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20 Essential Drivers of Employee Engagement and How to Leverage Them

Drivers of employee engagement are your key to business success because they increase productivity and profitability. Discover how and why - free tips today!
Written by: Penny Swift
drivers of employee engagement
Published: December 21, 2023
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Employee engagement is the cornerstone every organization needs to maintain a productive and prosperous workplace. It’s what empowers employees, eliciting hope, confidence, and a strong feeling of security.

But, warns Gallup in its State of the Global Workplace 2023 Report, employee engagement does not mean happiness. Rather, true engagement means that staff are “psychologically present to do their work.” They understand what to do and have the managerial and team support to do it. They also know why the work they do is important to the organization.

Furthermore, the report shows that only 31% of employees in North America are actively engaged and “thriving at work.” More than half (52%) are not engaged, and 17% are actively disengaged and looking for a new job. Overall, Gallup estimates that low engagement costs the global economy an alarming $8.8 trillion.

Employee engagement is recognized worldwide as a critical driver of business success in today’s increasingly competitive marketplace. At the same time, there are many questions about the significance of disengaged vs engaged employees and the importance of employee experience.

For example, What exactly is employee engagement? What are the pivotal factors that drive it, and why are these drivers so crucial? As new-age work environments evolve, what are the most effective tools to drive employee engagement and improve the employee experience? 

We are going to share the answers to these and other important queries. We will also present 20 key drivers that significantly contribute to improving engagement methods and results. It’s particularly important to know how to promote employee engagement in remote and hybrid workforces. So, we’ll be identifying seven advanced tools you can use to create a work environment that’s not just productive, but also a place where employees feel valued, involved, and motivated.

What is Employee Engagement?

Before we explore the drivers of employee engagement and all-important employee engagement strategies, it’s important to understand what engaging successfully with employees actually entails. 

In a nutshell, employee engagement relates to an employee’s mental and emotional investment in their organization. It encapsulates their degree of commitment, passion, and loyalty to their employer. An engaged employee is one who feels a part of the organization, who is invested both emotionally and intellectually and goes the extra mile to contribute to the success of their company.

employee engagement definition

As Quantum Workplace states in its 2023 report, What is Employee Engagement? What, Why, and How to Improve It, it’s “a key indicator of a healthy and thriving workplace, where employees feel valued, involved, and connected to their roles and the company at large.” Furthermore, it affects revenue, profitability, customer experience, employee turnover, and a whole lot of other highly important aspects of every business operation.

Pillars of Employee Engagement 

They have identified three pillars of engagement:

  1. Work engagement that highlights the connection of employees to their work. It shows an immersion in work, motivation, and overall inspiration. 
  2. Team engagement that focuses on the connection of employees to their coworkers. This takes commitment, acceptance, and discretionary effort.
  3. Organizational engagement that incorporates a sense of pride, advocacy, and an overall intention to stay with the organization. 
pillars of engagement

Like Gallup, Quantum Workplace cautions that when we talk about employees being engaged, this is not the same as satisfaction, happiness, or wellbeing.

  • Employee happiness is short-term and it can change quickly and often. Engagement, on the other hand, involves a long-term connection and commitment to the organization.
  • Employee satisfaction indicates productivity, but it can only be measured at surface level. Generally, even when employees are satisfied, they aren’t about to go the extra mile. 
  • Employee wellbeing will help them cope with stress or accept that they are fulfilling their full potential. While it can increase engagement, it doesn’t focus direction on the company, but rather on their own wellbeing. 

Nevertheless, happiness, satisfaction, and wellbeing remain important. 

Knowing this, the question is: How can businesses leverage the drivers of employee engagement to ensure a high degree of commitment that increases performance and productivity of all its employees?

What are Drivers of Employee Engagement?

