What is employee engagement?
Leah Hahn avatar
Written by Leah Hahn
Updated over a week ago

You’ve heard of it. You’ve decided to measure and improve it. But do you really know what it is? More importantly, why should you care? Employee engagement is no longer a differentiator. It’s a requirement for any organization that expects to be and stay competitive in an era of accelerating change.

The definition of employee engagement

Here’s how we define employee engagement:

An employee’s intellectual (head) and emotional (heart) connection with an employer, demonstrated by motivation and commitment (hands) to positively impact the company vision and goals.

What can impact employee engagement?

  • Strategic Alignment - Employees can verbalize and actualize the core business strategies

  • Understanding of Success - Employees understand their success metrics at a personal, departmental, and organizational level. They are able to tangibly grasp their contribution to the company's overall success.

  • Clear Communication - Employees trust the company because there is coherent and frequent contact, timely feedback, and clear expectations.

  • Workplace Vibe - Employees feel that the overall environment fosters effective work in everything from physical workspace to interactions with other employees.

  • Growth Paths - Employees have the opportunity to grow their skills through new work challenges and positions over time, in both managerial and individual contributor roles.

Engagement vs. Satisfaction

On the surface, “job satisfaction” and “employee engagement” seem interchangeable. But a happy employee doesn’t always mean a healthy, engaged one.

In the past, this misunderstanding has lead organizations to try and improve satisfaction by simply throwing money at the problem of disengaged workers with increased pay and perks. But when employee engagement is built on motivation and commitment, those things won’t do much to make people stay.

Think of it this way:

Job satisfaction: You’re leaning back in your chair. Not unhappy, but not all that excited about your work either.

Employee engagement: You’re leaning forward in your chair. You’re excited and motivated to do great work and move the business forward.

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