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Employee satisfaction vs employee engagement – which one is best?

The terms ‘employee engagement’ and ‘employee satisfaction’ may sound like the same thing but, as JUSTIN REYNOLDS reports, they are actually quite different.

It’s easy to think that employee engagement and employee satisfaction are interchangeable concepts.

After all, employers should try to make sure their staff are both engaged with their jobs and satisfied with their work; however, if managers wish to build a strong workforce, they need to understand the differences between the two terms.

Firstly, some brief definitions:

  • Employee engagement is something that occurs when staff are committed to helping their workplace achieve all of its goals. Engaged employees are motivated to show up to work every day and do everything within their power to help their organisation succeed
  • Employee satisfaction is the state of a worker enjoying their job but not necessarily being engaged within it. Imagine an employee who gets to show up to work early and leave late each day without contributing much.

While engaged employees are satisfied with their jobs, satisfied employees are not necessarily engaged with theirs. Some businesses only care about whether their employees are satisfied.

When staff members are satisfied with their jobs, they’re content with showing up to the same place every day and aren’t on the lookout for other employment. Businesses have lower turnover rates when employees are satisfied. This can be an indicator to management that everything is just fine.

Satisfied employees may handle their job responsibilities but there’s no guarantee that they will go above and beyond. This is the key differentiation between engaged employees and satisfied workers.

Engaged employees are not only happy to have their jobs but also always thinking about how they can improve their workplaces. This might entail streamlining business processes, brainstorming new products or services or even assisting co-workers where required.

Business owners should certainly be interested in ensuring their employees are satisfied with their jobs but it’s even more important to measure and improve employee engagement.

Factors of engagement

What factors contribute to employee engagement? According to Gallup’s Engagement Measurement Model, employee engagement is the sum of four distinct categories:

1. Entitlements – for employees to be engaged, they need to know precisely what’s expected of them and what their job responsibilities are. They also need to be equipped with tools and technologies that enable them to do their job. Business owners can’t expect staff to love showing up to work every day if they’re relying on technology that’s more than a decade old or if they haven’t received the necessary training to sell a new product range that has landed in store.

2. Contributions – engaged employees are able to contribute to their organisations in a measurable way on a daily basis and their superiors often compliment them on a job well done. It’s not all work all the time either – bosses care about the well-being of their workers both inside and outside the work environment.

Managers of engaged employees also understand that these workers have their sights set on moving forward at some point during their careers. To that end, they are interested in helping their employees develop professionally.

3. Community – whereas satisfied employees might show up to work and ignore their colleagues all day, engaged employees love those people with whom they work. They probably consider some of their co-workers as friends outside the office.

Engaged employees feel as though they have a voice at their workplace. When they speak, people listen and respond. Engaged employees believe the work they are doing is invaluable to their businesses. If they were to start selling less, everyone would notice.

4. Growth – engaged employees have adequate opportunities for professional development at their organisations.

On one hand, this means the opportunity to receive additional sales and product training and attend trade shows.

On another, it means the ability to get promoted or at least interview for positions that carry more responsibility.

Again, compare all of that to the satisfied employee who is simply happy to show up and get paid.

How to improve engagement

Are your employees engaged? If not, don’t sweat it. By changing the way an organisation operates, business owners and managers can increase the level of engagement their staff experience.

To achieve this, here are six simple tactics that can be used to increase engagement:

1. Recognise hard work – when employees do a great job on a significant project, tell them. Reinforce positive contributions and behaviour. Recognising employees’ efforts regularly – but not constantly – can help improve engagement.

2. Invest in development – according to Tiny Pulse’s Employee Engagement Report, only 25 per cent of employees say their workplaces offer adequate development opportunities (see chart XXX). Invest in the team’s future and they’ll return the favour.

3. Let employees pursue pet projects – doing the same thing at work every single day gets tiring quickly. When employees have opportunities to work in other departments and tackle projects of interest, they’re more likely to be engaged.

4. Remote work and flexible scheduling – many jewellers will already offer flexibility for staff where possible. Employees working in administration, for example, may be able to work from home at certain times and those in charge of staff rosters will probably do their best to meet scheduling requests made by employees.

Workers will be happier if they can work when and where they want – within reason, of course. Great perks like this can create engaged employees.

5. Plan team-building activities – employees are more likely to be engaged when they get along with their co-workers. Schedule regular team-building activities like happy hours or trivia nights so employees can get to know each other better. One never knows when an amazing friendship will be made at an out-of-workplace gathering.

6. Treat staff like adults – anyone who’s ever had a boss who micromanaged every task will know how awful it can be.

Employees are hired to do a job. They are talented enough to tackle their work responsibilities without having to worry about their bosses peering over their shoulders every five minutes. Treat employees like adults and let them enjoy some measure of autonomy.

If jewellery store owners want to take their businesses to the next level, they should strive to produce as many engaged employees as possible.

A small investment in engagement can go a long way toward strengthening the foundation of any organisation, which translates into a happier workforce and a healthier bottom line.

Justin Reynolds

Contributor • Tiny Pulse

Justin Reynolds is a detail-orientated writer, researcher, and storyteller based in Connecticut, US. Learn more:


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