This is why you need to capture your employees’ hearts and minds

hearts and mindsContrary to common belief, job satisfaction and employee engagement aren’t the same thing.

In fact, satisfaction in a role is the precursor to being engaged. It refers to how employees respond when their basic needs are met, but not the effort they are prepared to outlay. An employee who’s satisfied in mind will do what’s required for their employer, but probably not much more.

On the other hand, engagement builds from satisfaction. It defines the level of emotional connection to an organisation and factors in discretionary effort; the difference between gladly giving what one’s capable of versus the bare minimum. Employees who are engaged generally have an enthusiastic mindset and are willing to go the extra mile for reasons more than salary.

In other words, their mind is in it – and equally so is their heart.

It’s impossible to be engaged if you’re not fulfilled.

You wouldn’t hear of a poorly compensated yet highly motivated team, or an employee who doesn’t see a bright future putting in 100%. But while the likelihood of having disgruntled people that give their all is an improbable scenario, it is a reality for organisations to have a contented workforce who aren’t the slightest bit engaged.

Job security, work/life balance, a career path, fair compensation and competitive benefits are considered as essential ‘reasons to engage’. When elements of this nature are met, the foundation for developing an emotionally connected workforce is put in place.

Thinking beyond the fundamentals to ‘esteem needs’ or an employee’s desire ‘to achieve and gain approval’ is then vital to fostering engagement. This could include an employee’s relationship with their manager, their understanding of expectations, belief in values and feeling appreciated for their contributions. Generating commitment and passion for one’s work with regular recognition alone can increase levels of engagement by up to 25% in just 12 months.

But perhaps job satisfaction is enough?

Studies repeatedly outline the staggering impact of having engaged employees. According to the Incentive Research Foundation, organisations with high levels of engagement can find success in four distinct areas; productivity, retention, customer happiness and profit.

A study of one highly engaged workforce showed improvement in operating income of more than 19% within a year, while during that same period a shocking 33% decline was reported by companies with poor levels of employee engagement.

It’s vital that you tick the right boxes for your people up front, but don’t stop at satisfied. You’ll find there’s much to gain from employees who have reason to invest both their mind – and their heart.


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Sources: Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) 2011 Employee Job and Satisfaction Survey,, Yes, Culture & Recognition Matters to Workers — Everywhere in the World 2012, Towers Watson, Incentive Research Foundation