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What are the drivers of employee engagement

Find out what really drives employee engagement. Learn which strategies will work for your business and how to implement them successfully.

Krishan Patel image

Written by Krishan Patel

4 Oct, 2022  â€“  6 mins read

As a business, you instinctively want your employees to be engaged in what they’re doing and enjoy working for you. But did you know just how important employee engagement is to business success?

A recent Gallup report outlined that companies with highly engaged employees have 21% higher profitability than those with disengaged employees. So, for your business, it’s not just nice to have engaged employees, it’s essential to your bottom line.

Successfully engaging your employees is the difference between a workforce that does the bare minimum and makes a sharp exit at the first sniff of a better opportunity. When employees are engaged, they’re willing to go the extra mile, work hard for you, and are loyal to your company’s mission.

Engaged employees are your biggest company asset — spreading positivity, improving productivity, providing better customer service, and sticking around for the long haul.

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13 key drivers of employee engagement

Want to create an engaged workforce and keep your business productive? We’ll take you through what drives employee engagement and how to identify the right drivers of engagement for your business.

1. Career growth and opportunities

Opportunities to develop, grow and work towards career goals are key contributors to how engaged employees feel. This might mean different things to different employees – it could be access to training courses or secondments, mentoring, or stepped pathways to promotion. So, a broad offering of learning and development opportunities is crucial to meet individual needs.

2. Recognition

A key driver for employee engagement is recognition for a job well done. It shows employees that they are valued and appreciated. From a private word of thanks to a company-wide shout-out, a small gift to a financial pay award, recognition can take various forms and should be personal to each individual to keep them feeling engaged.

3. Good management and leadership

Our relationship with our line manager contributes hugely to how positive and engaged we feel at work. There’s no universal good management style, but as a general rule, employees value managerial relationships with empathetic, supportive, trustworthy, and available bosses.

Our relationship with senior leaders is also critical in how engaged we feel. Leaders who make well-informed decisions and create a healthy, open, and honest culture are likelier to inspire confidence and trust in their teams. When we trust and respect our leaders, we feel more loyal and engaged with the organisation as a whole.

4. Meaningful work

We all want to feel like what we do has meaning. Everyone derives meaning in diverse ways – a sense of purpose, status, influence, or salary. Meaning is personal to each employee but is an integral part of inspiring them to reach their full potential and do their best to achieve personal, team, and organisational goals.

5. Workplace culture

Culture is a critical component of how employees feel in their day-to-day work life. Company culture encompasses an organisation’s shared ethos and values, maintained by various means; leadership, team building, socialising, and communications.

Company culture underpins employee attitudes and behaviours and can ultimately determine how happy, invested, and engaged a workforce feels.

6. Open communications

Internal communication is quite vital for driving engagement. Communicating openly, honestly, and often helps drive employee engagement. When leaders are honest about their business strategy, progress, successes, and challenges, they engage their staff and create a powerful sense of trust and togetherness.

Providing individual feedback and communicating expectations and goals also helps to drive positive performance.

7. Empowerment

Employees who feel trusted and respected are more likely to stay engaged. Giving employees the right training and support and the responsibility to lead on a task, project, or team shows belief and trust that they can do a good job.

We all feel happy and engaged when someone shows trust in us. Creating a sense of accountability and responsibility is positive reinforcement for autonomy and pride in our work.

8. Tools and resources

Having the right tools and available resources – whether that’s financial, educational, or human – is essential for all of us to be effective in our jobs.

If you can’t get access to the right information or don’t have the right skills in your team you’ll quickly feel frustration building and motivation dwindling.

Arming teams with the right tools and resources can’t be underestimated as a fundamental driver for employee engagement.

9. Innovation

Freedom to unleash creativity and passion can contribute to how engaged employees feel.

Employees want to feel like their workplace encourages engagement, values their unique skillset, and isn’t afraid to try out new ideas. Providing permission to fail, while nurturing passion and innovation can foster greater employee engagement.

10. Work environment

A comfortable and safe working environment can add to how engaged an employee feels.

Appropriate lighting, comfortable seating, some greenery, and artwork can help create a physically pleasant atmosphere. While an open, welcoming, and supportive environment can create a sense of psychological safety. Both are important in fostering a healthy, happy, and engaging work environment.

11. Health and wellbeing

An organisation that cares about and encourages a healthy work-life balance is likely to see increased employee engagement.

Factors such as:

  • Taking an interest in employees’ personal lives.
  • Showing genuine concern for staff health and wellbeing.
  • Providing wellness offerings, such as counselling, massage, quiet spaces, and protection of work-life balance, all function as drivers for employee engagement.

12. Fulfilling work relationships

People who have a best friend at work are much more likely to feel engaged and happy, so it makes sense that fulfilling relationships with co-workers are a key driver for employee engagement.

Social interactions and team-building events (in-person and remotely) are valuable opportunities to help colleagues connect on a more personal level and create those all-important work friendships.

How to identify the right drivers of employee engagement for your business

Not all businesses are the same. Businesses come in different sizes and stages of growth, and will have distinct functions, priorities, and cultures. What drives engagement in one employee or workforce will differ from another, so implementing drivers for employee engagement doesn’t follow a one-size-fits-all approach.

Look at the unique properties of your organisation — how your employees work, what activities they undertake, your company values and culture — and assess what the drivers of employee engagement are when strategising concepts and ideas to focus on.

When implementing different interventions, consider how best to engage. Use different tools, channels, and be creative and interactive in your communications and engagement approaches.

Rather than standard approaches – bland emails and boring meetings – in the modern, remote world, take advantage of videoconferencing, screen-sharing, digital hangouts, and User-Generated Videos. Learn more on how User-Generated Videos can help improve employee engagement

Crucially, make sure to measure employee engagement before you start implementing changes so that you can measure the success of different drivers (see our guide on how to measure employee engagement). Encourage employee feedback and listen to what your team is telling you. That way you can identify the drivers that work and those that don’t and keep adapting your approach to most effectively engage your workforce.

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