Defining employee engagement

Does anyone agree what employee engagement is? asks David Ferrabee.

It’s a very good question. ‘Employee engagement’ is a phrase that appears frequently in media articles and blogs, yet it seems to me that people tend to use the phrase when they really mean ’employee communication’ or something else.

Communication is not the same as engagement. Nor are balloons, barbecues and CEO breakfasts (read David’s post to see what that’s about).

The best definition I’ve seen comes from the Wikipedia entry. I frequently used this edited bullet-point highlight in discussions I have with people to address this complex topic:

Employee engagement is –

  • A concept where employees feel a strong emotional bond to the organization that employs them
  • A willingness to recommend the organization to others and commit time and effort to help the organization succeed
  • People are motivated by intrinsic factors (eg, personal growth, working to a common purpose, being part of a larger process) rather than simply focusing on extrinsic factors (eg, pay / reward)
  • Shaped by a number of distinct variables including individual attributes – personality, role characteristics, the quality of work relationships, and perceptions of the ethos and values of the organization

Do you see it that way, too?

Related post:

Neville Hobson

Social Strategist, Communicator, Writer, and Podcaster with a curiosity for tech and how people use it. Believer in an Internet for everyone. Early adopter (and leaver) and experimenter with social media. Occasional test pilot of shiny new objects. Avid tea drinker.

  1. Jon Hoel

    Hi Neville,

    It maybe hard to agree on what EE is, but easier to identify examples of the opposite kind of phenomenon- for example organisational dissonance- when systems do not line up with what the organisation says it values.

    Todd Henry did a very succint episode of The Creative Leader podcast on this: [CL1 – The role of the Creative Leader, 6’45”]

    Paradigm dissonance is another interesting one:

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