A Guide to Driving Employee Engagement

Explore the 5 key drivers of engagement, from clear communication to psychological safety. These drivers are the secret to a thriving, productive workplace.

Nathan Goldstein

Co-founder of Together

Published on 

December 29, 2023

Updated on 

Time to Read

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With the rise of hybrid and remote work options, employees have gained more freedom in how and where they work. However, there's a challenge hidden in this newfound freedom: maintaining employee engagement

Employee engagement is the cornerstone of a thriving workplace. It drives productivity and motivation and correlates with higher revenue growth, net profit, and customer satisfaction. 

But what motivates employees to do their jobs with enthusiasm and commitment?

When organizational leaders and managers understand what drives employee engagement, they are better able to craft strategies that keep employees not only happy but also fiercely loyal. 

In this blog post, we have compiled some key drivers of employee engagement to help you create a workspace where everyone flourishes, whether they work from a home office or the traditional cubicle in a bustling office.

What is employee engagement?

Employee engagement is the emotional connection an employee feels towards their organization. It’s about more than just showing up and doing the job - it’s the passion, dedication, and genuine interest employees bring to their daily tasks. 

Gartner describes employee engagement as the degree to which workers are enthusiastic about their roles, demonstrate loyalty to the company, and willingly go above and beyond in their tasks.

Engaged employees are more productive and motivated because they find meaning and purpose in their work. They’re not just looking for a paycheck; they’re invested in the organization’s success.

And most importantly, engaged employees are loyal. They’re more likely to stay with the company, lowering the hiring and training costs and leading to higher revenue and net profit margins. 

Engaged employees, who stick around, tend to provide better customer service, resulting in increased customer satisfaction. 

It's a cycle where everyone wins: employees, the company, and customers.

What is the role of leadership in employee engagement?

Effective leadership is the linchpin of employee engagement. When leaders excel at their roles, they inspire and motivate their teams, creating a work environment where employees are more engaged and enthusiastic.

To improve engagement in your organization, start by evaluating your own leadership style and considering how you can make small changes to make your team feel valued, respected, and more engaged. 

Here are three key ways leaders can inspire their teams:

  1. By empowering employees — Leaders should grant their team members the freedom to make decisions and give them a say in their work. When employees have a voice and feel they can make choices, they experience a sense of psychological freedom, which is vital for their engagement.
  2. By strengthening employees — Strengthening leaders help satisfy their followers' need for competence. They support their team by delegating tasks, providing challenging opportunities, and encouraging the development of their skills and knowledge. When employees feel they are growing and becoming more competent, they become more engaged in their work. 
  3. By connecting employees — Leaders should encourage collaboration, teamwork, and foster a positive team spirit and fulfill employees’ need for relatedness. When team members feel connected and part of a cohesive group, they experience a sense of togetherness and comfort, which are essential for engagement.

Effective leadership sets the tone for the entire work environment. However, other factors, such as a supportive company culture, clear communication, and opportunities for personal and professional growth, also contribute to a thriving, productive workspace. 

Effective leadership, combined with these factors, creates a holistic approach to building and maintaining a highly engaged and motivated workforce

eBook Make The Perfect Match Read our best tips and tricks to effectively pair mentors + Mentees

Why are employee engagement drivers important? 

Effective leadership sets the tone for the entire work environment. However, there are other engagement drivers as well that contribute to a thriving, productive workspace. 

Effective leadership, combined with these drivers of engagement, creates a holistic approach to building and maintaining a highly engaged and motivated workforce. 

In simple terms, engagement drivers are the things that make employees excited about their jobs, eager to contribute, and eager to stick around. 

The significance of engagement drivers in achieving organizational success cannot be overstated. They act as powerful motivators for employees, igniting their passion for work and driving them to excel. 

For instance, let's consider the driver of recognition. When employees receive acknowledgment and praise for their contributions, they feel valued and motivated to continue their efforts. This boosts morale and productivity, contributing to a more successful organization.

Similarly, career development is another prime example of an engagement driver. When employees see opportunities for advancement and personal growth, they become more motivated to invest their time and energy in the company. 

When organizations pay attention to these engagement drivers and foster a workplace culture that supports them, they can cultivate a motivated, dedicated, and satisfied workforce. This, in turn, boosts productivity, employee retention, and overall success for the organization.

5 key drivers of employee engagement in 2023

Measuring and analyzing the drivers of employee engagement can help identify areas where employees are disengaged, providing insights on how to make positive changes. 

Leaders can then use this knowledge to create an organizational culture where employees feel motivated, valued, and connected and reap the collective benefit of higher employee productivity, job satisfaction, and creativity.

Here are five key drivers of engagement that can make a big difference in keeping your employees motivated and content at work. 

1. Clear communication

Transparent and open communication is the cornerstone of employee engagement. When employees understand the company's goals, values, and what's expected of them, they feel more connected and engaged. 

