When you scientifically measure engagement for hundreds of unique organizations across multiple industries … you learn a few things. With assistance from academic experts, executive leaders, and HR veterans, we’ve developed a way to quantitatively measure employee engagement against 17 drivers.
These engagement drivers quantify the presence or absence of workplace qualities that positively affect engagement. This data can then be used to benchmark employee engagement initiatives and make it possible to identify the greatest areas of need within an organization’s culture, so you can implement real, impactful change. Here’s a quick look at each of these drivers and how they impact employee engagement:
Having a feeling of purpose at work means an employee understands why the business exists, beyond making a profit. Having a clear company vision and mission gives your people something to connect to, and can improve employees’ feeling of purpose.
When employees are clear on what their role entails, they’re able to clearly connect their daily work tasks to the purpose of the business and have clarity about how that work impacts the organization. Providing employees with adequate role clarity will ensure they are always working with focus and intention.
The meaning driver refers to an employee’s belief that being immersed in work gives them value, whether through a sense of purpose, compensation, status, or influence. How or why one finds meaning in their work is unique to each individual, but this driver is powerful for every employee’s engagement.
This driver refers to how employees feel the organization effectively utilizes their abilities and skills. The degree to which employees feel their daily work tasks put their knowledge and skills to good use has a direct impact on their level of engagement. 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.
Employees who have autonomy at work are trusted to use their expertise to make decisions about how to do their jobs. (Micromanaged employees, on the other hand, will feel very little to no autonomy.) Trusting employees and giving them the freedom to choose how they manage their time can inspire them to do their best work.
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.
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 a shared interest in success. This can also reflect how an employee’s personal values align with the organization and the work they’re performing.
This driver refers to the close relationships an employee has at work and the degree to which they feel cared for by colleagues. Having friendships at work can help employees feel less isolated and more like human beings, with unique interests and lives outside of the workplace. While business leaders can’t force friendships (nor should they try), it’s important to create a culture where these relationships are more likely to thrive.
Employees must feel capable of pushing physical, intellectual, and emotional energy into their work and have access to the resources necessary to do the tasks that are required of them to do their job (and to do it well).
Employees need to feel there is trust and respect in their work environment, especially among the people with whom they work most closely. Without trust, employees will never feel completely comfortable in their place on the team and may question the motives of colleagues and managers. Leaders can promote a more trusting environment by creating a culture of honesty and transparency.
Authenticity, in this context, refers to employees’ sense that leadership is honest about the business and about themselves. In other words, employees feel their leaders are being real with them. If employees don’t feel authenticity at work they may doubt their leaders’ intentions and question their business decisions. Like the trust driver, authenticity can be strengthened by open and honest leadership.
This engagement driver refers to how fairly employees feel they (and others) are treated within the organization. This includes how employees feel they’re paid, the work they’re asked to do, and the level of respect they’re given by managers and colleagues. Leaders, be mindful: employees are constantly comparing their work situation to others’, so it’s important to set clear expectations and a consistent process around rewards.
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 the employee-manager relationship.
Relationship with manager
This 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. The employee-manager relationship is a critical dynamic when it comes to engagement.
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” or available outside regular work hours, engagement can suffer. Rest must be something leaders and managers value and encourage employees to get.
Job competency is the match between employees’ abilities and the challenge of their work. If employees feel they’re being tasked with work that is outside their skill set, they’re at risk for becoming overwhelmed or falling behind—and the quality of work being produced will likely suffer.
This driver refers to the presence of opportunities for growth and support from company leaders or managers who promote and encourage an employee’s professional development. In other words, the company is providing opportunities or resources for employees to develop professionally, and managers support and encourage their teams to take advantage.