Reflections on 30 Years in HR with Lisa Perez, CEO of HBL Resources


Employee engagement. A buzzword phrase that is often misunderstood and misconstrued by companies and higher ups. To understand what it is, you need to understand first what it is not. 

Employee Engagement is Not Employee Happiness

An employee can be happy at work, but that doesn’t necessarily translate to working productively on behalf of the organization. 

Sure the company game room and those weekly Friday post-work bar gatherings are nice, but these aren’t the things that engage employees. Don’t get us wrong. Employee happiness is important as happiness can increase creativity at work. Not to mention that mental health is something we need to be more open about and work toward better mental health for everyone. Happiness is not enough. 

Employee Engagement is Not Employee Satisfaction

We’ve talked about employee satisfaction surveys before and they are a great way to gauge the feelings your employees have toward their work and the company. They allow you to see mole hills before they turn into mountains. 

But if you are only talking about employee satisfaction, then you are setting the bar too low. An employee can show up for their job with no complaints and be “satisfied” but that doesn’t mean they are putting in any extra effort. Not to mention that if another opportunity comes along, that employee will probably take it. Satisfied is not enough.

What Employee Engagement Is

Employee satisfaction is the emotional commitment and connection the employee has to the organization and its goals. When employees care, when they are engaged, they use discretionary effort. 

This means that if an employee needs to work overtime when needed without being asked, they will. This means that an employee will pick up trash off the retail floor even when the boss isn’t looking. 

Employee engagement is a critical driver of business success in today’s competitive marketplace. So what are those benefits of high employee engagement? Employee retention, higher service quality, better customer satisfaction and loyalty, higher profits and higher shareholder value. Wow! 

How to Cultivate Employee Engagement

I Lead, You Follow

It starts with the top down. Leaders of the organization should:

  • Be committed to making the organization a great place to work by developing a strong company culture
  • Build trust with employees
  • Value people as their most important resource
  • Make investments to help employees be more successful

Mid-Level Mission

Mid level managers also have a role to play. They should:

  • Develop good relationships with their employees
  • Make sure their employees have the right equipment to get the job done well
  • Allow employees some authority and freedom to make work decisions

Not Just at the Start

HR’s job isn’t done after the employee is onboarded. They have a role to play in employee engagement by helping the company improve the employee experience through actions including:

  • Ensuring employees have the tools to do their job correctly
  • Accelerating leadership development efforts
  • Giving manager more appropriate authority
  • Focusing on job enrichment (incorporating meaning, variety, autonomy and co-worker respect into jobs)
  • Recruit employees who are likely to view their work as interesting and challenging
  • Base investment decisions on sound data (measure employee engagement annually to get that good data!)

Some Final Thoughts

Cultivating great employee engagement is all about cultivating a great culture at your company. It is about respecting employees, valuing them, building trust, and investing in them. When an employee feels like they matter at the company and what they do matters, they are more likely to be highly engaged with the company. And this leads to better outcomes not just for your employees, but the bottom line for your company too as customers and partners see that you don’t just talk the talk at your office, but walk the walk. Loyalty is a powerful thing.

Build a loyal, engaged company with the help of Workzinga. Our pre-hire assessment tool measures the cultural alignment between the company and the candidate — helping you find the prospects who will be most engaged with your organization. Interested? Schedule a demo to learn more!