Let’s face it, employee engagement affects just about every important aspect of your business, including profitability, revenue, customer experience, employee turnover, and much more.
It’s been shown that employees who feel connected to their organization work harder, stay longer, and motivate others to do the same. Plus, research shows that 92% of business executives believe engaged employees perform better, boosting the success of their teams and the outcomes of their organizations. So, it’s clear that understanding what drives employee engagement is key to success.
There's a lot of information out there about how to improve employee engagement—some credible, some not. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll hone in on a clear understanding of what employee engagement is, while making the business and moral case for its value in your company, and then discuss tangible ways you can improve your employee engagement strategy.
Employee engagement is a key indicator of a healthy and thriving workplace, where employees feel valued, involved, and connected to their roles and the company at large.
With over 20 years in the employee engagement space, here’s how we define it…
Employee engagement is the strength of the mental and emotional connection employees feel toward the organization that they work for, their team, and their work.
It's about how emotionally invested employees are in their work and the organization's goals. Engaged employees typically display a high degree of commitment, are more productive, and contribute positively to the company culture. They're not just working for a paycheck or the next promotion, but are genuinely interested in their work and motivated to contribute to the organization's success.
When doing research on employee listening, we found that employee engagement hinges on three factor and three corresponding questions:
When looking at these three pillars of engagement holistically, you’ll have a better understanding of engagement levels in your organization.
Employee engagement measures how employees feel about their organization. Based on their perceptions of their workplace, employees are categorized into four main groups:
Employee engagement is often used interchangeably with similar concepts like happiness, satisfaction, or wellbeing––but there are some clear differences among these concepts that are important to understand:
Recognizing the importance of their workforce, the most successful companies understand that their people are their greatest asset. When employees are motivated and engaged, it unlocks their potential, increases productivity, and fuels sustainable business growth.
In recent years, there's been a growing emphasis on employee engagement. While the majority of executives acknowledge that engaged employees perform better, only about half report seeing a positive return on investment from their engagement initiatives and just 37% of executives say employee engagement is a high priority for their organization.
To bridge this gap, it’s crucial for organizations to grasp the core principles of employee engagement. Understanding what drives engagement and how to effectively measure it is essential. This knowledge is key to cultivating a work environment where engagement not only exists but also significantly contributes to the company’s success.
Talent-minded organizations know that their people are their greatest lever for business success. And 92% of executives believe that engaged employees perform better. This is just one of many employee engagement statistics that prove the value of employee engagement in an organization.
When employees are engaged, discretionary effort goes up. Employees want to go above and beyond the basic requirements of their job. When leaders and managers channel that energy and effort in the right direction, employee engagement impacts a host of business outcomes. Win-win.
Let’s understand the above a bit better by diving further into each of the key benefits a strong employee engagement leads to.
Employee engagement is crucial for a productive workplace, but it's not a standalone solution for all organizational challenges. A comprehensive approach that includes employee experience, performance management, and a solid talent strategy is essential. Here’s why:
Overall, while employee engagement is incredibly important, it should be part of a broader strategy.
Employee engagement drivers are items that have a large impact on employee engagement outcomes. They are the items you should take action on when driving employee engagement. All drivers will impact engagement—the key is to identify and act on the drivers that will make the biggest difference in your organization. And implement strategic employee engagement activities that support those drivers.
Here are the top 10 drivers of employee engagement, based on our employee engagement trends research:
From this list, there are a few key themes that are powerful indicators of employee engagement. They describe what is core to connection and engagement in your workplace.
Employees want their jobs to be challenging. They want to own tasks that use their strengths and have access to opportunities to develop in their roles and career. It’s important for organizational leaders and HR teams to match talent to roles that supply these aspects of an engaging job.
Leadership and team relationships are extremely important for engagement. Employees want to work for leaders and teams that put people first, value employee contributions, and show integrity.
Employees want to work for organizations that have a strategy built for success. They want to believe that they can contribute to that success in their role. Individuals want to successfully contribute to winning teams and organizations.
Our scientifically validated e9 employee engagement model examines how employees view the strength of the connection they have toward their work, team, and organization.
The truth is, everyone owns employee engagement.
Every person in your organization has an impact on the quality of relationships they build, their approach to teamwork, and general attitudes they bring to the workplace. Here is a breakdown of employee engagement roles.
