20 Key Drivers of Employee Engagement

A healthy, engaged workforce is the best way to limit unwanted turnover, boost productivity, and increase referral rates. Creating a high-quality workplace culture takes intentional effort. Over time, it becomes self-sustaining, and it attracts like-minded people who are more likely to be engaged and thrive. 

Some people believe you can improve employee engagement with fancy perks, but research by Energage has consistently shown that’s not what matters, most workers want a positive workplace experience. Consider these 20 factors:


  1. Company values: They are the glue that keeps your workplace together. Strong values propel your company forward.
  2. Meaningfulness: Workers seek purpose in what they do and the people they serve. They become charged with productivity, commitment, happiness, and engagement.
  3. Direction: Senior leadership sets the direction of the organization. It requires a smart strategy and regular communication. When done right, employees will invest more of themselves in their work because they know it will make a difference.
  4. Employee appreciation: Who and what you celebrate says volumes about the type of culture you have and the culture you want to cultivate. 
  5. Concerns: When managers genuinely care about their employees, they cultivate trust and mutual respect, creating a safe haven where employees feel encouraged to innovate and take ownership of their work.
  6. Inclusion: Diverse, inclusive organizations outperform the competition in profits, cash flow, and revenue. Teams at these companies exhibit better (and faster) decision-making, increased collaboration, and stronger commitment.
  7. Innovation: People closest to the problems — and the customers — are closest to the best solutions. When employees are empowered, they feel safe to take the calculated risks needed to chase continuous improvement. 
  8. Open-mindedness: Open-mindedness is the difference between employees that follow orders and a culture that actively encourages debate and fresh perspectives. Great cultures welcome input from all sources.
  9. Training: Employees desire growth and may seek it elsewhere if the organization fails to provide it. Training ensures strong organizational execution and minimizes the risk of errors. 
  10. Potential: Employees who can’t work at their full potential may feel stuck or unrecognized, making them more likely to start a job search. When people can reach their full potential, so will the organization. 
  11. Development: Continuous learning and professional development make employees feel supported and encouraged. Opportunities for learning and growth make people feel valued and appreciated. 
  12. Clued-in employees: Communicating important decisions effectively throughout the organization lays the groundwork for successful change and growth.
  13. Clued-in leaders: When senior leaders genuinely understand what’s going on, they’re better equipped to make decisions. Great leaders gain valuable insights from those closest to customers. 
  14. Execution: Efficient organizations make good use of investments, increasing revenue with less expense. Workers want to feel empowered to support the company’s mission.
  15. Cooperation: When teams work well together, employees feel a sense of belonging.
  16. Meetings: It’s essential to include the right people, cover the right topics, and address them correctly.
  17. Good benefits: A well-rounded benefits package conveys your commitment to the well-being of employees, beyond the workplace.
  18. Expectations: Setting realistic expectations with new hires is critical to ensuring a positive experience. Expectations can strongly influence employee turnover.
  19. Fair pay: Fair compensation contributes to a sense of value and self-worth. It also establishes a foundation of mutual trust.
  20. Work-life flexibility: A flexible workplace leads to engaged employees who work harder, increasing productivity, profitability, and retention. 

How many of these 20 factors do you see in your workplace?



Bob Helbig is media partnerships director at Energage, a Philadelphia-based employee survey firm. Energage is The Washington Post’s survey partner for Top Workplaces.

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