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Understanding the 17 Drivers of Employee Engagement

Emplify
Emplify

When you scientifically measure engagement for hundreds of organizations across multiple industries… you learn a few things. Like the difference between employee satisfaction and employee engagement, and what drives people to find more meaning in their work.

Through our work with academic experts, executive leaders, and HR veterans, Emplify has pioneered a new method for measuring employee engagement — one that’s grounded in 17 employee engagement drivers such as purpose, autonomy, and shared values.

Each of these drivers quantifies the presence or absence of a workplace quality that impacts engagement. Every time an employee engagement survey is used to collect feedback, these are the underlying components we’re measuring:

 

But the process doesn’t end there. The 17 drivers are also measured within the context of “spheres of experience.” One of four key areas — work experience, leadership, manager, or coworkers — is displayed before each survey question to let employees know what they should be thinking about when responding:

 

By using this method to measure engagement, we’re able to give people leaders an accurate understanding of their organizations’ strengths and weaknesses at any given time. Leadership can then use this data to identify areas for improvement and make changes that will help shape company culture in positive ways.

It’s how businesses across industries are reducing turnover, increasing productivity, and empowering employees to do the best work of their lives. If you’d like to achieve similar results, it helps to have a clear understanding of each driver and its impact on the workplace.

And so, without further ado, here’s the complete Emplify list of employee engagement drivers.

Autonomy

This driver plays a particularly important role in inspiring employees to do their best work. The antithesis of micromanagement, having autonomy at work means employees are trusted to make decisions about how best to do their jobs. When given the freedom to choose how to manage their time and where to apply their expertise, employees are far more prone to feel invested in the company and its mission.

Capacity

This often overlooked (but highly important) driver refers to how comfortable workers feel when it comes to getting work done. Employees must feel capable of putting physical, intellectual, and emotional energy into their work. For that to happen, it’s imperative that they can quickly and easily access the resources needed to do their job — and do it well.

Coworker Relationships

This driver refers to an employee’s relationships with coworkers. When team members have mutual respect for one another, the result is positive relationships instilled with trust. Coworker relationships are especially important when colleagues collaborate closely, and can be nurtured by a company culture that’s largely supportive.

Fairness

It’s not just relationships with coworkers that impact engagement. How fairly employees feel they (and others) are treated within the organization is also critical. This driver reflects a range of important indicators: how employees feel about the work they’re asked to do, what they think of the compensation they receive, and how they gauge the level of respect they’re given by managers and colleagues. Leaders, be mindful: Employees are constantly comparing their work situations to others’, so it’s important to set clear expectations and have a consistent process around rewards.

Feedback

Receiving adequate and helpful feedback helps employees understand whether or not they’re meeting expectations, where they’re having the most success, and how they can improve. Constructive feedback not only impacts engagement but can also strengthen employee-manager relationships.

Goal Support

Do employees have the resources they need to achieve their goals? Or are distractions and a lack of support preventing them from hitting important milestones? These questions and others like them are answered by measuring goal support, which identifies whether or not employees are getting the support they need to excel at their jobs.

Leader Availability

This driver gauges how approachable, visible, accessible, and readily available its leaders are. If employees don’t feel leadership is connecting with people at work or making themselves available, they may begin to doubt intentions and question high-level business decisions.

Leader Integrity

This driver measures whether or not employees feel their leaders are committed to doing what’s best for the company, and how well they are following through on those commitments. Integrity, in this context, refers to employees’ sense that leadership is dependable and reliable, and will follow through with what they say they are going to do.

Meaning

Finding meaning at work is one of the most important aspects of employee engagement. When this driver is at play, employees believe being immersed in work gives them value. Sometimes that means they feel a sense of purpose. Other times they derive meaning from factors such as status, compensation, or influence. How or why one finds meaning in their work is unique to each individual, but has a big impact on every employee’s level of engagement.

Professional Development

This driver refers to the presence of opportunities for growth, provided by managers and leaders who support employees’ professional development. It’s important to not only offer the right resources, but also to encourage teams to take advantage of those opportunities.

Psychological Safety

Employees need to trust that their work can be pursued without fear of negative consequences to self-image, status, or career. When employees are working in an environment where psychological safety is not present, they can become so caught up in managing impressions and negativity that they don’t make meaningful contributions to the business.

Purpose

Having a clear company vision and mission gives your people something to connect to, and can improve employees’ feelings of purpose at work. This driver is an important one because its presence means an employee understands why the business exists, beyond making a profit.

Role Clarity

When employees are clear on what their roles entail, they’re able to clearly connect how their daily tasks impact the business. Providing employees with adequate role clarity will ensure they are consistently working with focus and intention.

Relationship With Manager

Managers play a huge role in how people feel about their jobs, which makes the employee-manager relationship a critical dynamic. This engagement driver encompasses a broad assessment of the relationship between an employee and his or her manager that looks at respect, feedback, fairness, development, and advocacy.

Rest

Having paid time off as part of your benefits package is one thing, but employees must also have a sense they can actually take that time off when needed. If employees feel guilty for taking breaks or feel the need to be “always on” and available outside regular work hours, engagement can suffer. Rest must be something leaders value and encourage employees to get.

Shared Values

Having shared values at work means employees share common work attitudes and principles with their colleagues. This can help build a feeling of camaraderie and mutual interest in success. This driver also indicates how well an employee’s personal values align with the organization and the work they’re performing.

Utilization

This driver refers to how well employees feel an organization is using their abilities. The degree to which employees feel their daily work tasks put their knowledge and skills to good use has a direct impact on engagement levels. For managers, it’s important to regularly evaluate roles and responsibilities to ensure employees are being properly utilized, particularly as they grow and develop new skill sets.

When all 17 drivers are measured and analyzed at a regular quarterly cadence, it becomes much easier to keep a finger on the pulse of your company’s culture. You’ll not only shed light on what’s working well, but can also see where you need to make changes.

For more details on how these employee engagement drivers could be impacting work at your organization, see how Emplify measures them here.

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