Best Practices - Benefits of Engagement

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Why is Engagement So Important?

According to a study by the Partnership for Workplace Mental Health:

  • Only one in every five workers is highly engaged in their work.
  • Increased employee engagement in work results in better employee productivity and loyalty.
  • Companies with high employee engagement outperform low engagement companies in many areas of business success

Many organizations believe employee engagement is the same as employee happiness. Others associate it with employee productivity. The truth is it’s both. One is meaningless without the other.

Employee engagement is the intersection of employee happiness and employee productivity. When an employee enjoys their job, they deliver fantastic results consistently. And when they see their work impacts, they feel good about what they do for a living.

Engagement goes more profound, however, particularly the productivity factor. We can better understand productivity by exploring its three drivers— ability, opportunity, and motivation.


Ability is innate talent combined with the specific knowledge you’ve acquired through past work experience and education. People like taking on work they have an aptitude for since it comes easy and makes sense to them.


Opportunity is being put in the correct position to apply your abilities. Employees maximize their productivity when their tasks and goals align with their knowledge and skill set.


Motivation has the drive to deliver outstanding results every day. However, there are two types of motivation— extrinsic and intrinsic.

Extrinsic Motivation vs. Intrinsic Motivation

Extrinsic motivation comes from tangible factors, like fair compensation, earning a bonus, or getting affirmation from your boss. On the opposing end of the spectrum, it’s the fear of failure or being reprimanded. 

Extrinsic motivation has little impact on employee engagement. Using it to stimulate productivity results in the following problems:

  • Incentivizes short-term productivity – People care about extrinsic rewards in spurts but don’t encourage consistent long-term productivity.
  • Motivates the wrong behavior – Employees are motivated by self-interest, not what is suitable for the organization, the customer, and colleagues.
  • Attracts the wrong talent – New hires sign up for the reward instead of the opportunity to do work they’re passionate about and be part of an organization they believe in.
  • Causes workplace issues – Employees compare their rewards to their peers and become envious when someone gets something they didn’t (e.g., promotion or recognition from a manager).

Intrinsic motivation has a more significant influence on productivity. It’s the fulfillment that comes from doing something you genuinely enjoy. When people are intrinsically motivated, they derive satisfaction from the daily process of doing their job, not just the paycheck and pat on the back they get when it’s complete. Let’s explore the three factors that make up intrinsic motivation:

  • Mastery – The sense of accomplishment you get from doing your craft. Knowing you’re good at what you do and consistently getting better at it.
  • Autonomy – The freedom and trust from your employer to apply your skills as you see fit.
  • Purpose – Seeing your work's positive impact on your organization and the people it serves.

Extrinsic motivation is a baseline for getting talented people to join your organization. Intrinsic motivation keeps them productive and happy over months and years.

Employee Engagement is More Critical Than Ever!

As an employer, it only makes sense to want an engaged workforce. Every team member should love what they do and deliver results that propel your organization forward. If you can successfully achieve engagement, you’ll maximize your employees’ abilities and retain top performers.

Losing a great employee isn’t just a letdown. It’s a strain on organizational operations and resources. A study from Employee Benefits News revealed that it costs 33 percent of a former employee’s salary to hire and train their replacement. SHRM reports a more conservative figure of $4,129 cost-per-hire on average but adds that it takes roughly 42 days to fill a position.

And then there are Millennials, who now account for the most significant portion of the U.S labor force. Study-after-study shows that young professionals present the most significant flight risks to their employers due to a lack of engagement. 

Deloitte reports that nearly half of Millennials (49 percent) plan to quit their current job in the next two years. According to a Gallup report, only 29 percent of Millennials are engaged at work and are willing to job hop until they find fulfillment. “While Millennials can come across as wanting more and more, the reality is that they just want a job that feels worthwhile―and they will keep looking until they find it,” the report states.

While previous generations valued compensation, Millennials and other young professionals want more from their work experiences. Many are willing to forgo a high-paying opportunity for a job that aligns with their intrinsic interests. They want to be part of an organization they believe in, do work they love, and have experiences that result in professional growth.

As more young people enter the workforce, employee engagement will become more critical than it already is. Making smart hiring decisions and investing in the professional development of your employees boosts productivity and decreases turnover. They won’t feel compelled to seek other opportunities because they’re already satisfied with their work. And if an employee leaves, you’ll have suitable replacements ready to step up because you’ve been preparing them for new challenges.

How Can Your Organization Promote Engagement?

Many organizations have the best intentions when it comes to employee engagement. They create a strong culture, bring the right people on board, and try to put everyone in a position to succeed. But engagement driven by intrinsic motivation is difficult to achieve. Mastery, autonomy, and purpose differ from person to person and are challenging yet possible to measure.

Surveys & Polls

If you want to know how your employees feel, you need to ask them. That said, you need to take the right approach, so they feel comfortable truthfully providing the information you’re looking for.

Surveys and polls with the right questions help collect engagement data across the organization. However, it would help if you allowed employees to provide their answers anonymously, so they’re willing to share their authentic thoughts and feelings.

Facebook found that asking their employees how long they intended to stay with the company was more than twice as accurate at forecasting future turnover than predictive analytics software. They also learned that people who didn’t complete either of their two annual surveys were 2.6x more likely to leave in the next six months.

Surveys and polls allow you to hear from every employee on the issues that matter most in your organization. Some employees have no problem expressing what is on their minds, while others keep their thoughts to themselves. Asking everyone to complete an anonymous questionnaire provides a complete picture of engagement across the organization. Using the results you collect, you can identify trends and determine where your organization is excelling and where it can do better.

Employee & Manager Check-Ins

Surveys are ideal for measuring engagement on an organizational level. However, everyone has a unique experience at work, and you want to hear directly from the employees facing challenges.

Frequent check-ins between employees and managers help you gauge an individual team member's engagement. These meetings should go beyond “What are you working on?” and get to the heart of their happiness and productivity. There should be a discussion about what is going well, what isn’t, and how processes can improve going forward.

Again, it would help if you fostered a work environment where employees feel comfortable sharing this information. Implementing check-ins for every manager-employee pair where the same engagement-focused questions are discussed promotes a culture of transparency.

Measuring Employee Engagement in Perform

In addition to our industry-leading performance management solution, Perform also offers an employee engagement module. It includes three specific features for measuring the abstract factors that makeup happiness and productivity:

  • Company Pulse Survey – Measure employee engagement across your organization using our predefined survey questions.
  • Opinion Poll – Get a quick snapshot of your workforce on any topic related to employee engagement.
  • Manager Check-in – Provide employees with a short questionnaire to complete before check-in meetings with their manager, so the conversation is productive.
  • Custom Survey - Create your custom survey for any purpose

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