Forget Employee Engagement. Are They Happy?

(From Business Finance) -- Organizations have entire departments and a corporate officer dedicated to measuring various aspects of financial performance. Even the smallest of companies has a finance person who tracks sales, expenditures, taxes, and reports on achievements and problems to the boss. Financial metrics are tracked daily in some cases, and at least weekly or monthly. Real-time decisions are made based on changes to key metrics like cash flow, sales, orders and expenses.

Yet, more and more organizations today are driven by people, not just investments in raw materials and equipment. In fact, even an airline, which has some pretty expensive equipment and raw materials (fuel), finds that labor costs are one of the biggest items on their list of expenses.

In recent years, companies have become more concerned about tracking the satisfaction or engagement (the newest buzzword) of their employees. I'm told that both are important but that they are different. An employee working 80 hours a week on an important project that takes phone calls and responds to emails at all hours of the night might be highly engaged, but not very satisfied with her job. Conversely, I recall working with a group of bored, talented engineers at a big oil company that were very happy with their jobs because of the short hours and fat paychecks, but they were not at all engaged in their work or the organization's mission. As the economy improves and more companies start hiring, employers need to start paying more attention to the happiness of their employees or they will go elsewhere.

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