Are You Creating Engaged or Entitled Employees?

Our research shows that employee engagement is closely linked to financial and customer experience success. So should companies just focus on making their employees happy? Not necessarily. Employee engagement is not just about the employee, it’s about connecting the employees with the goals of the organization. As you can see from the chart below, employee engagement requires being high on two scales:

  • Empowered: Feel they have the responsibility and capability to make decisions that affect customers.
  • Aligned: Feel that they are responsible for helping the company achieve its goals and are committed to delivering on its values.

EmployeeEngageEntitled2Thinking about those two dimensions, there are four categories of employees:

  • Disengaged: These employees feel no real connection with the company, other than as a source of income.
  • Marginalized: These employees want to help the company succeed, but don’t apply much personal judgement to their work.
  • Entitled: These employees feel that they have the freedom to make decisions, but don’t feel responsible for the overall success of the company.
  • Engaged: These employees use their judgement to make decisions that they believe are in the best interest of the company.

If you want engaged employees, take a look at our Five I’s of Employee Engagement and the Temkin Employee Engagement Index.

The bottom line: Focus on employee engagement, not employee entitlement

Written by 

I am an experience management transformist, helping organizations improve business results by engaging the hearts and minds of their customers, employees, and partners. My "job" is Head of the Qualtrics XM Institute. The Institute is still being established, but our goal is to help organizations around the world thrive by mastering Experience Management (XM). As part of this focus, I examine strategy, culture, interaction design, customer service, branding and leadership practices. And, as many people know, I love to speak about these topics in almost any forum. Prior to joining Qualtrics, I was managing partner of Temkin Group (leading CX research, advisory, and training firm), co-founder and chair of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (, and a VP at Forrester Research. I'm a fanatical student of business, so this blog provides an outlet for sharing insights from my ongoing educational journey. Check out my LinkedIn profile:

5 thoughts on “Are You Creating Engaged or Entitled Employees?”

  1. This is a great article. Before you can succeed with external customers, your internal team must be engaged, trained and excited about their jobs. Work­force sta­bil­ity makes your busi­ness more prof­itable. Uncon­trolled turnover, and high employee attri­tion drain com­pany prof­itabil­ity fast. Train­ing your team—from your most valu­able reps to your managers—helps you build your brand, improve employee reten­tion, and main­tain your com­pet­i­tive advantage.

  2. That is incredibly powerful! I have seen the entitled employee many times before but never been able to put my finger on it. To a senior exec they can often look like a “shiny star” owning their empowerment but operational managers can more often see through the gloss and identify the folly in their single-minded execution. They can be pretty disruptive to organisations!

  3. Reblogged this on Lovable Marketing and commented:
    I encourage you to take a look at the interesting typology of employees published by B. Temkin. Before thinking about satisfying customers, a solid basis consists in implementing a management approach which creates employees, who are willing to please customers!

  4. One of the challenges with employee engagement is everyone seems to have their own definition. We often talk about ways to improve it, but we may or may not be talking about the same thing.

    I like your definition, but also note that it’s slightly different than some of the other well-known definitions out there. Ex:

    Gallup: “Engaged employees are involved in and enthusiastic about their work.”
    BlessingWhite: The intersection of job performance and job satisfaction (they have a grid like yours, but different factors).
    DecisionWise: The intersection of an employee’s job satisfaction, effectiveness, and motivation (a three-dimensional grid!).

  5. Great article. Employee engagement begins with building an intentional culture that aligns and links business priorities with those of your employees and customers. This may require a review and recommitment of the foundational Mission/Vision, Values and Behaviors from the executives to the front lines. The success or failure of a business is determined by the hundreds of intentional decisions employees make every day so making sure employees understand that link between their actions and business success is critical.

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