Are employe engagement and employee satisfaction the same thing? If your employee is satisfied, does that also means she’s engaged with her job and the company?

The short answer is absolutely not.

A company can have a satisfied employee who is not really engaged. However — though it’s not a perfect correlation — an engaged employee is often a satisfied one. The implication is that most people will not be willing to extend the extra effort involved in true engagement (i.e. improving himself to do his job better) if he weren’t satisfied.

3 2 09  Bearman Cartoon Job Satisfaction copy

What is Employee Satisfaction?

Employee satisfaction is more about fit with the company. Is the work environment what that employee expected and wanted? If yes, then he is probably satisfied. But this doesn’t mean he is engaged.

A perfect illustration of this is the “executive shoe salesman.” Imagine a high-level executive of a company who has an impressive pedigree and education, and is successful in her field. That same person, because she is a mother might decide to change jobs and sell shoes. This speaks to her satisfaction with her job.

That’s because some people, although they are capable of a certain level of employment, choose to work in jobs that fulfill their needs outside of the work itself. In this case, our executive might want to take a less stressful, time-consuming job while her children are young, a job that she can go to part-time and can leave at the door.

This job fills the most demanding emotional needs at the time, which give her satisfaction. Other possibilities of taking this “lesser” job are health, person problems, or perhaps having an elderly parent to take care of.

What is Employee Engagement?

Employee engagement, on the other hand, is when an employee’s behaviors reflect the desire to better himself, do his job better, and go beyond the job’s requirements and hours to improve the company and his job.

This discretionary effort can take many forms, including working extra hours or volunteering for additional responsibility, mentoring new employees, or even just reading professional development books that directly affect the job or company.

So, while part of the goal in employee satisfaction surveys is to make sure your team members are happy in their jobs, it pays to go deeper and measure engagement to ensure that your employees truly come together as part of a team that goes above and beyond for the company.

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