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The Link Between Employee Happiness and Workplace Engagement

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I think everyone who has done much reading on the topic agrees that there is a big difference between employee satisfaction (an attitude) and employee engagement (a behavior).

Now here we are looking at the relationship between employee happiness and workplace engagement.  There certainly is one — because the way people feel determines how they behave.  The critical value of all the steps employers (leadership and management) take to enhance workplace engagement is how it impacts employees at an emotional level.  If we do things right as leaders, employees feel safe (things like empowerment, recognition, validation, challenge, growth) and connected (think “adult attachment”).

In our work we see employee satisfaction and happiness as natural outcomes of engagement.  While it is true that an employee could be happy and at the same time disengaged, there is a marked difference in a workplace culture where employees are generally happy and it will be much easier to nurture engagement in that setting.

Happiness does matter, but the goal of leadership is not to make employees “happy” or “satisfied.” The key goal is to focus on the empirically validated variables that contribute to engagement.  We have never met an actively engaged employee who was not also happy with their job.  There may be other things going on in their life that impact their affect, but when you ask them about their work, they are happy, even thrilled.

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