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How to develop employee engagement and motivation in the workplace

Employee engagement and motivation are critical to a productive workforce and a happy workplace. Well engaged and highly motivated employees are the driving force behind a successful business. A highly engaged workforce can help your business improve sales, retain customers and increase profitability.

Employers that can lead, manage and motivate their staff effectively, help to foster an engaged workforce that is enthusiastic about taking on new challenges and improving the business. This symbiotic relationship of employer engagement with employees is the foundation for developing an effective strategy.

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What is employee engagement?

Employee engagement is a concept that focuses on the relationship between employers and employees, and how they can motivate or drive each other towards workplace happiness and fulfilment.

An engaged employee is highly motivated and actively participates in the business. Engaged employees are enthusiastic, prompt and interested in the success of the business. Employers that improve positive engagement with employees can expect to have a motivated workforce ready to work hard for them in return.

Employers looking to develop or improve their employee engagement strategies can focus on five critical areas of their employer-employee relationship:

  • Employee motivation: Your employees are motivated to work hard every day of the week.
  • Employee satisfaction: Your employees are happy with their job, work-life balance and the role they play in the business.
  • Employee commitment: Employees are ready to develop the business and their careers together in the long term.
  • Employee understanding: Employees better understand the ethos, values, goals and targets of the business.
  • Employee citizens: Employees enjoy working extra to help improve the business.

However, it’s essential to understand the differences between engagement and motivation if you’re looking to develop an employee engagement strategy. Successfully motivating employees leads to a higher level of employee engagement in the workplace. In this respect, motivation is crucial in the development of an engaged team of people who are prepared to work towards the goals and targets of your business.

Employee engagement is a broader concept that includes the individual concept of motivation within its definition. The need for an engaged workforce compels employers to not only motivate their staff, but also to provide for the well-being of their employees. By fostering a happy work place and improving the mental health of their staff; employers can help improve job satisfaction with employees that are happy to work towards the company’s business goals. Improved engagement is the result that employers are trying to achieve, and improving motivation is a way to reach that goal.

Benefits of employee engagement

Employers and their staff both have a lot to gain from developing a highly engaged and motivated workforce. High employee engagement levels lead to higher productivity. For business owners, this leads to tangible results such as improved sales, higher rates of employee retention and improved customer satisfaction. Employees are more energised, more satisfied in their roles and are more likely to be happy at work and, consequently, at home.

Here are the major benefits of employee engagement in the workplace:

  • Employees are dedicated to the success of the business
  • Employees are prepared to take on more responsibility in the workplace
  • Employees have more energy, focus and enthusiasm at work
  • Employees are healthier and happier in their lives outside work
  • Workplace efficiency improves, leading to increased productivity
  • Staff are committed to working for the business in the long term
  • Customers are happier with the products or service they receive from the company
  • Businesses see improved sales and higher profitability

How to measure employee engagement

Employers need to be able to effectively measure employee engagement levels to understand if their staff are happy and motivated. Measuring employee engagement helps managers identify where they are already engaged well, or where new approaches in the workplace are needed.

Employers have many key performance indicators (KPI) that they can use in an attempt to measure employee engagement levels. Using KPIs can help employers to track areas that need improving or identify successful strategies and implement them elsewhere in the company.

The following are KPIs that employers can track and record, to measure employee engagement:

  • Employee recommendations: Survey your staff and ask them how likely they are to recommend the products or services they work with or the company as an excellent place to work.
  • Staff turnover: Higher levels of staff retention indicate employees are happy to work for the company.
  • Internal promotions: If managerial and leadership positions are being filled from within, it demonstrates that employees are ambitious and looking to develop their careers alongside the goals of the business.
  • Customer feedback: Positive customer feedback and reviews indicates that staff are engaged to provide excellent customer service.
  • Employer satisfaction index: An employee satisfaction index is a quantitative way to measure job satisfaction, through surveys and ratings.
  • Staff attendance: If staff are arriving at work on time and attending all their meetings, this demonstrates that they are motivated to be there and not looking to avoid their responsibilities.

Measuring employee engagement quantitatively can be a daunting task. It’s challenging for employers to measure and track key engagement indicators such as job satisfaction and happiness because they are subjective concepts. To counter this bias, employers must develop ways of listening to the needs and wishes of their employees. Effective communication is the best way for employers to understand if their staff are engaged at work or aren’t motivated at all.

In addition to tracking quantitative KPIs, employers can encourage their staff to complete satisfaction and surveys about happiness. Actively reaching out and asking specific questions regarding ambitions, problems, concerns and motivations in depth can help employers understand what it takes for their staff to remain engaged.

For example, you can ask your staff how their work-life balance could be improved, or how to make the office environment more enjoyable as a place to work in. Find out what motivates your team and ask if their ambitions are being satisfied in their current role.

You can gather this sort of qualitative information through anonymous surveys asking for detailed, written answers instead of checking off boxes or providing scores. Alternatively, you can organise team meetings or individual consultations and actively encourage your staff to talk about their workplace problems and ask for their suggestions for improvements. Providing staff with the chance to voice their concerns is the biggest step towards improving engagement in the workplace.

Tips for engaging and motivating employees

Employers can practically implement a wide range of strategies to motivate and engage their workforce and to improve employee engagement. Here are some tips to use in your business:

Develop trust between you and your employees

Trust is key to a successful engagement strategy. If your staff trust you and your management team, they are more engaged with the business. Develop trust by getting to know your staff, being honest and frank about decisions that have been made and by communicating facts and figures regularly, to improve transparency.

Involve staff in the decision-making process

Employees that are part of decision-making processes have a higher stake in the business. Allowing staff to vote in team meetings, conducting surveys or asking for opinions, before the management makes business decisions helps to foster a sense of responsibility.

Implement training and development plans

Providing detailed and continuous training helps employees remain confident in their abilities and their ability to provide value to the business. Providing your employees with training also shows that the business values them. Businesses with successful leadership development programmes inspire ambitious staff to remain part of the company. By investing in the future of your employees, you can improve their engagement dramatically.

Understand what motivates your staff

Different personalities have different motivators, so it’s important to understand what motivates your team members. Some people are intrinsically motivated, and others are extrinsically motivated. Be flexible with the rewards or opportunities you give. For example, provide your team with a work night out to reward hitting sales targets, but also motivate individuals through chances for promotion or taking on additional development programmes.

Be the leader that your business needs

Employee engagement requires good management and good leadership to be effective. A good leader not only sets engagement strategies into action, but inspires their employees by setting excellent examples to follow through their commitment and work ethics.


What is the average employee engagement score?

The average employee engagement score is a measure of the average engagement among the employees within an organisation. It’s calculated from the combination of the collected KPIs that an organisation measures. In can be presented as a numerical score or as a percentage. For example 3 out of 5 or 60%.

How are employee engagement KPIs measured?

Employee engagement is measured quantitatively using a variety of different KPIs, including staff turnover and retention rates, absentee levels, length of staff service and employee satisfaction indexes. Employee engagement can also be measured qualitatively using employee surveys and interviews.

Who is responsible for employee engagement?

Employers are responsible for ensuring that all their staff have access to a work environment that encourages and develops employee engagement.

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