How High Job Satisfaction Does Not Mean High Employee Engagement

How High Job Satisfaction Does Not Mean High Employee Engagement

It’s only normal that management like to know their staff is enjoying their work. Over the years, dozens of surveys have concluded that a happy worker is more productive, creative and engaged – and that can only be good news. But a recent study has revealed that not all is necessarily how it seems, and that employee engagement – that trait which results in most positive involvement – does not reflect job satisfaction.

According to the recently published World Happiness Report 2017, high rates of job satisfaction can look encouraging to employers. But globally, there is an employee engagement crisis that undermines those apparent positives. The research shows that while there may be a surprising percentage of employed people reporting themselves as being happy at work, there is still a disconnect with the degree to which they feel actively engaged in their careers.

Reasons for concern lie in the fact that a happy worker can sometimes ghost through their working day unaffected. An engaged employee, however, typically contributes to development, improvement and innovation. They are invested in their careers and, as a consequence, also exhibit greater loyalty.

Happy But Not Engaged

According to the figures published in The World Happiness Report 2017, the rate of job satisfaction is at an impressively high rate. Amongst professionals, 87% reported job satisfaction, with 88% of managers and executives happy at work and almost 80% of business owners also describing themselves as satisfied.

However, these results are off-set by poor engagement results. Recorded by Gallop over a 12-month period between 2011 and 2012, participants were asked to rank themselves in as either ‘Actively Engaged’, ‘Not Engaged’ or ‘Actively Disengaged’. Globally, just 13% of employees considered themselves ‘Actively Engaged’ in their jobs, while a staggering 63% said they were ‘Not Engaged’, and 24% described themselves as ‘Actively Disengaged’.

When the statistics were broken down by region, it revealed the least engaged was East Asia (6%), with Western Europe a surprisingly low 14% and Central and Eastern Europe just 12%. The US and Canada were highest in the ranking, but still less than a third of employees (29%) felt they were ‘Actively Engaged’. As expected, the large majority of employees were ‘Not Engaged’, with South Asia (73%), East Asia (68%) and Western Europe (66%) the worst affected in that category, and the Middle East (35%), Sub-Saharan Africa (33%), and South Asia (29%) the regions that most felt ‘Actively Disengaged’. In Western Europe, the figure of ‘Actively Disengaged’ was lower, though still surprisingly high, at 20%, while in the US and Canada 18% considered themselves so.

The gloomy results are also evident when considered by profession. Just 17% of professionals reported themselves ‘Actively Engaged’, just 16% of managers and executives, and 14% of business owners.

Satisfaction Vs Engagement: What’s The Difference?

It might seem illogical that a happy worker can also be so disengaged from work. But an employee can enjoy work without ever stepping beyond the engagement threshold. They arrive at work, carry out their duties with a smile, and then go home at the end of the day – a kind of clock in-clock out relationship with their workplace. The pay cheque at the end of the month is ample, even if a raise will always be welcome.

An engaged employee, on the other hand, seeks to do more, achieve more and advance. They are positively absorbed by their work and, in being so, are overall more productive. In essence, the difference is that high employee engagement translates to action, which boosts productivity, creativity and innovation.

Engagement is therefore a much more valuable trait in company personnel, and knowing how to encourage engagement is important. Here are 3 simple suggestions.

  1. Make Management Accessible – avoiding official meeting can help to humanise management. So, try to engage with staff in less formal locations, like at employee desks. Employees will feel more part of the company if they are approached by superiors, rather than the traditional call to the office.
  2. Offer Recognition Instead Of Cash – everyone might be happy with the idea of getting a bonus, but recognition for good work done does much more to boost employee engagement. So, offering a simple ‘Thank You’ will be greatly appreciated.
  3. Encourage Update Sharing Between Employees – some organisations nominate a single person to distribute project and company updates. By sharing this role between personnel, allowing them to detail what has been achieved, how it was achieved and what new developments are on the horizon, colleagues not fully aware of each other’s roles learn how people in the company are contributing in the business.

About the Author

AnnualLeave is a leading employee leave management tool on the market, lifting the HR headache by cutting request processing times, monitoring leave trends, and maintaining company compliance all with one user-friendly, affordable self-service app. For more information you can get in touch with one of our team via our online form or email at

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