Having made a case for why it may not serve us all that well to focus only on ensuring our employees’ happiness or satisfaction, and working to actually engage them ties more directly to the results we need to achieve, we should probably take the time to define employee engagement before diving into why it’s so important…
I recently shared an article on LinkedIn comparing these three phrases and received a comment soon after from someone stating that all of them are almost always fuzzy initiatives driven by someone in human resources that never yield tangible results because the “most CEOs continue to sit on the sidelines and let HR wack away at the problem.” As a recovering human resource professional myself, I tend to agree with his comment IF an organization approaches employee engagement solely as a human resources initiative. Quite honestly, that’s exactly why we don’t… While we certainly work to include the human resources team in anything we provide for our clients so there can be some level of collaboration moving forward, our primary focus in on the folks in leadership roles - the supervisors, the managers, the executives, and the business owners - who carry the responsibility of achieving results and also have direct interaction with those team members we need to earn engagement from. All that said, if a CEO or owner is willing to sit on the sidelines and allow someone in HR to blindly throw money and time at fluffy ideas that don’t produce measurable results, I kinda think they deserve what they get… Don’t you? I go back to what I’ve heard John Maxwell say for years, “EVERYTHING rises and falls on leadership.”
So how should we be defining employee engagement if we want to approach it in a way that yields measurable results from ANY time, energy, or capital we invest in it? As I looked for various resources to help support my perspective, I found an outstanding article on Indeed called How to Increase Employee Engagement that defined it this way:
Employee engagement is a measurement of how committed an employee is to their employer, how passionate they are about the work they do and how well their personal goals and values align with the mission and objectives of their employer.
An engaged employee is enthusiastic about working with customers and providing them services that generate profit and a good reputation. Not only that, but if your company has an engaged workforce, you’re more likely to retain your current staff — instead of having to frequently spend time and money hiring new employees.
It’s important not to confuse employee engagement with employee satisfaction. While the two may sound similar, they’re actually two different concepts. A satisfied employee is someone who likes their job and feels their employer meets their needs, while an engaged employee is someone who is committed to their work, dedicated to their employer and consistently performs at a high level.
An engaged employee is always satisfied, but someone can be satisfied without being engaged. For example, an employee may be happy with the compensation and job duties, but they may not be emotionally connected to their work or loyal to their employer.
Think back to the definition of engaged that I shared before and tie it to this. If we’re looking at it from a purely behavioral perspective, I believe it safe for us to define an engaged employee as someone who has “pledged or entered into a contract to DO something” within their employment relationship. When those in leadership roles fulfill their responsibility and earn that engagement by “establishing a meaningful contact or connection with” their team members, there should be little room left for doubt as to whether or not this can be measured through their performance, or the organization’s productivity and profitability. Next time, we’ll dig into what we can expect to see in those results showing why employee engagement really is important...
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