The Real Definition of Employee Engagement post image

Ever since Gallup revealed their findings that 70% of workers are either disengaged or actively disengaged in their work, “employee engagement” has been all the buzz. Quite frankly, none of this is new, and anyone reading this blog knows that and is working hard to change the game.

Tonight, I started to write a different post (which I’ll save for Monday), but got sidetracked when for grins, I looked up Employee Engagement in the Urban Dictionary, searching for a pithy opener. I was shocked by the search results:


employee engagement isn’t defined.

Can you define it?

Game on.

Let’s do this!  Please leave your best definitions in the comment section here, and I’ll upload your responses (or just go for it and upload your own to Urban Dictionary). What an opportunity to tell the truth. Of course consider the medium–you’ll want to be “hip.”

P.S. my son Sebastian (9) reminded me the other day (after I commented on how “hip” he looked) that neither of us would know “hip” if it bit us in the butt… but “the way we looked now, was about as good as it gets.”

With that said, I’m quite sure our hip crowd is up to the challenge.

Your turn. How do you define employee engagement?
Filed Under:   Authenticity & Transparency, Career & Learning, Communication, confident humility, Energy & Engagement
Karin Hurt
Karin Hurt
Karin Hurt, is CEO of Let’s Grow Leaders and a former Verizon Wireless executive. Karin was named on Inc.’s list of 100 Great Leadership Speakers for Your Next Conference, the American Management Association List of 50 Leaders to Watch, and as a Trust Across America Top Thought Leader in Trust. She’s the award-winning author of two books, Winning Well: A Manager’s Guide to Getting Results— Without Losing Your Soul, and Overcoming an Imperfect Boss. She’s regularly featured in business publications including Fast Company, Entrepreneur, and Inc.

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What People Are Saying

Marc Bridgham   |   13 March 2015   |   Reply

Employee Engagement: The level of discretionary attention that a person brings to the task at hand. The amount of care, craft, presence, and quality that someone brings to producing something, interacting with someone, or any other type of work activity, learning, for example. Engagement happens at the physical, mental and spiritual level. Thomas Peters once wrote “Attention is all there is” which I think speaks to engagement. In my way of approaching Employee Engagement it is akin to Employee Commitment and to the concept of Flow. I make a distinction between it and Employee Involvement which I define as the structural inclusion of employees in decision-making, process improvement, idea generation, feedback, planning and other processes which influence the way works gets done or the nature and direction of the enterprise

Karin Hurt   |   13 March 2015   |   Reply

Marc, Beautiful! Thank you!

Charles Matthews   |   13 March 2015   |   Reply

Employee engagement is the emotional connection between the employee and the organization’s goals. It’s where the employee is proud and committed to work for his/her employer, doing everything she/he can to make it work (whatever it is).

Karin Hurt   |   13 March 2015   |   Reply

Charles, excellent! So great to have your thoughts in the mix. An emotional connection makes all the difference.

Don Currier   |   13 March 2015   |   Reply

I don’t consider myself “hip” enough to respond to the Urban Dictionary above, so I’ll wrtie my thoughts here. I think my good friend and former colleague Joe Tye says it best. “Great organizations are characterized by people holding themselves accountable for their attitudes and behaviors as well as their performance because they have pride of ownership. A culture of ownership is not created by economic interest, it springs from emotional commitment. Ownership is doing what needs to be done because you expect it of yourself; ownership springs from the intrinsic motivation of pride and engagement.” That said, if we create an environment that allows for this to happen, employee engagement becomes easy and doesn’t really need a definition.

Karin Hurt   |   13 March 2015   |   Reply

Don, Excellent. I’m so with you.. ownership is a great sign of engagement. P.S. “hip” is over-rated ;-)

Sharon Gilmour-Glover   |   13 March 2015   |   Reply

I agree with what the other comments are saying. Real engagement is just that, it’s real. There is an authentic alignment between employee’s personal value, purpose and vision for their lives and the organisations, whether they’re consciously aware of it or not. Engagement is emotional and spiritual first and then rational.

Karin Hurt   |   14 March 2015   |   Reply

Sharon, Nice. So true. I agree that engagement is emotional and spiritual first.

Paul Robbins   |   13 March 2015   |   Reply

Employee engagement is operational when the employee is focused on the mission of the organization as represented in its goals and objectives. The employee frames conversations with teammates regarding the task at hand in the context of the present goals and objectives and their relationship to the organization’s mission, vision, and values. From this action, the employee derives meaning in the work, and IF the organization gives the employee the license to be self-directing in a team context, the employee will be fully engaged in the work of the moment.

Karin Hurt   |   14 March 2015   |   Reply

Paul, Excellent! Context, framing and empowerment. Indeed.

Dallas Tye   |   13 March 2015   |   Reply

Engagement is wanting to do, rather than having to do, even when you have no other choice but to complete, create, serve etc.

Its springing out of bed in the morning as opposed to hitting the snooze button.

Its an incredibly positive force and can be ‘felt’ by others; even by those not engaged. It can also be a calm confidence that tough times will make way for better times. Its perseverance.

Karin Hurt   |   14 March 2015   |   Reply

Dallas, So great to see you back. Love that springing out of bed in the morning feeling.

Bob O'Reilly   |   14 March 2015   |   Reply

Walk around the building and count the number of smiles you see. Life 101 – if people are happy, they have more energy and are naturally more productive.

Karin Hurt   |   14 March 2015   |   Reply

Beautiful comments. I’ve uploaded a few under the pseudonym “Let’s Grow Leaders Tribe.” They are under peer review. My first time doing this, so should be interesting to see if they stick ;-)

Fernando   |   14 March 2015   |   Reply

For me employee engagement bridges the gap between compliance and commitment. Creating a culture that takes employees from going through the motions to creating emotions that last a life time and generate positive business results.

cindy navarino   |   15 March 2015   |   Reply

Employee engagement : When I was promoted many years ago as a front line leader my manager gave me the book “Managing from the Heart” and she signed it . It was in that momemt I knew I was exactly where I wanted to be . I have always believed employee engagement began with me, if I walked in every day complaining about one thing or another my home, the pets, family,systems, the job etc my employees would do the same and this only fosters and contributes to that same old vicious cycle filled with unnecessary noise. I look in the mirror every day and say “self” what can you bring today which will be different then you did yesterday? I cannot change everyone’s thinking but I can absolutley enfluence them. Being transparent, genuine, accountable, trusting,reliable, and honest with employees makes it easier to get to that next level of employee engagement. When you have happy employees, you have happy customers.I have always believed work should be fun an exciting place to come to everyday. We spend an average 40-60% of our time at work some more. Yes, I believe when employees get up to come to work they should look forward to it knowing they have a great environment, team,supervisor,Director and a great company to come in for. This type of environment helps to drive highly emotionally connected employees on top producing teams. Hey, maybe I’m “Hip” after all.. go figure !

Karin Hurt   |   18 March 2015   |   Reply

Cindy, Must awesome. Thanks so much for sharing your journey. Namaste.

Bob Brady   |   17 March 2015   |   Reply

Employee Engagement: The magnetic appeal of teams of peers working with extraordinary focus and energy in pursuit of something remarkable.

Rob Long   |   04 April 2015   |   Reply

Employee Engagement: when one’s energy finds insistence on being by bridging the feeling of connection for their talents in service to an irresistible opportunity or injustice. (Great question to ponder … @Rob_CoVenture)