17 Key Drivers of Employee Engagement

Employee engagement is the best way to limit unwanted turnover, boost productivity, and increase your referral rate. Wise company leaders know this and understand the value of investing in a people-first culture. 

Companies are made up of individuals with different passions, needs, and expectations. Employee engagement is about a personal connection with your company. And while many may think you can improve employee engagement with fancy perks and benefits, the truth is, there are many different drivers of employee engagement.

 1. Workplace culture 

Every company has a culture, good or bad. In today’s environment, smart leaders know that a healthy workplace culture can be a competitive advantage that cannot be copied by competitors.

Employee engagement is the outcome of a healthy work environment. It’s also the most tangible measure of culture. It takes intentional effort to improve company culture. But over time, workplace culture becomes self-sustaining — it attracts like-minded people who are more likely to be engaged and thrive in the environment. 

2. Values and purpose 

A united sense of purpose increases motivation, innovation, product quality, and customer satisfaction. Engaged employees feel connected to a company’s values, purpose, and direction. Building this alignment requires clear and consistent communication from leadership and a commitment to living the company’s values.

3. Diversity, equity, and inclusion 

Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts foster employee engagement. It’s important to note that diversity alone is not enough. Companies must also ensure people feel comfortable and welcome within the team. Promoting DEI in the workplace and within the company hiring process shows the company’s commitment, which improves office culture and employee engagement.  

4. Mental health and physical well-being 

Employee well-being is crucial for engagement in any situation, but that’s especially true within the workplace. Companies that encourage work-life flexibility are more appealing to candidates because they show the company prioritizes its employees’ mental and physical health. Workplace flexibility leads to employees working harder, increasing productivity and profitability. Plus, prioritizing that balance and employee well-being boosts retention.   

5. Relationships with management 

Keeping employees well-informed, understanding what’s happening daily, and active listening are some ways leaders can increase employee engagement. Relationships with management are one of the key drivers of employee engagement. When employees view their managers as honest, dependable, and supportive, they will give their best at work.  

6. Relationships with coworkers 

Building healthy and supportive relationships between coworkers is another driver of employee engagement. It is crucial because it creates space for compassion, support, and shared experiences. Coworker relationships and friendships make people happy, encourage empathy, and promote overall engagement. When coworkers trust each other and have the freedom to connect, it creates countless opportunities for learning and teaching.  

7. Meaningful work 

Meaningful work is one of the top drivers of employee engagement. It gives employees, managers, and leaders a strong sense of value and purpose within the company. A recent survey revealed that value alignment is the number one predictor of employee engagement. Employee values and purpose (explained above) thrive when they align with a company’s mission. A clear organizational purpose helps attract talent with similar goals, promoting employee engagement.  

8. Employee benefits 

Employee benefits, including perks and compensation, are a driver of employee engagement because they provide employees with financial security, space for work-life flexibility, and an overall sense of support from the company. Typically, benefits are understood before a job candidate accepts a position. When their expectations are met, and they believe they are being treated fairly for their work, employees are more likely to be engaged.   

9. Employee appreciation and recognition 

Another top driver of employee engagement is employee appreciation and recognition. Building appreciation into the daily culture promotes productivity and higher business performance. Leaders who celebrate accomplishments, awards, successes, and milestones make employees feel genuinely appreciated. 

10. Learning and professional development 

Continued learning and professional development are other important drivers of employee engagement. They make employees feel supported and encouraged, but they can also help individuals do their job better. Everyone within the company should have access to professional development tools, and leaders must encourage employees to take advantage of those tools. Opportunities for learning and growth make individuals feel valued and appreciated. 

11. Tools and resources 

While often overlooked, employee access to tools and resources is a key driver of employee engagement. This includes things such as physical materials, technology, and more. Having these tools reduces wasted time and improves efficiency. It’s important to show individuals that they are valuable and worth the investment.  

12. Frequent and clear communication 

Frequent and clear communication is a top driver of employee engagement. Communication style comes from the top, so managers need to initiate regular and honest feedback opportunities. This helps managers to better understand what matters most to employees. It also gives leaders the information they need to adjust and improve. 

13. Transparency 

Company transparency increases employee trust, connection, and engagement. It can also prevent the things that can do significant damage to a company, such as misinformation and rumors. A lack of transparency can push employees towards disengagement, low productivity, workplace gossip, and turnover.  

14. Fairness 

Employees constantly compare their work situations, managers, treatment, and compensation to their coworkers. It is essential to respect that comparison by setting clear expectations and ensuring every employee gets the same treatment, no matter their seniority. This process will encourage employee engagement and increase overall performance.  

15. Role clarity 

Role clarity means employees understand what is expected of them in their role. That clarity promotes productivity, which is why it is a driver of employee engagement. Role clarity includes tasks to accomplish, goals of the position, how the work impacts business goals, and how leadership will evaluate the individual for their work.  

16. Autonomy 

Employee autonomy is a key driver of employee engagement because it empowers employees to make decisions. When employees are trusted to manage their work, the sense of connection grows. This freedom makes employees more invested in the company mission, increasing employee engagement and business performance.  

17. Constructive feedback 

Consistent feedback from coworkers, managers, and leaders helps employees understand expectations and feel valued within the organization. Feedback thrives when it is constructive, consistent, and honest. Constructive feedback is a driver of employee engagement because it shows individuals that they are valuable and makes them confident in leadership’s integrity. 

Identifying drivers of employee engagement in your organization 

While there are several common drivers of employee engagement, knowing which ones matter most to your employees is essential. One of the most effective ways to measure employee engagement is to capture feedback through an employee engagement survey. A credible, research-backed survey such as the one used to identify the nation’s Top Workplaces provides accurate data and insights. 

In addition to surveying your employees, it’s essential to show them they’ve been heard. Discuss the action steps you plan to take with them because of the feedback they provided. This two-way communication will increase trust, a sense of purpose, appreciation, and, ultimately, engagement. 

Learn what motivates your employees with Top Workplaces 

Employee engagement may differ from one company to the next — and even from one team to the next. Companies that understand the value and purpose of capturing employee feedback through employee engagement surveys can better drive employee engagement.  

Participating in Top Workplaces awards is one way of showing job seekers your company values a people-first culture. It can also improve your recruiting efforts, attract the right talent, and retain your best people



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