As managers, we’re always looking for the next shiny object in talent management. That new ‘thing’ that will drive performance. Along came employee engagement, and job satisfaction quickly became its poor cousin. In fact, some leaders have removed job satisfaction from their ‘engagement’ surveys, despite 80 years of research showing its importance.
What’s the difference? Job satisfaction is widely considered to be an emotional state resulting from appraising one’s job. Employee engagement on the other hand, is most often seen as a mix of vigor or energy on the job, absorption in one’s work, and dedication to one’s work.
So, what’s more important, having satisfied or engaged employees? It depends, in part, on what you ultimately need from your people. Is it more effort, or more loyalty and retention?
In one of my studies, highly-engaged employees were more likely to give 110% and go the extra mile. However, their highly-satisfied counterparts were more committed to their employers, and less likely to leave. This replicates other studies.