By Victor Ruiz
Emotional engagement vs monetary engagement – A battle that can change the future of your company
‘Engagement’ is sometimes quite a complex and an ambiguous term which encompasses different aspects that we should take into account. According to a research conducted by the Charter Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), “People could be engaged with clients or customers, but not with the organization. Or they could be engaged with their career or profession, but not with their employer.”
Furthermore, “We could also find that employees are transactionally engaged with one locus (the employer, for example) and emotionally engaged with the client. And to complicate matters still further, both of these might vary over time!”
With the intention of clarifying the approach of this article and hoping to bring some order into this quite chaotic engagement issue, we will refer on the engagement of employees with regard to organizations. In particular, we will try to establish some differences between employees who are emotionally engaged and those who are monetarily engaged.
First of all, it is necessary to explain what these two types of engagement mean. Back to the CIPD’s report, “Emotional engagement occurs when people really identify with their work and want to do a good job, when employees have an emotional investment in the job or employer or identify fully with the employer’s aims or values”. What is more, it happens “When people identify positive feelings with their work, are motivated by the desire to do a good job and work with valued colleagues.”
On the other side, a monetary engagement employee is not necessarily a disengaged one, but engagement in this case is clearly limited or minimal, because it depends on what the employee exchanges for the job in the frame of a financial and materialistic context.
Emotion vs Transaction
In the words of British author, speaker and consultant Simon Sinek, “When people are financially invested, they want a return. When people are emotionally invested, they want to contribute”.
From our perspective, the differences between emotional and monetary engagement are significant and important. Employees who are emotionally engaged are more likely to actively participate in the different activities of the company, showing commitment, enthusiasm and motivation. These employees tend to do more for the company than the average expectations: they are not only waiting for job to be done, but also have the initiative to propose ideas and suggestions, aiming to reach the goals.
As a consequence, emotionally engaged employees present higher levels of performance and results. Thus, these kind of workers are crucial assets for the company, since other teammates can see their outcomes, interpret their behavior as a role model and be inspired by them. In addition, the emotionally engaged have a better mentality to withstand the pressure arising from intensified work and are less likely to experience burnout, making excuses that may present as an obstacle for achieving or present problems with their work life balance.
On the other side, the expectations of monetary engaged employees are normally limited to what they obtain in exchange for their work, as they are characterized by a lack of identification with the values and culture of the company. They tend to do only what they are asked to, without any intention of going further and taking part in the decision-making process or in any other initiative that implies a more active role in the organization. Besides, these workers will most probably leave the company as soon as they find a more monetarily rewarding opportunity.
We are not saying that these workers are completely disengaged, but their levels of engagement clearly need improvement, as well as their level of performance, which is noticeably lower compared to emotionally engaged workers. Moreover, they represent a high risk for the company if they happen to infect their peers with their lack of motivation, discouragement and apathy. This is the reason why managers as well as teammates must be involved in analyzing the causes of such situations, listening to those employees and trying to work together to find a solution that will undoubtedly satisfy all parts.
Another risk that companies face are the potential dangers that arise from increased work load and the amount of pressure on the shoulders of emotionally engaged employees. Sometimes, managers tend to put more work on the desks of those workers, motivated by their positive attitude and their good performances. To some extent, this is understandable, but they need to find the right balance before it is too late. Otherwise, engaged employees may begin to think that they are victims of their good work and this could make them feel like they are being exploited in some way, which can have disastrous consequences and turn them into monetary engaged workers or eventually push them into the dark side, that is, disengagement.
In conclusion, there is no doubt that emotionally engaged employees show a better attitude and perform at a much higher level than monetarily engaged ones. They are more likely to put their best in order to achieve objectives and contribute to the growth of the company. As for managers, they should take care of the employees who are fully engaged, as well as invest time on employees with limited engagement, aiming at turning their situation around and making everyone in the company row in the same direction.