Internal Communications

7 min read

Four people laughing at a table during a workshop
Four people laughing at a table during a workshop

Increase employee engagement with 6 principles

In times of skills shortages and "quiet quitting", employee engagement is more than ever a decisive factor for the success of companies. Here you will find an overview and approaches with which you can increase your employee engagement. 

What is employee engagement?

Employee engagement means that employees identify with their work and are committed to the goals and values of the company. Engaged employees are more motivated, productive and satisfied. They work not only to earn money, but also because they feel connected to the company and its goals.

Employee engagement also depends on how well a company is able to take into account the needs and interests of its employees. A company that understands the needs of its employees and offers them work with room for personal responsibility, a sense of purpose, opportunities for advancement and fair pay can enjoy loyal and motivated team members. 

Why is employee engagement important?

Engaged people are motivated to do good work, think innovatively and find creative solutions. They are actively committed to the goals and values of the organisation or project they are involved in and work together to achieve these goals. They are also often more confident and satisfied with their job, which has a positive impact on their life outside work. 

In short, engaged employees make the perfect employees. The following studies also show how valuable they are for companies: 

  • According to a Gallup-Study, the profitability of companies with high employee engagement is 21% higher than that of companies with low engagement.
  • The same Gallup study found that engaged employees are 17% more productive than disengaged employees.
  • A Towers Watson Study shows that companies with high long-term employee engagement had operating profit margins up to three times higher than companies with low long-term employee engagement.
  • The Corporate Leadership Council found that engaged employees are 87% less likely to leave their company than disengaged employees.

What does it mean to have "engaged employees"? 

You are less likely to recognise an engaged employee by the fact that she goes about her work at all hours of the day with bright eyes and a broad smile. That might also be more worrying than uplifting. Whether your team is engaged in their work is probably something you can sense to some degree, but here's a quick checklist:

Engaged employees:are ...

  • take pride in their work and strive to achieve the best possible results
  • loyal to the organisation and its mission
  • team players who work constructively with their colleagues
  • proactive and take the initiative to identify and solve problems
  • open to feedback

This does not mean that dedicated employees cannot have a bad day, a difficult week or even a longer period of disengagement. After all, people are not robots without private problems and fluctuations in performance. 

And committed employees do not fall from the sky. It is the responsibility of the company to create the right conditions.

What increases employee engagement?

So let's get to the prize question: if employee engagement is so important, how can it be achieved? What exactly motivates and engages people is an age-old question. Because what we really want to know is: how do people work? 

In the following, we take a look at the current state of studies and the economic findings on employee engagement and motivation. Because even though people tick differently and can therefore be motivated by different things, there are some factors that generally ensure high employee engagement.

A Mindmap with six engagement factors

6 Engagement Factors: What Employees Want

Remember, engagement means being emotionally connected to the organisation. Thus, engagement factors are aspects of the work itself, as well as the work environment and the organisation that foster such connectedness. 

  1. Meaning and significance: Employees want to work for organisations that have a positive impact on society and have a deeper meaning than simply making a profit. This was one of the findings of a study by Deloitte. But the same study also found: there is still a discrepancy between what Millennials expect from responsible companies and the actual priorities of these companies. 
  2. Autonomy: Autonomy and control are other key factors for fulfilling work. In concrete terms, this means being involved in decisions, being able to set priorities and being able to help shape one's own work process. Those who enjoy more freedom are also much better able to bring their commitment to bear.
  3. Competence: When individual talents, interests and competences are used at work, it is incredibly motivating. For example, what was your favourite subject at school? Probably one in which you were also particularly good, liked by the teacher, etc... When people feel competent and proud of their work, they automatically contribute with more enthusiasm and commitment.
  4. Well-being and appreciation: The next factor follows on seamlessly from competence: Recognition and appreciation by superiors and colleagues. This includes feedback, praise and development opportunities, but also positive personal relationships with team members. A study by the Harvard Business Review even found that recognition and appreciation are more important for motivation than financial incentives.
  5. Framework conditions: Working conditions such as flexibility, workload and work-life balance play an important role in employee engagement. Those who perceive their own working conditions as flexible are not only more satisfied overall (and have fewer conflicts at home), but also more committed and more attached to the company. Gallup also found that employees who perceive their workload as adequate are 2.6 times more engaged than people who feel overworked. 
  6. Remuneration: As in so many areas of life, the issue of money is complex. One thing is certain: Compensation definitely affects employee engagement, but it is not the most important factor. Employees can finance their lives through their income. At the same time, the figure at the bottom of the pay slip also expresses appreciation. Especially if it is perceived as fair - i.e. in relation to the income of colleagues and the work itself. 