Drivers of employee engagement represent the core components that foster a positive work environment and encourage employees to invest their full potential in the job. These critical factors infuse a sense of purpose, and align personal and organizational goals, and consequently drive engagement. They vary across the various spectrums of professional development, but these are 10 of the best that apply across the board: 

  1. Effective leadership that provides clear direction, inspires trust, and promotes a positive work culture.
  2. Clear communication that helps employees understand their roles, expectations, and the overall goals of the organization. 
  3. Recognition and rewards that acknowledge hard work and accomplishments and boost morale and motivation.
  4. Opportunities for growth that provide training, mentorship, and chances for advancement.
  5. A good work-life balance that contributes to increased job satisfaction and engagement.
  6. An inclusive and diverse organizational culture that shows employees’ unique perspectives and backgrounds are respected.
  7. Job autonomy and empowerment that give employees some degree of control over their work and decision-making.
  8. Team collaboration that builds a sense of camaraderie and shared purpose.  
  9. Employee well–being programs that not only promote health and wellness, but also provide mental health support and ensure a supportive work environment.
  10. Fair compensation and benefits that attract and retain employees, making them feel they are being fairly rewarded for their contributions.
drivers of employee engagement

Why are Drivers of Employee Engagement Important?

Understanding the key drivers of employee engagement is of critical importance in today’s corporate landscape. Successful engagement with employees has a direct impact on a myriad of business outcomes, from productivity to profitability, as well as customer satisfaction and company reputation. A company’s ability to drive employee engagement effectively can significantly influence its ability to succeed in an increasingly competitive global marketplace.

Several studies have established a strong correlation between high levels of employee engagement and improved business performance – including those undertaken by Gallup and Quantum Workplace. 

Additionally, Gallup, now widely known globally for its large-scale collection of business performance data, has been studying employee engagement for decades. The Gallup Q12 Survey started with the publication of thousands of employee opinion surveys in 1999 in a book called First, Break All the Rules. The authors, Gallup researchers Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman, introduced 12 simple questions that were tied directly to a range of performance outcomes that could be used as a basic framework by any manager to improve business results in their workplace. Also known as The 12 Elements of Great Managing, the Gallup Q12  has been revised and updated many times and it remains the most famous engagement survey ever. 

According to this survey, businesses with highly engaged teams show 23% greater profitability. Moreover, highly engaged teams also report 43% less turnover and 10% higher customer loyalty compared to disengaged peers.

So, it’s clear that driving employee engagement is integral for a healthy and thriving business. Engaged employees feel a sense of ownership towards their work and the company. This connection fuels their motivation to excel and contribute to the organization’s bottom line. They don’t just work for a paycheck or another promotion but towards the organization’s overall goals. 

Here are five top reasons that illustrate why these drivers are so important:

Improved Company Culture

Employee engagement drivers such as transparent communication, recognition, and collaboration foster a positive work environment where employees feel appreciated, respected, and valued. This optimized climate generates a high level of satisfaction among team members, which can significantly improve loyalty and retention rates.

Enhanced Job Satisfaction

Key drivers of engagement, such as role clarity, work-life balance, and growth opportunities, greatly contribute to job satisfaction. When employees see clear career paths, they are more likely to maintain a long-term association with the company. Additionally, having an acceptable work-life integration can significantly enhance an employee’s overall well-being and personal happiness which, in turn, positively affects their levels of engagement at work.

Better Customer Experience

Engaged employees typically provide superior customer service. Their dedication, positivity, and commitment to delivering quality can be easily observed by customers, often resulting in increased customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Increased Loyalty and Retention

Employee engagement directly impacts employee retention. Strong engagement drivers like recognition, professional development opportunities, and a healthy work atmosphere collectively contribute to making the employees feel valued, leading to lower attrition rates.

Boosted Productivity

It’s no surprise that an employee who feels engaged and invested in their job performs better than one who doesn’t. The boost in productivity levels can be largely attributed to the positive energy and passion for meaningful work that engagement drivers kindle. Architects of an engaging work environment report employees demonstrating superior performance, showing up every day with passion, purpose, presence, and energy.

top reasons why driving employee engagement is important

20 Key Drivers of Employee Engagement

Various critical drivers foster high levels of employee engagement. We have picked our Top 20 carefully:

1# Effective Communication

Effective communication is a crucial driver for boosting employee engagement. This requires transparency, clarity, and openness in all interactions between team members and senior leaders. It ensures that everyone understands their roles, as well as the goals of the company, and fosters a sense of trust and mutual respect. Improving employee engagement relies heavily on effective internal communication to drive engagement and ensure everyone feels part of the bigger picture.

