The Three Dimensions of Employee Engagement

While the term “Employee Engagement” has a formal definition, it can be broken down into three (3) fundamental areas.

 No. 1 – Engaged with work

Engagement is defined as an employee who is fully involved in, and enthusiastic about their work, and will act in a way that furthers their organization’s interests relative to their own productivity. Employees who are happy with the work they’re doing and understand how their work ties in with the organization will usually give it their all and stick around. Happy employees + retention = 🙂 .

No. 2 – Engaged with each other

The work day is always more fulfilling when we like our coworkers and appreciate working alongside of them. Folks who take pleasure in their work and are treated as valued contributors will make teamwork and collaboration effortless for one another.

One relationship that trumps the above is when employees and their managers complement each other by sharing mutual respect and open and honest communication. I’d go so far to say that the employee-manager relationship is the most critical area of engagement, because we all know that employees don’t leave bad companies, they leave bad managers.

No. 3 – Engaged with customers

What about employees being engaged with customers? After all, the customers are paying the bills and all organizations want their customers to be happy.

I was thinking back to one of the umpteen exit interviews I had with a gal who was resigning due to her manager’s controlling style (and that’s a story for another day). She spoke about how she would miss the interaction she had with her customers as well as the connection they developed over the years.

I remember thinking to myself, “Well that’s a bummer. Here’s someone who loves her work and takes pride in her accomplishments yet feels she has no choice but to leave because of her manager’s leadership style.

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What if someone loves the work they do but isn’t crazy about their co-workers? What if an employee and manager have a great relationship but the work isn’t challenging?

There are no flawless work environments. There is no nirvana — that’s why it’s called work. So I’d like to ask:

Is it a realistic possibility for employees to be satisfied and content in all three areas of engagement? Or am I just living in the clouds?”

This was originally published on Kimberly Roden’s Unconventional HR blog.

Kimberly Roden is the founder of Unconventional HR. An HR pro turned consultant, she has 25 years of progressive experience as a strategic HR and business leader in a variety of industries. Her hands-on and innovative approach allows her to create and deliver HR solutions to meet business challenges and needs by managing human capital, talent acquisition and technology. Connect with her on Twitter at , or at .


5 Comments on “The Three Dimensions of Employee Engagement

  1. You nailed something I’ve been thinking about for a while. Luckily I have 1. and 2. down — but number 3. is missing for me because the work I do is internally focused on developing and leading programs, however I think the opportunity to share these programs and my passion for them with customers and how it could help them (like it’s helped our business and has been tested and proven) would be nirvana. I think I’ll share this with my manager and see what I can do to share my leadership & program offering with clients directly. Thanks for the post!

  2. This seems to be a new way of looking at Employee Engagement. I am not quite sure. Actually employee engagement refers to engaging an employee fully, emotionally, physically and mentally so that he can become a better dedicated worker who is full of passion at his work. 

  3. Dear Kimberly,
    Certainly one cannot be effective and satisfied in all the three domains of Employee Engagement. Both effectiveness and satisfaction are relative and subjective psychological state of mind .we can predict the human mind to certain level but not his psychology. One may be satisfied with his work but dissatisfied with coworkers,other may be satisfied with co workers but dissatisfied with the Job ,another may be satisfied with job and coworkers but disgrunteled with the customers, so this permutation combination will go on depending upon individual workers state of mind.
    The best fit would be the average of all the three factors. The employee retention is more when one is more then happy with his work,with supportive coworkers and void of pesky  customers.

  4. Great post, Kimberly. In regards to your question, all three areas of engagement can be achieved, but the process through which this engagement occurs will not happen organically. It needs to be cultivated individually. Managers need to have one-on-one coaching sessions with their employees to understand their progress. Co-workers should socialize their goals by obtaining feedback from all departments, not just their own. Employees need to understand the focus and long-term effects of their performance so that they can be engaged. Only then can all three areas of engagement be fulfilled and only then can the employee have that real connection, and therefore engagement, to every area.  

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