autonomy, measured through surveys and metrics. In contrast, experience is a holistic, long-term concept encompassing everything from onboarding to relationships with colleagues and interactions with workplace technology.

Employee engagement offers a snapshot through immediate, measurable elements. Employee experience tells the full story of an employee's journey in the organization.

Utilizing Leading Indicators

Organizations can use leading indicators as predictive metrics for understanding employee engagement vs. employee experience. Short-term engagement is measured through tools like Engagement Survey Scores and eNPS which measure alignment with organization values and team cohesion.

However, long-term employee experiences can be evaluated using Early Turnover and Training Participation Rates, which shed light on onboarding efficacy and workplace culture.

It's crucial for leadership to proactively respond to leading indicators derived from metrics such as engagement surveys and eNPS to address immediate engagement issues. Similarly, tracking long-term indicators can shape strategic adjustments in onboarding and workplace culture. 

Need to show the correlation between HR initiatives and your bottom line? Try our ROI Calculator!

Next Steps to Improve Your Workplace Experience

Understanding the difference between employee engagement vs. employee experience can help you make major improvements to your team. Engagement focuses on immediate factors like job satisfaction, while experience encompasses the entire employee journey.

As the workplace evolves with increased hybrid and remote work, it is crucial to consider how these new environments will influence employee engagement and experience to ensure sustained engagement and a positive experience.

To enhance both engagement and experience, leaders should take a two-pronged approach. Quick actions can address engagement, but improving experience requires a long-term strategy.

Tools like Sparck's #BeHeard Employee Engagement Survey can provide the data to inform these decisions, making it a valuable resource. Get started for free today!


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