Three examples: How to increase employee engagement like Patagonia, Atlassian and Bosch

In short: by implementing the factors mentioned in your company. Of course, this is easier said than done. For inspiration, here are success stories from different industries: 

Commitment through Purpose: Patagonia is committed to environmental protection and attracts committed employees.

Patagonia actually sells outdoor clothing and equipment. And even though this enjoys a good reputation, the company is celebrated in particular for its commitment to environmental sustainability and social responsibility. Because here, Patagonia does much more than the bare minimum. Initiatives include: 

  • Use of organic cotton and recycled materials in the products
  • Donation of 1% of turnover to environmental organisations
  • Paid time off for employees to volunteer in environmental organisations
  • Advocating for changes in public policy that promote environmental protection and social justice

In 2019, Patagonia was awarded the UN Global Climate Action Award for its efforts to combat climate change and protect the environment. Fortune magazine has listed Patagonia among the "100 Best Companies to Work For" for several years in a row.

As a result, Patagonia has very loyal employees who identify with the company's values and sense of purpose. Their commitment is not only driven by their work. Their commitment to environmental issues - and thus to their personal values and interests - is also reinforced.

Engagement through interest promotion: ShipIt Days at Atlassian

Atlassian, a software company, organises a "ShipIt Day" every quarter. All employees can work for 24 hours on projects that are close to their hearts and often have nothing to do with their actual jobs. 

Participation is optional, but encouraged and supported by all levels of management. The goal: employees can get involved creatively, develop new ideas and work on a project with colleagues from different departments. At the end of the 24 hours, the teams present their projects to the rest of the company and the most innovative and successful projects are awarded prizes.

Atlassian presents some of the projects on its website

  • Staff member Jonathon plugged in kegs of his home-brewed beer in the kitchen.
  • Luke and Jeffy replaced all the hot, power-hungry light bulbs in the phone box rooms.
  • Mark, Sam and Jamey shot numerous videos for the blog in one go

Commitment through better framework conditions: Bosch job sharing

Employers such as Bosch, Mercedes and BASF allow employees to divide a job between two people - and this also applies to management positions! These are still disproportionately occupied by men in Germany. Through job sharing, the workload can be divided without the team suffering. Because of the two people in the management duo, one is always available. 

And yet a managerial position can be easily reconciled with private life. So it's a win-win. 

The German Association of Professional and Managerial Staff (DFK) reports that part-time managers are more creative and, on balance, more motivated: "Motivation also increases due to the possibility of reconciling work with family and leisure time.

A table of three examples of improving employee engagement


Engaged employees have an overall positive attitude towards the company and their work. They get involved, communicate with each other, take the initiative and work for the interests of the company. But millennials in particular - soon to be the largest part of the working population - feel disillusioned with employers and quit much faster than previous generations (or else they do "quiet quitting" and only do the bare minimum). 

But this is exactly what needs to be avoided in times of skills shortages and economic turmoil. The key to success: employee engagement. What motivates employees can be summarised by six engagement factors. Implementing these in the company requires leadership commitment and creative ideas. Large companies like Patagonia, Atlassian and Bosch can provide inspiration. Ultimately, your initiatives need to fit you, your company and your employees.

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