Employee engagement vs employee experience: There’s a difference!

Employee engagement - acronyms for EX and EE located inside two light blue gears
The concepts of employee experience (EX) and employee engagement (EE) are closely related. They have a mutually beneficial relationship when framed appropriately. 

Companies creating an optimal employee experience generate meaningful employee engagement, whereas those who have not mastered the art of EX are left wondering why their engagement—and many other success metrics—fall short. 

Meaningful engagement is everything, after all, particularly when a company seeks to create a cohesive culture where employees flourish. And this should be the goal at every organization, because when employees flourish, the company does as well. 

Happy, engaged employees do things without being asked, treat customers better than their grumpy counterparts and they will rave about their wonderful company to others, attracting top talent.

Getting employee experience and employee engagement right at your organization should be a top priority. And we’re going to help you share why this is at your next strategic planning session by digging into the distinction between the two, sharing more insight around why each is so important, and detailing how each benefits companies, specifically.

The EX and EE distinction—and reasons companies must pay attention to both

Employee experience, at the core, can be boiled down to how it feels to be a part of your company. While employee engagement is how connected employees are to your company. This connection is marked by employees’ motivation to succeed both for, and with, your organization. 

Both elements are crucial to pay attention to, as these stats demonstrate:

Employee experience:

McKinsey found that “people who report having a positive employee experience have 16 times the engagement level of employees with a negative experience.” And happy employees are eight times more likely to stay at a company.

Top ideal employee experience efforts “attract top talent through strong company branding, drive high performance through meaningful manager-employee relationships, and create valuable brand ambassadors long after employees have left your organization” – Gallup: How to Improve the Employee Experience

Employee engagement:

In Gallup’s study on employee engagement, only 17% of employees were engaged at work. And employee engagement was enhanced by tailoring communication to reach teams where they were, and by paying attention to company culture, values, and employee acknowledgment.

Statista shows that employee engagement has been trending downwards since 2020.

There’s no time like the present to make exceptional employee experiences happen. Here’s how.

How to make exceptional employee experiences happen

Exceptional employee experiences happen when companies create supportive environments where employees can flourish by providing intuitive tools to navigate internal intel and be the best employee they can be. 

Amazing onboarding materials are a must, as is creating a single source of truth where everyone can have confidence that documents and videos they’re accessing and communicating to customers contain the most relevant, updated intel available. Accomplishing these things is really “intranet 101” though, as an exceptional employee experience should also:

  • Create personalized experiences
  • Inspire and encourage camaraderie between employees
  • Provide ways to connect meaningfully with employees

We’ve expanded on these ideas below.

Create personalized experiences

Everyone loves a custom-made experience. Technology can improve employee experience by utilizing AI to offer personalized content discovery with search results that are relevant to an employee’s job function, location, and even their level of understanding when it comes to your company and its position in the market. 

Employee engagement - Simpplr's AI intranet demonstrating a personalized custom experience

When a tool is easy to access and is intuitive to navigate, usage naturally increases. And because you can cater to individual employees’ needs, there is less frustration. Workers can find exactly what they need without having to sift through irrelevant links or get lost in endless rabbit hole searches.

Inspire and encourage camaraderie

Companies should foster an environment that celebrates and encourages the development of its employees and values their contributions. Forbes found that “When employees feel comfortable sharing their thoughts, opinions and experiences, it cultivates camaraderie, respect and goodwill among teammates and between teams, creating a dynamic that impacts the entire organization.”

Employee engagement - a group of employees raising hands up to demonstrate the power of teamwork

With an increasingly distributed workforce, keeping teams together and fostering real relationships can be challenging though. 

Creating a virtual water cooler as a way of encouraging your employees and promoting team bonding, provides a space where employees can connect, share thoughts, work together, and cheer each other on. Friendships that are built in the workplace matter. They improve the quality of life at work and enhance overall employee morale.  

