Employee Engagement vs. Employee Satisfaction

Many organizations across the world are investing millions of dollars on assessing employee satisfaction ignoring employee engagement, the assumption is ‘’satisfied employees are more productive and beneficial to the organization and support the organizational strategic long term vision and mission’’.

For several years I was also of the same opinion, however, with my recent research on the subject of engagement, I have realized that satisfaction alone is not enough for the organizational success; the real game changer for organizations in today’s dynamically changing environment is EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT.

The change in my though is triggered by statement made by Bernard Marr he said, “engagement surveys emerged when leading organizations began to realize that ‘satisfaction’ does not tell the whole employee story. An employee might be ‘satisfied’ because he or she has an easy job, is not stretched (and doesn’t want to be), is paid well and receives and excellent benefits package. This does not necessary mean that he or she is committed to delivering to the vision/mission. The most dissatisfied employees might well be the one who are performance-oriented and really want to do all that they can to deliver to the organizational vision and mission (Marr n.d.)”.

In my perspective this is very true as ‘Job Satisfaction’ it self is defined as “A general attitude towards one’s job; the difference between the amount of rewards workers receive and the amount they believe they should receive (Robbins 1991)”, hence majority of satisfied employees not necessary be the ones who are engaged and determined to take the organization to the next level.

With heavy focus on employee’s satisfaction, organizations succeed in reducing their employee turnover, however, this does not mean that they are able to retain their talent, people who are engaged are able to understand their contribution, value and deliverables.

I am not trying to disregard the importance of satisfaction, however, I am trying to prove that satisfaction is a ‘prerequisite’ of employee engagement; it is a dormant ingredient which fosters higher level of efforts by engaged employee for the organization.

There are many definition of employee engagement, which supports my argument, for instance the Institute of Employment Studies (IES) defines engagement as follows: “Engagement is a positive attitude held by the employee towards the organization and its values. An engaged employee is aware of business context, and works with colleagues to improve performance within the job for the benefit of the organization. The organization must work to nurture, maintain and grow engagement, which requires a two-way relationship between employer and employee (D 2004)”.

The engagement is defined by Gallop as “The individual’s involvement and satisfaction with as well as enthusiasm for work (Mark Attridge PhD 2009)”. Another definition by Maslach referrers to engagement as “A positive, fulfilling, work-related state of mind that is characterized by vigor, dedication and absorption (Maslach 2001)”. And finally most closest to my heart is the definition by CEB which defines engagement as “Employee engagement is the combination of an employees’ pride, energy, and optimism that fuels their discretionary efforts and intent to stay (Council 2015)”.

The word discretionary efforts and intent to stay are clear evidence that if employees are properly engaged, organizations will not only be more productive and have more probability to retain their best talent and achieve their desired results as appose to those organizations where focus is only given to employee job satisfaction.

In conclusion, it is essential for today’s organization to spend more money and efforts on employee engagement then satisfaction, develop HR Interventions to understand the engagement needs, measure those needs, create an effective action plan and implement the same.

Look around you in your organization, what do you see, more satisfied employees who are their in their jobs for many years, doing what they are asked to do or you see engaged employees who are eager to go beyond their routine work and support the organizational vision and mission.

Your criticism, comments and suggestions are welcomed.


Council, CEB – Corporate Leadership. The Business Case of Employee Engagement. Research, New York: CEB, 2015.

D, Robinson. The drivers of Employee Engagement. Research, Institute for Employment Studies, England: Institute for Employment Studies, 2004.

Mark Attridge PhD, MA. “Measuring and Managing Employee Work Engagement.” Journal of workplace behavioral health (Taylor and Francis Group LLC) 24 (2009): 383-398.

Marr, Bernard. “Employee Engagement Level.” In Key Performance Indicators, by Bernard Marr. Hampshire: Pearson Education Limited.

Maslach, Christina. “Job Burnout.” Annual Review of Psychology (Psychology Department, University of California, Berkeley, California) 52 (2001): 397-422 .

Robbins, Stephen P. Organizational Behavior . New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 1991.

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