Happy not to be engaged?

Happiness and engagement – one and the same or totally different ideals? Let’s explore.

Happiness is a very personal and individual feeling, which makes it very difficult to measure. We all know that work is a key contributor to our own personal happiness, yet organisations tend to shy aware from asking if an employee is happy at work because it simply isn’t tangible. But does happiness lead to engagement?

Perhaps it’s the nuances of the words “happiness” and “engagement” that everyone gets caught up in, with no real clarity on the matter.

A survey on employee engagement in the U.S by BI Worldwide found that “employees have always had a term for that thing that happens when the job brings out the best in them. They just call it happiness.”

They also concluded that “employee engagement is what the business wants” and “happiness is what the employees want.”

This is a really interesting observation worthy of unpacking a little further.

Organisations generally place greater importance on engagement. But isn’t a happy worker an engaged employee? Not always. Don’t get me wrong, a happy worker might be someone who’s great to work with but they’re not necessarily the ones who will be driving business outcomes. Those are the engaged employees. They bring focus and commitment to their work and help support the vision of an organisation.

Do we then accept that happiness is essential for culture whereas engagement is essential for productivity?

Perhaps. Perhaps not.

In my view, the best places to work may still have unhappy employees but through smart, insight-led, engagement tactics, employees could feel more connected to their job and as a result, feel more satisfied – that’s true engagement. Put simply, they’ll want to come to work every day, give their best and speak positively about your brand.

So what’s the take out for organisations?

At Bunch, we believe that every company has a responsibility to not only create a workplace that attracts talent, but inspires, motivates and enables that talent once they are part of the team.

Instead of rewarding employees with materialistic gifts (as lovely as this is!), challenge your organisation to engage employees by making their work itself more rewarding.

  • Help employees develop a sense of ownership for their work
  • Emphasise the importance of their role as an integral part of business success
  • Diversify their knowledge and skills to help them achieve their goals.

The feeling of satisfaction that comes from this is what they really crave. It’s the type of happiness that is intrinsic and longer-term – it will also have a positive influence on all other aspects of their life.

The road to happiness definitely begins with engagement.