Engagement Not Important? Here’s Why This Guy Is Completely Wrong

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Employee Engagement is not important?

That’s what this article from Inc. argues. The author also says that employee engagement is simply a re-brand of employee satisfaction and just a means for companies to sell more survey instruments to organizations.

The author couldn’t be more wrong on several points:

1. Employee satisfaction is totally different from employee engagement. Employee satisfaction measures how happy an employee is with the work environment. It’s a measure of, quite literally, how happy they are with the coffee in the break room, the quality of food in the café. They can be quite satisfied with their role in which the really only work an average of three hours a day and spend the rest of the time on Facebook or surfing the Internet.

Employee satisfaction alone is not a useful measure.

Employee engagement, on the other hand, is a measure of how well employees understand what you need them to do and how willing they are to give discretionary effort to get it done.

2. Engaged employees – by definition of being engaged – are more productive and effective at delivering what is most important to your organization. And that directly impacts the bottom line.

Employee engagement is certainly something to strive for. Committed, energized and enabled employees (meaning employees who know what you need, are excited to deliver it and have the tools they need to do the job) deliver operating margins three times that of companies with disengaged employees, according to Towers Watson’s latest Global Workforce Study.

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For more proof on the value of true employee engagement, check out this infographic on the dollars and sense of employee engagement.

3. Whether some companies choose to focus their energies that way or not, your employees should be your top priority. If you’re terrible to your employees, they’ll be terrible to your customers. Full stop. Need more reasons? Read the terrific book Employees First, Customers Second by Vineet Nayar.

The author is correct, however, on this point:  Surveys without actions are meaningless, even harmful. If you go to the trouble and expense of surveying employees, then you must take action on what they tell you – consistently. And you must communicate intentions, plans actions and results throughout. I wrote much more on that here.

What’s your take on employee engagement?

You can find more from Derek Irvine on his Recognize This! blog.

Derek Irvine is one of the world’s foremost experts on employee recognition and engagement, helping business leaders set a higher vision and ambition for their company culture. As the Vice President of Client Strategy and Consulting at Globoforce, Derek helps clients — including some of world’s most admired companies such as Proctor and Gamble, Intuit, KPMG, and Thomson Reuters — leverage recognition strategies and best practices to better manage company culture, elevate employee engagement, increase retention, and improve the bottom line. He's also a renowned speaker and co-author of Winning with a Culture of Recognition. Contact him at irvine@globoforce.com.


2 Comments on “Engagement Not Important? Here’s Why This Guy Is Completely Wrong

  1. Employee engagement is critical because it is a recognition that
    employees by virtue of their current and past experience and and
    knowledge have insights to contribute to the business’ success. If
    businesses are not seeking to leverage this potential differentiator,
    there are not fully using their available resources and in turn, may not
    be delivering a complete value proposition to their customers.
    Employee engagement is also a tangible and meaningful way to tell
    employees, “You matter.”

  2. The auther’s argument is right. Employee satisfaction is about work environment. Engagement is about jobs. Engagement starts from the understanding of their own jobs. At first, an employee has to know the purpose of his/her job, what’s the end-results required, to whom his/her job contributes.

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