The terms “employee engagement” and “employee satisfaction” are often interchangeable terms felt to be part of the same thing. They are in fact quite different. We all want employees feeling satisfied and fulfilled at work, but, if we want our teams to deliver outstanding, memorable customer experiences on a consistent basis, we need to understand the difference between the two.

Definition of employee satisfaction vs employee engagement

 Employee satisfaction

Employee satisfaction is the measure of to what extent employees like or feel content in their jobs, or whether they like aspects of the job and the workplace. The elements that make up the job itself and the role it plays in the life of the employee, contribute to how satisfied or dissatisfied an employee may be. For example, the tasks they complete on a daily basis whether there are good development opportunities, or whether they like the way they are supervised. These elements and how they all work coherently together impact how much a person likes the role they are in and in.

Employee engagement

Employee engagement refers more specifically to the results of a work-based approach, where each individual feels motivated to give their best every day and employees are collectively committed to helping the organisation achieve its goals.

It is about having a clear understanding of your role in the organisation and being excited and energised about how your role helps to move the organisation closer to achieving its objectives. Engaged employees feel they have a voice, they have the opportunity to express their views and ideas and feel that their contributions are considered as a part of the decision making process.

An engaging work environment is one where employees are welcomed as whole individuals, they are trusted and treated with respect. They are given frequent constructive feedback and they are encouraged and supported in their development, both within the workplace and personally. They are fully appreciated as members of the team and given genuine and timely recognition on a regular basis.

Engaged employees will go above and beyond for you. Satisfied employees will not

And this is why it is important to understand that employee satisfaction and engagement, whilst related, are not the same. Engaged employees may feel satisfied with their jobs. But, satisfied employees don’t necessarily feel engaged with their work.

As a result of an approach aimed at engaging employees, individuals feel a psychological attachment to their work and their organisation. Because of this attachment, they not only give you their time, but their energy, their creativity, their flair and their passion. Satisfied employees give you their time and do their jobs well, but they won’t go above and beyond for you. And that is the key differentiator here. If businesses only focus on how satisfied employees are and only look to measure team satisfaction, they will never gain the benefits that follow from having an engaged, committed workforce.

What does engagement look like?

Think about some of your own experiences. The most memorable and touching experiences are likely the ones delivered by people who are engaged with what they are doing. The people who have found true meaning and purpose in their work and as a result have made a lasting impact on you and a true connection. They are the ones going above and beyond every single day. 

The engaged employee is someone like Mark Weatherby, Operations Manager in Perth Australia, who takes his time to pro-actively look for opportunities for the business to make a great contribution to charity. Or Jennifer at Peabody, who has consoled her customer, listened with real empathy and acted as a real-life support.

The people that deliver these experiences to customers are absolutely invaluable to your organisation, not just for your brand, but for the impact they make on the lives of your customers.

“Since my husband’s tragic death…Kate has been an amazing help and strength to me. She has been there to help me when I was absolutely lost…”written about Kate at Trust Inheritance Ltd



Putting your people at the heart of your business and the benefits of having an engaged workforce – the stats say it all

Engagement and satisfaction are equally important but putting an organisation-wide focus on the former will generate better results for your business and for your employees. 

Meeting employee expectations on the elements that make up their role, e.g. training opportunities, good management, providing the right equipment etc. will undoubtedly help in achieving high levels of employee satisfaction and this is highly valuable. But, the most successful organisations understand that employee engagement is part of a strategic business approach; something that is monitored, measured and discussed at board level.  Woven into the fabric of the organisation, it needs to be nurtured and practiced in order to become behavioural.  

Businesses with engaged people deliver 10% higher customer loyalty, 18% higher productivity and 23% higher profitability. Engaged people come to work everyday and bring with them their passion, drive and energy, realising 41% less staff absenteeism and 59% less staff turnover.

These stats showcase that you cannot afford to have disengaged employees. Motivation, commitment and loyalty are an essential in businesses standing out from the crowd and remaining competitive. 

Bianca Talbot CEO The WOW! Awards


The WOW! Awards

The WOW! Awards is an ideal way to start or enhance an existing employee engagement programme, improve customer service and the bottomline. Simple to set up, it is the only tool on the market designed to uncover personal, individual stories of outstanding service. It is also the only recognition programme that independently judges all nominations.