Happy franchise employee celebrating
Published March 1, 2021

Employee Satisfaction vs. Employee Engagement: What’s the Difference?

The may seem like one and the same, but there are some very important distinctions

Your employees seem happy with their pay and your annual turnover rate remains low. But why don’t managers seem willing to take on additional responsibility? And how can you encourage newer employees to want to advance their careers within your organization? Chances are, most of your employees may be satisfied with their day-to-day roles, but they might not be engaged.

Unlike employee satisfaction, employee engagement is the emotional commitment the employee has to the organization and its goals, according to a Forbes column. More than a buzzword, it’s vital to your franchise’s success. Organizations that are successful at building or maintaining employee engagement put a significant effort into building a culture that was supported by C-level executives, cascading down through their management teams.


How Does Employee Engagement Differ From Happiness and Job Satisfaction?

1. Employee engagement does not equal employee happiness. Your employee might enjoy her coworkers, office perks, and employee benefits, but that doesn’t mean she’s willing to stretch beyond her comfort zone to help you achieve your organizational goals.

2. Employee engagement also isn’t the same as employee satisfaction. Although the two may sound interchangeable, there are some distinctions. A satisfied employee might regularly complete work and be content with his salary, but again, it doesn’t mean he’s bought into the mission of your franchise. It might not be enough to keep him loyal to your company in the long-term. 

3. In other words, engaged employees don’t only perform well in exchange for a paycheck, they put forth effort because they are  invested in your organization’s future. They stay late to finish a task before they leave, without being asked. They may spend extra time with a demanding customer to ensure his needs were met, or they may volunteer to help with corporate charitable efforts. Work is more than a paycheck for them – they also work because they care about the company and want to help achieve its goals.


What Are Some Ways Franchises Can Spark Employee Engagement?

In order to keep employees engaged, many franchises are taking proactive steps to ensure their teams are inspired—and aligned with the company mission.

InXpress Americas CEO Dustin Hansen said that his company feels that it can never spend enough time talking about its culture and programs.

“Our culture greatly enhances our employee retention process. Our employees have many places in which they can choose to work, and as a franchisor we don’t have a massive corporate structure in which they can easily identify promotion opportunities,” Hansen said.

Some of the strategies InXpress uses to engage employees include connecting corporate team members with franchisees as often as possible so they can feel personal ownership over the success of that franchisee. They also stress showing public recognition for a job well done, whether it’s formal or informal.

“A small thank you in front of a group goes a long way. We strive at every meeting, presentation, or gathering to thank at least one employee for their contributions.”


How to Show Employee Recognition

In today’s digital age and with the disruptions of COVID-19 in the workplace, interpersonal communication can suffer, thanks to our increasing reliance on texts, instant messages, and social media updates. However, there are several low-cost ways you can meaningfully connect and move the engagement needle.

1. Supply the right tools. Without the right combination of software to do their jobs, employees can become bogged down, and ultimately, frustrated.

2. Give employees individual attention. Greater work autonomy and flexibility motivate employees to take pride in their work.

3. Invest in continuous development. When companies show they value their employees through training and coaching efforts, employees tend to feel appreciated and are more apt to stick around.

4. Foster connection in the workplace. Personal relationships between employees, employees and franchisees, and managers and associates are just as important as your relationships with customers. Whether you encourage informal social events or get your team together to serve others, building strong relationships among your employees pays large dividends. 

5. Understand where gaps might exist. Do you have an accurate sense of how well you are currently engaging your employees and where you fall short – according to them? Are recent efforts actually working? It’s important to document and measure employee engagement so that you can set benchmarks and make comparisons year over year.


How Do You Measure Employee Engagement?

Administering the right workplace survey can be a great way to measure employee engagement across the organization and better understand the different perceptions and experiences of employees at various levels. The results of these surveys can identify where you need to focus more attention and which engagement initiatives are achieving desired goals.

Each year, Franchise Business Review conducts the Franchising@WORK Employee Engagement & Compensation study and invites all corporate franchise employees to take part.

