What are the Key Drivers of Employee Engagement?

More and more companies are seeking ways to measure and improve employee engagement. Employee engagement reduces turnover and improves retention in a tight labor market, while also improving job satisfaction and productivity, allowing teams to do more with the same staff.

That said, employee engagement can be difficult to measure, and even more difficult to improve. Understanding the key drivers of employee engagement helps human resource (HR) officers and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) managers create strategies that actually drive results.

What are the Seven Drivers of Employee Engagement?

There are many different drivers of employee engagement, and different systems measure these key drivers in different ways. However, this list of the top 7 drivers of employee engagement is the most essential:

  1. Purpose Alignment. Engaged employees are inspired and motivated by a sense of purpose in the work they do. When employees are aligned with company goals, working towards a meaningful cause, they are more engaged and more productive.
  2. Momentum. When employees feel that their contributions are effective and that they are making forward progress, they are driven to continue making progress. When employees feel that their contributions are not effective and that nothing they do has an impact, it is easy to continue doing nothing. Action begets action, and inertia begets inertia.
  3. Task Autonomy. Giving employees control over tasks creates a feeling of ownership and accountability. They take more pride in their successes and work harder to prevent failures.
  4. Skill Alignment. A surprising 39% of employees feel that their actual job responsibilities are different from what was described in the job listing. In many cases, that means that employees aren’t using their established skills and abilities in their day-to-day tasks, and may not be the right fit for the role. The most disengaged employees are employees who aren’t doing what they are good at.
  5. Recognition and Rewards. Lack of recognition is one of the most cited reasons for people to leave a job. On the other hand, recognition triggers the brain’s reward system, motivating people to continue successful behaviors.
  6. Workplace Relationships. People crave positive social interactions in all areas of life, including the workplace. Employees want to work with peers and contacts who they like and respect and feel liked and respected themselves, creating an enjoyable day-to-day experience in the workplace.
  7. Future Opportunities. Engaged employees are committed in the long term. They see a positive future for themselves in the company and want to work to make it a reality.

Which of These Are the Key Drivers of Employee Engagement? 

While all these engagement factors are important and drive performance as well as retention, the top three drivers of employee engagement are:

  • Purpose. An overwhelming 89% of adults report that a clear mission and purpose are important in their workplace. Purpose can either be described as a shared vision between the employee and the company, or a sense of meaning and purpose in the job itself. Employees who feel a sense of purpose have more personal fulfillment and job satisfaction, making them more productive and more successful. In addition, purpose-oriented employees have a longer tenure and are more likely to rise to leadership positions.
  • Autonomy. While 79% of engaged employees are autonomous, 52% of employees feel that they lack autonomy. Autonomy is the freedom that allows employees to make their own decisions about the planning and execution of their tasks. Autonomy expresses trust and respect for the employee while increasing their sense of commitment and accountability in the workplace. Autonomy is essential for allowing employees to fulfill their tasks in a way that suits their style and preferences, while also achieving organizational goals.
  • Relationships. Positive workplace relationships are critical, not just for employee engagement, but for employee physical and psychological health. Employees who feel socially isolated, disconnected, and disrespected at work are the least engaged, and most likely to leave. Positive work relationships have a powerful impact on team and individual productivity, workplace creativity, and innovation, and reduce turnover, absenteeism, and even safety incidents.

Because these factors relate to people’s deepest and most powerful psychological motivations, they are the most important drivers of employee relationships.

In addition, addressing these key drivers often involves addressing other drivers along the way. For example, cultivating a sense of purpose may include the creation of future opportunities, while improving workplace relationships may require more recognition.

Strategies to Use the Key Drivers to Improve Employee Engagement

The best tools we have to measure employee engagement are surveys that ask relevant questions and target potential problem areas. For HR officers who are just beginning to measure employee engagement, focusing on the key drivers of engagement (purpose, autonomy, and relationships) is a great place to start. Some strategies to improve drivers of employee engagement include:

  • Modeling company core values & emphasizing your mission
  • Helping employees understand how their daily tasks contribute meaningfully to organizational goals
  • Asking employees for input on organizational goals
  • Giving employees more ownership of their schedule, processes, & outcomes
  • Focus on principles, not policies
  • Build a climate of mutual trust & respect, especially in hierarchical relationships
  • Create clear & open communication channels
  • Promote honest & constructive feedback
  • Create fair & accessible channels for dispute resolution

How Can Diversio Help? 

Diversio is an innovative platform that helps measure, track, and improve diversity and inclusion in companies. It improves employee engagement by creating a fair, just, and inclusive workplace, where all employees feel valued and empowered to contribute meaningfully. Our anonymous surveys use natural language processing technology so that employees can share their opinions freely and in their own words, and our AI-powered Recommendation Engine provides tools and interventions that are proven to give results.

Diversio also offers training, certifications, and other tools to help build a truly inclusive workplace, improving employee relationships and promoting greater engagement. Schedule a demo today.

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"We needed to slice and dice the data in multiple ways and visualize the data in clear and accessible ways and you know Diversio’s survey and platform ticked all the boxes."
Ekua Quansah
Head of EDI, Canadian Institute for Advanced Research

Diversio helps companies become 43% more profitable and reduce employee turnover by 23%

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