What Are the Main Drivers of Employee Engagement?
By Kris Kitto
In order to improve employee engagement, it’s important to understand what motivates employees and drives them to be personally invested in their work. But there are no universal drivers of employee engagement. They can vary from one organisation to the next—and even from different groups of employees within a single organisation. Drivers can also change over time or due to external factors (like an economic depression or public health crisis).
In periods of rapid economic, social, and technological change, it’s particularly helpful to return to basics and understand the factors that allow people to focus and do their best work.
Often, employee engagement is driven by employees’ desire for:
- Meaningful work
- Career growth
- Fulfilling work relationships
Even as technology and other modern practices change the way we work, many of the traditional drivers of employee engagement have remained the same. But a modern approach to your people and employee engagement requires thinking of these drivers in a more personalised way. Let’s explore what influences the drivers of employee engagement, how you can identify the top drivers for your organisation, and how you can use that information to increase your employee engagement.
Employee engagement: influencing factors
The drivers of employee engagement are often impacted by many factors, including:
An organisation’s culture encompasses the values and behaviors that shape it and exemplify “the way things get done around here.” Culture has a huge impact on employee engagement drivers and levels, and both engagement and culture are influenced by the prevailing leadership and management practices within the organisation. For example, at an organisation known for innovation, engagement drivers may relate to an employee’s ability to speak up or share new ideas. Alternatively, an organisational culture driven by operational efficiency may have engagement drivers related to collaboration and execution.
If you ask managers in two different industries what drives engagement for their employees, you may end up with two completely different lists. For example, an employee at a non-profit may need the work to be meaningful and tied to community goals in order to be engaged. On the other hand, an autoworker may prioritise workplace safety and relationships with colleagues. Like organisational culture, an employee’s engagement drivers are influenced by the industry they are in and colleagues they are surrounded by.
Depending on the industry, there may be different opportunities for employees to get involved and become more engaged with their work. Industry conferences, trade shows, and webinars provide opportunities for employees to sharpen their skills, make new connections, and demonstrate their proficiency in wider circles.
These activities may look different in each industry, but they all serve to motivate employees to learn more, showcase their skills, or form stronger relationships with their peers—all of which have a major impact on employee engagement.
An employee’s specific job function can greatly impact what motivates them.
For some employees, meaningful work is motivation in and of itself. The meaning of work is personal to each employee and can be difficult to measure, but it’s a key part of inspiring employees to do their best work. Employees who are intrinsically motivated by their work feel they are serving the greater good or helping to achieve larger goals.
Other employees may be motivated by growth and changes in their job responsibilities. Giving an employee greater latitude in their role or allowing them to work on different projects that are more aligned with their interests can motivate them.
For some employees, it’s not the job function itself that affects engagement, but how they interact with others in the course of work. They want positive relationships with colleagues and managers, a healthy work-life balance, job security, or something else entirely that isn’t tied to their work duties. With that in mind, managers should pay attention to how the specific duties of the job impact engagement for some employees, but not all.
Career goals—and progress toward them—are another factor that contributes to employee engagement. Depending on the career stage a certain employee is in, they may be motivated by different things.
For example, employees who are in earlier stages of their careers may prioritise competitive compensation and strong leaders who help them improve their skills. More seasoned employees may place more emphasis on strong relationships with colleagues or flexible work arrangements that suit their schedules. Employees who have experience in other organisations or industries may be more driven by relationships, work culture, and autonomy than their peers.
How to identify drivers of employee engagement for your organisation
A modern approach to employee engagement requires understanding what drives employees, even as they shift. A people success platform—a platform that offers a holistic view of the employee experience—is the best way to measure and monitor these drivers at scale, and in real-time.
Within a people success platform, an effective employee engagement solution delivers information instantaneously and on demand, rather than a massive annual data dump. It can help organisations identify the drivers with the most impact on engagement for the organisation, as well as drivers unique to specific managers and teams. For example, Glint’s Driver Impact Report enables organisations to understand what drives engagement for specific groups by combining attributes (e.g., job level and location) of critical populations.
Boost your employee engagement
The drivers of employee engagement vary from organisation to organisation and employee to employee based on a wide range of factors. Drivers also change over time alongside changes in management, culture, or external factors. A people success platform is a proactive way to continuously solicit employee feedback that helps you measure, monitor, and take action to improve employee engagement.