The Difference Between Job Satisfaction and Employee Engagement

Nov 15, 2021
The Difference Between Job Satisfaction and Employee Engagement

Employee engagement and job satisfaction might seem very similar terms, but they are really very different. If you’re able to understand what that difference is, it will have a significant impact on your business.

You might not realize, but voluntary turnover can cost a company billions in terms of lost productivity and the cost of rehiring and retraining. 

Things have been a little different over the last couple of years, thanks to COVID, but previous to that, a staggering 27% of US workers left their jobs voluntarily in 2018.  

According to the 2019 Retention Report, if the trend continues, this figure could hit 35% in a couple of years.

However, there’s one very effective way to change this trend, and that’s by addressing the issue of employee engagement and job satisfaction. Understanding the difference between job satisfaction vs. employee engagement will help you keep your workforce happy, motivated, and much less likely to quit.

What Is Employee Satisfaction?

Employee satisfaction, or job satisfaction, is when an employee enjoys the work that they do. There are various things an employee can use to measure their happiness, such as pay, hours, and flexibility.

Employee satisfaction is generally enough to keep a person in a job for many years. However, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll reach their full potential and help your business grow. 

What Is Employee Engagement?

Employee engagement is more about how involved and connected an employee feels in their job. How engaged an employee feels depends on several factors, such as motivation, interest, purpose, personal investment, and passion. 

If a person doesn’t feel engaged in their role, they might feel their job has no connection with the success of the business. Over time, this could mean they look for a more meaningful job. 

What are the Principal Drivers of Employee Engagement?

Gallup’s Engagement Measurement Model categorizes the drivers into four distinct categories.

Entitlements

For your employees to feel engaged, they have to know what you expect of them and what their responsibilities are. You also need to provide them with everything they need to enable them to do their job well. They also need to be able to perform their role easily. If this means relying on technology, it will be beneficial if it’s more than a decade old. 

Contributions

An engaged employee is one who feels they are contributing to your business, in a measurable way, every day. They will know this is so if superiors in the company congratulate them on a job well done. Bosses should also show they care about their employees’ well-being, both at work and when they are away from the office.

Managers should also understand that the workforce will want to progress through the company and be interested in helping employees achieve their professional goals. 

Community

An engaged employee is someone who enjoys working with their colleagues. They will also feel like they have a voice in the company. People listen to what they have to say and respond accordingly. 

Engaged employees believe that what they do is invaluable, and if they stopped doing it or were less productive, everyone would notice. 

Growth

For an employee to feel engaged, they must be given adequate opportunities for personal development at work. This could take the form of training, promotion, more responsibility, or the opportunity to attend trade shows, symposiums, or conferences, outside of work.

There are a few more factors that are worthy of mention. 

A Culture of Diversity

Diverse work culture is essential if you want to ensure maximum engagement for your employees. The company should be open to new ideas, wherever they might come from, be proactive when it comes to preventing bias, and ensure equal opportunities are available for all. 

Internal Communication

Communication has a huge role to play in employee engagement. This is particularly relevant if the workforce is distributed over a vast area. Your employees need to be able to connect in real-time, receive regular company updates, and resolve issues. All of these will ensure a more engagement-friendly workplace. 

Inspirational Leadership

Company leaders should lead by example and be inspirational in what they do. After all, employee engagement is led from the top. Above all, company leaders should:

  • Regularly interact with their workforce

  • Share ideas

  • Collaborate with employees

  • Ask for contributions before making decisions

The same goes for creative project managers and product owners. By sharing ideas & interacting with your coworkers, you make them feel they have a part to play in the growth of the company, and it will keep them engaged. Creating videos for internal comms is a great way to unify your brand and company messaging.

Factors Affecting Job Satisfaction

The factors that affect job satisfaction are very different. They tend to be monetary and associated factors that determine how satisfied an employee is with their job. The factors include the following.

Compensation

Compensation is possibly the biggest driver when it comes to job satisfaction. Two elements are most important. Firstly, the pay scale must be comparable and competitively positioned against similar companies in the area. Secondly, it should allow employees to maintain an above-average standard of living and quality of life. 

Benefits

Next to good pay, a comprehensive benefits package can also be a big driver. Such a package might include things that take care of physical and mental well-being, family coverage, financial wellness, and childcare.

There are several other more innovative benefits you might want to consider, such as an in-house gym and unlimited paid time off. 

Working with a PEO company can help you optimize employee benefits to keep your employees satisfied.

Work-life Balance

According to a survey undertaken by Mavenlink, 62% of workers feel work/life balance is most important for a company culture that fosters success.

What does this mean exactly? Here are a few things that can ensure a positive work-life balance:

  • Flexibility to work from home

  • Shorter commutes to work

  • Mandatory vacation days

  • Paid leaves

 

Recognition 

A common factor for all employees is recognition of the contribution they make to the company. There are many ways you can do this, for example:

  • Annual reviews

  • Appraisals

  • Acknowledgment of achievements

All of these things would allow employees to spend more time in personal pursuits or with family. The result would be an improvement in the quality of life.   

How Employee Engagement Differs From Job Satisfaction

Fact: 67% of job seekers focus on the diversity highlighted in any job posting.

An employee can be satisfied at work without feeling engaged because engagement is much more than being well paid and able to clock off at a reasonable time. Such factors just lead to job satisfaction, which is enough to retain most employees more often than not. 

 

However, only focusing on job satisfaction is not enough to ensure productivity. Whereas focusing on employee engagement will promote increased productivity. 

If any employee is engaged, they will be deeply involved and invested in their work. However, achieving engagement requires something more than what’s needed to drive satisfaction. Although, employee satisfaction is a good foundation on which to grow employee engagement and one in which it can thrive. 

If you can genuinely engage your employees, you can expect higher staff retention, customer satisfaction, productivity, quality, and innovation. Engaged employees also require less training time, have fewer accidents, and need to take less time off because of illness.    

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Conclusion

If you want to take your company to the next level, exploring how you can improve employee engagement is critical. Invest in engagement, and it’ll go a long way toward strengthening your company’s foundation. At the end of the day, it also means you’ll have a happier workforce which equals a healthier bottom line. 

 

Author Bio: Maria Mladenovska is a content manager at ThriveMyWay.com - a one-stop resource for learning how to make money online on your own terms.  She's an advocate of living life with passion, authenticity, and purpose. Maria believes in seizing every opportunity because nothing is impossible when you believe in yourself! 

You can connect with her on LinkedIn or Twitter.