Top 10 Components of Employee Engagement & How to Improve Them

culture Aug 23, 2022

Recent research into employee wellbeing has illuminated “a significant, strong positive correlation between employees' satisfaction with their company and employee productivity and customer loyalty, and a strong negative correlation with staff turnover”. Put simply, happy staff are productive staff; unhappy employees leave.

components of employee engagement

But this isn’t news to many. It seems intuitive that the whole company benefits from providing that sense of well-being to each member of the team, and yet employees routinely report the feeling of being taken for granted.

So, how do employers achieve high levels of well-being? For most factors that improve the employee situation, a strong level of employee engagement can cover it. This means interacting with, facilitating, and ensuring employees, and making sure that as many elements of employee engagement are covered. But what exactly are they, and how are they addressed?

We’ve got a list of the top ten components of employee engagement for you below, and a list of how to improve on them right after that.

What is Employee Engagement?

Employee engagement is all about connections. It’s the level at which employees feel engaged with the values, the people, and the direction of the company they’re working for, and it ties into some very fundamental principles of well-being.

Engagement is the responsibility of the company culture and management and begins at onboarding. Improving engagement requires focusing on a number of different human needs, ranging from physical and social, to emotional and intellectual stimulation.

The benefits of high levels of engagement are numerous:

  • Engaged employees show initiative and require less management
  • They’re less confused about what their role entails and what their responsibilities are
  • They recognize the importance of what they’re doing
  • They’re motivated to progress through the company
  • They enjoy coming to work and spending time in the workspace
  • Highly engaged employees are essentially more motivated, more productive, improve customer relations, and foster brand loyalty

So, the importance of identifying and improving upon the various components of employee engagement should be clear. Ultimately, improving engagement improves the bottom line by boosting productivity, retention, and enthusiasm in employees’ interactions with each other and with customers.

But what are some of these important components? We’ve listed our ten most significant ones for you to identify in your employees, and some ideas for how to improve them in your workplace.

10 Components of Employee Engagement You Need to Understand

elements of employee engagement

For employees of any company, there are some very significant needs that should be addressed. These needs, when met, result in all of the benefits of customer engagement. With that in mind, consider the following. Employees should:

1. Have a Sense of Company Direction

This isn’t just about progressing in their role, it’s also about contributing to something bigger. Being a part of a large-scale project helps motivate people to work through some of the necessary but mundane, smaller goals and helps them remember why they show up to do it.

How to improve it: To make this work it’s important to create a channel of professional advancement. Creating a path for development is just as much about providing valuable feedback on performance as it is about having planned strategies for advancing employees between roles and departments as the need arises.

Have robust training options available, preferably online or on the intranet, that can include tests and learning resources to help people progress, and allow employees first access to new job positions opening up. Where possible, offer to coach both on the job and as part of the pathways to these positions in the company.

Inter-departmental training programs help employees get exposure in different areas and can provide valuable insights into the roles available.

2. Feel Trusted

Trust is a reciprocating process. When an employee feels trusted, they’re more inclined to trust the process. This means they are happier to follow instructions, they feel like they’re being led in the right direction, and feel like a valued part of the team.

How to improve it: To inspire trust, create a trusting environment. Engagement comes when employees are genuinely asked for their opinions, allowed to work at their own pace, and involved in business decisions.

For employee feedback, simply putting a suggestions box isn’t enough; in fact, it can have the opposite effect if the suggestions aren’t ever mentioned or acted upon again. Instead, make sure that ideas are encouraged and two-way communication channels are always open, then employ some of the most practical suggestions that come up.

This is a huge morale boost to employees who may otherwise feel like their opinions aren’t respected. Simply by being transparent in the decision-making process, your working culture can go a long way toward promoting this trust.

3. Feel Nurtured

Employees also need to feel like they’re being looked after. A sense of company direction is one of the important aspects of employee engagement, but equally important is a personal sense of direction for each employee. Dead-end jobs are only stimulating for so long, and without being well nurtured and connected with the company in terms of personal goals and opportunities, people will be more inclined to look elsewhere for jobs.

How to improve it: Nurturing employees should involve taking on their personal goals, not just inside the company. Where possible, it’s a good idea to fund courses, offer confidential professional and personal counseling, and hold regular meetings to discuss the progress of these efforts.

If employees need to work on their CV or their professional portfolio, encourage them to do so, and let them focus on strengthening their weak points and reinforcing their strong ones. Try to find courses to fund that cover a lot of bases, such as other elements from this list, and offer them for free or for a reduced cost.

4. Feel Respected

aspects of employee engagement

This relates to both connections with other employees and with the management or company as a whole. Respect, like trust, is easily reciprocated when it’s experienced, and it’s important to the well-being of everyone that their opinions, their preferences, and their style of working are respected in the workplace.

How to improve it: From management, it’s good to always engage with employees on a personal level and ask for their feedback. Questionnaires and interviews and KPIs are all good ways of creating a culture of respect vertically, but a respectful working culture is also critically important to make sure people from different backgrounds and persuasions feel like their time and presence are welcome.

Lead by example, and practice diversity. Host educational talks or seminars on these topics and make sure people engage with one another in respectful ways. Finally, ensure there is a trustworthy and effective HR process to deal with transgressions from this culture of respect.

The more effective the systems you put in place, the more they will inspire a feeling of comfort and progress in the workspace.

5. Feel Safe

The role of a company that’s focused heavily on employee engagement is to make sure the workforce feels safe. This can be safe in the form of physical hazards, or from the point of job security, social pressure, or any other workplace hostilities or hazards that might arise.

How to improve it: The workspace needs to meet health and safety standards at all times, but feeling safe is more than simply having enough fire extinguishers. Employees need to trust in the systems in place to look after them when they encounter issues, whether physical or emotional.

