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What Is Employee Engagement

Employee Engagement vs Employee Satisfaction: How They Differ And How To Wildly Boost Engagement

By definition, employee engagement refers to the extent to which employees feel passionate about their job, are committed to the organization, and put discretionary effort into their work.

While a lot of people believe employee engagement is the same as employee satisfaction, that’s not the case – the two are completely different.

Employee Engagement vs Employee Satisfaction

Employee satisfaction is an indicator of how “content” your employees are with the company. That’s it, there’s no addressing their levels of inspiration, motivation, involvement, or emotional commitment. For many employees, being satisfied means getting the job done and collecting a paycheck. Or worse, collecting a paycheck while doing the least amount of work possible.

Companies already know that they need engaged employees, but how do ensure your employees are positively engaged? Obviously, they know it needs improvement but that usually leads to a big mistake. 

When a large majority of companies focus on how to improve employee satisfaction, they focus on changes that don’t lead to increased performance. Why? Because the conditions that make employees “satisfied” with their jobs are the same conditions that frustrate high performing employees, you see the problem? 

There’s a huge difference between highly engaged employees versus non-engaged employees. Top performers embrace change, they’re always looking for ways to improve performance. They also embrace challenges, going against the grain. They expect all employees to be held accountable for delivering results. On the other end, low performers stay away from accountability, they don’t like change, and it shows in their performance.

Why Is Employee Engagement Important?

Employee engagement goes far beyond events, activities, and games. Employee engagement drives performance, it’s vital to a growing business.

Engaged employees know everyone contributes to the whole company and they understand their purpose and how they fit into the overall equation. This leads to better collaboration, performance, and decision-making. Organizations with an engaged workforce will always outperform their competition, they also will have higher earnings per share (EPS) and recover more quickly after financial setbacks. Gallup polling has shown that organizations with great staff engagement are, on average, 18% more productive than their less-engaged competitors. Engagement is also a big differentiator when it comes to creativity, growth, and innovation. 

If you want to better understand what your organization needs, I’d definitely recommend an employee engagement survey, not a satisfaction survey.

Over the last few years, expectations of employees have changed. Mobile professional careers are much more common now, many employees are not effectively working from home. This presents new challenges many organizations have never faced before. 

Retention of your top talent is more difficult now. A company that has an effective employee engagement strategy and a highly engaged workforce is more likely to retain top performers as well as attract new talent. Companies with a high level of employee engagement are more profitable by a factor of 21%, according to TechJury. Successful organizations are value-driven with employee-centric cultures.

How Can Your Measure Employee Engagement?

If you can’t measure it, how can you improve it? The best answer I can give you – you need to measure what matters.

This is where surveys can be a huge benefit. Employee engagement surveys have been specifically designed to measure performance, strategic alignment, competency and satisfaction of contributors. Engagement surveys will need to be statistically validated and benchmarked against other organizations if you want them to give you useful data. If you don’t have them, it is difficult to know what you are measuring and whether the results are good or bad.

Engagement can be accurately measured with short surveys that contain just a few questions, but such short surveys can only provide an indication of whether employees are engaged. They have a hard time explaining why employees are engaged or disengaged because they lack detail. Without sufficient information, an organization cannot develop meaningful activities, training programs, strategies, and initiatives to raise levels of engagement. 

In order to get a complete picture of employee engagement, a survey needs to include about at least 50-60 questions that cover a complete range of relevant topics. You also want to make sure you’re including open ended questions in your surveys, this will help you diagnose potential engagement problems in the company.

How Can A Company Measure Employee Engagement?

The best time to conduct an employee engagement survey is now! You can conduct a survey anytime you want. The timing of an engagement survey will have an effect on survey results, but it is always a good time to have a better understanding of how engaged your employees are. If you’re not sure how engaged your organization is, now would be a good time to start diagnosing that.

Create a readiness assessment, communicate the reasons for doing the engagement survey, communicate results, and take action on survey results. These actions give meaning to the survey. Otherwise, a survey ends up being more of a waste of time and de-motivator.

Pillars Of Employee Engagement

There are two primary factors that drive employee engagement. These factors are based on statistical analysis and widely supported by industry research.

ï         Engagement With The Company – measures how engaged employees are with the organization as a whole and how they feel about leadership and management. This factor has to do with confidence in the company’s leadership as well as trust, fairness, understanding, values, and respect; like how people want to be treated by others, that includes both at work and outside of work.

ï         Engagement With Management – this is a more specific measure of how employees directly relate to their supervisors. Topics may include feeling valued, being treated fairly, having a voice in the company, receiving feedback and direction, and generally, having a strong working relationship between employee and managers. The number one reason employees leave is because of a poor relationship with their manager so it’s vital to support communications between managers and their direct reports. 

