In the HR industry, confusion persists around employee satisfaction and employee engagement. Because many organizations view these different measurements as one and the same thing, they may be missing out on opportunities to foster the kind of workforce atmosphere that leads to innovation and high performance. While employee satisfaction is important to maintaining a positive work environment, it may not be enough to help you retain top performers and achieve competitive success. By focusing on those factors that impact engagement and satisfaction, your organization is more likely to maintain a strong, motivated workforce that is willing to expend extra effort, help drive business goals, and deliver return on HR’s talent management investment.
Employee Satisfaction and Employee Engagement are Different, Yet Related Measurements
While exact definitions may differ from organization to organization, HR professionals would generally agree that satisfaction is a measurement of how employees feel — their “happiness” — with their current job and conditions. Engagement, on the other hand, measures employees’ emotional commitment to an organization, taking into account the amount of discretionary effort they are willing to expend on behalf of their employer. Highly engaged employees go above and beyond the core responsibilities outlined in their job descriptions, innovating and thinking outside the box to help move their organizations forward.
Studies Show a Link between Employee Engagement and High Performance
In order to achieve competitive success, organizations need to get employees at all levels focused on driving revenue. Many studies have linked employee engagement to workforce performance, customer satisfaction, productivity, absenteeism, turnover, and support of the organization — all of which have can have significant impact on the bottom line. In fact, a 2011 Corporate Leadership Council study revealed that performance against revenue expectations is 23 percent greater for companies with high engagement capital compared to those with low engagement capital. Given these potential performance gains, leveraging talent management strategies to help drive employee engagement makes sound business sense.
Focused Talent Management Initiatives Can Increase Both Employee Engagement and Satisfaction
Participants in the Society for Human Resource Management’s 2012 Employee Job Satisfaction and Engagement Survey ranked relationship with immediate supervisor, opportunities to use skills and abilities, and autonomy and independence as top drivers for both employee satisfaction and employee engagement. These findings suggest that focusing talent management efforts in these areas may yield significant return on investment. To effect maximum change, organizations must transform performance management from a static, once-a-year event into a dynamic, year-round process. At the same time, they must implement a talent management framework in which employees and managers can work together to establish clear measurable goals, competencies, and career development activities that align with corporate objectives. Managers also need to check in with employees throughout the year to discuss progress toward goals and provide constructive coaching. By building this kind of feedback and relationship-building into the talent management process, your organization will be better positioned to drive the high levels of employee engagement that correlate with competitive success.
 Society for Human Resource Management, 2012 Employee Job Satisfaction and Engagement: How Employees are Dealing with Uncertainty, October 2012, 41.
 Corporate Leadership Council, Building Engagement Capital: Creating and Leveraging Sustainable Employee Engagement, CLC Human Resources Insight, 3.
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About This Report: This contents of this report are based on an October 2012 HR.com webcast, “Employee Satisfaction vs. Employee Engagement: Are They the Same Thing?” presented by Jan Brockway, Sr. Director, Product Management at ADP, Inc. and Robert Mattson, Director, Product Marketing at ADP, Inc. Leveraging study findings from leading HR industry groups, this webcast examined how employee satisfaction and employee engagement measurements agree, conflict, and sometimes get in the way of understanding the state of your workforce.
Keywords: Talent Management
Business Types: Large, Midsized
Roles: Human Resources