The Difference Between Employee Engagement and Happiness

by Mar 29, 2018Employee Engagement Training

There is a Difference Between Employee Engagement and Happiness
While the terms employee engagement and employee happiness sound similar, there is a big difference between employee engagement and happiness. Yes, leaders want happy and engaged workers, but, if companies want to outperform their peers, they need to understand the differences between employee engagement and happiness.

Employee Engagement
True employee engagement goes way beyond happy employees.  Sure it’s great to create a workplace where people enjoy themselves.  But what you are really looking for if you want to improve employee engagement is an environment where employees:

  • Are powerful advocates for the company, its products, its brand and its leaders
  • Give extra discretionary effort to reach peak performance
  • Feel enough loyalty that they intend to stay over the long haul

Engaged employees feel connected to the company and feel inspired and empowered to contribute to the company’s goals.

Employee Happiness
Happy employees are those who fundamentally enjoy their work and find their job interesting and challenging in a way that allows them to play to their strengths.  As a talent leader, it is important to know that an employee can enjoy what they do without being fully engaged in terms of advocacy, discretionary effort or loyalty.

The Difference
I have observed too many employees who just go through the motions.  There is a difference between employee engagement and happiness.  While engaged employees are happy with their jobs, happy employees are not necessarily engaged with theirs.

It’s Not Just About Money
First, know that simply throwing money at your employees will not ensure their engagement.  Certainly you need to be fair and competitive in your compensation practices but today’s workers look for far more than just pay checks.  The millennial generation is changing the way workers evaluate their jobs.

More workers look for purpose in their jobs, managers who are coaches, and interesting and challenging opportunities for career growth and development.

Why Employee Engagement Matters
The best, most forward-looking organizations now recognize the huge impact heightened employee engagement can have on their business.  The statistics show that a culture of engagement can increase revenue by as much as 18% per employee.  And the opposite has a huge impact too…poor employee retention and high turnover can cost U.S. companies more than $300 billion a year.

What Employees Care About
So what are the factors that keep employees engaged and loyal?  What do they really care about?  Each organization is different.

The best way to learn what your employees value and what they want to change in their environment is to ask them.  Whether you ask them via a company-wide, customized engagement survey or set up cross-functional, multi-level, confidential focus groups, you need to learn what employees are thinking.

What the Best Places to Work Have in Common
There are some common threads in companies that earn the designation as a great place to work.

1. Trust
Employees respect and trust their co-workers and their leaders to do what they say they will do and to do it with honor and skill. They trust the leaders to set the right course and know their leaders care about them.

2. Pride
Engaged employees are proud of what they do and what the organization stands for. They know exactly how they contribute to the company goals.  Their work has meaning, they believe in the mission and vision, and think and speak highly of the organization – its leaders, managers, employees, products, quality and future outlook.

3. Connection
Employees who are highly engaged in their work feel a strong connection to their coworkers. They enjoy their companionship, can rely on each other and share knowledge and resources with each other.

The Bottom Line
Employee engagement can be your organization’s ticket to success…a ticket that costs more than money.  Higher salaries alone don’t buy happiness.  It is an environment where they feel supported, valued and connected to the company mission that keeps your employees satisfied, loyal and willing to go the extra mile.

To learn more about the difference between employee engagement and happiness, download The Top 10 Most Powerful Ways to Boost Employee Engagement

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