Beyond the Two Core Engagement Factors

You can’t just focus on the two key pillars above, high performance organizations, and highly engaged employees, also excel in these areas:

ï         Strategically Aligned: Is the organization giving employees clarity of purpose and direction? Do employees fully understand how their work contributes to the organization’s success overall? Strategic alignment ensures that employees have clarity of purpose and direction, and that their efforts are focused in the right direction. If those efforts are not focused in the right direction, it can have negative impacts on the company. At the very least, it causes confusion and performance decreases. 

ï         Managing Execution: The 2nd element involves your organizational leaders. The most effective managers are great at working with others, but they’re also great at providing clear expectations, holding people accountable, and staying focused on delivering results. 

Both of these pillars can be measured with employee engagement surveys. 

Employee Engagement Surveys Are Just (1) Tool In Your Belt

Please understand, employee engagement surveys are just one single tool in a long list of other tools that can help you improve your employee engagement. 

This is why internal communications toolkits are very effective and something I highly recommend you consider for your own company. 

Communicating with both onsite and remote employees is tough. Employee communications teams need internal communications tools that cut through media clutter and reach employees wherever they are, on any device.

At Trident Communications LLC, our internal communications toolkits include:

ï         direct-to-screen delivery, ensuring messages are viewed

ï         reach any device (computer, mobile, large displays, IP phones, etc.)

ï         bypass email and external media clutter

ï         intuitive to use

ï         include multiple tools and targeting options

ï         analytics and integration with apps

This is exactly why we’re able to help improve employee engagement with organizations and companies around the world. 

Who Should Be Involved In Employee Engagement Initiatives?

Most people’s idea of employee engagement initiatives are likely going to involve perks and benefits such as a paid 30 minute break, an Amazon gift card, or a local gym membership. However, in reality, they can be anything that you think will bring out the best in your workers and make them want to go above and beyond the basic requirements of the job. You can really get creative with your initiatives.

Employee engagement initiatives are usually part of a broader scheme designed to help develop staff, improve their performance and keep them happy at work. Common examples 


ï         Structured career paths to give your motivated employees opportunities to grow with the organization

ï         Incentives like employee of the month rewards, paid time off, and gift cards for the best employee performers

ï         A weekly post on your company communication platform highlighting milestones reached or sales for the past week 

ï         Regular updates on the latest company news so you can ensure that all of your employees are being included and enformed

ï         An ideas box for suggestions to improve working conditions and performance

ï         Daily management briefings so leadership and employees can stay on the same page and be informed

ï         Annual awards ceremonies and company away days

ï         Articles that connect employees, such as personal or professional achievements

You’re going to need a high-performing workforce to remain competitive, stay ahead of trends, even survive. This is why developing programs that focus on raising employee engagement is important and consistent communication is vital.

HR can lead the charge to create an effective employee engagement strategy, but it needs to be embraced by the entire organization. There is a clear gap between the optimism of upper management and what middle managers experience with their teams. To understand the whole-organization picture, it’s essential to have an effective, multi-directional communication strategy in the organization. 

Effective communication is one of the most important factors that is most likely to bring company success. Organizations that thrive are able to articulate and communicate what success looks like – as individual employees, teams and departments, and the company as a whole. This increases engagement organization-wide.

What Drivers Of Engagement Are Your Top Priority?

Employee engagement surveys give valuable information about employee engagement. Organizations need to know what drives engagement and disengagement before taking actions. This is why an internal communications plan is needed to increase engagement.

The elements that drive engagement are usually similar across most companies, but the specific concerns and level of importance are unique and specific in every company and even in different demographic subgroups within a company.

There’s a few specific techniques that may help you to identify the most important drivers of engagement in your company and to understand what to focus on and how to improve in those areas.

ï         What’s The Priority Focus: You need to make sure you’re looking at data patterns across all groups in your organization – this can help you determine which items are impacting overall engagement within each demographic group. Items with low scores that are strongly linked to engagement are the areas where you will want to focus your change initiatives and engagement strategy.

ï         What’s The Follow Up: You need to make sure you’re asking targeted follow-up questions at the end of the survey that ask employees to provide examples of problems as well as suggestions for how to improve. Give them the stage to express exactly what they mean, this is powerful and extremely helpful. Once you have identified an area that needs improvement, you can turn to the comments where you will often find detailed information that provides the specific what, why, and how so you can take action.

In Closing

Companies with the most engaged employees will still have areas where they struggle. These problem areas can have a big impact on company performance, with high levels of localized turnover and employee apathy.

This is why it’s important to understand what’s going on in different demographic groups that lead to the overall level of engagement. When you find an at-risk group or an area where engagement is low, you can quickly drill down and look at the specific issues and dynamics within that group to come up with solutions. 

Trident Communications LLC has more than a decade of internal communications experience and has worked with some of the most recognized brands in the world to improve employee engagement. If your company or organization is not operating at peak performance due to low employee engagement, we can help. Use this link to reach out to learn more.