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Some defintions of employee engagement

January 16, 2011

As per the discussion in my previous blog, employee engagement is difficult to define. It was suggested that the crucial first step in the employee engagement process is to develop a definition that all those involved can align themselves to. Therefore, to provide a starting point, I thought it might be useful to provide some key definitions from different organisations.

To start with, the Employee Feedback definition of employee engagement, developed from much experience investigating the process, is as follows. The key proposition is that engaged employees perform better than others. Why? If you strip away the jargon and theorising, there are two main reasons; engaged employees tend to be

  • satisfied with their jobs and working conditions
  • committed to the organisation and what it’s trying to achieve

Both satisfaction and commitment are integral to engagement because neither is sufficient in itself: those who are satisfied with their jobs and working conditions may be capable of doing a great job, but may not be motivated to do so. On the other hand, those who are committed may be unable to perform because some aspect(s) of their jobs, the technology or the available resources may be problematic.

The CIPD suggests that employee engagement ‘can be seen as a combination of commitment to the organisation and its values and a willingness to help out colleagues (organisational citizenship). It goes beyond job satisfaction and is not simply motivation. Engagement is something the employee has to offer: it cannot be ‘required’ as part of the employment contract’.

The Work Foundation state that employee engagement ‘describes employees’ emotional and intellectual commitment to their organisation and its success. Engaged employees experience a compelling purpose and meaning in their work and give their discrete effort to advance the organisation’s objectives’.

The Best Companies’ suggest that engagement can be defined as an ‘employee’s drive to use all their ingenuity and resources for the benefit of the company’.

Gallup, state that employee engagement is a ‘leading indicator of financial performance’, it can be defined by them as ‘a force that drives performance is a strategic foundation for the way they do business’.

The Employee Engagement Network state that ‘employee engagement is the art and science of engaging people in authentic and recognized connections to strategy, roles, performance, organization, community, relationship, customers, development, energy, and well-being to leverage, sustain, and transform work into results’.

The widely used 'Engaging for Success' report to Government, states that 'it is most helpful to see employee engagement as a workplace approach designed to ensure that employees are committed to their organisation’s goals and values, motivated to contribute to organisational success, and are able at the same time to enhance their own sense of well-being'.

So, it is clear that there are many definitions to work from and I think the best way to find one is to see what fits for your organisation and what makes sense for your employees. However you decide to go about it getting a good definition is a good step in the right direction.

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