Bob from Accounting seemed satisfied with his job but, much to your surprise, left to take a position with another company. Jan came to work every day, completed her tasks on time, and still left to accept a position with your number one competitor. For Paul, a flexible work schedule and competitive pay were satisfactory, but he decided to leave your company for a position with another employer. These employees might have been satisfied employees, but were they actively engaged employees? As you probably have guessed, employee engagement is more than job satisfaction. But what is employee engagement?
What is Employee Engagement?
The term “employee engagement” originated among HR professionals in the 1990s and has often been misunderstood as employee satisfaction. However, engagement and satisfaction are two distinctly different concepts. Employee satisfaction can be more accurately defined as a contentment with workplace conditions. Employee engagement, by contrast, is involvement, commitment, and enthusiasm for both the work and the workplace.
Satisfaction vs. Engagement
These two concepts may be different, but they are also related. Although job satisfaction is a factor in employee engagement, it is not the only component to measure. The feelings and emotions of an employee regarding their position are key to understanding engagement.
An engaged employee has more commitment and loyalty to the company than an employee who is simply satisfied with their position. A satisfied employee who is not engaged may be seeking better opportunities, more growth, better pay, or just an overall better fit.
Why is Employee Engagement Important?
Satisfied employees may be happy with their work but always surveying the horizon for a company where the grass is greener. The digital nature of job search today makes it much easier and less time-consuming to look for new employment opportunities. An employee who is not engaged can very easily grab their mobile device, click on an app and begin swiping right to their next job opportunity. A workplace culture of engaged employees, however, will experience reduced turnover of top performers. The key is to create an emotional connection with the work and the company.
Drivers of Employee Engagement
Workplace culture is a powerful element in employee engagement. Creating a workplace culture that is positive and appealing relies on these factors:
- Personal and Professional Advancement Opportunities
Are employees able to be successful and have opportunities for career advancement within the organization? If so, do the employees view the organization as a place to do so? Making strides in personal development creates confidence and success. When an employee grows professionally and personally within an organization, they become more connected and engaged. Recognizing and bringing attention to these growth efforts will increase an engaged culture.
- Trust in Leadership
Do the employees have trust in the leadership? Leaders of the organization must create and cultivate a workplace culture that gives the greatest chances of success. It is important for the employees to see this representation in their leaders.
Are the employees motivated to be a part of the company’s success? Motivated employees are productive employees. An employee motivated to complete tasks does so with diligence and in a timely manner. This ultimately saves the company time and money.
- Employee Recognition and Appreciation
Do you recognize employees for positive behaviors? Recognizing positive behaviors, especially in a social setting, generates confidence and productivity.
Identifying the Engaged Employee
At first glance, it may be hard to determine which of your employees are engaged as opposed to those who are merely satisfied with their position. Engaged employees exhibit these traits:
An engaged employee gives back to the company through time and productivity. Completing tasks on time and meeting goals set for them is a motivator.
Engaged employees are more willing to help co-workers with tasks that are not their own. They continue to work towards a larger goal than just their assigned tasks.
Engaged employees openly communicate. They seek and give useful feedback to those around them.
An engaged employee looks for ways to grow professionally and personally. They are excited to learn new skills that will benefit the company, as well as themselves.
An engaged employee recommends the company and speaks positively about the company when speaking to family and friends.
Creating an Engaged Workforce
After defining “What is employee engagement?“, creating an engaged workforce just got easier. Engaged employees have an emotional commitment to the company. This means they often go above and beyond their job description to help the organization to meet its goals. They find fulfillment in their duties and are less likely to accept another position in a quest for meaningful work. Your company sees increased productivity and, often, profits. An engaged workforce also becomes a significant force in your company’s marketing, as your existing staff actively promotes your organization to qualified job seekers.
This brings up the million-dollar question: how does an organization create engagement among its staff?
Employee recognition programs can give companies an edge in creating an engaged workforce. Genuine appreciation for your staff’s efforts, coupled with tangible rewards, can go a long way toward employee engagement. It is possible to build an engaged workforce, provided you communicate clearly your company’s goals and acknowledge the effort and performance of your employees.