Your ‘satisfied but not engaged’ employees won’t go for that extra mile – they are not going anywhere either

Managers tend to believe that when they do create a nice environment to work, that is, competitive salaries and a nice office, employees will embrace the company like their own business. Yet they are usually disappointed by a spiritless workforce. The problem is that the managers usually ignore hygiene factors of motivation, and the difference between satisfaction and engagement.

There are some factors in the workplace that creates dissatisfaction when not offered, yet doesn’t increase motivation when they are present. You will be dissatisfied if you don’t have a clean office space, yet you will not be motivated by a clean workspace either. These are the factors we complain when they are gone, and take for granted when they are present. Here comes another explanation of Herzberg’s theory of hygiene factors from Wikipedia:

“Two-factor theory distinguishes between:

  • Motivators (e.g., challenging work, recognition, responsibility) that give positive satisfaction, arising from intrinsic conditions of the job itself, such as recognition, achievement, or personal growth,[4] and
  • Hygiene factors (e.g. status, job securitysalaryfringe benefits, work conditions) that do not give positive satisfaction, though dissatisfaction results from their absence. These are extrinsic to the work itself, and include aspects such as company policies, supervisory practices, or wages/salary.[4][5]

Essentially, hygiene factors are needed to ensure an employee is not dissatisfied. Motivation factors are needed to motivate an employee to higher performance.”

This theory forms a basis to understand the difference between satisfaction and engagement. Take a look at the following chart from The Carrot Culture book by Adrian Gostick & Chester Elton*:

satisfaction versus engagement

The chart above is based on the data from HealthStream Research’s Survey of 200,000 employees: 20% of the employees are highly satisfied but not engaged at all. These folks are happy with the office, pay and the benefits you provide, but that is it. They will not be reaching their full potential, as they are not committed to the goals of the organization. They will not be going for that extra mile for you. Furthermore, they will not be going anywhere, as they are satisfied with the current situation, they are ‘happy to get by’.

Sounds familiar? Maybe you don’t have 20%, or you have more than that, but not-engaged employees are unused potentials. You have the opportunity to improve company performance by leading those people to use their potentials to the fullest. The only way to do that is to focus on the motivators: flawless communication, recognition, empowerment, and self-development…

*The Carrot Culture is a must-read to understand the role of recognition in improving employee performance. Strongly recommended.

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