Are Happy Employees Engaged?

What is the difference between employee satisfaction, employee happiness and employee engagement? We hear a lot about employee engagement, but in order to influence it we really need to make sure we understand what it is. Engaged does not mean happy although often people who are engaged in their work are quite happy. Everyone knows people at work who appear happy, and are always joking and laughing, but does this mean they are productive? If your “happy” employees are not productive, then they are not engaged. They may even create some interruptions which cause other people to be less productive.

Secondly, engaged employees are not necessarily satisfied. People can be satisfied, but that does not mean they put in any extra effort as soon as the clock hits 4:30 even if a problem has arisen. Satisfied employees may still be looking for the next best thing and are willing to leave if a slightly better offer comes along.   Engaged employees actually care about their work and the company with whom they work. They are not just working for a paycheck, because they understand that what they are doing is meeting a need which is bigger than themselves. They understand how their position fits into the overall goal of the organization and how their work moves the organization further. They are willing to give the extra effort for a number of reasons.

Clear Expectations: They have a clear job description and understand what is expected of them. They also know that they can go to their supervisor at any time to clarify an issue and that he or she is open to feedback from them.

Trust: They trust the leadership and believe they are capable of moving the organization forward. They believe that leadership shares the truth with them as they know it at that moment.

Communication: There is a transparency to the organization that allows people to receive adequate information to do their jobs. There are plenty of opportunities for two-way communication.

Supervisor: They believe their direct supervisor cares about them as a person and also their career. They are not only given the tools to do their work, but their supervisor has gotten to know their personal goals and helps them to reach it. They trust that their supervisor has their back.

Recognition: They receive recognition for work well done and not just when things go wrong. They also are told exactly what they did that was exceptional. Their supervisor has gotten to know what motivates them and gives them feedback based on that knowledge.

The key is to clarify expectations, communicate openly and honestly and help your employee understand why they and their work is important to the organization. If you take time to do this, you can help to create an environment in which your people are engaged. The payoff is huge because engaged employees work harder, have more satisfied customers and are less likely to leave which in turn raises profits and quality while reducing turnover costs.

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