12 elements of employee engagement

The 12 Elements of Employee Engagement

What does it take for employees to feel engaged? Based on in-depth research involving millions of employees over the years, The Gallup polling organization identified 12 core elements of employee engagement that predict performance.

I wrote about this several years ago, and since then many companies, including industry leader Pfizer, Inc., have created global employee communities using the newest web technologies. Through internal networks, smart organizations are actively engaging with employees — and enabling them to engage with their peers — as part of a global team pulling together for the company.

The 12 Elements of Engagement

I know what is expected of me at work.
I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right.
At work, I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day.
In the last seven days, I have received recognition or praise for doing good work.
My supervisors, or someone at work, seems to care about me as a person.
There is someone at work who encourages my development.
At work, my opinions seem to count.
The mission or purpose of my organization makes me feel my job is important.
My associates or fellow employees are committed to doing quality work.
I have a best friend at work.
In the last six months, someone at work has talked to me about my progress.
This last year, I have had opportunities at work to learn and grow.

© Gallup, Inc.

The Role of the CEO

CEOs don’t always walk the talk when they claim that employees are the company’s most important asset. If that were the case, employees wouldn’t be participating in social communities on the web to find what’s going on in the company. So here are several strategies to engage employees in support of  the company’s goals through the company’s own communications network.

  1. Build a world-class, global employee communications function aligned with business strategies and goals to oversee the development of a culture of communication. Make the internal communications director part of the management team.
  2. Create a Champion Program to ensure that the CEO is the visible leader of communications with employees and to ensure that senior management embraces and lives employee engagement through appropriate rewards and incentives.
  3. Create communications processes that ensure two-way communications and that embed culture change throughout the company.
  4. Provide training, tools and support for managers, who are the key influencers and drivers of success (or failure) of the company’s plan. Nothing is more important than consistent communications between managers and their direct reports.
  5. Put in place measurement systems that track employee satisfaction with internal communications  And monitor what employees are saying about the company on social networks so that you can adjust your communications strategy and messages.

Above all, speed is of the essence. Nothing moves news faster than the internal grapevine. So keep information flowing regularly and get news out quickly, feeding the grapevine with the company’s own version of events.

There are no doubt other drivers of employee engagement. I’d be interested in hearing from you with stories about what makes employees want to work their hearts out for their organization.

Leave a Reply


  1. Finding the balance between engagement and global is not the easiest thing to do. It certainly is worth the effort when one see the positive results it has on employee moral. As you said, the key is in monitoring, communication and walking the talk. 🙂

    • Susan — you know from your corporate days how important employee engagement is and it works best when the CEO is totally committed to it.

  2. Being granted autonomy and treated like a professional capable of making informed decisions matters so much, and yet, so many teachers do not feel that way. Undoubtedly, there are school administrators that create an employee community conducive enabling engagement, but unfortunately, it is more often than not the case in public education. What’s outlined above seems like common sense, and yet, finding it effectively put into practice is so rare. And yes, go figure, one of the main reasons why I left teaching.

    • Jeri — that’s sad that you left teaching because of a lack of engagement. That’s exactly what the schools should be teaching and practicing.

  3. Cheryl — if companies know that communications is so important, you wonder why they don’t do it better. One reason, from personal experience, is that professional communicators (PR, HR) are an expense and don’t produce revenue. That’s the bottom line.

  4. Hi Jeannette,
    The greatest empowerment tool that I had when I was a manager was teams – empowered teams that affected change. It did come down to earning the trust of the president of our organization but once the system is in place and the buy-in was there, employees knew they were making a real difference. Empowered employees can become your best brand advocates.

    • Sherryl — as you know, I’m a great advocate of employees as brand ambassadors. Empowering employees, as you point out, is the most effective to promote change in an organization that sticks because it becomes part of the culture.

  5. Smart post and information that needs to be repeated, shared and remembered. I think one of the things leaders find the most difficult to maintain is two way communications and without that, everything else falls apart.

    • Debra — thanks for stopping by. Two-way communications is essential for true employee engagement. Unfortunately in many companies the conversation is one way: from the top down.

  6. What Gallup found is absolutely spot on. Companies that implement and succeed with what is suggested will have perfect communication and happy employees that really care about the company.

    Would be interesting to know if Gallup found out how many companies actually have implemented all that is outlined?

    • Paul — interesting you mention online retailers. We know that inbound call center employees can make or break a sale. They’re often monitored on the number of calls they can complete in a certain amount of time. But they need to be acknowledged and praised when they exceed the standard and not just counseled when they don’t.

    • Tinidad — You said something very important. Feeling that your work matters. People are dying for feedback and recognition for a job well done. Most times they only hear bad news.

  7. Kelly — Couldn’t agree more. As I said to Trinidad, employees are anxious for a pat on the back once in a while. Why is it so hard to managers to do that?

  8. One of the things I love about social media is that it allows for all members of an organization to have a voice. So many of us just want to be heard. Once heard we feel a sense of belonging which leads to our engagement – If I believe my boss, my company, my peers are listening to the value I bring, I’m motivated to do a great job, to be an advocate and a brand ambassador because I know that I matter.

    There are so many tools that can make it easy for companies today if they are brave enough to be transparent and let their employees talk, such as JAM by SuccessFactors. There is a wealth of information that can be found through these internal networks. For one, you can tell who your opinion leaders are and work with them to gain support and influence for your company’s initiatives. Thanks Jeannette for the post!

    • Thanks, Julie, for your comment. I wasn’t familiar with JAM by SuccessFactors so I searched it and, for my other readers, it is a performance management system. According to its website: “Performance management includes processes that effectively communicate company aligned goals, evaluate employee performance and reward them fairly.” That sounds good to me!

  9. Having worked in a number of large global businesses I can relate to the results. Communication is key and so is letting employees take responsibility. Too many managers don’t delegate and micro manage which stifles employees and their ability to contribute.

    • Susan — I think the economic climate is such right now that managers are fearful of letting go of control. They’d rather keep projects for themselves because they think it proves their value to the organization, but it is very demoralizing for their direct reports.

    • Christopher — I could use you as my editor. No reason at all and you’re the first person (including me) who noticed that it was repeated. I’ve just deleted the duplicate. Thanks for stopping by. Come again!

  10. Yes, SuccessFactors has a great performance management system. However, I was referring to their social networking software. They recently acquired CubeTree and renamed it JAM. It is free up to a certain number of users and works just like Facebook but is a closed network for companies. Employees can post status, links to articles, follow others and form groups. It’s super easy to administer and user friendly and free!Check it out: http://www.cubetree.com

  11. Hello Jeannette,

    Its me again! I just really love your blog. Yes, I totally agree with you that one role of the CEO is to create communications processes that ensure two-way communications and that embed culture change throughout the company. I really believe that communication is very important.