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Defining Employee Engagement

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In 2006, The Conference Board published “Employee Engagement, A Review of Current Research and Its Implications”. According to this report, twelve major studies on employee engagement had been published over the prior four years by top research firms such as Gallup, Towers Perrin, Blessing White, the Corporate Leadership Council and others.  ((Patricia Soldati, March 8, 2007.  “Employee engagement: What exactly is it?”  Retrieved from on March 18, 2007.))

The Conference Board defined employee engagement as “a heightened emotional connection that an employee feels for his or her organization, that influences him or her to exert greater discretionary effort to his or her work”.   Personally I’ve seen this in many other places before 2006, with the gist always being that extra discretionary hour of work.  I’ve seen it attributed to Towers Perrin, David Ulrich and heard it from numerous others.  Whether the Conference Board was the originator is not for me to decide.  My point is that there seems to be widespread agreement that this definition is the accepted definition.

At least four of the studies agreed on these eight key drivers.

  1. Trust and integrity – how well managers communicate and ‘walk the talk’.
  2. Nature of the job –Is it mentally stimulating day-to-day?
  3. Line of sight between employee performance and company performance – Does the employee understand how their work contributes to the company’s performance?
  4. Career Growth opportunities –Are there future opportunities for growth?
  5. Pride about the company – How much self-esteem does the employee feel by being associated with their company?
  6. Coworkers/team members – significantly influence one’s level of engagement
  7. Employee development – Is the company making an effort to develop the employee’s skills?
  8. Relationship with one’s manager – Does the employee value his or her relationship with his or her manager?   ((Ibid))

So how do these eight key drivers relate to that ‘discretionary hour of work?”  Basically, if all of these drivers exist, the employee will be more willing to spend that hour at work because they will reached that place in the employer branding universe called “dream works.”  It’s important that we understand that not all employees are engagable.  Nor do we want to spend the time engaging everyone.  Our senior talent, managers and executives are of critical importance as are the up and comers that represent our future.

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5 responses to “Defining Employee Engagement”

  1. […] Systematic HR took a look at twelve major studies on employee engagement (which we’ve written about here) […]

  2. […] Engagement: 8 key drivers Here’s an extract from a blog posted at systematicHR that has 8 key factors related to Employee Engagement.Trust and integrity – how well managers […]

  3. Heidi Avatar

    I believe the Conference Board was gathering up the research without claiming to be the originator.

    Nice post.

  4. Targeting The Wrong Audience…

    A nice post on employee engagement from systematicHR brings together some of the various opinions and survey results on what engages employees. What hit me was the fact that most clients want performance programs for their employees to increase engagem…

  5. […] nice post on employee engagement from systematicHR brings together some of the various opinions and survey […]