Employee Engagement Defined

No Hugs Here

In my previous writing, we took a look at the research that originally started connecting employee engagement to employee production.

Both of these are very important right now in light of The Great Resignation.  Engaged employees are more likely to stay with your organization.  And you need all employees to be more productive because so many positions are unfilled.

The next set of blog articles will:

  • define employee engagement,
  • provide the benefits for employee engagement, and
  • tell you how to avoid common mistakes if you are investing in employee engagement.

Engaged Employee Definition: Out of Scope

Let’s start with what an engaged employee is and is not.

Bosses can breathe a sigh of relief.  While there are several definitions of an engaged employee to choose from, the one thing they all have in common is a lack of syrupy-sweet over-complimentary supervisors.

No rainbows. No unicorns.  No puppies.  No puppies riding rainbow-colored unicorns.


SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management) provides a list of words to describe a disengaged employee:

  • pessimistic
  • self-centered
  • negative
  • gone a lot
  • takes credit but passes blame
  • egocentric

Interestingly enough, a synonym for disengage is undo.  If you are unfortunate enough to have a disengaged person as part of your department or project team, you can clearly see how behaviors of an unengaged employee could undo the productive work of others.

Along this same line of thinking, Sibson Consulting defines 4 categories of engagement:

So… if employee engagement is NOT about feel-good platitudes, bonuses, and pizza parties, what is it?

Engaged Employee Definition: In Scope

I read a lot of one sentence definitions for employee engagement, and this one summed it up best:

Employee Engagement =

What employees thinks about your company and how it impacts their mindset, attitudes, and behaviors on the work they do that day.

I like the that day because employee engagement can wax and wane.  If your employees are engaged that day, you might use these adjectives to describe them:

  • motivated
  • invested (in their work)
  • self-driven
  • committed to the organization
  • find work challenges to be enjoyable
  • connected to their team and coworkers
  • satisfied with their job

Interesting to note some items that are missing from the list, such as breeze through the day, find their jobs easy, always have a smile.  Engagement is not about being happy all the time or never having problems to solve.  Engagement is about feeling good about solving problems, contributing to the organization, and providing a valuable good or service to the people who need it.

Now that you know what employee engagement is, the next article will look at the benefits of investing your time and money in engaging employees.