Employee engagement is a very interesting topic in companies. We often hear that a committed employee is a productive employee. But what exactly is employee engagement?

What is employee engagement?

Nowadays, this topic is the main concern of Human Resources Directors (HRD) and managers. It is a strategic issue for all companies.

Employee engagement definition

It can be defined as the behaviour of employees with regard to their tasks and responsibilities.

Emma Bridger, the American author of “Employee engagement: a practical introduction” defines professional engagement as:

The extent to which people are personally involved in the success of a business

Employee engagement means that employees identify with the goals and values of their company. They are emotionally committed and seek the success of their company. Employees’ commitment to their work is the key to success. It is the willingness to achieve professional goals and to positively advance the company.

In psychology, professional engagement translates into a feeling of belonging to a team, a sharing of common values and the ability to overcome any difficulties by putting in more effort at work. These same employees are capable of promoting the company and contributing to its development, and therefore to collective success.

Misconceptions about employee engagement

This notion is to differentiate between the concepts of motivation and job satisfaction.

Employee engagement vs motivation: Motivation at work corresponds to the need to fill a need that is nourished by external elements. Motivation results from the combination of intrinsic and external factors to accomplish a task. It is not necessarily correlated with the company’s interest. Commitment means acting in a collective context.

Employee engagement vs satisfaction:

An employee’s job satisfaction is expressed by a positive evaluation of his working conditions, his relations with his colleagues, his working environment… Employee satisfaction is a concept related to the quality of working life. It is the first step in engaging employees. But a satisfied employee is not necessarily committed to his company.

Employee engagement is a more complex concept than employee motivation and satisfaction. A committed employee is passionate, acts in the collective interest and becomes an ambassador for his company.

The different forms of employee engagement

The scientific community and many experts in HR management and strategies have taken a close interest in the concept of professional engagement. Their numerous studies and years of experience have identified 3 levels of engagement and 8 engagement profiles.

Types of organisational commitment

The various forms of employee involvement in the company are as follows:

Affective commitment

This is the highest level of employee engagement because it is directly related to the emotional attachment of individuals to their company. It is also called commitment of the heart. The employee identifies with the company’s values and culture. They are passionate about their job and understand what is expected with regard to the missions entrusted to them. This form of commitment influences employee loyalty. Employees go to work by choice and want to contribute to the collective development of the organisation.

Normative commitment

In this form of commitment, the employee feels that he or she has a moral and loyal obligation to the company and its hierarchy. This form of commitment may lead the employee to act in accordance with the goals and interests of his employer. The employee feels bound to his or her organisation by a psychological contract. He is indebted to it.

Continuance commitment

This is the lowest level of professional commitment. The continuance commitment is based on the employee’s perception of the costs associated with a possible break in the contractual link with his or her organisation. There is a high rate of absenteeism and presenteeism in this form of commitment. The employee remains out of interest and not out of passion for his or her job.

Professional commitment profiles

employee engagement profiles

Bernard Coulaty, ex-HRD, now trainer and consultant, took advantage of his many professional experiences to identify 8 professional engagement profiles in his book “New deal of employee engagement” (McGraw Hill, 2015).


The arsonist is disengaged from his work. He or she may be in conflict with his or her hierarchy or team members.


The so-called tourist employee is passive and morose. He/ She does not or no longer perceives the meaning of his work. In other words, he/ she is bored but stays at his job for the pay.

9 to 5

This employee profile has a sense of duty, but is limited only to work and schedules. He/ she does not make extra efforts and does not try to create a bond with his colleagues.


The employee described as having a dilemma is an employee who is involved in his or her work but feels frustrated. He or she feels that he or she cannot use all of his or her abilities.


The builder is a person who invests in his/ her work and in his/ her relationships with others. He or she is connected to his goals.


The alchemist employee is fulfilled in both his/ her personal and professional life. He/ she likes what he/ she does and feels attached to the company. He or she is an ambassador.


He/ she is a perfectionist. He/ she doesn’t know where to set his/ her limits and this can affect occupational health. You have to be careful with this type of profile.


The fanatic develops an intolerant attitude towards other members of his company who do not share the same values as him/ her.

Developing employee engagement

Developing professional engagement within the company is not an easy task. In the United Kingdom, according to a Gallup survey carried out in 2017, only 11% of employees are committed to their work.

The brakes on employee engagement

Professional commitment within a company proves to be a performance accelerator. However, engaging employees is not so simple. There are many obstacles:

  • Insufficient resources
  • Successive interruptions of tasks
  • The constraint of time
  • Lack of organisation
  • Conflicts at work
  • Failure to take into account the balance between personal and professional life
  • The ambiguity of the role
  • Authoritarian management

The levers of professional commitment

The quality of working life is the main lever for employee engagement. Indeed, it is difficult to imagine working effectively in an atmosphere that does not allow for communication and the expression of disagreements or conflicts.

By providing concrete solutions to employees, the quality of working life allows the implementation of several levers that encourage employee engagement:

  • Listening to employees
  • Flexible working conditions
  • The establishment of a culture of trust
  • Communication
  • Recognition and Feedback
  • Skills development

The benefits of employee engagement

Happy employee

Fostering employee engagement at work proves to be very beneficial. The many Gallup studies on the subject highlight 3 advantages for a company with committed employees:

  • 24% reduction in turnover: Professional commitment reflects an emotional attachment of the employee to the company. This feeling of unity and cohesion helps to reduce the rate of absenteeism in the company and therefore turnover. An employee who is an ambassador for his or her company will not go elsewhere.
  • 17% increase in productivity: Companies with a high level of employee engagement have on average 17% higher productivity than other companies. A committed employee is a passionate employee. He or she will tend to have a better ability to overcome obstacles and put in more effort.
  • 21% increase in profitability: Engaged employees are more productive and loyal to their company. These elements improve profitability through better performance.



Engaged employees is a rare commodity in a company. The Human Resources department must make it a priority strategy through the implementation of a quality of working life policy. Indeed, QWL makes it possible to activate the main levers of employee engagement. Commitment at work makes it possible to develop economic and social performance on a sustainable basis.

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