What Is

    Employee Engagement?

    Employee engagement is the strength of the mental and emotional connection employees feel toward their places of work.





    Employee Engagement is not…




    Simple happiness — laughing with coworkers over lunch, enjoying the holiday party — says nothing about how invested employees are in the company or how hard they’re working on behalf of the organization’s mission. Happiness is a short-term, rapidly changing measurement.


    Employee satisfaction measures a minimum level, while engagement tries to get everyone to achieve greater. Though satisfaction is generally enough to retain employees, it’s often not enough to ensure productivity.


    Well-being looks at every area of an employee’s life (both inside and outside the office) to measure how well an individual copes with stress, works productively, makes community contributions, and fulfills his or her potential. 

    Why Does Employee Engagement Matter?

    Employee engagement affects just about every important element of an organization – profitability, revenues, client experience, employee turnover, talent acquisition, brand presence, market share, workplace safety – the list goes on and on. Employees who are connected to their organization work harder, stay longer, and motivate others to do the same.


    Highly engaged organizations have…
    22% Higher Profitability
    37% lower absenteeism
    26% greater stock price growth
    16% greater revenue growth

    Download the latest Employee Engagement Trends Report.



    How Can You

    Improve Employee Engagement?


    There’s no secret sauce when it comes to improving employee engagement. In fact, each organization will likely use unique or customized strategies at a time that’s right for them. One strategy that highly engaged organizations have in common? A simple three-step process for identifying areas that need improvement.



    First, you must know where your organization stands. To measure engagement with the best accuracy, it is essential that your organization surveys annually. Pulse, or more frequent, surveys can be helpful, but they aren’t a substitute for a more thorough, annual survey.



    In order for your data to help your organization, you have to be able to understand it. You’ll want to be able to dissect your data by various demographics and to benchmark against others in your region, size, and industry.



    Collecting and analyzing employee feedback won’t improve engagement if you don’t act on the results. Make commitment plans focused on the areas that are weak and maintain the areas that are strong.



    History of

    Employee Engagement

    Early 1800s

    The Industrial Revolution moves great numbers of people off farms and into factories. The concept of a manager first enters collective thought.


    Frederick W. Taylor publishes “The Principles of Scientific Management,” establishing the importance of effective management by linking management to increased productivity. The study of management is born.


    Elton Mayo and Fritz Roethlisberger’s Hawthorne Studies transform management theory. Instead of focusing on an individual and his or her innate abilities, Mayo and Roethlisberger focus on social context. The Hawthorne Studies show that an employee’s surroundings influence how he or she performs.

    As manufacturing and production jobs are automated or sent overseas, service companies take their place. “Employees are your greatest asset” becomes “employees are your only asset.” The idea of a lifelong employer fades away, pension programs are slashed, and employee retention grows to be a universal challenge.
    The Academy of Management Journal publishes William A. Kahn’s “Psychological Conditions of Personal Engagement and Disengagement at Work,” considered by many to be the cornerstone of employee engagement. Kahn examines the extent to which people are able to express themselves in their workplace, leading to “attachment.”
    LATE 1990s
    The positive psychology movement gains traction. Positive psychology examines the optimal human functioning and “aims to discover and promote the factors that allow individuals, organizations, and communities to thrive.
    New York Times’ bestseller First, Break All the Rules by Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman coins the term “employee engagement.” The book summarizes Gallup survey results on employee workplace perceptions. Gallup would go on to refine and develop their Q12 survey, the first widely known employee engagement survey.
    “Job Burnout,” by Christina Maslach, Wilmar B. Schaufeli, and Michael P. Leiter proposes employee engagement as a solution to job burnout. This application to the working world creates more interest in further employee engagement research.
    Quantum Workplace is founded.
    Quantum Workplace launches the Best Places to Work contest, the first employer-of-choice award to use an employee engagement survey as the sole scoring mechanism.
    The Society for Human Resource Management enters the employee engagement realm by publishing their “Employee Engagement and Commitment” guide. This is the first nonacademic organization to establish best practices surrounding employee engagement. SHRM takes engagement from the classroom to the boardroom. 
    Following one of the largest studies on employee engagement (“Engaging for Success” by David MacLeod and Nita Clarke), the UK institutionalizes the concept of employee engagement by starting the Engage for Success initiative.
    Quantum Workplace launches the world’s first social exit survey, applying the principles of 360 feedback to the traditional exit interview in an effort to provide a more complete picture around employee turnover.
    Recognizing the critical connection between performance and engagement, Quantum Workplace offers its suite of single sign-on performance tools.
    Quantum Workplace introduces the next breakthrough in engagement measurement, the e9 Engagement Model.
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