The terms “employee engagement” and “employee satisfaction” are often used interchangeably, but in fact they are quite different.
The difference? Commitment.
While satisfied employees are committed to showing up every day so that they get paid, they are not necessarily committed to the success of the organization.
Satisfied employees are more concerned with their own personal and career growth than the organizations. Engaged employees on the other hand, are more concerned about successful business outcomes.
To ensure that you’re fostering employees who are engaged rather than merely satisfied, implement a systematic approach to tracking and improving employee engagement.
Employee Satisfaction Surveys vs. Employee Engagement Surveys
Organizations often measure employee satisfaction, but few are measuring engagement despite numerous studies that indicate that engaged employees care more, are more productive, give better service, and stay in their jobs longer.
According to Kevin Kruse, all of that leads to happier customers who buy more and refer more often, which drives sales and profits higher, finally resulting in an increase in stock price. Talk about win-win.
For further proof of the value of employee engagement, consider that, “companies with high employee engagement scores had twice the customer loyalty (repeat purchases, recommendations to friends) than companies with average employee engagement levels.”
Finally, Gallup claims a 20% or better boost to productivity and profitability for companies with high employee engagement.
Sadly, most employees are not engaged. Gallup reports that only 30% of American workers, and 13% of global workers, are engaged in their jobs.
So what’s a concerned employer to do? Start working on engagement!
What Does Employee Engagement Look Like?
Despite what people say, work is personal.
Engagement occurs when an employee feels an emotional connection to an organization and its goals. As a result, they:
- Collaborate on ideas to improve business processes and outcomes
- Feel empowered to come up with innovative solutions
- Are charged with positive energy, which makes them more productive
Aimee McKee at the Teleos Leadership Institute says:
“Happy people are better workers. Those who are engaged with their jobs and colleagues work harder — and smarter.”
Their research found that employees want three things:
- A meaningful vision of the future
- A sense of purpose
- Great relationships
An effective system of monitoring employee engagement will track all three of these components.
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How To Measure Employee Engagement
Now that you know the three key components for employee engagement, you need to measure it.
To get started, stop asking employees if they are satisfied with certain perks and benefits and get the heart of the matter by asking them what you need to do to keep them.
Often, organizations only ask this question during an exit interview. Instead, be proactive and ask in your next employee survey.
For example when interviewing new candidates, our hiring manager, Sabrina Stouffer, asks applicants and their referrals, “What makes this person successful?”
Knowing what motivates or demoralizes someone when hiring helps not only find the right candidate but also keeps a pulse on employee engagement.
When surveying employees or candidates, make this question an open-text question type rather than a closed-ended one. You might be surprised to learn that often it is not about a wage increase. For example, Aflac Insurance found that since most of their employees are female, they needed on-site childcare and flexible work hours.
What Else to Ask in An Employee Engagement Survey
Gallup has what they call the Q12 to measure engagement, which includes the following questions:
- I know what is expected of me at work.
- At work, my opinions seem to count.
- I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right.
- The mission or purpose of my company makes me feel my job is important.
- At work, I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day.
- My associates or fellow employees are committed to doing quality work.
- In the last seven days, I have received recognition or praise for doing good work.
- I have a best friend at work.
- My supervisor, or someone at work, seems to care about me as a person.
- In the last six months, someone at work has talked to me about my progress.
- There is someone at work who encourages my development.
- This last year, I have had opportunities at work to learn and grow.
These questions, Gallup says, constitute “the best predictors of employee and workgroup performance.”
Other questions to consider:
- Does your manager inspire you?
- Do you feel proud to tell people where you work?
- Do you trust the information you receive?
- Do you feel valued for the work you do?
Of course, these questions are just suggestions. The questions you ask will vary depending on your corporate culture.
For easier analysis, break your questions into one of the three most important categories for employee engagement that we discussed earlier: future vision, sense of purpose, and great relationships.
How to Implement an Employee Engagement Survey
Making your survey anonymous is an important aspect to collecting meaningful feedback.
An anonymous survey will increase participation and encourage truthful responses without fear of retaliation from management.
Strive to create a culture of trust where everyone feels comfortable sharing their thoughts, ideas, and opinions. It can be scary for employees to share negative feedback, so encourage them to provide constructive criticism and reward honesty with action.
Build excitement around your survey and communicate your goals and expectations. Letting employees know the survey is on its way will increase open and response rates when they receive your survey invitation.
When crafting questions, avoid survey fatigue by making most questions quantitative with closed-ended answer options.
Remember to send out a reminder a short time before your survey will close. Your employees are busy, and may need a gentle nudge to complete the survey.
Remind them that their response is important, and restate your goals and expectations in conducting the survey.
Employee Engagement Strategy
It’s important to remember that commitments only last when they are mutual. Your employees are expecting you to act on their feedback, and you will lose their trust if you don’t do so.
With your data in hand, determine the most critical factors for engaging your employees. What is your weakest area: future vision, sense of purpose, or great relationships?
Focus on your weakest area first, so that you see the biggest improvements early on. Here are some suggestions for improving each of these three key areas.
Do your employees know and share your long-term corporate vision? Make sure they understand how they fit in; this will give them a much-needed sense of security.
Sense of Purpose
Employees are inspired when they feel they are working for a worthy cause. They take comfort in knowing that their work matters. It makes them feel that their efforts are vital.
Maximize productivity time by reducing meetings and calendar fragmentation. Long and frequent meeting are emotionally draining and often unnecessary. Use group chats and project tools to communicate project status and purpose, so that when meetings are necessary their alignment with larger goals is made clear.
“Aspire to Inspire.” Perhaps this is an over-used cliché, but it’s popular because it’s effective.
Close, trusting, and supportive relationships are important for team bonding.
Build one-on-one personal relationships by keeping communication channels open between management and staff. Make a point of getting to know the members of your team by being a good and empathetic listener.
Seek input from team members. Rather than dictating what needs to be done, persuade other team members to join you. Leading through collaboration creates buy-in, and team members will be more likely to cooperate and take ownership of joint efforts.
The most important thing you can do to establish great relationships is to build trust. Be transparent and empower employees to make decisions. They will serve you well when you show them that you trust them.
Encourage innovation and adventure. Applaud employees when they test new tools and explore new areas.
And, last but not least, make work fun! Team bonding builds positive energy, as well as social and emotional capital.
Invest In Employee Engagement
What are you waiting for? Stop measuring employee satisfaction and start measuring employee engagement.
Engaging your employees is the best business investment you can make. Engaged employees work at their full potential. So start increasing engagement, and watch productivity and profitability soar.
Being Happy At Work Matters