Although employee engagement has been a hot topic in the business world for years, it still seems to be frequently misunderstood. It often suffers from mistaken identity with proxy initiatives such as employee happiness or employee satisfaction. Neither employee happiness nor satisfaction, although valuable, completely capture the essence of employee engagement.
Employee engagement means that employees care about the nature and results of their work and their contribution to the goals of the company. Engaged workers are focused on more than a paycheck or promotions, although those things are important. As Kevin Kruse, NY Times Bestselling Author, defines it, “Employee engagement is the emotional commitment the employee has to the organization and its goals.” Emotional commitment is a fancy way to describe genuine care and concern.
Simply put, employees that care about the organization and its goals willingly bring more to the table than those who don’t. Often it’s more creativity, more enthusiasm, more patience, more tolerance, more thoughtfulness, and more discretionary effort. An engaged employee will treat the proverbial “half-baked loaf of bread” with excitement and enthusiasm, while the less engaged employee may be discouraged or frustrated by it. An employee that cares will stretch themselves and their peers, take risks, and go the extra mile. They more consistently SayDoCo, which means they say what they will do, do what they say, and communicate when something changes to impact that.
Employee engagement, although seemingly ambiguous and vague, has a very tangible impact on business results. Increased care and commitment leads to increased effort, which leads to increased productivity, which leads to increased revenues, profits, and shareholder return. The great irony is that employee engagement is a very personal thing and in its raw form is hard to precisely track and measure. However, the actions and impact of an engaged employee (quality, customer satisfaction, sales, stock price) is precisely what organizations measure and care about.
Engaged employees are the pathway to organizational results. As Tim Clark states, “Highly engaged employees make the customer experience. Disengaged employees break it."