I Don’t Want No Satisfaction

“I can’t get no satisfaction,” sings Mick Jagger, front man for the Rolling Stones, in the hit song “Satisfaction.”

When it comes to the world of work, however, achieving employee satisfaction isn’t so difficult. In fact, employee satisfaction is somewhat superficial and easy to attain — a simple perk can satisfy an employee. The more meaningful state of mind — the kind that human resources professionals say is of most importance when aiming to hire and retain top talent — is engagement.

Whether hobnobbing at a cocktail party or mingling with friends at a baseball game, engaged employees will speak proudly of their employer, while simply satisfied employees may not. Satisfied employees may clock in and give a hearty 9-to-5 effort. But truly engaged employees will go the extra mile, exerting a higher level of discretionary contribution.

The difference can be deeply personal.

“If I’m identifying with my company, if I resonate with its successes and failures and treat its successes and failures as my own, then just like I’m interested in promoting myself, I’m motivated to promote my organization,” said Seymour Adler, a partner in the performance, talent and reward practice at HR consultancy Aon Hewitt.

There are a host of psychological and motivational components at the core of employee engagement. Yet some of these factors are largely out of an employer’s control. The most effective engagement drivers — career advancement, recognition and organization reputation — are strategic, well-designed and have employees’ specific wants and needs in mind.

The Rolling Stones may have spent the early part of their career longing for satisfaction. But after 51 years and countless albums and tours, it’s hard to argue that their level of discretionary effort isn’t still through the roof.

Satisfaction vs. Engagement: Human Psychology Plays Its Part