Employee Engagement – The 5 Essential Drivers

Employee Engagement – The 5 Essential Drivers

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An engaged workforce is essential for your business’ productivity and success. These 5 essential drivers of employee engagement will help you reach your goals and perform better. 


Employee engagement is one of the biggest challenges for any business. In fact, according to Gallup, 85% of the employees are not engaged or actively disengaged at work; a term commonly referred to as ‘presenteeism’. This creates issues, as organisations struggle to progress with a high number of disengaged employees.


new role of HR is emerging as a result – to help bring back interest and engagement levels of employees that were previously disengaged. The encouragement and people management techniques that HR contributes to the employee culture are vital for the growth of any organisation.


Employees need driving forces to push them towards higher levels of engagement. A lack of drivers of employee engagement is a big reason for their disengagement at work, and strong HR practices can help. This article takes a look at some of these drivers that you can start implementing today.

Table of Contents

What is Employee Engagement?

But first, what exactly is employee engagement? Engagement is the level of commitment or involvement an employee has in the business.


Employee engagement shows itself through behaviours that mean they do the job better than what is required of them.


They might provide excellent customer service no matter the circumstances. The employee may not ever speak ill of the company, instead of feeling comfortable at work and with the team, committed to the company and any projects. They may not mind doing overtime, or even in their spare time dedicate themselves to finding solutions to company issues.


Engaged employees are different from workaholics. A workaholic might not comfortable when they are not working, and in their free time, they feel bad for not continuing with their work. This causes them to be in a state of constant restlessness and anxiety. In the case of “engaged”  employees, they have a full, happy life, both personally and professionally.

Why is Employee Engagement Important?

Better employee engagement has numerous benefits for your business as a whole, from improved productivity to creating a great employer brand.


Better Productivity

When your employees are engaged, they tend to work harder and get things done. In fact, research by Gallup found that an engaged workforce is 21% more productive.


This makes sense – when your employees feel motivated to do the work, it’s more likely they’ll do it well and be invested. Naturally, this leads to the additional benefit of increased profitability within your business. So it’s a win-win.


Better Retention

It’s unsurprising that more engaged staff are less likely to leave the company. Disinterest can spur employees to search for a new role, or be more likely to accept if another one comes along. However, if they care about their work and the business, their commitment to staying on is higher.


Higher staff retention also means you can avoid the recruitment costs of having to find and train a replacement hire.


Better Working Environment

Another major benefit is an engaged and motivated employee can impact your working environment as a whole. They spread the ‘engagement’ to the rest of the team and make it a collective – something psychologists refer to as ‘emotional contagion‘.


Just like one bad apple can spoil the bunch, one highly motivated and engaged employee can make your team.


Better Reputation

Happy employees who are engaged and motivated at work are more likely to speak positively about your employer’s brand. They may become brand advocates, sharing the positive aspects of working with you via social media or simple word of mouth.


This is incredibly beneficial for attracting and retaining talent to any future roles you have available. LinkedIn research revealed that candidates trust a company’s employees 3x more than the company to provide credible information on what it’s like to work there, so if good reviews are coming from your employees themselves, this is a huge green flag.

employee stood with a cup of coffee smiling

Drivers of Employee Engagement

So, what can you do to drive employee engagement in your business? Here are five simple techniques to get you started.


1. Recognition

Recognition is one of the most crucial drivers of employee engagement. According to a survey conducted by OGO, 40% of the employees said that they’d put more energy into work if they were recognised more often, and yet, 82% don’t feel their supervisors recognise them enough. This clearly validates that recognition drives employee engagement and businesses should pay more attention to the issue.


When an employee gets recognised for a job done well, he/she feels good, it releases Dopamine and Oxytocin in the brain, and this contributes to them wanting to perform even better and repeat that feel-good factor again. Further, if the recognition is public, peers congratulate him or her and they feel even more motivated to keep it up.


But, do organisations give as much importance to this driver of employee engagement as it deserves? Sadly, in most cases, probably not!


The HR team can play a massive role in assisting in this area, by ensuring that regular evaluations of employees take place. It’s also useful to coach managers to understand the importance of recognition in a practical capacity that they can understand (happiness, respect, productivity, etc.).


2. Employee Happiness

Employee happiness is an important factor that impacts employee engagement. This is quite an obvious one, as unhappy employees cannot concentrate well on work. As a result, they display low levels of engagement. No business should neglect their employees’ happiness, but several studies have shown that they often do.


According to an Officevibe survey, 23% of employees leave their work feeling drained or very drained every day. One of the most basic reasons behind this is that they don’t feel happy working at their workplace.


HR departments of every business can assist by helping to measure employee happiness. The use of employee apps that ask all employees to register how they feel on a daily basis is a great way to stay in tune with staff sentiment.


Showing appreciation, organising fun activities, and cultivating a positive work environment are some examples of positive steps that an HR team can take in helping to maintain a happy working environment.


3. Balanced Management Approach

Most managers follow either the hands-on or hands-off approach to management. This can be a disaster for employee engagement. Neither of the two approaches is individually sufficient for managing the employees well.


The complete hands-on approach makes them feel frustrated. Whereas, the completely hands-off approach doesn’t make the employees feel motivated to work. Either way, employee engagement gets negatively impacted if managers follow any of these two approaches individually.


Then, what should they do? The best answer to this question is – to follow a balanced approach to management. The managers should know when to implement which approach of management.


Task relevant maturity’ is an important parameter that can help managers take this decision. When employees have a high task-relevant maturity i.e they are capable of handling the task on their own, managers should follow a hands-off approach. But, when their task-oriented maturity is low, managers should shift to the hands-on approach and guide the employees with their work.


4. Career Advancement Opportunities

Career Advancement Opportunities act as an important driver of employee engagement. This is because no one wishes to have a stagnant career. Everyone wishes to grow professionally and individually. So, businesses should offer career advancement opportunities to enhance employee engagement. But, many companies don’t do so.


According to Officevibe’s employee engagement report, 56% of the employees believe that they don’t have any career advancement opportunities at their current place of employment. As a result, they don’t feel motivated to continue working with their organisation, which largely impacts their engagement at work.


HR teams can play a vital role here by linking up with management and team leaders to map out career road maps or to encourage training and personal development initiatives that help keep staff motivated, appreciated, and to feel like they are growing and evolving as individuals.


5. Employee Wellbeing

According to Willis Tower Watson’s Global Benefits Attitudes survey, employees who experienced high work stress reported being disengaged.


This is quite natural as stress takes a huge toll on the employees’ physical, emotional, and mental well-being. As a result, their overall well-being gets disrupted and they cannot get engrossed in work. This makes employee well-being a crucial driver for employee engagement.


So, businesses need to utilise their HR teams to reduce employee stress and enhance their approach to employee wellbeing. For this, the HR department needs to take a holistic approach to what the company can do to ensure that the well-being of staff is comprehensively and genuinely catered for.


Smaller organisations with limited budgets should look at pre-packaged schemes that help SMEs to offer more comprehensive wellness programs at economies of scale, rather than trying to engage with suppliers of wellness services directly.


Well-being and wellness programs drive company culture and demonstrate a genuinely caring environment that employees will appreciate and talk about. This will help reduce staff attrition and aid the sourcing of the best candidates. Positive company culture will also influence productivity, reduce sick days and increase presenteeism.


Get started

A lack of driving forces is one of the major reasons for employee disengagement. Businesses need to understand and implement the right drivers of employee engagement to grow.


But before you worry about employee engagement, it’s all about getting the right talent in your business. That’s why we’ve put together the Talent Acquisition Toolkit to help you on your way. Simply download today!

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