Employee satisfaction and employee engagement are two different concepts of measuring your workforce. However, they are often misunderstood and used interchangeably which can affect your methods and results of improving the levels of both satisfaction and engagement.
Commonly accepted definitions of the two terms:
Employee satisfaction is “a measurement of an employee’s “happiness” with current job and conditions; it does not measure how much effort the employee is willing to expend.”
Employee engagement is “a measurement of an employee’s emotional commitment to an organization; it takes into account the amount of discretionary effort an employee expends on behalf of the organization.”
The key difference between satisfaction and engagement is the concept of commitment. It is one thing for an organization to provide the necessities an employee requires to feel satisfied and happy with their job but it is another for an employee to truly feel committed to the organization.
Employee satisfaction is pretty straight-forward. In fact, SHRM reports that these are the top five contributors of employee job satisfaction:
- 67% respectful treatment of all employees at all levels
- 63% compensation/pay
- 60% benefits
- 58% job security
- 55% trust between employees and senior management
These types of employee satisfaction contributors are more palpable and less abstract than employee engagement. Much of the time, managers, supervisors, and HR could probably gage the levels of employee satisfaction without any type of survey. They know what the employees are being paid, they know if they are receiving respectful treatment, they know whether there’s trust between employees and senior management, etc. What they don’t know from that information is the commitment levels of these employees to the organization.
This type of commitment goes beyond the day-to-day perks and working conditions. This type of commitment comes from employees who are willing to stand by during the ups and downs an organization may experience.
At ERC, our Employee Engagement Surveys assess employees’ level of engagement by identifying 11 primary factors that contribute to employee satisfaction including workplace practices that have all been shown to statistically correlate with engagement.
Employee engagement goes beyond the basic necessities for job satisfaction. Research shows that high engagement leads to increased retention, productivity, and business success. Engaged employees also tend to have a higher sense of pride and increase rates of retention.
Here’s a simple way to visualize the calculation of employee engagement:
Breaking this down a little further, ERC has found that the following are some of the most critical factors that affect engagement:
- Degree to which employees perceive their work to be meaningful, fulfilling, and purposeful
- Extent to which employees can work on new, varied, and important tasks
- Degree to which employees feel supported by the organization, its leaders, and their supervisor
- Whether leaders are perceived to have integrity and to be leading the organization in a positive direction
- Extent to which employees feel invited to share their ideas, opinions, and suggestions
- Whether employees feel a sense of progress and receive performance feedback that they can improve upon
For the full list of employee engagement critical factors, click here.
When it comes to measuring the employee satisfaction and employee engagement of your workforce, be sure to keep those two concepts separately. It is crucial to your recruiting, retention, and culture strategies that you are defining contributors appropriately and analyzing the data effectively.
In addition to making sure you are measuring engagement properly, ERC's Director, Consulting, Lisa Codispoti, notes
"There are many ways to manage employee engagement. In addition to full employee engagement surveys conducted annually or semi-annually, many organizations are accelerating the timeline and gauging engagement on a more frequent basis. I’ve even worked with organizations that do it weekly or daily when accompanied with good leadership practices that take employee feedback seriously and make real changes based on consistent employee feedback themes. At the end of the day, no matter the frequency of gaining feedback from your employee base, it’s about what you DO with the feedback and how leaders demonstrate they truly care about making the workplace engaging for their people."
If you want to build an organization with a truly engaged workforce, start by administering Employee Engagement Surveys.