PsyAsia Live at SIOP: PsyAsia’s consultants are currently attending the SIOP Conference in Chicago and posting brief summaries of the most interesting talks they attend. Here is one of them!
We attended an interesting presentation on employee engagement. It was frightening to see how all of the panellists had a different explanation and operationalization as to what engagement is. Why is this shocking? Because as a science, I-O Psychology should agree on constructs such as this so that research goes ahead in such a way that results can be aggregated and compared. That said, one of the presenters noted how custom definitions of engagement are good from a client’s practical standpoint. What is seen as engagement in one organization may not be seen as such in another. Thus I would suggest that scientifically we need to work to establish a clear definition of engagement for research purposes whilst allowing flexibility in its practical use.
One of the presenters noted how there is often confusion between engagement and satisfaction. They are definitely related in that those who are engaged are often satisfied and those who are satisfied are often engaged, However, they are separate constructs. Engagement is more about what the employee will give to the organization, whereas satisfaction is more concerned with what the employee gets. According to the panel, there are both behavioural and emotional/feeling elements to being engaged and the organization needs to seek out both. One of the most interesting points of the presentation was the recognition from research of how in many organizations, employees are perfectly aligned to the organization’s values and cultures and highly engaged and yet the organization does not have a system in place to manage that engagement – what the employee does with their behaviours! This may result eventually in actually disengaging engaged employees and should be taken seriously by any organization looking to engage and motivate employees over the long-term.