Engaged Employees? You Better Also Add Happy vs. Satisfied to the Mix

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Jun 26, 2011

Managers and leadership can only influence so much. Our own attitude is up to us.

As if the discussion over engaged employees vs. satisfied employees wasn’t confusing enough, now let’s toss in happy employees.

An article in Fortune last month pointed out:

Recent studies have demonstrated that the happier a worker is, the more productive they will be on the job. While an employee may appear engaged in their work, they may not be as effective as they could be if they were happy.”

Recognition boosts engagement AND happiness

This makes sense to me. I’ve written for three years now about the importance of increasing employee engagement through frequent, timely and specific recognition of employees who demonstrate company values in their work.

Such specific, values-based recognition boosts engagement because it communicates to employees precisely what the company needs them to focus on in their daily tasks and praises them for doing so.

Can this also increase happiness? I think so, largely based on the mountains of research showing people are happier in their work when they feel their efforts have meaning – they are contributing to achieving something larger than themselves. Again, strategic recognition is a powerful means of communicating this.

But let’s be realistic. There are many factors to happiness, some organizations and managers can affect (a good working environment, a culture conducive to happiness at work) and many more they cannot in employees’ personal lives outside of work.

And that’s up to the employee. Happiness is – ultimately – a choice. Our attitude at work is up to us every day. Equally important the attitude we choose can affect the attitude of those around us. Do you choose to be happy?

This originally appeared on Derek Irvine’s Recognize This! blog.