5 Key Drivers of Employee Engagement

Disengaged employees have needs that are being neglected. As soon as they begin lacking motivation and become detached from their daily work, their productivity plummets. Many employers then think the best solution is to increase salaries, benefits, and perks.

Those tactics might work for a while, but in the long run, those solutions are doomed. Managers then become desperate and hire an outside consulting firm to come in and issue an employee engagement survey to the entire staff. They might then discuss various employee engagement best practices, employee retention strategies, or recognition ideas.

But employee engagement programs and workshops won’t work if five key drivers are missing. As a leader in your organization you want to focus on the five key drivers of employee engagement to ensure that your staff feels they are:

  • Connected: building relationships with others
  • Contributing: doing something meaningful
  • Free: have a sense of choice and autonomy
  • Growing: personal and career development
  • Having Fun: really enjoying their time at work

1. Connection Companies with employees who have strong personal ties to each other have far higher employee engagement rates than those who are lacking. To connect with your employees, create greater trust and loyalty by being more authentic. Great leaders connect deeply with their employees by paying attention to what’s important to them.

Carve out some time each week to grab lunch or a coffee with your team members to get to know them better. Finally, let them know that you and the company cares about them and their well-being. As their need to belong is met, they will give more of themselves.

2. Contribution We all want to be doing something significant with our lives and have those efforts recognized. Studies show employees are happiest when they know they are making a difference and helping others. Often their contribution goes unnoticed. Metrics for measuring an employee’s contribution should shift from measuring their individual performance to evaluating their team’s performance.

To help your direct reports feel they are contributing something meaningful, share a client story that shows them the difference they’ve made in someone’s life. And don’t forget to recognize and publicly celebrate their accomplishments whenever you can.

3. Freedom Employees are far more loyal and productive in work environments that respect their freedom and encourage their self-expression. To ensure your staff feels a sense of autonomy, remind them that everything they do is a choice. The choice is power, and when your employees believe they have a choice they will become more engaged in the process. Decentralize whatever authority you can to give your workers more decision-making power. This will empower them and make your company much more efficient.

4. Growth If your staff feels they are not making progress in their own personal development they will soon become disconnected and seek opportunities elsewhere. Ensure that each employee is constantly challenged so that they can grow. The greater a person’s belief in their own power to influence an outcome, the more likely they are to succeed with a new challenge.

To help your employees grow, try building confidence. For example, if an employee thinks they aren’t experienced enough to manage a project you can remind them of their unique strengths and capabilities. Or have inexperienced employees watch other colleagues with similar skills perform more advanced tasks. Seeing others with similar abilities succeed at a task will help them develop positive, “can-do” beliefs.

Recognition and positive feedback are key engagement drivers to help your employees feel more competent, motivated, and open to growth. Negative feedback can devastate those with low self-esteem.

Finally, optimize the environment. Create a vibrant, energetic, stress-free workplace that encourages your employees to get the food, exercise, rest and water their bodies need so they can perform at their best.

5. Fun If work isn’t fun, your employees will eventually burn out. Companies like Apple and Google have taken the lead into turning their organizations into workplaces that encourage freedom and fun. Making your workplace fun will raise your employees’ morale and energy and is the key to stimulating their creativity and innovation. It will also help decrease stress and turnover, as well as strengthen the relationships of all of your employees.

Make your workplace a lot more fun by gathering your team together for a 30-minute brainstorming session, then voting and Implementing 3-4 fun new ideas.


The most successful leaders in the world unleash the energy and creative power of their employees not by mastering employee engagement best practices, staff retention strategies or employee recognition ideas, but by honoring those five key drivers of engagement. They know that what really motivates and engages their employees – once their basic financial needs have been met – is their desire to grow and develop as human beings, connect and collaborate with others, and contribute something to a worthy cause- all while having fun.