The Importance of Separating Employee Engagement from Employee Satisfaction

There is a common misconception that employee satisfaction is an interchangeable term for employee engagement. This is true to a small negligible extent. In truth, employee satisfaction is no more than the foundation from which organisations may establish employee engagement. As such, it is the necessary first step in setting the stage for actual employee engagement.   

Employee engagement has been proven to be significant in worker performance. Research by the Gallup organisation which involved 82,000 teams from various industries across 73 nations showed that an engaged workforce outperformed their actively disengaged peers.  

Key observations in the study include a 10% rise in customer ratings, a 17% increase in productivity, and a whopping 41% dip in absenteeism. 

While it is apparent that employee engagement is integral for organisational growth, the concept of employee satisfaction might appear ambiguous to employers. Confusing engagement with worker satisfaction could lead to ineffective training methods, an uninspired workforce, and a lack of results.

Understanding the Basic Needs of Employees

American psychologist Frederick Herzberg’s Motivation-Hygiene or two-factor theory plays a central role in identifying the intrinsic needs of employees. Herzberg established that workers were driven by two distinct types of influences: motivational and hygiene factors. 

Employee satisfaction is fueled by hygiene factors or basic needs in a job. These include a person’s salary, relationships, job security, and their immediate work environment. Employee satisfaction is necessary at a workplace as it keeps workers pleased with their situation and hence, improves staff retention.

Unfortunately, there are limitations to employee satisfaction. These basic needs do not drive employees to go the extra mile, which leads to a lack of growth and advancement; stagnation. This is where Herzberg’s motivational factors come in. 

Motivational factors are the extra ingredients that inspire employees to invest more of themselves in their roles, keeping them interested. It makes employment more personal and meaningful. These factors include recognition, challenging situations, responsibility, and opportunities for growth. 

The lack of motivational attractions at a workplace is a major reason why millennials have been referred to as the job-hopping generation

While hygiene factors are easily established (the definite structure of remuneration, staff benefits, etc), motivational factors differ among employees. The challenge lies in supervisors to recognise and understand the specific drive motivators of every employee. This will help create an ideal environment that empowers workers to thrive. 

Pursuing Employee Engagement

Employee engagement is a strategic combination of hygiene and motivation factors. An employee who is merely satisfied lacks the purpose for going the extra mile, while purely motivated individuals may fret over job insecurities, which causes them to jump ship. 

The key to effective employee engagement lies in a balanced organisational structure that provides fundamental worker needs while leveraging the specific interests and strengths of employees on a personal level. 


StrengthsAsia has helped many individual and corporate clients all throughout the region in empowering leaders by enabling breakthrough experiences for both leaders and followers. If you want to learn more about the Strengths Leadership Program, feel free to reach out to us here.

A devotee at the altar of language and a celebrant of expression. Laurenzo has written for various SMEs, MNCs, startups and international brands over the last three years. He specializes in topics of psychology, lifestyle, employee management, and digital trends.

Aly is StrengthsAsia’s marketing and communications guru and lead editor. She's over the top inquisitive and everyone in the company knows her as “The Googler” as she practically googles everything. Honestly, we all worry for her… She is also the Principal Trainer for our one of a kind ice cream team building workshops in Asia.

Share This Post


Leave a Comment

Related Posts

Recent Posts


Follow Us



Subscribe to our Blog