What Drives Employee Engagement?

jennifer Bjorkman | August-16-10


Employee Engagement


Originally posted on Mumblr, by Abhishek Mittal, on December 3, 2009


I came across a blog post titled “Employee Engagement: What Exactly is it?” The post points to a study by The Conference Board which studied different research reports published by various consulting firms. Interesting thing is that they look at the top drivers of engagement and I have always maintained that there is a lot of value in attempting to identify the key drivers of engagement. The post concludes that these research studies generally agreed on the following drivers:

  • Trust and integrity – how well managers communicate and ‘walk the talk’.
  • Nature of the job –Is it mentally stimulating day-to-day?
  • Line of sight between employee performance and company performance – Does the employee understand how their work contributes to the company’s performance?
  • Career Growth opportunities –Are there future opportunities for growth?
  • Pride about the company – How much self-esteem does the employee feel by being associated with their company?
  • Coworkers/team members – significantly influence one’s level of engagement
  • Employee development – Is the company making an effort to develop the employee’s skills?
  • Relationship with one’s manager – Does the employee value his or her relationship with his or her manager?

The post acknowledges that there are lots of variances in the data, but concludes that across all variables “the relationship with one’s manager” is the strongest driver. I completely agree with the fact that the quality of direct supervisors plays a crucial role in shaping engagement. However, there are times when organizations need to focus differently. What happens when broad workplace systems / processes / policies are not in place? A manager can still soothe his people, but not for long. Discontent will brew fast with the organizational functioning. And, managers may be helpless.

Whether organizational functioning or workgroup experiences shape engagement really depends on the unique situation of the organization in question. I would rather not be so quick in putting all the onus on managers.

On another note, the Towers Perrin’s Global Workforce Study of over 90000 employees identified the following key drivers of talent attraction, retention and engagement. Interestingly, the drivers are different, indicating different solutions for different issues.