Emotional safety takes a little more understanding than physical safety, but it pays dividends in employee engagement and doesn’t have to be complicated. Mistakes are part of the learning process, and risks should be encouraged. Blame and low-empathy environments create dishonesty and emotional strain, so they should be worked on directly. Mental health concerns should never be ignored, and on-site or subsidized mental health help should be available to those who need it.

Creating space for people to take mental breaks, incorporating an understanding of the need for ‘mental health days’, and generally offering an inclusive and supportive culture makes people feel secure in the knowledge that their safety is respected.

6. Feel Recognized

Thankless work is not sustainably motivating, regardless of how important it is, and everyone can do with a boost of confidence and recognition that comes from acknowledging their efforts. Real recognition is a great product and facilitator of engagement from both sides and helps to keep employees pushing through hard work and maintaining a high standard.

How to improve it: When someone goes above and beyond, make sure to provide a clear display of gratitude. But be careful not to isolate those who have done their jobs to the letter.

Any company needs heroes only as much as they need the committed nine-to-fivers who show up and clock out on time, so be careful not to make people feel ignored for doing only what was required of them. Remember, from the employee’s perspective, meeting the job description is the deal; doing extra should never be considered an obligation.

This is a tricky avenue to navigate at times, but having all-around recognition culture and rewards for hitting targets is a good place to start. It’s also a good idea to facilitate peer-t-peer recognition for jobs well done.

One great way to facilitate recognition is to offer flexible hours, where overtime can be reclaimed with holidays during low periods of work.

7. Have a Role to Fill

Identifying the specific nature of the work that needs to be done helps people feel like unique contributors and boosts their sense of self-value. It’s a good motivator and helps make a person feel valued for their contributions.

How to improve it: Clearly set out the goals, roles, and targets for each employee, and factor that into the onboarding process. Make sure there’s enough overlap for the role to be filled effectively if someone goes away, but not so much that it feels like anyone could be responsible for it.

The idea for this is to fight any sense of redundancy that might arise in employees. If they feel that their role isn’t very important or can be filled by anyone else, there will be a low sense of belonging, and this is a detriment to employee engagement.

It’s important that each role is valued by the company, and that the employee realizes this. Identifying each role as part of a bigger picture of company success is also a good way to promote engagement, as per point 1, so there can be multiple elements relating to employee engagement that are addressed in this way.

8. Be part of a Team

The extension to having a specific role is the implications it has as working on a specialist position as part of a team. There’s possibly nothing that promotes engagement more viscerally than relying on and being relied upon by members of a functioning team with a common goal.

How to improve it: Promote and coach various soft skills; traits and strengths that can be developed on a personal level that promote teamwork. Social skills like confidence in public speaking or presentations are a good place to start. Team building exercises are somewhat notorious for being tacky and ineffective, but they can be done right.

Many exercises do work as ice-breakers to get teams more involved with one another personally, but in terms of teamwork, they’re only really effective if the skills practiced on the exercise closely match those of the team’s work.

Teams should be given relative autonomy in related decision-making and team meetings should be managed from a more hands-off approach. When managing teams, identify skills that are best allocated to individuals and offer to promote them with further training.

Foster open communication and honesty and create a controlled environment for contrastive feedback to be shared. Finally, for team building exercises, make sure the activities serve the purpose of the professional roles.

9. Feel Stimulated

Stimulation comes in many forms but without it, people will start yearning for something new. Novelty, challenge, and recreation are all categories under the umbrella of stimulation, and there are many others to think about too. Engagement with your employees should always factor in effective ways to keep the workplace stimulating.

How to improve it: For those who want it, it’s a good idea to have at least some walking space available, if not a gym to use at break times. Prayer or meditation rooms can also create a stimulating environment to keep the mind fresh, and as far as work is concerned, large, long-term goals need to be broken into digestible deliverables that create value for workers along the way and promote engagement with the work.

Consider having side projects that people can work on, bringing people together in different contexts across different disciplines, and making use of different skills than their day-to-day roles require. Of course, this is determined by the budget, but such activities don’t have to take a lot of time or money to design and pull off if they are planned well.

10. Feel Facilitated

Finally, to maximize engagement with the company, there needs to be a sense that all the tools are provided to do the work. This is a matter of leadership, efficient use of space, and good communication, and must emphasize that the employee is facilitated in not only their work, but all of the other elements of employee engagement above.

How to improve it: As simple as it sounds, workplace design is still a neglected effort in many companies. The physical space, but also the model of work plays a role in engagement. For those who can do it, remote work or hybrid provides a huge boost in morale and productivity and represents a step up in employee engagement.

CultureBot helps address some of the challenges you may be anticipating with hybrid and remote teams. The bot promotes connections, improves teamwork, and allows you to focus on many of the aspects of employee engagement from a distance. Start conversations, celebrate birthdays and create rewards programs for anyone working remotely and help build people-positive cultures with the slack bot from CultureBot.

For those who still have to come in, designing the breaks schedules, the design of the office, and the availability of the tools required to perform the tasks make all the difference. Spending 20 mins looking for a file or being unable to contact IT because of out-of-date records all factor into a stressful work environment that isn’t designed to facilitate employees’ efforts. This reduces company loyalty as a result and will manifest as a drop in engagement.

Wrapping things up, all of the aspects of employee engagement center around connections between people and people, between people and their work, and between people and the company vision. With all this in common, there are so many ways to improve engagement that affect multiple aspects.

Ultimately, engagement is a product of employee well-being, and it translates into huge boosts in loyalty, productivity, and employee retention; which subsequently creates value and saves money for any company.


Amy Campbell

A professional wizard with all things PeopleOps, Amy has been helping HR and People teams optimize their remote work setup and culture for over 10 years now. She's originally from California.