How are ‘engaged’ employees different from ‘involved’ employees?

Engagement and involvement are often confused by people because of the very thin line differentiating them

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There are two kinds of employees in an organisation who excel at work in different ways — the ones who are ‘engaged’ and the ones who are ‘involved’ in their work. The two may not look different on paper, but they are actually vastly different in action.

‘Involvement’ means that the employees are not only focused on the work, but also want to add value to the organisation.

Very often, people use the terms ‘employee engagement’ and ‘employee involvement’ interchangeably. They define these two terms according to what they feel is best suited for their organisation.

“Engaged employees are those who take up every challenge thrown at them, and passionately pursue everything they do at work”

Nihar Ghosh, former president – human resources, Emami

Employees who wish to be involved in the businesses of their organisations have a desire to learn more and rise quickly up the hierarchy. They spend more time getting to know about the inner workings of the organistion and help create new goals that can be achieved in the future.

The ones who are engaged in their work in a professional manner, are likely to perform only according to the standards set by the organisation. They tend to not go far outside the outlines of their respective assignments.

As such, their ‘involvement’ at work is restricted to completing the tasks assigned to them, and they try not to surpass the minimal responsibilities.

However, it would be wrong to rigidly differentiate the two terms this way, because as mentioned earlier, they can mean different things to different people and organisations.

Nihar Ghosh, former president – human resources, Emami, says, “Engaged employees are those who take up every challenge thrown at them, and passionately pursue everything they do at work.”

Involved employees, however, are mostly interested in getting the work done without focusing on excelling on the personal front, Ghosh explains.

As per Amit Sharma, CHRO, Volvo Group India, “Involved employees are the ones who have a sense of ownership. They’re practically running the business. Their duties go beyond the job description and the tend to always look at the bigger picture.”

Engaged employees strive to improve themselves, and focus on their responsibilities, says Sharma.

Deepti Mehta, assistant vice president – HR, Schneider Electric-Luminous India, feels that engaged employees make that extra effort to do more at work.

“Involved employees are the ones who have a sense of ownership. They’re practically running the business. Their duties go beyond the job description and the tend to always look at the bigger picture”

Amit Sharma, CHRO, Volvo Group India

“Engaged employees often go beyond their key result areas (KRAs) to deliver the best service they can to the organisation. They have an innate enthusiasm that shows in their ability to take up more than one task and complete all without hesitation.”

On the other hand, “involved employees stay within the limits of their jobs. Even though they’re high performers, they work according to the guidelines of their operations only, enunciates Mehta

Clearly, the definitions of engagement and involvement overlap in such a way that it is sometimes difficult to differentiate between them in a concrete manner. As much as they differ from each other, the two have some similarities as well. Neither of these employees are a liability to the organisation, and they do not have any adverse effects on the workforce.

The reason many organisations alienate their workforce is because they impose more work on them and cling to unrealistic expectations for the results.

“Involved employees stay within the limits of their jobs. Even though they’re high performers, they work according to the guidelines of their operations only”

Deepti Mehta, assistant vice president – HR, Schneider Electric-Luminous India

Both the engaged and involved employees are beneficial for the organisation. Both ‘engagement’ and ‘involvement’ have positive outcomes. They are both usually applied to high performers and are a way of gauging success at work.

At the end of the day, employee engagement and involvement stem from within employees who want to not only improve at their job, but also take part in the different kinds of activities in the organisation. They reflect in their diligence and self-confidence.

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