Gallup emphasizes both leadership communication and employee communication as top priorities for 2024. Check-in on your managers and help prepare them to have meaningful conversations with their employees.

2# Employee Experience

Employee experience refers to the overall journey an employee has with an organization, encompassing all interactions, perceptions, and encounters from recruitment to departure. It includes aspects such as workplace culture, job satisfaction, and the effectiveness of internal processes in shaping the employee’s engagement and well-being. A positive employee experience can be a critical driver of engagement, resulting in higher job satisfaction and employee retention rates.

It includes ensuring a safe working environment, providing opportunities for professional development, enabling flexible work conditions, and making sure workers feel valued and appreciated. A management shift towards a comprehensive employee experience focuses on the needs and wants of employees, resulting in an engaged workforce.

3# Employee Motivation

Employee motivation is another key driver of engagement. This depends on various factors including role fit, recognition, competitive compensation and benefits, and growth opportunities. Providing employees with meaningful work, setting clear expectations, giving timely feedback, and maintaining a positive work environment can significantly enhance employee motivation. 

Employees who are highly motivated usually demonstrate higher levels of engagement and productivity and significantly contribute to company performance. Therefore it stands to reason that understanding what motivates your employees and leveraging that knowledge can help foster an engaged and driven workforce.

4# Employee Belonging

A sense of belonging is essential when it comes to driving employee engagement. When employees feel like they’re part of a community at work, they are more likely to be engaged, perform better, and want to stay longer with the company.

Creating an inclusive work environment, acknowledging and respecting diversity, promoting collaboration, and fostering a strong workplace culture are vital for enhancing a sense of belonging among employees. Workers who feel a strong connection to their peers, their team, and the company as a whole are more likely to experience increased job satisfaction and engagement.

5# Growth Opportunities

Providing opportunities for growth and professional development is another critical aspect of driving employee engagement. This could involve training programs, mentorship, opportunities for promotion, or skill-building workshops.

Employees who feel there are ample opportunities to grow within the company tend to be more committed and engaged. They’re also likely to feel more valued and appreciated, leading to increased job satisfaction.

6# Employee Recognition

Recognition of employee efforts and achievements plays a crucial role in driving engagement. This can take various forms, such as a simple thank you note, award ceremonies, public acknowledgment, or financial rewards.

According to the Achievers 2023 Engagement and Retention Report, employees who are never recognized are 39% more likely to leave the organization within the next year. Overall, 36% of all employees in the U.S. say they are planning to look for a new job. This is close to the global average of 38%. 

Recognizing employees boosts their morale, makes them feel valued, and motivates them to perform at their best. A recognition and reward system can significantly contribute to a higher engagement level. Remember, recognition doesn’t always have to be grand gestures. Even small acknowledgments can have a big impact on employees’ sense of value and engagement.

7# Work-Life Integration

Work-life integration is about finding a healthy balance between work obligations and personal life. With the rise of remote workplaces, it has become increasingly important in driving employee engagement.

Companies that encourage and support a good work-life balance tend to have happier and more engaged employees. Flexible work hours, remote work options, and encouraging time off are all ways to foster a supportive work-life integration environment. Ensuring your employees have a balanced work-life integration contributes directly to their mental health, job satisfaction, and overall engagement.

8# Employee Autonomy

Employee autonomy refers to the level of freedom employees have in decision-making and managing their work. When employees feel they have a degree of control over their work, they tend to be more engaged and productive.

Granting autonomy to employees, whilst providing them adequate support, can foster a sense of respect and trust, enhancing their commitment and loyalty to the company. Promote employee autonomy by setting clear expectations, giving them the freedom to decide how to meet them, and providing the tools and resources they need to do so effectively.

9# Learning Culture

Establishing a strong learning culture within an organization plays a crucial role in driving employee engagement. It relates to encouraging continuous learning, providing training opportunities, and promoting knowledge sharing among employees.

In today’s fast-paced business environment, the opportunity for continuous learning is not just a benefit, it’s imperative. Employees are more likely to feel engaged in a working environment that challenges them and helps them grow professionally.

An organization that offers regular learning opportunities encourages its employees to keep improving, which boosts engagement, productivity, and innovation.

