Organizational Wellness

The Eight Key Drivers of Employee Engagement

Jul 31, 2023
Last Updated May 22, 2024

Fostering employee engagement within your organization is a lot like cultivating a garden. You plant the initial seeds, water them, and nurture them with opportunities for growth and development. 

But not every plant responds to the same routine. Some need more sunlight, some need less. Others need constant fertilizer or watering. You’ve got to know all the different drivers to help you cultivate them into a beautiful, thriving garden. 

The same is true for your employees. They all respond to different drivers and motivators that keep them engaged at work.

Although these drivers might be different for each individual, it’s helpful to know the essential elements that will nourish and strengthen engagement in the workplace. This way, you can understand how they benefit your team and plan ways to implement them throughout your organization. Here’s our list of some of the key drivers of employee engagement that you’ll want to know.


  1. Clarity in Role and Expectations

Clear definition of roles and expectations is a foundational element in driving employee engagement. Employees need to understand what their role is, how their work contributes to the overall goals of the organization, and what is expected from them. A lack of clarity can lead to confusion, frustration, which can potentially cause employees to withdraw and disengage.

As an HR leader, you can implement this by creating detailed job descriptions, setting measurable objectives, and ensuring regular communication regarding expectations. Tools like performance management software can help track and manage these objectives. Regular one-on-one meetings with employees can also help to keep them aligned and address any concerns or ambiguities they may have.

  1. Recognition and Rewards

Everyone appreciates being recognized for their hard work! Recognition and rewards are powerful motivators that are shown to boost employee engagement by making employees feel valued and appreciated for their contributions. Nearly 85% of highly engaged employees were recognized the last time they exceeded expectations, according to data from Bonusly. 

To show appreciation for your employees and recognize their hard work, you don’t need to just give out monetary rewards, like bonuses. You can also establish an employee of the month program, an employee spotlight, or a peer recognition program. The goal is to encourage a culture where managers and peers regularly acknowledge and celebrate each other’s work.

  1. Career Development Opportunities

Opportunities for growth and career development are key to keeping employees engaged and invested in their work. Team members who receive opportunities for career advancement and professional development are 15% more engaged and 34% more likely to remain with their companies, according to Better Buys.

HR leaders can foster this by investing in professional development programs, offering mentoring or coaching opportunities, and providing clear career progression pathways. For instance, managers can regularly discuss career aspirations with employees and help them commit to a clear plan to upskill for a role that aligns with their personal and professional goals.

  1. Effective Communication

Communication is a two-way street that plays a crucial role in employee engagement. It's important for employees to feel that their ideas are heard and valued. Likewise, management needs to effectively communicate organizational goals, updates, and more. Over eight in 10 employees say that they’re most motivated to perform when they hear regular updates from leadership on company news.

To enhance communication, HR leaders can encourage an open-door policy and promote a culture where employees feel comfortable voicing their ideas and concerns. Regular updates from company leaders, town halls, team meetings, and effective use of communication tools can facilitate an environment of openness and transparency.

  1. Fostering Wellbeing 

Promoting healthy work-life wellness  is an important aspect of employee engagement. Nearly half of HR leaders feel that employee burnout is responsible for half of employee turnover. Consistently blurring these lines and adding stress to your employees’ plates can cause them to mentally check out and look for opportunities elsewhere.

The answer? Promoting a healthy culture of wellbeing through tactics like flexible work hours, providing options for remote work, and ensuring that employees are not consistently overworked. Encourage employees to take their allotted vacation time, and consider implementing wellness initiatives, such as yoga classes, meditation sessions, or gym memberships, that help employees manage stress and maintain their overall wellbeing.

  1. Regular Feedback and Constructive Criticism

Constructive employee feedback allows employees to understand where they can improve, while positive feedback helps them recognize and continue what they're doing well. When they understand more about their performance — both what’s going well and where they can improve — it encourages them to stay engaged and motivated at work. It also shows employees that their work is being noticed, and offers them a path to continuous learning and development.

You can facilitate regular feedback through performance reviews, one-on-one check-ins, and by encouraging a feedback-rich culture where employees and managers can comfortably share thoughts and insights. Implementing a 360-degree feedback system can also provide a holistic view of an employee's performance and areas for improvement.

  1. Positive Work Culture

A thriving, welcoming company culture can be a strong element for employee engagement, because they’ll feel comfortable interacting with your workplace every day. The key here is to foster an environment where employees feel valued, supported, safe, and part of a community. A culture that promotes respect, inclusivity, collaboration, and innovation can greatly enhance employees' attachment to their workplace.

Creating a positive work culture begins at the top. HR leaders can implement this by modeling the behavior they wish to see, encouraging teamwork, fostering diversity and inclusion, and by organizing regular team-building activities. Regular surveys to gauge employee sentiment can also help in identifying areas that may need attention.

  1. Autonomy and Empowerment

Employees who feel that they have a degree of autonomy in their roles, and that they’re trusted to make decisions, are likely to be more engaged and satisfied. Autonomy and empowerment give employees a sense of ownership over their work, which can lead to increased motivation and productivity.

HR leaders can foster autonomy and empowerment by delegating responsibilities, trusting employees to manage their own tasks, and empowering them to make decisions about their projects and duties. This can also mean encouraging more flexibility and trusting employees to get their work done on their own terms. That might look a little different depending on each company, but some options include flexible work hours, asynchronous work, or hybrid work environments.

Wellbeing Plays a Key Role in Employee Engagement

Employee wellness is a crucial component of overall engagement — and it can often complement your existing employee engagement efforts. Employees who are engaged and exhibit high levels of wellbeing are 59% less likely to look for a new job, for instance, according to Gallup research. 

To have the best chance at regularly engaging employees and supporting their wellbeing, you’ll want to provide them with a dedicated wellness program. They’ll be able to access resources as often or as little as they’d like to care for their wellbeing, whether it’s going to the gym every day or signing up for one lunch-and-learn with the team. 

And our 2023 Return on Wellbeing Report shows that this type of flexible strategy makes an impact for you, too — 85% of HR leaders say that wellness programs decrease their talent management costs, including costs associated with employee engagement.

By offering a range of services, you can tailor your program to suit each employee’s needs and help them achieve their own health and wellness goals. Speak to one of our Wellbeing Specialists about how to keep employees engaged by supporting their wellbeing!

Company healthcare costs drop by up to 35% with Wellhub! (* Based on proprietary research comparing healthcare costs of active Wellhub users to non-users.) Talk to a Wellbeing Specialist to see how we can help reduce your healthcare spending!



Wellhub Editorial Team

The Wellhub Editorial Team empowers HR leaders to support worker wellbeing. Our original research, trend analyses, and helpful how-tos provide the tools they need to improve workforce wellness in today's fast-shifting professional landscape.


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