We ask participants 24 core benchmark questions related to job satisfaction, engagement, management, brand leadership, and culture, as well as detailed personal questions about their position, compensation, benefits, and demographics.


 Some key findings:

  • 85% of corporate franchise employees find their jobs and the work they do rewarding and satisfying, and 79% would recommend their company to a friend.


  • While compensation remains strong with nearly two out of three employees (60%) reporting getting a raise last past year, a quarter of all employees (25%) don’t feel that they receive the recognition they deserve.


  • From the boardroom to the front desk, women in franchising earn less than their male counterparts with similar experience. Within the C-suite, male execs earn 16% more than female execs.


  • Of the 24 benchmark questions asked of employees, one of the lowest scoring questions was “I see a long-term opportunity for my career.” 66% of Gen Z franchise employees plan to leave their company within two years.


  • Employees with 7+ years of tenure has dropped to just 13%—that’s a 55% drop from pre-pandemic levels.


  • Money is overwhelmingly the number one reason people will leave an organization, but creating a flexible, transparent, meaningful culture may be your greatest asset to help your best people stay.


Michele Kemplay, director of human resources for Jason’s Deli , a healthy sandwich franchise with locations in 28 states, partnered with Franchise Business Review last year and administered the survey twice. The company digs into the results, analyzes the data, and acts, she said.

“We encourage (managers) to celebrate the wins and create a plan of action for opportunities,” Kemplay said. “Our expectation is to see improvement over the last survey. Our turnover is far less than the industry average both on the hourly employee side, as well as management side. We partly attribute that to being a listening company, especially (related) to the feedback we receive on the surveys.”


How Will You Measure Employee Engagement and Satisfaction?

High employee satisfaction and engagement go hand-in-hand. Boosting both will result in positive results for your franchise. The evidence is clear—engaged employees will lead to engaged franchisees, and ultimately to more loyal, satisfied customers. While the costs associated with improving satisfaction, engagement, and culture are minimal, only the very best organizations dedicate the time and consistency that is required to make gains in these areas.

Franchise Business Review’s Franchising@WORK survey provides data to individual franchise companies to help them understand the risks and opportunities within their organizations and benchmark their employee engagement and compensation against other franchise companies.

All companies that participate receive a benchmark scorecard report, but you also have the opportunity to purchase the detailed data (and add your own custom questions) in order to quantify employee engagement levels and obtain business intelligence on where to make system improvements and measure success.

With that data in hand you’ll know exactly where to make changes in order to:

  • Integrate employee engagement metrics into an organization-wide strategy for improvement
  • Measure corporate culture
  • Align your engagement priorities with your corporate priorities
  • Implement effective employee recruitment and retention initiatives


The detailed data also gives you access to:

  • Custom reporting with full company data and industry benchmarks
  • Department/location scorecards
  • Employee insights report with full verbatim text
  • Online data
  • Review of your results with the FBR management team


Franchises that score highest also qualify for the Franchising@WORK Awards, which recognize the franchise companies with the best company cultures.

Find out how your organization stacks up! All you have to do is fill out a simple registration form to participate in the benchmark research and awards. You send us your employee contact list and FBR does the rest! Read our FAQs to learn more or download a free Awards Entry Kit.


Related Content


The CEO’s Guide to Creating and Maintaining a Positive Culture in Franchising

Despite its critical importance, culture is frequently overlooked by leadership. This eBook provides practical advice for franchise leadership teams for creating and  maintaining a culture that leads to greater productivity and profitability.


About the Author: Michelle Rowan

Michelle is the president of FBR, the former Chair of the International Franchise Association’s Women’s Franchise Committee. and a Certified Franchise Executive. She is the recipient of the 2022 Crystal Compass Award, has facilitated CEO Performance Groups and Executive Networking Groups and is also a mentor of UNH college students. When she is not at work she is usually reading, playing outside, or hanging out with her husband and daughter.
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