What Actually Drives Employee Engagement

What Actually Drives Employee Engagement

Employee engagement might be one of those HR buzzwords you’re already sick of hearing about. Just because the topic is trendy, however, doesn’t undercut its importance. Engaged employees are more productive and more likely to stick around your company.

Focusing on employee engagement might not seem important, but it has the possibility to save you a bundle of cash. First of all, unengaged employees are likely to let their productivity slip in the workplace. If they’re not engaged with your company culture and workplace ideals, it might seem more acceptable to spend an hour trolling Facebook looking at pictures from last week’s crazy party. Recent estimations posit employees wasting time on social media sites like Facebook can lead to a 9.4 percent hit on productivity, leading U.S. employers to lose an estimated $1.4 trillion in profits.

Facebook might be addicting, but the reason your employees are logging more hours “liking” statuses than working is probably due to poor engagement. A study by MSW Research and Dale Carnegie Training showed only 29 percent of employees are fully engaged in the workplace. This is almost equal to the 26 percent of employees who are fully disengaged from their roles in the office.

So what actually drives employee engagement and how can you get your workers back on track? Using the findings from this study, here are three ways to improve engagement in your company:

Understand the importance of the relationship between employees and superiors

One of the most important factors driving engagement is actually the relationships workers have with their immediate supervisors. A good or bad boss will set the tone of the office, and will either engage workers or push them down the road to disengagement.

After all, watching NBC’s hit comedy The Office, you can’t help but notice they don’t seem to sell much paper at fictional paper company Dunder Mifflin. This is because Steve Carell’s boorish boss Michael Scott sets a negative and inappropriate office culture perfect for disengaging employees.

Conversely, a good relationship with managers and senior staff tops the wish list of most talented Millennials. In fact, 75 percent of Millennials are looking for a mentor as part of their ideal work environment. They want to truly connect and learn from their supervisors.

To improve your employee engagement, it might be time to sit down with your managers to find out what’s working and what isn’t in their leadership approach. Perhaps you might even wants to send them for leadership training or to a course on new management techniques. Remember engaged employees are those workers who can respect and connect with their immediate supervisors.

Communicate goals effectively

Engaged employees believe in the ability of the company’s senior management to lead. This is because communicating goals has become a priority in the workplace. No one wants to work towards a shadowy and unknowable end goal. The best way to get employees engaged and excited about their work is to show how their contributions help the company move towards its goal.

This could be as simple as sending out a newsletter outlining where the company is planning on going in the new quarter to a big meeting where senior staff outline goals and accomplishments. Whatever your company chooses to do, remember to keep employees in the loop when it comes to setting goals and marking milestones.

It’s especially important to take time out to appreciate employees who are going over and above in their performance. This way your whole staff  will see the company as a place where good work is acknowledged and rewarded.

Create a company culture with values

What your company stands for is now just as important as what’s in a paycheck. A recent survey by Bain & Co. showed 30 percent of workers would be willing to take a pay cut to work for a more globally-conscience, sustainable company.

Developing a company culture with real world values is a great way to motivate employees to do their very best. Your company should start making corporate social responsibility a priority, in order to attract the right talent and engage the workers you need.

Make company culture fit a priority when hiring in order to avoid the more than $50,000 hit you could incur by hiring the wrong person. In the interview, whether in person or through online video, make sure the candidate understands your current corporate values and is excited about joining your company. Those who fit into your corporate culture are more likely to become engaged employees who will stick around for the long haul.

Employee engagement might just be a buzzword, but it’s also one of the best ways to save your company money and re-energize your workforce.

What do you think drives employee engagement? How can you improve your company’s engagement? Share in the comments!

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Josh Tolan is the CEO of Spark Hire, a video powered hiring network that connects job seekers and employers through video resumes and online interviews. Connect with him and Spark Hire on Facebook and Twitter.

Reader Interactions


  1. Emile Bons says

    And the best thing is that starting measuring employee engagement isn’t that difficult at all. As a company you basically have three choices when starting measuring employee engagement: you could either hire a consultancy firm that measures employee engagement on your behalf, you could decide to measure employee engagement on your own or you could make a selection out of one of the web applications out there to measure employee engagement with.

    • Stan Pattenaude says

      What if you actually had a tool that does everything a consulting company does without having to hire a consulting company, and provides not only provides a report for you but also provides a strategy?

  2. Paul says

    This is a great post outlining why engagement matters and why companies should prioritize it, specifically those who hold leadership positions. Employee engagement matters enormously to us at TribeHR and we recently shared our advice on this topic in a blog post. We’d love to hear what you think: http://bit.ly/TM2Gw0


  1. […] I’ve talked a lot about the importance of a top-notch company culture when it comes to attracting and hiring the best people. The people you want to see on the other side of the webcam in a video interview — or the other side of the desk in a more traditional sit-down meeting — are those excited about your positive company culture. […]


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