What Is Employee Engagement?

Smiling female boss shakes hands with new male teammate

The definition of employee engagement is the level of enthusiasm workers have for their employers; employee experience, on the other hand, is made up of all the moments employees have on the job.

Employee experience is not just another way of describing employee engagement. While the terms employee engagement and employee experience are often used interchangeably, they have their own unique definitions. A company’s employee experience consists of all the interactions and touchpoints an employee encounters throughout their day to day, and employee engagement is the byproduct of those experiences. When companies deliver strong employee experiences, employee engagement improves and when employee experience suffers, so too can employee engagement. 

What Is Employee Engagement?

Employee engagement definition

The definition of employee engagement is the level of enthusiasm that an employee feels about their job — or the level of dedication they have to their position and company. Employee engagement is often reflected in how team members perform their daily duties and demonstrated by their level of productivity and output. 

Measuring employee engagement

Companies create and distribute employee engagement surveys to measure their organization’s level of employee engagement. These surveys include a mix of qualitative and quantitative questions to assess employees’ commitment to their roles and the overall organization. 

Employee Engagement vs. Employee Experience

While employee engagement reflects how employees feel about their employers, employee experience encompasses every moment, interaction, touchpoint, and transaction with a given organization — from the moment a potential candidate applies for a job to the day they exit the company. The definition of employee experience is the entire journey employees have throughout their tenure at a given employer. 

Employee experience is not just about what companies do — it’s a determinant of how businesses make employees feel. 

The workforce experience shapes employee sentiment, loyalty, sense of well-being and belonging, and, of course, engagement. That’s the key difference between employee engagement vs. employee experience. Employee experience is the setting, the environment, and the set of factors that make up the day-to-day work life for employees, which then in turn influences how engaged employees are. 

Measuring the employee experience vs. employee engagement

While companies often rely on stand-alone employee engagement surveys to evaluate employee engagement, another difference between employee engagement vs. the employee experience is that measuring EX is much more involved. EX is evaluated by gathering and analyzing a variety of employee signals, including:

  • Quantitative and qualitative data from real-time employee feedback surveys
  • Employee feedback posted on social media and career websites
  • Observed employee behavior
  • Operational and facilities data (meetings data, service tickets, demographics, compensation and benefits, and location and badging data)
  • Interactions (trainer or manager feedback, team interactions, and customer interactions)
  • PTO usage, time to productivity, and other people ops data
  • Performance reviews, promotions, transfers, and manager or team changes
  • Slack or email usage
  • Event participation, volunteering, and ERG participation 

Employee experience technology helps companies collect and analyze signals from direct feedback (such as from employee feedback surveys) as well as indirect feedback (such as from company helpdesk tickets and performance reviews) to uncover the top topics and themes employees are discussing, measure overall employee sentiment, and assess employees’ sense of well-being, belonging, loyalty, and commitment to the organization. 

The Benefits of Employee Engagement

Gallup researchers analyzed 456 studies across 276 companies representing 54 verticals and 96 countries around the globe and the results of this analysis support previous findings that draw a strong connection between employee engagement and improvements in:

  • Customer loyalty/engagement
  • Company profitability
  • Employee productivity, retention, well-being, and participation

Specifically, Gallup found that companies with the highest levels of engagement saw the following benefits, compared to those with the lowest levels of employee engagement:

  • An 81% reduction in absenteeism
  • An 18% reduction in turnover for high-turnover companies and 43% reduction in turnover for low-turnover companies
  • A 10% increase in customer loyalty/engagement
  • A 23% increase in profitability 

Final Thoughts

While many companies evaluate how engaged their employees are on an infrequent — semi-annual or annual — basis, it’s important to note that employee engagement isn’t static. It’s dynamic and continuously changing in relation to internal and external forces. 

That’s why more agile brands assess their levels of employee engagement on an ongoing basis. At the same time, they’re also measuring the broader employee experience in the moment to get ahead of fluctuations in KPIs like sentiment, turnover, satisfaction, and productivity and take steps to intervene with measures to improve employee outcomes before it’s too late.  

Looking to improve your organization’s employee experience to drive engagement, retention, and other business outcomes? Meet with a Medallia expert to create a world class employee experience.