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What is the Difference Between Employee Experience and Employee Engagement?

August 6, 2018



Employee engagement (EE) continues to be a perennial topic of conversation within the business world. A recent Deloitte study found that organizations with engaged employees boast significant advantages in areas like sales, profitability, productivity, customer metrics, and turnover compared to their less engaged counterparts; so it shouldn't come as a surprise that leaders continue to chase increases in employee engagement within their organizations. In addition to employee engagement, a similar topic (both phonetically and contextually) has recently been prioritized by organizational leaders: employee experience (EX). While nearly 80 percent of executives rate the management and improvement of employee experience as important, only 22 percent report that their organizations are excellent at understanding and building a differentiated employee experience. At the root of this gap lies a lack of understanding of both EX and EE. While the two concepts are intimately connected, the differences between them are significant, and their importance has risen enough to justify a separate, clear definition. So, what's the difference between the two, and why do they matter?


What is EX and EE?

Employee experience is defined as the comprehensive set of interactions and observations an employee has within an organization. These tangible interactions and observations are experienced via the five senses, occur over the entire employment lifecycle, and include all types of experiences. They can include anything from observations an employee makes about their role within their organization, to interactions they have in meetings with their manager about their performance, to observations they make about how their leadership communicates with them on a regular basis. Employee experience can either be positive, neutral, or negative.


Employee engagement on the other-hand is defined as the willingness of an employee to act on behalf of their organization (instead of themselves, or even to hurt their organization). It is driven by employees' thoughts and feelings about their organization. Employees can either be engaged, not engaged, or actively disengaged. An engaged employee, for example, might go the extra mile when working on a client project to ensure the organization is truly delivering and exceeding on a client or customer ask, where an employee who is not engaged wouldn't - either not caring at all, or letting an engaged employee pick up their slack. Furthermore, an actively disengaged employee might even work to undermine or sabotage the project.


For a more in-depth overview of employee experience and employee engagement, check out our EX101 series.


What's the Difference?

The biggest difference between employee experience and employee engagement lies in how they are categorically defined. Employee experience is made up of all of the tangible interactions and observations that employees have within an organization. Employee engagement is not a tangible interaction or observation, but a measurement of the attitudes and beliefs held by employees based on the experiences they've had within their organization.


The best way to understand the two concepts is to understand how they impact each other. An employee has interactions and observations within their organization (EX), and those interactions and observations ultimately determine an employee's willingness to act on behalf of their organization (EE).


Why Does it Matter?

As an organizational leader, you can't do anything to directly improve employee engagement. Since employee engagement is determined by the unique thoughts and feelings that employees have within your organization, the only way to change those thoughts and feelings is to change the experiences causing them. If you want to improve engagement, the first thing you need to do is ensure that your organization offers a positive employee experience. And once you've improved that experience, you will begin to realize increases in engagement and organizational performance.

About Holistic


The Holistic Employee Experience Platform is designed to make work meaningful within organizations. Holistic connects and improves employee experience by focusing on four areas proven to drive an increase in employee engagement and organizational performance. To learn more about the Holistic Employee Experience Platform, visit our website, or reach out for a demo.

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