Digital Employee Experience

Employee Engagement and Experience: Know the simple difference

Previously, the majority of the workforce consisted of people who were merely at their jobs to earn a living and make ends meet. However, today’s emerging workforce seeks purpose and a sense of fulfillment in their work. This is why learning about the difference between employee engagement and experience is important.

Owing to this, modern HR departments are always on the lookout for ways to improve the employee experience as it’s directly proportional to the organization’s success and employee productivity.

You can notice the trends changing as notable companies like Deloitte are focusing more on employee experience now. Back in 2017, the company’s Global Human Capital Trends report focused on a shift from employee engagement to employee experience.

Just two years down the lane, in 2019, Deloitte emphasized the importance of employee experience by stating that finding purpose in your job is necessary.

Depending on the HR practitioners at an organization, the definition of employee engagement and employee experience could differ. In this guide, we’ll discuss the basic difference between employee engagement and experience.

What Is Employee Experience?

Employee experience is defined in different ways by global organizations and their HR departments.

However, the crux of every definition is that employee experience refers to the combination of the environment an employee goes through from their candidacy to the end of their tenure at the organization. These include physical, technological, and cultural environments.

Yet, employee experience could mean more or less than this for each company.

Adam Khraling, an HR practitioner at American Express, says that his company aims to create a seamless experience for the employees, allowing them to focus on their jobs. In fact, they have a VP-level position to focus on ensuring an ideal employee experience.

On the other hand, Amanda Flanagan, HR specialist at Vanderheyden Inc, says that employee experience is everything the workforce observes, feels, or encounters during their time at the organization.

She further says that her company wants it to be a positive experience. Thus, they start curating it before a candidate applies for the job.

In today’s time, economic uncertainty is on the rise. Moreover, there’s a lot of transformation – especially in technology – and the workforce might have a hard time keeping up. Deloitte research shows that 91% of the business leaders are not ready to deal with this issue.

As companies realize the importance of employee experience, they’re trying to address it. Some organizations have specific departments and roles dedicated to enhancing the employee experience.

In return, these companies get 25% higher profits as compared to workplaces that ignore employee experience.

What Is Employee Engagement?

Employee engagement refers to the emotional and mental connection employees have towards their workplace, team, or jobs. It basically covers how workers feel about their workplaces. Employees can be categorized into four levels of engagement:

  • Highly Engaged: These employees like their jobs, teams and have positive feelings towards their workplace. They speak highly of the organization to their colleagues, friends, and family. In fact, they’re advocates for their organization, also encouraging others to give their best.
  • Moderately Engaged: These employees don’t have hard feelings towards their work, but they do see room for improvement. They might underperform and are not likely to take on more responsibilities. Although they’re good at their jobs, some shortcoming in their organization or team holds them back from fully engaging.
  • Barely Engaged: These employees exhibit indifference towards the company. They only do enough to get by and mostly lack motivation. It’s likely that these employees are searching for other jobs.
  • Disengaged: These employees are the ones giving their own company negative ratings on Yelp or Trustpilot. Basically, they hold a negative viewpoint of their workplace and are not in touch with the company’s future, goals, or mission statement. Moreover, they’re not committed to their work and barely take on responsibilities.

What Is Not Employee Engagement?

Since engagement is a broader term, many people confuse it with common feelings. However, employee engagement does not encompass the following.

  • Employee Happiness: You cannot guarantee employee happiness since it’s a dynamic and short-term measurement. For instance, a worker may be momentarily happy about the long weekend ahead but slump into disengagement an hour later. On the other hand, employee engagement is a long-term connection with the workplace.
  • Employee Satisfaction: Satisfaction doesn’t mean that an employee would go above and beyond to serve the workplace. Satisfied employees merely stick around but don’t go the extra mile.
  • Employee Wellbeing: It’s practically impossible to guarantee wellbeing since it also depends on the employee’s personal life. On the contrary, employee engagement focuses on how well the individual is doing in the workplace.

Is There A Difference Between Employee Engagement and Experience?

The difference employee engagement and experience is arbitrary since both measures are connected. Employee experience is the input, while employee engagement is the output.

If you give your employees a good experience, they’ll show more engagement at their job.

Simply, employee experience is how you make the employee feel in the workplace. Meanwhile, employee engagement is how the employee responds to the organization, depending on their experience there.

According to Forbes, the difference employee engagement and experience has to do with different tiers of the organization. They say that employee experience is a ‘bottom-up concept’ and is specified for the employees.

On the other hand, employee engagement, being a top-down concept, encompasses how workers engage with the overall purpose of their work and the organizational culture.

As per CMS Wire, employee engagement has more to do with the employee’s productivity at work, while employee experience also regards the individual as a human – not just a worker.

While the differences may vary across sources, all HR practitioners agree that employee experience lays an increased focus on the worker than the employer.

Research indicates that employees who’re engaged at work have a 17% higher productivity than their disengaged colleagues.

That’s why organizations are focusing on employee engagement these days and the only way to ensure that is by giving your workforce a satisfactory employee experience.


Companies are quick to compromise their employee experience to ensure a satisfactory customer experience. However, recent trends show that such companies are losing productivity and profits by overlooking the importance of employee experience.

Businesses can only flourish and expand if they’re giving their employees an experience satisfactory enough to translate into high employee engagement.