Organizational leaders are employee engagement advocates. They are the influential campaigners and top promoters of an engaged culture. Leadership buy-in is critical when it comes to employee engagement. Depend on leaders to:
HR teams play a critical role in the organization by aligning leaders, managers, and employees on a path forward with employee engagement. Strategy is turned into action and they own the “how” behind the employee engagement strategy. To do this, it’s crucial that HR professionals:
Managers interact with employees more than anyone else. They must create an environment where every individual can thrive and truly be engaged, while also championing the organization’s success. We should depend on managers to:
When we said everyone had a role to play, we meant all employees. Employees are the organization’s voices on the front lines and your main line of sight into the employee experience. Rely on employees to:
Employee engagement initiatives often fail due to three primary reasons:
Many organizations struggle with engagement efforts because they don't use a credible or scientifically-backed model to uncover what truly drives engagement. Understanding the deeper meaning behind employee behaviors and sentiments is crucial, and will uncover obstacles and opportunities that are helping or hindering employee success overall. By working off of a model that goes beyond surface-level metrics to unravel the genuine factors influencing employee engagement, you’ll gain deeper insights that will help tailor your organization’s strategies to your unique employee-base.
Another common pitfall is the complexity and difficulty of translating engagement insights into tangible actions. Many companies utilize surveys to uncover what the employee experience looks like at their organization, and find straightforward ways to act on the information. However, just 35% of employees say their organization is effective at post-survey action. If you act on engagement survey results, you’ll build trust with employees and show them that you’re listening––but we understand that this takes actionable insights. Finding a software partner that can uncover those for you through action-oriented surveying is vital.
A significant aspect of successful engagement efforts is choosing the right software partner. The ideal partner should offer reliable, robust, user-friendly, and collaborative software that makes HR professionals’ lives easier while also providing valuable insights that drive employee engagement and retention.
An employee engagement model offers a stable and systematic method to assess and enhance engagement levels. This framework assists in clearly identifying the elements that both promote and impede engagement within an organization. It enables businesses to pinpoint and understand the various factors currently impacting employee engagement.
A good employee engagement model helps you measure how engaged your employees are, guiding you in understanding, analyzing, and improving engagement. Using a proven, science-backed model means you can focus on what really matters from your employee feedback, separating signals for action from employee feedback noise. This helps you make your workplace better without wasting time or money on initiatives that don’t work.
A few exemplary employee engagement models from other organizations include:
Aon Hewitt’s Engagement Model
Aon Hewitt’s model focuses on four key dimensions of engagement:
Gallup’s Q12 Engagement Model
Gallup’s Q12 model consists of 12 survey questions that assess different aspects of employee engagement. The questions cover topics such as clear expectations, recognition, development opportunities, and the presence of a best friend at work.
Deloitte Employee Engagement Model
Deloitte’s model leverages five engagement-driving elements, including:
Quantum Workplace has helped organizations design, build, and scale employee engagement strategies and surveys by using our e9 employee engagement model. This scientifically-backed model is well-researched and highly effective at helping organizations drive employee engagement using actionable insights.
This model ties back to our pyramid noted in the beginning of this blog that measures: work engagement, organizational engagement, and team engagement.
In the modern workplace, employee engagement is so much more than a survey. Here are a few employee engagement best practices to help you maximize your efforts. These employee engagement ideas will make all the difference in the employee experience.
Yes, there is always room to improve. But don’t be afraid to highlight your strengths as well. Celebrate engagement wins and socialize successes with current and prospective employees. When employees see meaningful action and improvement, they’re more likely to be engaged.
If you want to move the needle on engagement, it must be a continuous strategy—not a one-off project you set and forget. When engagement is only addressed every once and awhile, employees don’t feel heard or supported, and managers don’t take it seriously. If you listen to your employee and prioritize engagement throughout the year, you’ll see greater engagement and a better return on the investment of your time, energy, and dollars.
Before you can improve employee engagement, you have to know where you stand. How do you measure employee engagement? One of the most accurate and efficient ways to gain understanding is with employee surveys.
