What is Engagement?

3 min. read

People talk about engagement a lot. What is it, really?

Engagement gets a lot of buzz in the human resources space. It's the most surveyed, most studied aspect of the 21st Century workplace. Many workplace survey providers focus on engagement as the single all-encompassing factor that workplaces need to improve. And now alarm bells are ringing as media outlets report we are in a multi-year downtrend in average engagement in American workplaces. So what is "engagement" really?

Let's look at definitions from a few organizations in this space.

Here at Amazing Workplace, we prefer a different definition that helps to disentangle engagement from the 11 other critical workplace areas. To do this, we break engagement into two components. We define engagement as the level of enthusiasm and dedication a person feels toward their workplace.

Enthusiasm is simply defined as intense and eager enjoyment, interest, and approval. Employees that are enthusiastic about their workplace enjoy their workplace, have strong interest in their workplace, and approve of their workplace.

Dedication is simply defined as being devoted and loyal to someone or something. Employees that are dedicated to their workplace are devoted and loyal to their workplace.

So yes, engagement is important! It is a critical factor in lowering turnover and increasing productivity because employees who are highly engaged have an independent desire to work hard and want to stay. Enthusiasm drives the desire to work hard, and dedication is behind the desire to stay.

Engagement is also connected to other workplace areas, driving some and being driven by some. For example, employees who know and admire their company's purpose are more likely to be highly engaged. This is because knowing and admiring the purpose sparks their enthusiasm and enjoyment in day-to-day work. It also makes them feel their job is worthy of their dedication through challenges and over a long period of time.

Some other workplace areas are mutually linked to engagement. For example, employees who are more engaged have lower job stress, and employees with lower job stress are more likely to be engaged. This one is because job stress erodes employees' enjoyment and enthusiasm for their job, and it makes them question their dedication because they want the stress to stop. Employees with higher engagement to begin with are more protected against job stress. Their enthusiasm makes the work passionately and independently. They develop a stronger ability to manage their own work without stress.

To have an amazing workplace, you need employees that are happy about all of their critical workplace areas. Seeing the components of engagement way helps us paint a much fuller picture of workplace happiness, where we understand engagement's relationship to other critical workplace areas.

Why not bring our Amazing Workplace survey to your workplace and learn more about how engagement fits into the happy workplace puzzle?