Have You Got Happy & Satisfied Employees?… It’s Not Enough!

Team engaging in team workThe degree to which a person is ‘engaged’ with their work can make a massive difference to the morale, productivity and atmosphere of your department.

Kevin Kruse says that employee engagement does not mean employee happiness, or employee satisfaction.

A person can be happy and satisfied with their lot, but may well be lured away by another company offering something they don’t already have.

Instead, Kruse says “Engagement can be defined as the emotional commitment and discretionary effort the employee brings to the company and its goals”

This is different to motivation.

Where motivation often involves outside influences to effect a change in behaviour, engagement requires the person themselves to agree to bring their efforts and commitment to the role, without being persuaded through external stimuli.

So, the question ‘How do I motivate my team members?’ is now out of date.

The new question should be ‘How do I inspire my team to want to bring an engaged and committed attitude to work?’

That takes us in a different direction in terms of our leadership style.

Your employee satisfaction ratings don’t necessarily equate to overall results.

Just being satisfied doesn’t hack it anymore.

We’ve got to have ‘engaged’ team members in order to get the results we strive to achieve.

Here are what we call the ‘five levels’ of engagement and how each level is manifested at work:

5 Levels of Engagement

We can place people at differing levels, according to their level of engagement, as follows:

Level Zero: Actively Disengaged

Symptoms can include

  • Lack of feeling of inclusion
  • Excess sick-leave taken
  • Untimely absences
  • Late to work or early to leave
  • Withdrawal from team activities
  • Poor productivity with no acceptance of responsibility
  • Sabotage of progress through negativity or bad attitude

These people choose to disengage and be separate from the culture of the team or organisation because of lack of progress opportunities or a myriad of other reasons they can rationalise.

The lower the level of engagement, the greater the propensity to blame things and people for poor performance or lack of results.

Level One: You buy their time

Indications can include:

  • Turning up and leaving at exact times
  • Doing the barest minimum to get by
  • Keeping to their job description and nothing else
  • Spending discretionary time on social media
  • Not contributing to overall effectiveness or progress
  • Causing issues during crises or when emergency cover is required

People at his level turn up, do a job and go home.

They expect paying for the time they are there but they don’t contribute much to the overall performance and would be quick to move on if an opportunity arose.

Level Two: They buy into your vision

Indications can include:

  • Contributing more to productivity
  • Highlighting areas of concern
  • Being more creative in the way things should be done
  • Showing higher levels of confidence and competence
  • Recognising why they are there and understanding what you are trying to achieve

This is where people see the purpose of the business, why it exists and what they are hoping to achieve.

They increase their discretionary effort and allow themselves to become more involved in the processes and procedures that drive results

Level Three: Ownership and Personal Responsibility

Indications can include:

  • Accepting ownership of issues
  • Deliberating on and working with challenges as they arise
  • Not attributing blame to other people when things go wrong
  • Putting emphasis on solutions rather than problems
  • Seeing the positive element in challenges
  • Choosing their response to situations, rather than being driven by reactions
  • Take personal responsibility for their own growth and development

Here, people are driven by the contributions they can make, delving deep into their discretionary efforts so they no longer need to be managed, but can be led by team leaders who appreciate their competencies and abilities to increase the effectiveness of the department.

Level Four: Commitment to Excellence

Indications can include:

  • Striving to deliver to a superior level
  • Able to increase their value to the manager and organisation
  • Increasing their worth by going beyond expectations
  • Not having to work undue overtime to get excellent results
  • Doesn’t accept ordinary, good or even better than good
  • Being diligent in progressing projects to an excellent end result
  • Practices enough to achieve an excellent standard
  • Being committed to realising results that exceed expectations
  • Being dedicated to small but measurable improvements

At this level, people can be delegated to and trusted to perform at a superior level.

They don’t need to be told what is expected.

Their discretionary effort allows them to build a reputation of trustworthiness and credibility, showing that their value to the company overshadows the remuneration they receive.

You’ll notice from the model that, as the engagement levels decrease, the level of blame attributed by the person increases.

The blame decreases as engagement increases.

The level of engagement is governed by the level of emotional connection the person feels with their role.

If you’re a leader who wants high engagement, you have to offer opportunities that tie to the value systems of the people you wish to engage.

If your people simply have ‘a job’ to do, you can’t expect them to be emotionally and discretionally engaged with the role.

By recognising the need to ‘want to’ work {rather than ‘have to’ work} will contribute towards engagement, you create reasons for people to choose to bring their engagement to the surface.

Thanks again


Sean McPheat

Managing Director

MTD Training   

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Updated on: 26 October, 2018

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