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Harry Hertz

Quality Insider

We Knew It All Along

Workforce satisfaction does not equal workforce engagement

Published: Wednesday, December 4, 2013 - 16:06

Recently, I read a blog post about the “Myths of Motivation.” The point of the post is that motivating employees takes some time and energy and is not formulaic; one size does not fit all. The author then discusses four misconceptions about employee motivation.

1. It is all up to the boss. No it isn’t! You can’t force employees to be motivated, but you can encourage them to be self-motivated by creating the appropriate environment.
2. You know exactly what your employees want. No you don’t! Each employee is unique and what motivates each of them might not be the same thing that motivates you.
3. Job satisfaction = motivation. No it doesn’t! Satisfaction and engagement aren’t equivalent. You need an alignment between organizational goals and personal goals. Then you achieve engagement and motivation because your employee now identifies with the organization. How often have we heard, “It’s a job; I’m satisfied.”
4. All you need is cash. Not true! People want fair and adequate compensation, but beyond that they want to identify with their jobs and organizations. They want to learn. They want a work culture that makes them look forward to coming to work and contributing.

Is any of this surprising? It certainly isn’t if you’ve been using the Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence as a management systems framework. Workforce motivation has been a part of the Baldrige Criteria for many years, and in 2007 we started a focus on workforce engagement, recognizing that workforce satisfaction alone did not lead to engagement and loyalty.

Some of the key concepts in workforce engagement that are included in the criteria include:
• How do senior leaders communicate with and engage the entire workforce? How do they encourage frank, two-way conversation?
• How do you determine key elements that affect workforce engagement for different workforce groups and segments?
• How do you ensure that your organizational culture benefits from the diverse ideas, cultures, and thinking of your workforce?
• How does your learning and development system support the organization’s needs as well as the personal development of your workforce members?
• How do you manage effective career progression for your workforce members?
• How do you analyze key business results to identify opportunities for improvement in both workforce engagement and business results?


How would your organization and its leaders answer these questions? Would their current answers lead to an engaged workforce?

First published Dec. 3, 2013, on Blogrige.


About The Author

Harry Hertz’s picture

Harry Hertz

Harry Hertz retired in June 2013 from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), where he had served as director of the Baldrige Performance Excellence Program since 1995. For more than 15 years he was the primary architect of the Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence, responsible for expansion of the Baldrige Program and Award to healthcare, education, and nonprofits, including government. Hertz serves on the advisory group for VHA’s Center for Applied Healthcare Studies, and on the adjunct faculty of American University. He has a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn, and a Ph.D. from M.I.T.


According to Herzberg

According to Herzberg (remember the hygiene motivation theory in Psych101?), motivation comes from within & deals with the content of the work, not the carrot or stick - http://hbr.org/2003/01/one-more-time-how-do-you-motivate-employees/