We've heard a lot about employee engagement recently; why it's so important to the success of your organization, how to measure it (and boost it), and what the signs of disengagement might be.

To refresh your memory, employee engagement refers to the emotional investment a person has in their job and company. The benefits of employee engagement are well documented by now, as it's been proven that engaged employees are happier, perform better, and stay longer at their organizations.

But what motivates employees to form genuine connections with their jobs? When managers and senior leaders understand what's driving employee engagement, they can more easily achieve broader business goals, build solid relationships with their people, and improve overall performance.

To help you develop and implement effective engagement strategies to boost happiness, productivity, and satisfaction in the workplace, we've outlined the most critical drivers of employee engagement and the steps you can take to ensure a healthy environment for your teams.

What's driving employee engagement?

A recent survey from Gallup's State of the Global Workplace Report revealed that only 21% of employees feel engaged in their work. This jarring stat highlights the disconnect modern professionals feel with their daily tasks, which can lead to:

  • Increased employee turnover
  • Reduced productivity
  • Declining ambassadorship
  • Higher levels of absenteeism

A sound employee engagement strategy could make all the difference in keeping your team happy and connected with their work. Let's explore the top 15 drivers of employee engagement that managers can keep an eye on to improve overall engagement and workplace wellness.

1. Meaningful work

What's better at inspiring employees than providing them with meaningful work? When employees feel aligned with company values, engagement levels rise. People want to feel like they are contributing to something larger than themselves, so revisiting the company's mission and values could be a good step toward boosting employee engagement.

Additionally, ensuring your employees are aligned with team objectives will help foster a more collaborative and productive environment. When your team rallies around shared goals, you can move forward more efficiently.

2. Career growth opportunities

One of the key drivers of engagement is investing in employee success. As with businesses, success will mean something different to each employee, but presenting them with options for professional development is an easy way to positively affect engagement.

Most employees sense when managers are disinterested in their personal growth. Senior leadership can prevent this disconnect by creating a work environment that drives engagement and allows every team member to flourish. Create career development opportunities for them to sharpen their skills or learn new industry-specific competencies.

3. Leadership integrity

Most drivers of employee engagement offer ways that management can encourage employees and improve business performance. However, this driver reflects whether or not leadership has gained employee trust and emphasizes the direct impact that trust has on employee experience.

Think about your team and how employees feel when they come to work. Ask yourself:

  • Do employees have positive relationships with members of leadership?
  • Does your company culture promote transparency, regular communication, and accountability across all levels of the organization?

Respect is a two-way street. Learn how you can improve trust and integrity on your team.

4. Employee empowerment and recognition

One of the most critical employee engagement drivers is ensuring that employees feel valued. While a simple "thank you" can sometimes go a long way, managers and C-suite leadership can maintain and improve a hard-working employee's engagement level by recognizing them for quality work.

According to Officevibe data, a quarter of employees feel like their organization doesn't celebrate accomplishments or learnings. By upping your recognition game you will see an increase in:

  • Employee happiness
  • Job satisfaction
  • Retention rates
  • Productivity
  • Team collaboration

Recognizing your employees' dedication keeps them engaged and illuminates their value to the team. Start creating a culture of recognition at your organization; it's easier than you think.

5. Sense of belonging

As a manager or team leader, one of your top priorities should always be to ensure you are fostering a safe and inclusive space for your diverse teams. A key part of employee engagement is building a positive workplace that encourages coworker relationships and a sense of community, in the office or virtually, but unfortunately, Officevibe Pulse Survey data shows that 19% of employees do not feel that peopleā€™s personal identities are respected by everyone in their organization.

A team can only function if everyone's well-being is taken to heart. Tune in to how your people are feeling with a series of diversity and inclusion activities and develop connections with these team-building activities.

6. Role clarity

One of the most common drivers of employee engagement is having roles and responsibilities clearly outlined for each of your team members. When managers explain how individual employees contribute to the bigger picture, your people can develop clearly defined game plans for their short and long-term professional aspirations.

It's also important to note that while an employee might perform well at certain tasks, their heart might not necessarily be in that type of project. Have an honest and judgment-free conversation with your team members to understand where their strengths lie and uncover the tasks they genuinely enjoy performing to drive employee engagement.

Take the time to clarify roles and responsibilities in your next meeting with this free Officevibe one-on-one template.

7. Psychological safety

This engagement driver lies in a manager's ability to create a space that encourages honesty and integrity. Achieving consistently high engagement requires a safe work environment. When employees feel secure at work, they can feel comfortable receiving and giving constructive feedback, making mistakes, and speaking up about what's on their minds. When people feel comfortable to be themselves, they're better able to collaborate with their peers and can fully immerse themselves in their projects.