To promote this clarity, foster a culture of open dialogue within your organization. Encourage employees to express their thoughts, concerns, and ideas to cultivate an environment where their voices are heard and valued. 

Regular check-ins and team meetings serve as valuable platforms for these discussions, ensuring everyone is on the same page and informed about the company's direction. 

2. Recognition and appreciation

Recognizing and appreciating your employees for their hard work and dedication is a significant driver of engagement. It's a powerful motivator that can remarkably impact morale and productivity. 

Consider establishing a formal recognition program within your organization to harness the power of recognition. Celebrate achievements, both big and small, to make your team feel appreciated. This could be through awards, shout-outs in meetings, or simply saying "thank you." 

3. Growth opportunities

Offering pathways for personal and professional development is a proven strategy to maintain high employee engagement. In fact, research shows employees who get professional development opportunities are 15% more engaged and have 34% higher retention rates than disengaged employees. 

Encourage employees to set goals, provide training and mentorship programs, and create visible opportunities for advancement within the organization. By doing so, you're not just investing in your employees' professional growth but also in the overall success of your organization.

4. Empowerment and autonomy

Empowerment and autonomy are key drivers of engagement that can lead to a more motivated and committed workforce. It's about creating a sense of ownership and responsibility that drives employees to excel. 

Encourage participation in decision-making processes. Ask for your team's input and consider their suggestions seriously. Delegate responsibility to employees based on their strengths and interests. 

For instance, if you are a manager spearheading a project, involve your team in planning. Ask for their ideas on project tasks, timelines, and roles. Empower them to take ownership of their work. 

When employees have a say in how things are done, they feel more engaged because they know their opinions matter and contribute to the organization's success.

5. Psychological safety

Psychological safety is a potent but often underestimated driver of employee engagement. 

When employees feel safe to be themselves at work, to voice their opinions, and to take calculated risks without fearing negative consequences, it fosters a nurturing environment where engagement thrives.

Imagine a workplace where employees aren't hesitant to share their ideas or concerns. They know they won't be judged, belittled, or penalized for speaking up. In such an atmosphere, employees are more willing to engage in open, honest communication, collaborate freely, and take initiative. They feel valued, appreciated, and accepted for who they are.

10 Employee engagement drivers statistics to keep in mind 

  1. As per Gallup, companies in the top quartile of employee engagement attain 20% higher sales, 21% higher profitability, and 17% higher productivity. 
  2. According to the State of the Global Workplace 2023 Report, exclusively remote employees (30%) are more engaged than employees working on-site (21%) or in a hybrid (24%) setting.
  3. Quantum Workplace reports that 92% of executives believe engaged employees perform better, and 56% of executives report a positive ROI on engagement efforts.
  4. Kincentric’s research highlights that the presence of inclusion behaviors results in 8.4 times higher levels of engagement and five times greater levels of intent to stay among employees.  
  5. Businesses with a highly engaged workforce realize an 81% difference in absenteeism, according to Gallup. 
  6. According to research conducted by McKinsey, non-financial recognition can improve employee engagement by 55%.
  7. As per a Workhuman-Gallup survey, 89% of human resources professionals report that employee recognition programs help with positive employee experience and engagement.
  8. Businesses with high employee engagement report 58% fewer safety incidents and 41% fewer quality incidents, according to a meta-analysis conducted by Gallup.
  9. A LinkedIn Workplace Learning report revealed that 94% of employees would stay at a company longer if it invested in their learning and development.
  10. According to a Gallup report, managers account for 70% of the variance in employee engagement, with 67% of employees feeling engaged when their managers communicate clear expectations.

Leverage mentorship to drive employee engagement

To put it all together, fostering employee engagement is not just about making employees feel good; it's a strategic necessity. When employees are engaged, they are not just present at work; they are emotionally committed to their roles and the organization's goals. This commitment translates into higher productivity, better retention rates, and a boost in innovation. 

Understanding the drivers of engagement is like having a roadmap to employee satisfaction. It helps organizations identify what truly motivates their employees. 

These insights enable organizations to tailor their engagement strategies to create a workspace where employees feel happy, motivated, and productive. By understanding and addressing these drivers, organizations can build a more harmonious and high-performing work environment, resulting in a win-win situation where both employees and the organization thrive.

Speaking of thriving organizations, the more successful ones use mentorship to drive employee engagement. When employees are paired with mentors, they receive invaluable guidance and knowledge and feel a stronger sense of connection and purpose within the organization. This connection often translates into heightened motivation, loyalty, and productivity. Mentors, in turn, feel a renewed sense of purpose and validation, further promoting a culture of continuous learning and collaboration. 

The Together Platform will help you transform your organization's mentorship initiatives and truly unlock the potential of your team. Sign up for a demo today.

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