Companies nowadays are bent on keeping their employees happy and satisfied.
But happy employees does not inherently mean that they are engaged employees.
What’s the difference?
First, let’s talk about employee satisfaction…
Employee satisfaction or job satisfaction is the term used to tell if an employee is happy or contented with their jobs. It’s usually the factor for an employee’s motivation and morale in the workplace.
Employees are satisfied when they are treated with respect, recognized for their hard work, have high salary with benefits and bonuses and overall positive workplace experience.
It is often measured using anonymous employee satisfaction surveys that are held periodically. The survey addresses topics such as management, coworker interaction, compensation, workload, teamwork, communication, etc.
All of these things are important if a company wants to keep their employees happy and prevent them from leaving. However, employee satisfaction is not one-size-fits-all and is only a part of the overall solution. In fact, some companies think that they’re better without satisfied employees.
The problem with employee satisfaction is that not all happy or satisfied employees are productive. They could be satisfied with just the pay alone or because they are doing minimal effort to keep their jobs. They are happy, but they are not adding value to the company.
Now let’s talk about employee engagement…
Employee engagement is usually used interchangeably with employee satisfaction. However, unlike employee satisfaction that only covers the basic concern of employees, employee engagement refers to the commitment and enthusiasm of the employee to work every day.
Employee engagement is waking up and getting excited to go to work. Employees are looking forward to sharing their ideas and to do their best on their tasks. They understand what their roles entail and are psyched about being part of driving the company to fulfill its goals.
Engaged employees work well with their teams where they receive trust and support to help them hone their skills.
According to Tracy Maylett and Paul Warner, there are five factors that drive employee engagement. They are:
- Meaning: Do employees find meaning and purpose in their jobs? Does their work make a difference for others?
- Autonomy: Do employees have freedom, self-governance, and an ability to make choices about their work?
- Growth: Does the job provide development and growth opportunities? Do the work challenge and stretch employees grow and improve?
- Impact: Do employees feel like they are successful in their work? Do they see that their effort makes a difference and contributes to the success of the organization?
- Connection: Do employees have a personal connection with the people they work with, their boss, and the social community of the workplace?
Companies that engage their employees have greater customer satisfaction because they are provided with high-quality service.
Talented employees expect more from their companies. They want to be challenged so that they can grow. They believe that complacency keeps them from becoming the best that they can be.
Employee engagement is based on mutual trust and respect between the employees and the employer. With both sides being committed to fulfilling their roles and focused on achieving the same goals.
Which is more important?
Now we can see the difference between employee satisfaction and employee engagement. So which one is more important? Let me show you this graph.
From what we can see, satisfaction is placed below engagement. Does it mean that it’s of lesser importance?
The answer, no.
It only means that in order for your employees to be engaged, they have to be satisfied first. Without employee satisfaction, employees will not be able to love their work and become driven.
In other words, both employee satisfaction and employee engagement are important.
However, it doesn’t work like a vending machine where you just feed it with coins and it’ll give you what you want.
Managers or business owners should be able to motivate and empower their employees by consistently supporting and challenging them. They should communicate with their employees to understand their concern and form a bond of trust in order to stimulate their engagement.