Employee engagement is the degree to which employees are motivated and invested in their organization and its goals. Differing from employee satisfaction, employee engagement hinges on a worker's emotional commitment to their work and often has a tangible impact on a company's productivity levels, customer service and, ultimately, its level of success.
However, despite its clear value, only 15% of employees are actively engaged in their jobs, with trends like quiet quitting becoming more popular than ever. While fostering engagement may be an uphill battle, it's definitely achievable – especially with the right strategies and software solutions.
If you’re committed to upping the levels of engagement in your company, read on to learn more about the concept, its different levels, and for advice to get it right. Alternatively, if you're looking to tackle the issue with savvy payroll software, our free comparison tool will help you sift through the competition in minutes.
In this guide:
- What is Employee Engagement?
- What's the Difference Between Employee Engagement & Job Satisfaction?
- Levels of Employee Engagement
- What Role Do You Play in Employee Engagement?
- Why Might an Employee Be Unengaged
- How to Improve Employee Engagement
- Can Payroll Software Help?
- Key Takeaways
- Frequently Asked Questions
What is Employee Engagement?
Employee engagement is a part of the wider employee experience that describes a worker's level of dedication and passion towards their job.
Engaged employees develop a deeper emotional connection to their company and a stronger sense of meaning in what they do. In most cases, this commitment has a net positive impact on the productivity levels of the worker and those around them. As a result, this helps drive the company's performance.
What's the Difference Between Employee Engagement & Job Satisfaction?
While employee engagement and job satisfaction are related concepts, there are actually notable differences between the two.
Job satisfaction refers to the fulfilment of expectations related to employment (i.e. how content an employee is at their company, or how satisfied an employee is with their daily duties). However, while satisfied employees generally feel positive about their workplace situation, this doesn't always correlate to higher levels of loyalty, engagement, or a willingness to go the extra mile.
Employee engagement, on the other hand, goes one step beyond satisfaction and relates to the underlying motivations and passions of a worker. It takes place when workers truly buy into their company and its values. This tends to have a direct link with productivity.
Companies with engaged workers tend to report lower levels of burnout while celebrating greater performance, making it one of the most critical issues for business owners to address.
Levels of Employee Engagement
Despite popular belief, workers don't just fall into the categories of ‘engaged' or ‘unengaged'. There are many different levels of employee engagement, with the most common being: highly engaged, moderately engaged, indifferent and unengaged. Being able to identify these different stages is key to rolling out a strategy that works.
We explain what they mean, and break down the most common stages of employee engagement below:
What is a highly engaged employee?
Also known as ‘actively engaged', these highly engaged workers are thoroughly committed to a company's values and vision, and will continually demonstrate a strong work ethic and a desire to succeed.
Highly engaged workers are like gold dust to employers, and this is due to their enthusiasm and ability to motivate those around them. Maintaining this level should be the ultimate goal of every business owner.
What is a moderately engaged employee?
Moderately engaged employees express a positive attitude toward their job and the company as a whole. They tend to be generally content, but certain barriers exist that prevent them from going above and beyond.
What is an indifferent employee?
Otherwise known as ‘barely engaged employees', an indifferent worker generally lacks motivation and will shy away from taking on extra responsibilities. While indifferent employees may not be fully checked out, they may be more prone to quiet quitting or leaving the company altogether, which makes them risky (and costly) to employers.
What is an unengaged employee?
If a worker is fully unengaged, they'll get by doing the bare minimum, and has likely never been engaged with the company at all. They tend to have negative feelings towards the job role or organization, and come at the highest cost to businesses due to their negative impact on productivity and company morale. An unengaged employee doesn't come from nowhere, as we touch on next.
Why Might an Employee Be Unengaged?
A worker can become disengaged for countless reasons. However, one of the most common grounds for checking out derives from inadequate recognition from the higher-ups. With findings from McKisdey revealing that 70% of workers derive a personal sense of purpose from their work, its lacking meaning at work that becomes another major barrier to engagement.
Experiencing poor relationships with higher-ups in a company also commonly causes workers to detach, while poor progression opportunities and failing to be professionally challenged have been found to limit levels of engagement as well.
If any of these issues sound familiar, it's not too late. As long as you're willing to put in the work, you can help change the tide. There will be challenges associated with driving up engagement, but where does the responsibility lie?
What Role Do You Play in Employee Engagement?
Disengagement in the workplace invariably stems from a company's top levels, with Gallup research revealing that 70% of the variance in a team's engagement is related to their management. With business leaders setting the barometer for workplace culture and the company's standards, this shouldn't come as a surprise to senior staffers: they aren't the only players responsible for driving change.
HR teams should also take responsibility for rolling out workplace initiatives, tending to issues if or when they arise, and ensuring managers are equipped with all the tools and resources needed to succeed. However, an employee engagement strategy will only find success when all levels of the company work towards the common goal. This means that team leaders and junior staff are definitely not exempt from responsibility either.
How to Improve Employee Engagement
Are you serious about driving up productivity and tackling burnout in one fell swoop? Here are some tried and tested ways to boost employee engagement in your company:
- Communicate openly – Effective communication is the bedrock of any successful business. To prevent workers from feeling out of the loop or disregarded, establishing clear lines of communication and responding to feedback thoughtfully is a must.
- Be flexible – Letting employers work in a style that suits them doesn't just improve job satisfaction, it also correlates with higher levels of engagement and productivity, as revealed by the results of a recent Gallup survey.
- Live by your mission and values – Your employees are never going to buy into your company if they don't know what it stands for. Therefore, if you want to get your staff to adhere to the vision of your company, your values need to be baked into every facet of your business.
- Provide adequate training – Giving workers a clear development path is one of the best ways to increase their sense of purpose and their alignment with the company. However, this can't be achieved without comprehensive, skill-based training.
- Reward good behavior – Showing recognition is the best way to value the contributions of your employees. This can be carried out in many ways, from providing positive feedback for quality work to opening up opportunities to those who show potential.
Can Payroll Software Help?
Creating an engaged workforce isn't something that can be achieved overnight, but thanks to the accessibility of smart software solutions, business leaders no longer need to do all the heavy lifting themselves.
Employee engagement and payroll software can be used to streamline a number of key processes , from recognizing staff achievements to tracking survey feedback. This allows managers the time an energy to focus on other important areas of their business. For instance, Rippling's all-in-one system can be used to send and analyze surveys, track time and attendance, and manage payroll duties, with prices starting from as little as $8 per month, per user.
However, Rippling isn't the only competitive payroll software on the market. To compare the top options, read our guide for the best payroll software for small businesses.
Fortunately, by educating yourself on the matter, identifying the route of the problem, and implementing comprehensive and achievable strategies, engaging your workforce could be easier than you think. Thanks to savvy employee engagement software like Rippling, you don't need to do this on your own either.
Open to other solutions? Use our free comparison tool to receive quotes from the best payroll solutions available.
If you click on, sign up to a service through, or make a purchase through the links on our site, or use our quotes tool to receive custom pricing for your business needs, we may earn a referral fee from the supplier(s) of the technology you’re interested in. This helps Tech.co to provide free information and reviews, and carries no additional cost to you. Most importantly, it doesn’t affect our editorial impartiality. Ratings and rankings on Tech.co cannot be bought. Our reviews are based on objective research analysis. Rare exceptions to this will be marked clearly as a ‘sponsored' table column, or explained by a full advertising disclosure on the page, in place of this one. Click to return to top of page