Psychological safety is of the utmost importance in any workplace, regardless of your field or industry. Get your team's perspective on the level of psychological safety within your organization using this free template.

8. Work-life balance

Another critical engagement driver is ensuring a flexible work-life balance for your whole team. Employees simply cannot perform to the best of their abilities if they're showing up to work burnt out and exhausted because they're unable to disconnect after quitting time, on the weekends, or even on their lunch breaks. When employees can enjoy and maintain their personal lives without guilt or fear of repercussion, they'll be happier and better equipped to pour their time and creativity into their daily tasks.

If you're noticing an employee of yours struggling with their mental health or maintaining a stable work-life balance, act quickly and schedule a one-on-one meeting or send them an employee wellness survey.

9. Resources and tools

An employee's job performance is only as good as the materials they have at their disposal. Though often underestimated in its efficacy, when you provide employees with the right equipment for their work space, they'll feel more comfortable undertaking tasks and completing projects regardless of their physical location.

Additionally, you can drive engagement by ensuring that your team not only has access to physical tools, but to resources and software that simplify their work.

10. Transparency

More transparency from leadership can do wonders to improve company morale and increase employee retention. One of the most important marks of a great leader is how honest you are with your people when the going gets tough. By keeping your employees in the know, you can foster strong employee-manager relationships and a company culture of honesty and accountability. Remember: if you make a mistake, own up to it and keep yourself accountable...there's always room to grow, regardless of your rank!

11. Fairness

No matter your industry, employees will naturally compare themselves, their salaries, and the treatment they receive from management to their peers. As a manager, it's your responsibility to honor that desire for equity by ensuring that all team members receive the same treatment. Rather than feeling competitive or envious, you can empower employees to work together as a team to maintain a positive environment for everyone.

Take the pulse of your team to see where they stand on the levels of equity at your organization with these 21 diversity, equity, and inclusion survey questions.

12. Autonomy

Of all the employee engagement drivers we've listed thus far, autonomy can be the trickiest for managers to balance. People need guidance to do their jobs, but giving employees autonomy is less about letting them have free reign and more about trusting them to make informed decisions. After all, you hired them for a reason.

When you establish mutual trust and respect between the management team and employees, you give people the confidence they need to do their job. This vital confidence will provide motivation and increase employee engagement across the board.

šŸ’”Check out these seven tips to improve and master employee autonomy in a remote context.

13. Clear communication

It goes without saying: effective, clear, and open communication is critical to overall performance and is also a non-negotiable if you want to build solid relationships with your team members. With remote and hybrid work models the new reality, clear communication has become one of the top drivers of employee engagement as the non-verbal cues of in-person conversations are no longer there to guide you. If you want to improve communication at work, make sure you're practicing active listening to better understand and meet your team's needs.

Leadership should also set an example of quality communication by providing actionable objectives and clarifying the company's goals. Doing so sets a standard for communication throughout the organization, improving awareness and engagement from top to bottom.

14. Workload distribution

Part of prioritizing employee wellness is ensuring that no single person takes on more work than they feel comfortable handling. As a manager, it may be hard to tell when certain people feel overwhelmed, but that's where quality communication comes in handy.

Working with individuals and team leaders, you can identify areas where perhaps some departments need further delegation of tasks. As a result, no one feels overworked or overwhelmed, and productivity will naturally increase as everyone settles into their roles.

If you notice an employee struggling with their workload, it's important to schedule a meeting with them sooner rather than later. Discuss how you can help them reduce their work stress with this one-on-one template.

15. Rest

Rest is another one of those engagement drivers that requires leadership to set an example. Sometimes, it can be challenging for employees to set boundaries and take the time they need to recharge.

You can help your team members feel comfortable caring for their well-being by encouraging rest and self-care. As a result, individuals can return to work rejuvenated, and employee engagement levels will reflect this boost in energy.

Increase employee engagement with easy-to-use software

Common engagement drivers span multiple industries, but it's up to you to find what members of your organization need and value most for them to succeed. Employee well-being has understandably taken a hit in recent years, but an employee engagement survey is one of the most efficient ways to measure engagement, get employee feedback, and tackle issues before they evolve.

To improve morale, increase employee retention, and ensure the success of your business, your management team needs to foster a positive, encouraging company culture. Increased engagement won't happen overnight, but with enough time and effort, you can forge meaningful connections with your team members and create a healthy, happy, and productive work environment.

Learn more about Officevibe's employee engagement solution to see how you can get the ball rolling on developing employee engagement strategies that work for your organization.