What is Employee Engagement and What is Wrong With it

What is Employee Engagement and What is Wrong With it

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What Is Employee Engagement?

Employee engagement is the extent to which employees feel passionate about their jobs, are committed to the organization, and put discretionary effort into their work. Employee engagement is a workplace approach that results in the right conditions for all members of an organization to give every day their best, committed to the goals and values of their organization, motivated to contribute to organizational success, with an enhanced sense of their own well-being.


According to David MacLeod employee engagement is about how we create the conditions in which employees offer more of their capability and potential. It is based on trust, integrity, dedication in two ways, and cooperation between the organization and members. It is an approach that increases the chances of business success, contributing to performance, productivity, and well-being in the organization and the individual. It's measurable. It fluctuates from poor to great. It can be nurtured and increased dramatically, it can also get lost and thrown away.

However, it is also mistaken for Employee Satisfaction, which only indicates how happy or content your employees are and does not address their level of motivation, involvement, or emotional commitment. "What we all want from work is to be respected on an ambitious project as members of a winning team.” Rackspace co-founder Graham Weston said those words during a 2010 TEDx talk. The famous quote speaks volumes about how employee engagement can drive success in the organization and also how a lack of it can hinder progress as noted by Cameron Nouri, 2018.


Why Is Employee Engagement Important?

Engagement between employees improves efficiency. Engaged workers look at the company as a whole and understand its mission, where and how it fits in. Which helps in better decision-making. Organizations with committed staff are outperforming the sector. The workforce is very wary following several years of challenges. Organizations that want to compete in today's changing scenario need to regain engagement and enthusiasm among their teams and generate team experiences that strengthen their ties with the organization, hence employee engagement becomes necessary for an organizations’ efficiency and employee performance.



Issues Related With Employee Engagement.

It is important to note that engagement is not output or productivity. According to John Sullivan, 23 February 2012 article, he connotes that, sing an analogy, engagement may be smoke but it is not fire. The primary concern of business leaders is increasing productivity, output, or innovation. Unfortunately, employee engagement, employee satisfaction, emotional intelligence, and so on may contribute to productivity, but they are not productive.


Confuse Satisfaction with Engagement. The most common mistake is to ask people about their degree of satisfaction with a number of organizational aspects and translate them into the engagement. However, satisfaction is not the same as engagement. The notion of satisfaction is a rather unstable factor deeply conditioned by the success of overcoming a need, that is, when a shortcoming is covered, the success achieved initially raises satisfaction levels but these soon come down again. On the other hand, engagement is a stable and sustainable factor that is more challenging to increase, yet it is barely affected by small fluctuations in conditions.


An unclear definition of Employee Engagement. When something can’t be clearly defined, then it can’t be accurately measured. Moreover, there are literally dozens of contradictory definitions of “employee engagement.” It is because of these contradictory definitions and measures, it is hard to accurately compare the results from external statistical comparison studies. The Conference Board defines employee engagement as "a heightened emotional connection that an employee feels for their organization, influencing them to exert greater discretion in their work." John Sullivan, 2013, notes that using this definition, the results of high engagement are "stronger emotional feelings" and "increased effort." While these two factors may be important, other factors such as a bad manager, incorrect skills, and unsuitable training may neutralize any benefit from engagement. Many engagement surveys contain multiple factors, that is, satisfaction, success, feeling, trust, morality, happiness, burnout, and commitment, but many of them may overlap or replicate the same factor.


Inaccurately Measuring Employee Engagement. It is unproductive to seek to determine participation if the sample or process is ambiguous and poor as to be meaningless. The methods used to assess commitment should produce accurate, unambiguous, appropriate and actionable data at all levels. Knowledge Services, Jun 27, 2014, maintains trying to evaluate engagement is unproductive if the surveyor method is so vague and weak.

Focus on improving the worst-rated factors. While assessing complex concepts such as engagement we need to be very cautious when determining where our often limited efforts should be focused. And that means having the knowledge needed, although necessary, to make the right decisions.


Keithley Tongai is a Consultant intern at Industrial Psychology Consultants (Pvt) Ltd, a business management and human resources consulting firm.


  1. https://www.glocalthinking.com/en/8-errors-evaluate-employee-engagement
  2. https://www.ere.net/whats-wrong-with-employee-engagement-the-top-20-potential-problems/
  3. https://www.custominsight.com/employee-engagement-survey/what-is-employee-engagement.asp
  4. https://engageforsuccess.org/what-is-employee-engagement

Keithly Tongai
This article was written by Keithly a Guest at Industrial Psychology Consultants (Pvt) Ltd

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