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Focus on engagement, not just happiness

The goal of your reward and recognition programs is employee engagement.

The goal of your reward and recognition programs is employee engagement. Some people, however, might be tempted to think that if their workers are happy, they're all set with the engagement issue. This assumption can be a big mistake.

Forbes Magazine recently emphasized that employee satisfaction is not the same thing as engagement. Both are important attributes to have in the workplace, but your talent management and motivation strategies should be focused on the latter, not merely the former. Equating the two can cripple your reward programs or sales incentives. Their purpose isn't to fill your workers with warm and fuzzy feelings, but to support them in their efforts to excel on the job.

The source explained that happy employees might not be engaged at all – they could be perfectly content to spend the work day chatting with coworkers or browsing Facebook on their mobile phones. Similarly, engaged employees who are committed to doing a good job aren't always happy – and the issue here is that workers who seem to be performing well could be at risk for burnout or turnover. 

In short, it's important to keep both motivation and satisfaction in mind: The ideal employee is both engaged and happy. That's why programs that combine rewards and recognition are powerful management tools. They keep open lines of communication, praise workers for their efforts and inspire them to be more invested in their roles.

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