ORG Blog

Employee Engagement Versus Productivity – A New Study Reveals Whether One is More Important than the Other



Employee engagement efforts have become the go-to answer for fixing a host of common workforce issues. And while important, engagement is often given so much attention that organizations may lose sight of the end goal.

Why do organizations want engaged employees? There are several reasons, but most of them boil down to the fact that engaged employees are productive employees. Productivity affects the bottom line. So it makes sense to prioritize engagement, right?

Yes! But as we’ll see, relying on engagement efforts alone to influence productivity may put both endeavors in jeopardy.

Discover the secret to employee productivity. Download Our Guide





According to the Harvard Business Review (HBR), corporations are spending $100 billion annually to increase employee engagement. However, Gallup’s latest study shows that only 15% of the workforce is actively engaged (highly involved in and enthusiastic about their work)so the result of this investment is underwhelming. And costly. HBR estimates a loss of $450 billion annually due to the fact that 85% of employees are still not engaging.


These numbers prove that the heavy focus on creating a more engaged culture isn’t working as well as many have hoped.

So, what can be done to engage a higher percentage of employees and actually increase productivity, too?


Engagement and productivity go hand-in-hand, so HR leaders shouldn’t feel that they need to carry the entire burden alone. Maybe it’s time to shift some of the weight to other areas of the organization rather than expecting engagement to fix everything.

All leaders can help cultivate productivity and engagement by:

  • Fulfilling their role to the best of their ability
  • Providing opportunities for personal and professional development so that each employee can perform at the right level on behalf of the team
  • Making sure individuals have the skills and competencies they need to do their work well

With that in mind, here are some ways to develop a workforce that’s both engaged and productive.

1. Stay focused on engagement.

  • Start by finding the right people. Do they understand your organization’s culture and values? Just as skills can be taught, so can culture be cultivated. As you find great employees, always be looking for ways to invite them into your company's culture.

  • Create a fair work environment. Reevaluate your current processes, outcomes, and rewards through in the lens of fairness.

  • Collaboration is essential to creating an environment that makes true employee commitment possible. Include employees in discussions about work design and processes.
2. But don’t stop there–focus on productivity, too.

  • Continue to build on your foundation of engaged employees.

  • Learn how to boost commitment. Productivity hinges on commitment, which is needed on several levels (to the task, to the project, to peers, to leadership, to the company).

  • Empower employees with the resources, environment, support, authority, and influence needed to do their job well and feel successful.

  • Include employees when celebrating organization-wide and group accomplishments – build pride and ownership of work.
3. Partner with an experienced organization to instigate company-wide change.

  • Design processes to align with company goals and values, keeping in mind that employee productivity and engagement support each other.
  • Reach for even seemingly unattainable goals with a repeatable process that provides an uptick in productivity and promotes a workforce that’s engaged to the level of true commitment.
  • Choose a reliable, third-party partner with a proven track record to guide your organization through the transformation. An experienced, external perspective can make all the difference in helping you put a collaborative solution in motion while allowing you to continue day-to-day operations.
  • Get the tools and training you need to succeed from a hands-on, trusted source. (To get you started, here are 7 Levers to help you reach maximum sustained performance.)

You guessed it: they’re both important. Employee productivity and engagement are not the same thing and achieving one won’t necessarily guarantee the other. Both are needed to ensure that organizations are making the biggest impact possible and seeing the results they need to be successful.

This means that HR professionals should continue to focus on engagement, but also share the responsibility. You can follow through by helping to create a workplace that supports and values employees.


Many people will read this article, but only those who take action will see the benefits. If you’re ready to think outside the engagement box, ORG is here to help.

We’re experienced. We know what works. We’ve seen consistent results. The efforts we’ve mentioned (as well as several others in our arsenal) have proven to drive the change that will dramatically boost employee selection, engagement, and productivity—and ultimately your business’s bottom line.  

Don’t let hard work deter you from moving forward. Start today by evaluating where your employees currently stand and how you rate as a leader. No matter where your organization currently falls on the engagement spectrum, we’re here to listen and answer your questions. No problem is too big (nor too small).

Want to learn more? Take a look at our best practices for boosting productivity through employee commitment.

Discover the secret to employee productivity. Download Our Guide

Still hungry for info? Check out these transformational insights:

When the way you’re working isn’t working, ORG can help. By fostering collaboration, boosting engagement, aligning goals, and implementing sustainable change, we can increase performance by two to three times your current goal— or more. Ready to work together?

Topics: Employee Engagement Productivity