Employee engagement: Much more than employee satisfaction

Employee engagement is one of the most misunderstood concepts and misused terms in Human Capital practice. It is not merely synonymous with employee satisfaction, nor is it limited to a variety of engagement manifestations and employee behaviours. Based on 12 major studies on employee engagement published by top research companies such as Gallup, Towers Perrin, Blessing White and The Corporate Leadership Council, The Conference Board defines employee engagement as follows:

“A heightened emotional connection that an employee feels for his / her organisation,
which influences him / her to exert greater discretionary effort to his / her work.”

This highlights the two main components of engagement:

  1. An emotional connection to the organisation (we term this attraction: the ATI index).
  2. The exertion of extra discretionary effort into one’s work (we term this activation: the ACI index).

Employees may very well be satisfied with what your organisation offers them, i.e. responding with high levels of attraction to your organisation, but this will not necessarily mean that they are activated in their jobs. By the same token, employees may be highly activated in their jobs, i.e. work engaged, but they may have lost that emotional connection to the organisation and would be very happy to do the same job in any other organisation.

Unless these two main components are aligned in a positive sense, an employer cannot expect employees to exhibit the right types of business-enhancing behaviours (in a sustainable manner) that will lead to your organisation’s success.


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