10# Collaborative Environment

Cultivating a collaborative environment fosters engagement by encouraging teamwork, promoting open communication, and creating a sense of community among employees.

Team members who work together and share ideas are more likely to feel invested in their work and engaged with the company. It also creates a positive, dynamic environment where employees feel they can turn to each other for support and advice.

Creating opportunities for collaboration, such as team projects or problem-solving activities, can help foster a cooperative environment and drive engagement amongst employees.

11# Innovation Support

Supporting innovation within the company can significantly boost employee engagement. Encouraging employees to think creatively, welcoming new ideas, and being open to change demonstrates to them that they are vital contributors to the company’s future.

Supporting innovation also creates an environment that challenges employees, stimulates their critical thinking, and fosters a sense of excitement in their job roles.

Whether it’s through brainstorming sessions, hackathons, or innovation hubs, fostering a culture of innovation can keep employees excited, motivated, and highly engaged with their work.

12# Employee Well-Being Programs

Employee well-being programs are essential to driving employee engagement. These can include initiatives focusing on mental health, stress management, physical fitness, or financial well-being. Such programs communicate to employees that their well-being is a priority to the company, resulting in a boost in morale, productivity, and satisfaction.

When employers take measures to promote and support employee well-being, they contribute positively to the overall company performance and create a highly engaged workforce.

13# Diversity and Inclusion

Diversity and inclusion in the workplace play a critical role in driving employee engagement. A diverse and inclusive work environment fosters innovation, enhances the company culture, and makes employees feel valued and respected, irrespective of their backgrounds.

Embracing diversity and inclusion has been shown to boost employee engagement by creating a sense of fairness and equality within the workplace. Efforts to promote diversity and inclusion, such as equal opportunity hiring practices and cultural sensitivity training, can enhance employee engagement significantly.

14# Role Clarity

Role clarity refers to employees having a clear understanding of their job duties, responsibilities, and expectations. Role clarity is instrumental in driving employee engagement as it allows employees to focus on their work without ambiguity or confusion.

Providing clear job descriptions, defining goals and objectives, and regular reviews can help ensure role clarity. By fostering role clarity, employers can create a more productive work environment and increase employee engagement and satisfaction.

15# Leadership Development

Leadership development is a key driver of employee engagement. When employees see opportunities for progression and leadership development within the company, they are more likely to be engaged and committed to their work.

Investing in leadership development, through training programs or mentorship opportunities, not only improves leadership skills among your employees but also boosts their confidence and engagement. By cultivating strong leaders, businesses can drive employee engagement, improve team performance, and enhance overall company success.

16# Team Building

Team-building activities are essential for cultivating a strong, collaborative work environment. Such activities improve team dynamics, foster mutual trust, and promote a sense of community among employees, ultimately driving employee engagement.

From problem-solving activities to company outings, team building creates opportunities for employees to connect on a personal level and work more effectively as a team. Making team-building a priority can foster a positive work environment and boost employee engagement and productivity.

17# Transparent Decision-Making

Transparent decision-making is crucial in driving employee engagement. When decisions are made transparently, employees feel more valued and trusted, leading to a boost in morale and engagement.

Sharing reasons behind decisions, involving employees in the decision-making process, and being open to feedback can enhance transparency and trust within a company. Transparent decision-making not only nurtures trust amongst employees but also cultivates an open, respectful, and highly engaged workforce.

18# Social Responsibility Alignment

Alignment with social responsibility can significantly boost employee engagement. When employees know their company cares about making a positive impact on society and the environment, they feel proud to be part of such an organization. This can involve initiatives like supporting local communities, promoting sustainable practices or implementing diversity and inclusion policies.

Showing commitment to social responsibility not only enhances a company’s reputation but also substantially drives employee engagement.

19# Continuous Feedback

Continuous feedback is integral to employee engagement. Regular, constructive feedback helps employees understand where they stand, what they’re doing well, and what areas they can improve in.

Feedback empowers employees to continuously learn and grow, which enhances their skill sets and job satisfaction. Employing continuous feedback systems, such as performance reviews or manager-employee check-ins, can greatly enhance employee engagement and performance.

