Corporate culture can aid or stifle workers' engagement


October 31, 2007

It's not enough anymore to be satisfied with your job. Being engaged in your job is the new measure of work happiness that employers desire and researchers are studying these days.

What's the difference?

Being engaged at work means you're emotionally connected, invested in your job and organization and want to contribute to the company's success. As a result, an engaged work force can help a business' bottom line and increase the likelihood that workers will stay with the company, according to several recent studies.

"Engagement scores move positively with positive business outcomes like higher customer satisfaction, higher quality," says Emmett O. Seaborn III, a managing principal and member of Towers Perrin's human resource services team. "Satisfaction scores don't necessarily move in that direction. Companies used to measure satisfaction and saw virtually no connection."

Towers Perrin's recent study of 86,600 workers around the world found that 21 percent of employees worldwide are engaged while 38 percent are partly or completely disengaged.

The study found the organization's culture has the biggest influence on employee engagement. Workers want to work for a company with inspiring and caring leaders, who care about social responsibility, provide career advancement opportunities and encourage innovative thinking, according to the study.

To me, that's the most interesting aspect of the survey because it shows that the organization's culture can either stifle already motivated employees or encourage engagement among its work force.

"Employees want to give more, but they'll check out if the organization doesn't return the investment," Seaborn says. "The study demonstrates what the organization does determines whether a person chooses to invest his or her time in their organization."

In reality, companies scored low in leadership in areas such as communicating openly and honestly and treating employees as if they were the most important part of the organization.

Unless organizations do something about closing the "engagement gap," Seaborn says, they'll suffer as a result.

"If they don't do it, they can expect to have higher turnover and expect employees to give less contribution to the organization," Seaborn says. "And in some cases, the only recourse for an employee is to move on to other employers who do recognize this."

Send your stories, tips and questions to Please include your first name and your city. On the Job is published Monday at

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.