Engagement Not Important? Here’s Why This Guy Is Completely Wrong

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Employee Engagement is not important?

That’s what this article from Inc. argues. The author also says that employee engagement is simply a re-brand of employee satisfaction and just a means for companies to sell more survey instruments to organizations.

The author couldn’t be more wrong on several points:

1. Employee satisfaction is totally different from employee engagement. Employee satisfaction measures how happy an employee is with the work environment. It’s a measure of, quite literally, how happy they are with the coffee in the break room, the quality of food in the café. They can be quite satisfied with their role in which the really only work an average of three hours a day and spend the rest of the time on Facebook or surfing the Internet.

Employee satisfaction alone is not a useful measure.

Employee engagement, on the other hand, is a measure of how well employees understand what you need them to do and how willing they are to give discretionary effort to get it done.

2. Engaged employees – by definition of being engaged – are more productive and effective at delivering what is most important to your organization. And that directly impacts the bottom line.

Employee engagement is certainly something to strive for. Committed, energized and enabled employees (meaning employees who know what you need, are excited to deliver it and have the tools they need to do the job) deliver operating margins three times that of companies with disengaged employees, according to Towers Watson’s latest Global Workforce Study.

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For more proof on the value of true employee engagement, check out this infographic on the dollars and sense of employee engagement.

3. Whether some companies choose to focus their energies that way or not, your employees should be your top priority. If you’re terrible to your employees, they’ll be terrible to your customers. Full stop. Need more reasons? Read the terrific book Employees First, Customers Second by Vineet Nayar.

The author is correct, however, on this point:  Surveys without actions are meaningless, even harmful. If you go to the trouble and expense of surveying employees, then you must take action on what they tell you – consistently. And you must communicate intentions, plans actions and results throughout. I wrote much more on that here.

What’s your take on employee engagement?

You can find more from Derek Irvine on his Recognize This! blog.

Derek Irvine is senior vice president of client strategy and consulting at Workhuman, where he leads the company’s consulting and analytics divisions. His writing is regularly featured across major HR publications, including HR Magazine, Human Resource Executive, HR Zone, and Workspan.