20# Health and Wellness Initiatives

Health and wellness initiatives can be key drivers of employee engagement. These can include providing healthy snacks in the office, sponsoring fitness classes, or offering a comprehensive healthcare package. These initiatives show employees that their health and wellbeing is valued, leading to increased morale and productivity, and decreased stress and illness.

By investing in employee health and wellness, companies are likely to foster a more engaged, healthier and more productive workforce.

7 Tools to Drive Employee Engagement in Remote and Hybrid Workforces

Thriving in the new normal requires businesses to redefine how they engage with their employees. With the rise of remote and hybrid workplaces, companies must introduce innovative strategies and tools to drive engagement. Here, we explore seven essential tools that are integral to driving employee engagement in remote and hybrid workforces.

  1. Employee Engagement Platform: This platform is designed to help motivate employees, facilitate open communication, and cultivate an environment of collaboration and trust.
  2. Employee Engagement Survey:  Understanding feelings and opinions directly from the source provides vital insights into what’s working and where improvements may be necessary.
  3. Virtual Collaboration Apps: Synchronization of work, sharing ideas, brainstorming, and problem-solving becomes much more manageable, replicating the collaborative office environment digitally.
  4. Company Newsletters: A well-crafted newsletter can help keep employees informed and connected, particularly in remote settings. It can carry updates about company news, upcoming events, new policies, recognitions, client updates, or thought leadership articles.
  5. Virtual Water Cooler: These platforms provide employees with the opportunity to de-stress and bond with colleagues, promoting a sense of belonging and improving team dynamics.
  6. Employee Engagement Event: Events can range from professional development activities to fun games, fostering a sense of community, and driving engagement and camaraderie among team members.
  7. Recognition and Rewards System: Whether it’s a shout-out during a virtual meeting, an appreciation mail, or tangible rewards like bonuses or gift cards, recognizing employee efforts boosts morale and productivity, inducing a positive work environment.

Utilizing Drivers for More Engaged Employees

Business success hinges on several factors, one of the most critical being the ability to manage and maximize the potential of your employees. Employee engagement is not merely a buzzword but a strategic approach to driving your business toward growth and success. By understanding and effectively utilizing various drivers of employee engagement, businesses can have employees who are not only satisfied but also inspired and motivated to contribute their best to the organization.

To leverage these drivers for a more engaged workforce, businesses must pay attention to creating a positive work environment where employees feel comfortable, acknowledged, and valued. Implementing engagement driver strategies is not a one-size-fits-all situation. Each will vary based on the organization’s size, type, culture, and employees’ needs.

Broadcast Offers Key Drivers of Employee Engagement

Cerkl provides personalized communication solutions that are focused on improving both employee and customer engagement through tailored content delivery. Our Broadcast platform is designed to automate content delivery based on individual preferences, ensuring that users receive information that is relevant and interesting to them. It features a centralized hub that accommodates all types of communications, simplifying access and management and increasing effectiveness. Internal communicators can also plan the frequency and timing of messages.

Of course, it’s essential to measure employee engagement so that you have a good understanding of the needs of your workforce. An engagement survey is an excellent method, as are other analytics tools that enable communicators to measure message impact. Broadcast offers both options. Furthermore, the platform is highly versatile so you can segment the audience depending on roles, locations, departments, and interests. 

What’s Next?

How effective are your measures to engage your employees? Do you have a good communication plan in place? Is there room for improvement? An excellent way to find out is to complete our strategic internal communications audit. It’s quick, easy, and free. 


What is employee engagement?

Employee engagement is the emotional commitment and connection employees have with their work, organization, and its goals. Generally, it leads to increased productivity, satisfaction, and overall performance.

What are the key drivers of employee engagement?

Key drivers include effective leadership, clear communication, recognition and rewards, opportunities for growth, and a positive work culture that values well-being and diversity.

Why is an employee engagement survey important?

Surveys are important because they provide insights into workforce sentiments and identify areas for improvement. They also help organizations make informed decisions to enhance employee satisfaction, commitment, and productivity.

How does a positive employee experience increase engagement?

A good employee experience results from employees realizing that employers care about their needs and that they cater to their needs. This, in turn, results in increased job satisfaction that makes employees want to stay with the company, in this way reducing turnover.

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