Article by Stephanie Vozza on Fastcompany.com
Engaged employees are more productive, have higher job satisfaction, and are more focused on customers, according to a Gallup study. But what exactly does “engaged” mean?
Boston University professor William Kahn coined the term 25 years ago, but there still isn’t a widely accepted definition. What does exist, however, is a lot of frustration and myths surrounding the idea, says Rodd Wagner, vice president of employee engagement strategy for the consulting firm BI Worldwide and author of Widgets: The 12 New Rules for Managing Your Employees As If They’re Real People.
“Once in a while, you will hear someone say he’s ‘engaged’ or ‘disengaged’ at work, but not often,” he says. “Even after two decades of HR using it, it’s not part of the natural vocabulary among employees and, it’s now safe to say, it never will be.”
The problem goes to the core of the relationship between the employee and the company, Wagner says. “Employee engagement is what the business wants; it’s strategic with a return-on-investment view,” he says. “Happiness is what the employees want. If they each look out for the other’s interest, the bargain works exceptionally well. It’s human nature to reciprocate what we do for others.”
Whether you strive for engagement or happiness, Wagner says there are four myths that leaders need to know:
Happiness is associated with hard work, says Wagner. Nine out of 10 happy employees agree with this statement: “I feel an obligation to work as hard as I can for my organization,” while just six out of 10 unhappy employees agrees with the same statement, according to a study from BI Worldwide.
The study also found that 93% of happy employees agree with the statement, “I am willing to work especially hard for my organization’s customers,” compared to just 69% of unhappy employees.
While Wagner says technically this could be true; in practice it’s not. The overlap between those who are happy and those who are engaged is so large that there aren’t appreciable numbers of people who are happy at work and not engaged, or, conversely, engaged and not happy, according to the BI Worldwide study.
“In the vast majority of cases, engaged employees are happy, and happy employees are engaged,” he says.
MYTH 3: MEASURING JOB HAPPINESS LEVELS ISN’T ENOUGH TO RETAIN STAR PERFORMERS AND BUILD A SUCCESSFUL BUSINESS
MYTH 4: EMPLOYEES MIGHT BE HAPPY BECAUSE THEY ARE LAZY
Read more about myths 3 and 4 in the article on Fastcompany.com.