Organizational Satisfaction surveys are intended to provide information about whether the company is successfully creating a work environment in which employee expectations are adequately fulfilled. The underlying assumption is that satisfied employees will be more productive overall and less likely to leave the organization.
In essence, satisfaction surveys are being used as a proxy for trying to understand how to engage employees in the work they do and in the mission and goals of the companies they work for. Engagement – the state of employee involvement desired by companies – is not the same as satisfaction and identifying it requires different metrics.
The craving for engagement expressed in this verse of Satisfaction:
“He’s tellin’ me more and more
About some useless information
Supposed to drive my imagination.”
Mick Jagger, Keith Richards
Engagement produces creativity, productivity and both emotional and mental commitment. Engagement is “being in the zone”, or “a state of flow1” which becomes possible when there is a balance of a high level challenge and skill, clear purpose, immediate and unequivocal feedback and concentration on the work. Intrinsic satisfaction is exceptionally high when an individual is engaged.
Building an Engaged Workforce is an HR Trend that has been around for a while and is likely to stay for some time because studies have indicated that when people are genuinely engaged (not just satisfied), productivity and profitability increase, shareholder value increases and attraction and retention of key talent improves.
(1 A State of Flow – Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi in his seminal work on work, motivation and happiness describes the condition as “a state of concentration or complete absorption with the activity at hand and the situation.)