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The Key Drivers of Employee Engagement

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Simply put, we describe employee engagement as being driven by three key points:

1.   The Individual
2.   The Manager
3.   The Culture

Organizations need to focus on all three in large part because they are mutually dependent. For example, you could complete a battery of behavioral diagnostic tests on individual employees to better understand how to improve their engagement in the workplace, but if the organization’s culture or their manager is toxic, you will not be able to sustain their commitment to volunteer discretionary effort (the foundation of employee engagement).

A good assessment tool will be able to tell you about all three of these key engagement categories so management can make better decisions on how to impact all three.

One other point on “the individual.”  Engaged behavior stems primarily from two sources: nature and nurture. That is, some of what an employee does during the workday comes from the way they are wired (nature). There are ways to dig deeper and better understand this for each individual.

But individuals do not operate in isolation. We are heavily influenced about what goes on around us — especially in the quality/safety of the relationships we maintain at work (i.e., with peers, our manager, leadership). This is why items two and three, manager and culture, play an overwhelming role in setting the engagement levels within organizations. Stated differently, if you do really well in category 2 and 3, category 1 almost takes care of itself.

So if you do conduct an “engagement audit” for your organization (a very useful exercise), one thing you will want to do is track whether your current efforts hit all three categories. Leave any one of them out and you risk missing the leverage that comes from a more comprehensive approach.

BEST PRACTICES TIP:  Drill down too deep on only one way or approach to increasing employee engagement and you will miss significant leverage from a more broad-based employee engagement strategy.

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Don Rheem’s presentation on Employee Engagement gets underneath the real “whys” on the behavior of discretionary effort. I found his examples to be relative and understandable. I see how our leaders are making better connections with the hearts of our people, so everyone better understands the goals of the enterprise.

--Peter Rittenhouse, Director of Supply Chain
Nestle Waters
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