What happens when employees are neither engaged nor committed?

Nik Penhale Smith

Our recent investigation into employee engagement and commitment in Europe revealed some worrying trends. Results show that when employees measured poorly for engagement and commitment, they also measured poorly for an additional 14 HR themes.

What happens when employees are neither engaged nor committed?

What’s the difference between engagement and commitment?

At Effectory International, we’re often asked to explain the difference between employee engagement and employee commitment. Engagement is an intrinsic attitude that denotes an employee’s enthusiasm for his or her job. Commitment, on the other hand, denotes an employee’s enthusiasm for the company he or she works for.

A simple metaphor for employee engagement

To provide insight into the level of engagement and commitment within an organisation, we categorise employees into four types: engaged and committed, engaged, committed and neither engaged nor committed. The four types differ in the following way:

  • Engaged and committed employees are both engaged in their work and committed to the organisation. Employees love their work and the company they work for.
  • Engaged employees are engaged in their work, but not committed to the organisation.
  • Committed employees are committed to the organisation, but not engaged in their work.
  • Employees that are neither engaged nor committed are neither engaged in their work, nor committed to the organisation.

We believe that the best case scenario is when an employee is engaged in the job and committed to the organisation. If an employee is only engaged, there is the distinct risk that they are not committed to the organisation, and vice versa.

Global Employee Engagement Index™

A comprehensive overview of employee engagement with benchmarks from 57 countries with essential lessons for your HR strategy .


Investigating employee engagement and commitment

During 2014 Effectory International conducted a European-wide employee survey, as well as an investigation into employee engagement and commitment in Europe. The research was conducted in 31 European countries, with the goal of creating a report that provides employee, managers, directors and CEOs with practical, actionable insights to help increase employee engagement and commitment.

Part of the research was dedicated to providing additional insights on the importance of engagement and commitment. In order to do so, we decided to investigate employees that are neither engaged nor committed. Our aim was to determine what trends relate to both sets of employees, and how both sets of employees measured in 15 other HR themes.

Infographic: The percentage of employees across Europe that are neither engaged nor committed 

The impact of engagement and commitment

The results show that compared to the European and Global benchmarks, employees that are neither engaged nor committed not only measured negatively for engagement and commitment, but also for all but 1 of the 15 other HR themes we measured.

Of the 14 measurements, nearly two thirds were very negative. In total, employees that were neither engaged nor committed measured very negatively for 9 of the following HR themes: Attendance Stability, Effectiveness, Efficiency, Leadership, Motivation, Satisfaction, Vitality, Willingness to change and Work Atmosphere.

Alongside the very negative measurements, the same group of employees also measured negatively for 5 more HR themes. The 5 HR themes were: Customer orientation, Loyalty, Performance, Productivity and Role Clarity. The only HR theme that these employees did not negatively measure was retention factor. Analysis showed that on the theme of retention, employees that are neither engaged nor committed showed high variation in their results. 

Employee engagement and commitment is on the rise

Such results show how vital it is for organisations to focus on improving engagement and commitment from top to bottom or vice versa. If little to no attention is paid to those employees that are neither engaged nor committed, the effects to both employee and organisation, can be disastrous.

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