As you grow understanding of the employee lifecycle, you’ll also want to uncover group and demographical dynamics that are impacting employee engagement. Use the following culture and engagement methods to do just that:
After having a better understanding of who the survey will reach, you must identify an end goal. Decide on the impact you want the survey to have, and then work backward from there. Ask yourself:
Engaging your talent is key to employee, team, and business success. Help your leaders focus on what matters, your managers become better coaches, and your employees do their best work with the right employee engagement tools.
Employee engagement surveys play a crucial role in understanding and enhancing the workplace environment. Here's how they help:
The design of an employee engagement survey plays a crucial role in understanding and improving workplace dynamics. A well-designed survey does more than gather data; it provides actionable insights and fosters a culture of continuous improvement. Here are the key elements that make for an effective survey design:
When designing employee engagement surveys, it's important to target different levels within the organization. Here's how you can approach each audience:
Within Groups and Teams
Targeting these specific levels ensures that the surveys capture a comprehensive view of employee engagement across the entire organization.
Effectively utilizing survey results is crucial but often challenging due to common barriers. To overcome these, you need straightforward strategies for responding to employee feedback. Action planning shouldn't be overwhelming or limited to HR––it's about fostering a culture of active listening and meaningful response across the organization.
Key challenges include limited time, resources, and prioritization, leader and manager buy-in, and poor communication. Address these by scheduling time for analysis, discussion, and planning, ensuring leaders and managers are invested in the process, and maintaining clear communication throughout.
To simplify and take action on your survey results, we encourage you to:
Remember, the goal is continuous improvement to enhance employee experience and overall engagement.
Creating an effective employee engagement action plan is a vital step in transforming workplace dynamics. It's where you turn insights into impactful actions. At the core of this plan, you'll identify and discuss the key drivers of engagement within your organization.
Understanding what motivates and connects your employees to their work allows you to focus on areas that matter most. The next step is to commit to changes that promise the most significant impact. This means selecting strategies that resonate with your team's unique needs and culture. Finally, accountability is crucial. Your action plan should include clear responsibilities and checkpoints to ensure that everyone, from leadership to front-line employees, is actively participating in and accountable for enhancing employee engagement.
This comprehensive approach ensures your engagement strategies are not just well-intentioned ideas, but catalysts for real, positive change in your organization.
Here are the six steps we recommend to create a solid employee engagement action plan:
When your employees succeed, your business succeeds. Your teams need systems and tools––like great software––that motivate employees to do their best work and empower managers as coaches.
Performance reviews and frequent one on one meetings
Gone are the days of the annual performance review—ongoing performance conversations are here to stay. Use one on one meeting software to facilitate two-way performance conversations, goal updates, weekly check-ins, and more.
Analytics and reports
From measuring employee flight risk, turnover data, performance, and more, to pulling team or individual reports, you need the right information to help you take action. Analytics and reports are crucial for employee engagement––ensure you have the insights you need at your fingertips.
Your employees want recognition for their contributions. In fact, recognition is consistently a top driver of employee engagement. Unearth great work and share success stories across your organization with employee recognition software.
A culture of continuous feedback can accelerate individual, team, and organizational growth. Use two-way employee feedback tools to increase trust, boost performance, and help your managers be better coaches.
In order to nurture and develop talent, leaders and managers need clear visibility into the organization’s talent pool so they can make informed decisions on how to keep and develop key talent. Use talent review tools that make this process agile, collaborative, and data driven.
When comparing your employee engagement against like minded organizations, having access to a large database of quality data that helps you understand how you measure up is key. From company demographics to benchmarking tools, ensure your software gives you the right tools to understand how you’re doing.
Strengthening employee and manager relationships can be made easier with the right software. Having something with discussion starters, prompts, scheduling, agendas, and more makes manager’s lives easier while still prioritizing employee wellbeing and growth.
We've been hearing "the future of the workplace is digital" for years—and that time is here. 61% of CEOs say their business will be more digital in the future and 50% of HR professionals expect to invest more money in technology this year. To be successful at employee engagement, you need the right employee engagement platform.
Make your employee’s voices heard, uncover helpful data, and arm yourself with the information to make strong decisions by using the following software checklist:
Now that you know what employee engagement is, why it’s important, and how you can make a difference – it’s time to get to work. If you’re looking for an employee engagement software that can support your strategy, learn about what makes Quantum Workplace stand out from the crowd.