26 Feb, 2020

Is a more ‘engaged’ employee a better performing employee?

I recently worked with a client who was measuring employee engagement and individual performance separately. They were using a well-established and reputable annual survey to measure engagement and a robust annual review process to identify high performers. They wanted to explore the link between those employees who were engaged and those who performed well. So they introduced a demographic question into the engagement survey, asking respondents to record their performance rating at their last annual review.

So what would you expect the result to be?

Logically you would think that those who performed best would also be highly engaged.


A large proportion of high performers actually come out overall as disengaged or at least not very engaged.

In fact, when you looked at the results in more detail, the two measures that the high performers scored lowest on were “I feel empowered” and “I have the right tools and support to do my job”.  Despite that, these guys were still performing brilliantly according to their annual review.

It’s a snap shot, I know, and what you’d really like to do is to pore over the detailed data, which I’m not able to share. But even without the complete picture, it is puzzling isn’t it? Does it point to the fact that being a high performer actually comes from a whole range of factors that aren’t measured by engagement surveys. Factors like a desire  to do the best possible job for the customer because you really understand and are bought into what the customer needs. Or factors that come from within you personally, like good old-fashioned grit, dedication and professional pride to your job well, no matter how frustrating an environment you work in.

If so, the question for businesses is, what more can we do to unlock that passion for customers and to encourage a determined and dedicated mindset?

We work with  organisations to approach engagement in this way – focusing on building understanding and passion for what the organisation does for customers and then developing the right mindset to deliver those customer needs.

It would be great to hear if others have had similar or different results from mapping  engagement survey results against high performers. And what you did as a result.

— Jane Mitchell, Managing Director


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