Connect meaningfully with employees

The backbone of your organization is your employees, but you can’t improve what you can’t measure. This is why prescriptive analytics are an essential feature to any intranet. They offer real-time insight around employee behaviors, including:

  • The kind of content your employees engage with most often, so you can create more of it. 
  • Conversely, the least engaging content so you can archive it and keep dashboards clear of clutter.
  • How different groups are interacting with the search function, along with frequently searched terms, usage trends, and even top search terms with no results. 

And then filter results to see which searches are performed by department, geographic location, and office location to inform creation of relevant content for those offices.

Employee engagement - Simpplr's dashboard showing real-time insights on employee engagement

And now a bit about employee engagement!

Employee Engagement 

Wikipedia defines employee engagement as, “the effort to understand and describe, both qualitatively and quantitatively, the nature of the relationship between an organization and its employees.” And yes, it is that. But let’s put a finer point on what employee engagement truly is.

Engaged employees are a company’s heart and soul. An engaged employee is dedicated and often gives their all to support an organization. And they’re usually easy to spot because they’re the outlier in companies struggling to get their employee experience on track. 

Engaged employees are super valuable. They work hard, provide exceptional customer service and act as unofficial brand ambassadors when they’re off the clock. 

Engagement boils down to how well a company connects with employees—if it’s meaningful engagement that demonstrates and elicits care. Fostering deeper connections that drive employee engagement is easy with the right capabilities in place, like:

  • Awareness checks to take the temperature of the virtual room.
  • Interactive org charts to encourage familiarity across departments and locations.
  • Transparent and timely communications.

Let’s look a little deeper into each below.

Awareness checks to take the temperature of your virtual room

Employees’ day-to-day lives can be chaotic and important notifications can get overlooked in the bustle. And when this happens, it can affect the way business is done, especially if time-sensitive information is missed. If they’re not aware of new policies or procedures, they’re not only doing or communicating something wrong, but they’re also wasting valuable time and increasing their own frustration.

And these scenarios play out in businesses worldwide each day. In our State of Internal Communications ebook, we share the finding that nearly 1 out of 3 respondents rated ‘getting employees to consume information’ as poor or below average. Combine that with inconsistencies and inaccuracies in consumption measurements and we have organizations left with  quite a mess to untangle.  

With Simpplr’s dashboard and mobile app, employers can perform awareness checks to verify that employees are reading and absorbing critical company information. And this ultimately helps employees work with confidence.

Employee engagement - Simpplr's dashboard and mobile app to help improve employee experience and engagement

Interactive org charts to encourage connections 

A new job is stressful enough without having to memorize the names and faces of every employee you’ll interact with. And since everyone works from a different place these days (home, office, on-the-go), it’s more important to connect these names and faces so that employees feel comfortable with their team members and workspace as a whole.

Additionally, if they need to connect with an employee from another department, it can be frustrating looking the employee up. With a built-in employee network, employees can view updated employee profiles as well as org charts. When employees can easily find and connect with someone, engagement is improved—they know the next time they need to locate a co-worker, it will be quick and efficient.

Employee engagement - Simpplr's software built-in employee network

Transparent and timely communication

With the birth, expansion, and explosion of the internet, we’ve all been privy to some huge misunderstandings online. And that’s not something that you want to happen in the workplace. 

Open and clear communication is the sunlight that helps employee engagement grow. Communication allows teams to collaborate together, share knowledge, and get feedback. On the whole, it produces a creative environment where everyone is included and employee experience simply flourishTM.

And it’s critical to use the most effective communications technology to power it. That’s because, with an AI-powered tool, internal communications are transparent and targeted—taking the right messages to specific employees in a timely fashion. It’s finding them wherever they are and including them in relevant discussions. It’s valuing their time and their expertise and it’s amazing.

These targeted messages can be sent through multiple channels, including Slack, Teams, email, push notifications, and SMS.

With Simpplr’s modern intranet, you can accomplish everything we’ve mentioned here, and so much more. Employee engagement and employee experience are intertwined, after all – and that isn’t a bad thing, as long as you understand the connection! Keep things balanced and reach out for a demo, so we can run you through a few scenarios specific to you!

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