How Do You Define Employee Engagement?

Since the early 1990s, the term employee engagement has been bandied about in the corporate world.  What employee engagement means can vary from organization to organization and even from department to department within a single organization.

According to an article by Barasha Medhi on the Business  2 Community website,  there are several essential definitions of employee engagement.

1. Engagement is all about allowing workers to express themselves physically, cognitively, and emotionally within their work roles.   William Khan first coined this definition in 1990 in his paper Employee Engagement and Meaningful WorkKhan believed that companies could better meet the challenge of employee engagement by considering how workers felt in their roles rather than how they fit within the organization.  He also believed that Human Resource Professionals had an integral part to play in helping with the process of employee engagement.  He recommended that HR could:

  • Ensure that work is meaningful to the employee
  • Ensure a psychologically safe space for workers 
  • Allocate motivation and resources  for workers to give their best
  • Foster and encourage healthy work relationships where workers can be themselves.

Khan found that workers were far more likely to be engaged when they can feel good about the work that they are doing and see that their investment of time and emotion has value and is reciprocated. Most workers expect that their efforts and loyalty to the organization will be rewarded with advancement, increased job skills, and training as well as compensation in terms of salary and benefits.

2. Workers who are engaged hold a positive attitude toward the organization that they work for.  Organizations need to ensure that the company is equally committed to its workers.  In a report released by the Institute of Employee Studies in the UK,  researchers found that workers who have a positive perception of their organization’s products or services perform better than those who don’t. When workers hold a favorable opinion of a company’s mission, they will tend to cooperate more with work colleagues by being a good team player and can inspire the engagement of work colleagues within the organization.

How does your organization like to define employee engagement?