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There are different ways for companies to gauge the level of motivation their employees receive—and for a long time, the predominant model has been employee engagement. Recently, though, there’s been a shift in focus, with the term employee experience steadily gaining steam.

What do these two concepts mean? How are they similar, and how are they different? And which one makes the most sense for your team? Let me address some of those questions here.

Comparing Employee Engagement with Employee Experience

There was a time when businesses viewed employees, essentially, as resources—ways they could create more products and make more money. A few decades ago, that thinking began to change, with more leaders adopting the mindset that they should be offering benefits and value to their employees, not merely extracting value from them. That’s where the concept of employee engagement started; by engaging employees, it has long been assumed, companies can actually get better performances out of them. When done right, the focus on employee engagement is win-win.

So why the shift to employee experience? Well, the basic reason is this: Employee engagement, for all its virtues, tends to be focused on the short-term. It’s about making little changes that can impact employee motivation in the here and now. Employee experience is more long-term, and more big-picture. It’s about fundamentally changing how the workplace functions.

More About Employee Experience

Really, employee experience is just a way of considering what it’s actually like for someone to work at your company. Another way to think about it: Employee experience is the daily workplace reality for your employees.

The focus of employee experience should be creating a reality where your employees feel truly empowered—not micromanaged. Providing easy access to resources and tools, streamlining communication, offering flexibility for things like lunch and coffee breaks—all of this is encompassed by employee experience.

The bottom line is that all employees have an experience at work each day—whether you realize it or not. Smart companies will be proactive in ensuring that the experience is a good one—not just in the sense of being positive and pleasant, but in enabling employees to do their work in the best, most satisfying way possible.