Employee Satisfaction vs. Employee Engagement Surveys

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Gathering employee sentiment is key to a thriving workplace. But you probably already knew that, right? 

You may also think that there's no difference between running employee satisfaction surveys and employee engagement surveys. But there is, and it's bigger than you might think.

Below, our employee survey company covers the difference between the two methodologies, what they offer, and when to use them. 

Defining Employee Engagement

Employee engagement refers to the multiple factors that encourage involvement in the workplace. It's the measure of how much effort an employee is willing to put into work as a result of satisfaction drivers.

Instead of one defining factor, engagement is typically shaped by the overall environment of a workplace. 

For example, factors that contribute to employee engagement levels include:

  • Effective leadership strategies
  • Health work-life balance
  • Opportunities for advancement
  • Open communication
  • Good benefits/compensation

With only 32% of employees currently engaged at their workplace, taking measures to improve this area is essential. And employee engagement surveys can help with just that.

Employee engagement surveys will include questions that encompass these various factors. And with that survey data, employers can take measures to improve the staff experience.

The best part? Organizational leaders don't have to blindly make decisions to improve their culture. They will have actual feedback to help increase employee retention and happiness.

Recommended Reading: Employee Engagement Trends Coming to Workplaces in 2024

Defining Employee Satisfaction

Employee satisfaction falls under the umbrella of employee engagement levels. Satisfaction refers to the happiness employees feel due to immediate factors like work conditions and job functions. 

Think of it this way: Are employees' needs being met? If the answer is yes, they likely have higher satisfaction levels! 

Based on our experience surveying employees across several different industries, employee satisfaction survey levels also depend on similar factors as engagement levels. 

These include the employee's satisfaction around: 

  • Work environment
  • Salary
  • Work-life balance
  • Advancement opportunities
  • Relationship with coworkers 

Unsurprisingly, each of these factors contributes to an employee's perception of their workplace, along with their satisfaction levels. 

These factors also naturally create a better workplace culture in the long run. This also improves productivity and enthusiasm levels – in fact, enthused staff are 14% more productive right off the bat. 

Difference Between Employee Engagement and Satisfaction

Employee engagement refers to the overall feelings staff have towards their work. This metric focuses on the employee's commitment to a workplace and the various factors contributing to that dedication. 

Whereas, employee satisfaction refers to the specific factors that would contribute to engagement levels such as salary, work-life balance, and overall workplace culture.

These two metrics are both closely connected, with engagement being the broader of the two and satisfaction falling under that term. 

For example, an employee who likes their job and is happy with their salary, work culture, benefits, and so on will likely be more engaged in their role. And a disengaged employee is likely not happy with one or several different job factors.

When to Use Each Survey

Luckily, employee surveys often measure both employee satisfaction and employee engagement.

We always recommend using a third party for employee surveys because they have extensive knowledge of survey development, benchmarking data, and recommendations for how to take action with employee feedback.

While there is no definitive wrong time to conduct employee satisfaction or employee engagement surveys, here are a few instances where it makes the most sense.

Organizational Change 

Conducting an employee survey is essential when implementing significant organizational changes, such as mergers, acquisitions, or restructuring.

This allows leadership to gauge employee sentiments, identify concerns, and gather valuable insights to effectively manage the transition and ensure a smoother adaptation process.

Annual Employee Engagement Measurement

Regularly administering surveys is crucial to assessing employee engagement levels within the organization.

This helps identify areas of improvement, understand the factors contributing to employee satisfaction or dissatisfaction, and enables the implementation of targeted initiatives to enhance overall employee morale and productivity.

Training and Development Needs 

Employee surveys are beneficial when assessing the effectiveness of existing training programs or identifying areas where additional training and development are needed.

By obtaining feedback on skills gaps and professional development aspirations, organizations can tailor their training initiatives to align with employee needs, fostering continuous learning and growth within the workforce.

Final Thoughts

Employee satisfaction surveys and employee engagement surveys will reveal key data to improve staff sentiment. 

Employee satisfaction measures specific areas that are tied to happiness levels like salary, benefits, culture, and so on. Employee engagement refers to the overall connection staff have to their workplace. 

These two surveys, while distinct from one another, are both closely related and provide tremendous insight to management teams. The key is understanding what they represent--and more importantly, when to conduct them! 

Contact our Employee Survey Company

Measuring employee metrics like satisfaction and engagement is essential for a thriving, successful business. Our team of research pros are well-versed in various types of Voice of Employee market research and are ready to work with your business to improve your workplace.

Contact our market research company today and get a quote for an employee survey:

  1. Message us on our website
  2. Email us at [email protected]
  3. Call us at 888-725-DATA
  4. Text us at 315-303-2040


Lark Allen

As a Content Marketing Specialist, Lark has a strong background and passion for creative, professional, and journalistic writing. She is also a self-proclaimed music freak and 90s enthusiast.

Learn more about Lark, here.

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