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Best Definition of Employee Engagement

Written by

Jamie Yan


January 30, 2019


What is employee engagement? Last year, while we were hosting a webinar, we posed this simple question to our audience. We received over 50 different responses from those who engaged (pun intended).

As difficult as it is to define, employee engagement is a real challenge in the workplace. CEOs continue to put culture and engagement at the top of their challenges. HR departments, internal communications teams, and people managers are looking to improve engagement. Many different software technologies are angling toward improving things. And many of us can regurgitate Gallup’s employee engagement survey data in our sleep. That withstanding, a common definition eludes the industry.

If we’re going to tackle this problem, we need to more closely align on what employee engagement means and how to define it. So we spent an afternoon searching for the best employee engagement definitions out there:

The Best Definition of Employee Engagement (Winner)

Ultimately, we settled on the following simple employee engagement definition as the best:

“Employee engagement is the emotional commitment the employee has to the organization and its goals.” – Kevin Kruse, Forbes

This definition of employee engagement is short and clear. Succinctly, employee engagement is an employee’s “emotional commitment.” More importantly, this definition appreciates that employee engagement is a spectrum, not a binary truth. When we think about our own emotional commitment to our organization and its goals, we rarely have an all-or-nothing point of view. Instead, it is a tradeoff between the amount of energy exerted for an anticipated outcome. Too many employee engagement definitions out there wrongly place employees in engaged and unengaged buckets.

The employee engagement question needs to be about how you can make employees more:

  • engaged,
  • connected, and
  • emotionally committed.

Best Definition of Employee Engagement (Contenders)

Wanting a little more simple employee engagement definitions? Unfortunately, there are a lot of murky definitions out there.

Here are 6 other employee engagement definitions with a slightly different perspective:

“Engaged employees as those who are involved in, enthusiastic about and committed to their work and workplace.” – Gallup

“A deep, personal, and empowered investment in work.” – Grovo

“Engagement is employees’ willingness and ability to contribute to company success.” – Willis Towers Watson

“A fundamental concept in the effort to understand and describe, both qualitatively and quantitatively, the nature of the relationship between an organization and its employees. An “engaged employee” is defined as one who is fully absorbed by and enthusiastic about their work and so takes positive action to further the organization’s reputation and interests.” – Wikipedia

“Employee engagement represents the levels of enthusiasm and connection employees have with their organization. It’s a measure of how motivated people are to put in extra effort for their organization, and a sign of how committed they are to staying there.” – Culture Amp

“The level of an employee’s psychological investment in their organization.” – AON Hewitt

How a modern intranet can improve employee engagement

Simpplr provides software for organizations to manage their employee intranet and internal communications. Research has shown that if you want to improve employee engagement, you should focus some of your efforts on internal communications, clarifying company strategy, and helping connect coworkers. This is where intranet software can help.

If you’d like to learn more about employee engagement, download our eBook: Strategies to Improve Employee Engagement

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