Executive Leadership / Talent Management

Unsatiated Employees: The Power of Employee Engagement Over Satisfaction

In a recent conversation with a healthcare executive, a thought-provoking observation emerged: “The more we focus on employee satisfaction, the less progress we seem to make.” This keen insight highlighted the rising baseline of job satisfaction, which, paradoxically, is accompanied by a peak in general workforce dissatisfaction—a phenomenon often referred to as the “Great Gloom.” Here is where employee engagement comes into the conversation.

It’s crucial not to sound alarm bells but rather to take note and move forward as organizational leaders, redirecting our focus toward more impactful measures of organizational health and employee well-being, with engagement at the forefront.

Employee engagement in action

The evolving dynamics between employers and employees demand an acknowledgment of fundamental changes shaping the perception of employee dissatisfaction:

1. Consumer Mindset: Modern employees, often seen as screwed consumers, approach work as something they “consume” rather than merely produce or create.

2. Real-time Expectations: Digital natives, they harbor unrealistic expectations for almost real-time performance feedback from their managers.

3. Leadership Styles: They exhibit less tolerance for authoritarian leadership styles.

The author and a highly engaged team from Illinois taking a break from a week long conference.

Understanding these shifts is pivotal. However, delving into the intricacies of how and why this generation developed these characteristics goes beyond the scope of this discussion. What matters is that organizational leaders grasp these differences, appreciating the unique attributes each generation brings to the workplace.

Over the years, my recommendation to organizational leaders remains unchanged: Lead with the intention of engagement, not mere satisfaction. The difference is substantial—success versus failure, contentment versus unease. Happiness, a universal journey, is elusive when self-centeredness takes the reins. Focusing on self invariably leads to discontent.

Organizations, by definition, are groups working collectively towards a shared objective. They falter when self-centeredness hinders a collective vision. Success unfolds when intentional involvement becomes the driving force, aligning individuals around shared objectives and methodologies.

In our diverse and evolving societal landscape, concepts like diversity, equity, and inclusion aren’t new; they’ve always been integral to effective collaboration within groups. Embracing individual differences is not a threat but an opportunity. Organizational leaders should celebrate this transition, recognizing that effective engagement and collaboration in the workplace thrive through diverse perspectives and collective contributions. Human Capital can help. Contact us for a free consultation. Or keep doing what your doing. Best of luck either way!

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