These Three Factors Drive Employee Engagement

BY Kathy Crosett
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Today’s best-​in-​class employers are obsessed with employee engagement. Leaders knows that engaged employees drive improvements to the bottom line.  But many of engagement tactics leaders implement are falling short. Let’s take a look at why this is happening.

Glint traces today’s keen focus on employee engagement to a study published by William Kahn in 1990. Since then, HR professionals have been trying to define and improve employee engagement. In its survey of several hundred HR professionals, Glint reveals these consensus points on the definition of engagement:

  • Employees are willing to do their best at work 84%
  • Employee commitment to the organization and its objectives is high 76%

Unfortunately, not all employees are giving their best effort at work. HR pros have the following opinions about the percentages of employees who are truly engaged:

  • 9% Strongly agree
  • 35% Agree
  • 35% Somewhat agree

Most business leaders are distressed to realize that only 9% of HR pros strongly agree that employees are giving all they have at work. Interestingly, employees tend to be more engaged in smaller organizations. Nearly half, 48%, of HR pros in companies with fewer than 100 employees say their people are engaged. In companies with more than 1,000 employees, the number is 30%.

Factors That Drive Engagement

Analysts emphasize that culture and leadership are the key factors driving employee engagement in an organization. The specific findings are:

  • Trust in leaders 77%
  • Relationship with immediate supervisor 74%
  • Organization culture 73%

These findings echo those revealed in The Best Sales Manager I Ever Had, a white paper published by SalesFuel.  In the SalesFuel study, sales reps told researchers that when they had supportive relationships with their sales managers, they excelled.

While 53% of employees believe their immediate supervisors can make or break engagement, 50% also say top leadership is equally responsible. And the Glint study finds that only 30% of employees in highly engaged organizations believe that senior leaders are on board with improving the situation.

One of the disconnects in a poorly engaged workforce is about how often employees hear from managers and leaders on the topic. At least 40% of organizations are still locked into the annual performance appraisal system. Popular forms of tracking engagement include:

  • Formal surveys 77%
  • Exit interviews 52%
  • One-​on-​ones with managers 45%
  • Retention rates 42%
  • Performance reviews 37%
  • Informal pulse check polls 31%

If engagement at your company is less than stellar, it's time to take action. After employees provide their honest opinions to you, they expect feedback and action in return. Don’t let them down. Don’t be among the 60%+ of low-​engaging leadership teams that take ineffective or little action after asking for feedback.

Beyond that, change your behavior to build trust and engagement by being fair, fostering employee collaboration and communicating your expectations clearly.