Drivers of Employee Engagement: Taking Action

Drivers of Employee Engagement

If you asked your leaders what the top drivers of employee engagement are at your organization, what would they say? 

Chances are they would be able to answer your question quickly, without having to think about it too much. Although the drivers may seem obvious, they aren’t always what you’d expect. Many leaders believe that compensation is the biggest driver, and all it takes to increase engagement is to increase pay. This oftentimes isn’t true.  

Looking at data over the last year of surveying employees across hundreds of organizations, we have identified the top five factors that are actually driving engagement. 

What Really Drives Employee Engagement and Why it’s Important

Below are the top five factors we found that have the biggest impact on employee engagement in organizations across the board: 

  • Growth & Development 
  • Company Communication 
  • Employee Voice 
  • Well-being 
  • Feeling Valued 

Growth & Development

The first factor we found that has an impact on employee engagement is the organization’s opportunities for growth and development. 

Some items within this category include: 

  • Having the opportunity to be promoted. 
  • Being provided with professional growth opportunities. 
  • Having someone who encourages their professional development. 

Offering a path for career growth and development is essential in retaining your best and brightest. Without clear opportunities for growth, employees can feel unmotivated, uninspired, and unwilling to perform at their best, leading to disengagement, low productivity and ultimately departure. Employees want to work for companies that can show them better career paths. 

Action items: 

  • If you have a relatively flat organization, consider promoting employees to additional levels within their existing roles. For example, promoting a Marketing Manager to levels I, II, or III based on tenure milestones.  
  • Foster one-on-one conversations between employees and managers to better understand employee interests and development needs. 
  • Communicate clear and transparent career paths and succession plans. 

Company Communication

Next, and probably not surprisingly, is company communication. 

When employee satisfaction and engagement levels are high, they: 

  • Cite sufficient communication from leadership 
  • Feel informed about matters that affect them 
  • Say leadership communicate a clear vision for the future 

Since 2021, company communication has been the number one driver of engagement. Although the topics may have changed, organizations need to continually communicate with employees, letting them know when and why certain decisions are being made, get their buy-in, and include them in the process. With the world constantly changing and digitizing, people have come to expect immediacy. When issues arise, employees expect a quick and thorough response. 

Action items: 

  • Deploy multiple delivery mediums (town hall meetings, video, team chats, recorded messages, email, etc.) that support different communication styles. 
  • What are you striving for beyond an improved bottom line? Weave your vision and values into day-to-day activities. 
  • Give front-line managers time, answers, and backup to communicate HR policies and corporate information directly to employees. 

Employee Voice

A less obvious driver of engagement is employee voice.  

When a company focuses on employee voice, their people: 

  • Feel encouraged to share opinions and feedback. 
  • Feel their ideas and suggestions are considered. 

Employees are asking leaders to listen, understand and empathize with what they’re going through in their whole life, not just their work life. When leaders develop a greater understanding of their employees’ challenges and needs, they can begin to provide the flexibility, connectivity, and sense of value people desire. 

Action items: 

  • Build an environment of psychological safety. Create a culture where people feel safe to voice their opinions without fear of being judged or persecuted. 
  • Promote deeper one-on-one conversations between managers and direct reports as well as between colleagues. 
  • Consider deploying anonymous employee feedback surveys to give employees a safe outlet to express their opinions on the organization.  


Employee well-being is a factor that has gained attention in recent years. 

Organizations who support well-being initiatives see employees who: 

  • Feel they have resources and support to manage stress 
  • Feel supported in maintaining a work-life balance 
  • Feel there is sufficient staff to handle the workload 

When employees can care for their well-being, they are better performers. Employees who reported having a good work-life balance work 21% harder than those who don’t (Inc.). Further, Gallup has found a reciprocal relationship between engagement and well-being. Although employees may be engaged, if their well-being is neglected, they are 61% more likely to experience burnout often and 48% more likely to report daily stress.  

Action items: 

  • Help managers promote and model healthy boundaries between work and home. If managers lead by example, employees will more likely feel supported in balancing work and life demands. 
  • Train leaders, managers, and all employees on how to navigate mental health at work, have difficult conversations, and create supportive workplaces. 
  • Make resources available to all employees and (over) communicate them. 

Feeling Valued

The final top driver of employee engagement is feeling valued. 

When done successfully, employees should: 

  • Say they feel valued at work 
  • Feel leadership values employees 

One thing that has emerged is the focus that employees now place on having genuine support from leadership. Fifty-two percent of workers say having a caring, empathetic leader is more important now than before the pandemic (PR Newswire). In order to be more engaged, people don’t want to be treated like they are only valued for their work, they want to feel acknowledged and valued for their whole self. 

Action items: 

  • The number one suggestion from employees is for leaders to be transparent and provide frequent, authentic communication. 
  • Leaders have an opportunity to build trust and confidence by acting on feedback, showing they value their opinions.

Learn with Employee Engagement Surveys

Again, if you asked your leaders would they really know what’s driving engagement for their people? The best way to understand what will make the biggest positive impact for people is simple—ask them. Seriously. Most of the time, employees have valuable thoughts and opinions to share but no one takes the time to ask them.  

Make time to ask employees for their feedback through one-on-one check ins or surveys. People Element is an industry leader in employee engagement surveys and helps give leaders a simple and effective way to hear from their workforce.  

If you’re ready to build a better workplace, schedule a quick discovery call with our experts to get started.  

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