Job Satisfaction vs. Employee Engagement: Are they equal?
There’s been quite a disconnect in the Human Resources industry around employee satisfaction and employee engagement. For the past decade or two HR professionals have made it a goal to accurately assess and quantify employee or job satisfaction, but recently there’s been a new term that’s taken over all the conversations and it is – employee engagement.
Many who are used to the old way of doing business might see these as the same thing, but let me assure you they are two complete distinct ways to measure VOI, value of investment and provide an organization with very detailed analytics of their employees.
According to a Gallup study, loss of productivity due to disengaged employee costs the U.S. economy about $450 billion annually.
If organizations are not forward thinking they are missing out on the big picture because increased engagement can lead to more productivity, higher morale, higher retention, and bigger profits!
So what exactly do these terms mean?
Employee Satisfaction: A measurement of an employee’s “happiness” with current job and conditions; but doesn’t measure how much effort they’re willing to put into their job.
Employee Engagement: A measurement of an employee’s emotional commitment to an company; it takes into account their motivation and the amount of effort they’re willing to put in to help the company achieve its goals.
In all cases, employee satisfaction is the minimum requirement for an employee to be genuinely engaged.
Many HR leaders think that just because the turnover, or attrition is low, then their employees are fine and love their job. Just because an employee is content with their work, doesn’t necessarily mean they want to be working there or like the culture.
Take Your Pick
If your goal is satisfaction, you just need to check a box whether they are compensated enough, do their job, and don’t leave. But are these the employees you actually want to hire?
Think about it this way:
Satisfied Employee: Are you going to stay?
Engaged Employee: Are you in line with our goals and will help drive innovation?
Here’s an example of a satisfied employee:
Consider Mary. She is an factory employee who is satisfied with her job. This job means steady income and security for her. She feels satisfied with her salary (it’s better than most jobs within her skill set and provides her the ability to take care of her kid). She starts at 6:00A.M. and gets off in time to pick up her first grader from school and take him to baseball practice.
It provides her just the basics. However, for Mary, it’s just a job. She would never say that she gets excited about going to work or seeing her co-workers. She will do just enough to keep her job and not do anything extra outside of her job description. Mary also doesn’t find herself challenged or motivated to perform her best.
On the other hand consider an engaged employee:
Meet Jake. He is a software developer at an IT company. Jake feels satisfied with his salary ( it’s 10% less than he’d make somewhere else in his position, but enough to support his lifestyle). Even though his job requires him starting at 6:00A.M and sometimes working after-hours.
While he’s spending most of his day at a computer, the office accommodates his needs. The space is cozy, offers free healthy snacks, and even has standing desks. He enjoys his team and collaborating with them. His job also allows him the autonomy to make some decisions about the way he’d like to do certain tasks and offers great benefits. He is never micromanaged and feels motivated to go above and beyond.
How to Address Both Issues?
First, you want to understand what motivates your employees and why they chose to work for you. Then you can implement engagement strategies across your organization that may include wellness programs, recognition, and office perks. Doing this and communicating it effectively make be enough to boost the engagement, then with this new data, HR professionals can reallocate their budgets towards expanding on these programs.
Here’s 3 Tips to Improve Satisfaction and Engagement
1. Offer Professional Development
2. Set Clear Expectations
3. Provide Frequent Feedback
By starting with these three areas, you’re more likely to build a better relationship with your employees and turn your company from a place that they feel like they have to show up to a place they wake up excited to go to every morning!
The end result will not only boost your organizational success, but also increase bottom-line results.