Employee Engagement vs. Employee Satisfaction – The Differences Between the Two Concepts

We often hear about "employee engagement" and "employee satisfaction" and even though they might seem like the same thing, in fact we are talking about two different things. Employers should not neglect none of these two aspects, and they should also understand the differences between them in order to build strong and productive teams.

While "employee engagement" refers to employees’ involvement in everyday work, the "employee satisfaction" concept is related to the degree of contentment they have at work. Thus, while engagement is born when people are motivated to commit themselves to successfully fulfill certain tasks, satisfaction can exist without too much involvement.

A Satisfied Employee Is Not Necessarily an Engaged Employee

For example, an employee can be happy with the work schedule, the benefits package, the salary, and the fact that he does not have tight deadlines, but this satisfaction can also be found at employees who do not get much involved in their job. A high level of satisfaction without too much involvement can often attract restraints, career stagnation, and most of the time, it is found at employees who are never above expectation, who do not come up with new ideas and do not move off from the responsibilities from their job description.

So, while satisfied employees are not necessarily involved at the workplace, those who are engaged have to be satisfied as well. Otherwise, in the absence of work satisfaction, engagement would not appear.

The High Retention "Trap"

The confusion and fine boundary between the two notions makes many companies to assess only employee satisfaction and to rely on high retention. Thus, based on the fact that they have many loyal and satisfied employees, some employers lose sight of the benefits that more involvement could bring.

Engaged employees not only have a better mood, but they are also the first to think about solutions to improve things, those who come up with new ideas, they are often creative and eager to help their colleagues when needed. Commitment and involvement are often accompanied by passion, which motivates employees to do more than the minimum requirements that their job involves, because they can’t be happy with little things. By contrast, employees with a high level of satisfaction are always satisfied, and some of them do not even like challenges, and the idea of change can make them reluctant.

In conclusion, we must not forget that involvement does not occur overnight, but is cultivated among employees by recognizing merits, through investments in their development, by building a relationship based on trust. Employee satisfaction brings a high degree of retention, but this often not enough to ensure high productivity.


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