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The 8 Drivers of Employee Satisfaction and Engagement

Updated on May 2, 2013

Employee Recognition Programs from Quality Incentive Company

Quality Incentive Company - Memphis, TN
Quality Incentive Company - Memphis, TN

Employee Satisfaction, Engagement and ROI

There have been numerous studies associating high levels of employee job satisfaction with superior company performance in a number of business metrics - better service, higher productivity, higher quality of work, more innovation, higher customer satisfaction, lower turnover, higher profitability…even greater return on investor stocks!

It all seems fairly intuitive – employees that enjoy the work that they do, feel appreciated and fairly compensated, like the company that they work for, respect their supervisors…will be more motivated and engaged in their work, leading to improved performance. Despite this seemingly common-sense connection, many managers and organizations still fail to measure and keep employee job satisfaction a priority because either:

1) They simply don’t buy into the premise that investing time and money into employee satisfaction can yield a profitable return for the business


2) They believe in the promise of an employee satisfaction ROI, but don’t understand how to manage workplace factors that influence job satisfaction.

The managers and organizations that fall into category 1 above are a tough crowd and may never find a reason to embrace a philosophy that values employees (other than being beaten by competitors that do). But there is help available for managers that need techniques and tips on improving employee satisfaction.

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Increasing Employee Satisfaction and Engagement

One excellent resource is a study published by the Forum for People Performance Management and Measurement (a research unit affiliated with the Medill Integrated Marketing Communications graduate program at Northwestern University) titled The Road to an Engaged Workforce.

The Road to an Engaged Workforce study was undertaken to identify methods managers can use to influence employee satisfaction and engagement; it concludes that there are 8 primary drivers that impact employee satisfaction and engagement.

Factors Driving Employee Satisfaction

1. Intention to remain with the organization
Employees that express an intention to stay with a company are more likely to also feel satisfied with their role and position. A high correlation has been found between job satisfaction scores and employee retention rates.

2. Variety of skills used in their job
Employees feel more satisfied in roles that require a wide range of personal skills and competencies. The work itself is more interesting and employees feel accomplished when they’ve been given the opportunity get to grow and develop a valuable skill set.

3. Level of organizational customer-service orientation
Employees are more satisfied working for organizations that they believe have the best interests of customers in mind and that they have a role in identifying and satisfying the needs of those customers. This is consistent with the high correlation been found between levels of employee satisfaction and customer satisfaction in other studies.

4. Coordination between units of the organization
Employees feel more satisfied being a part of a well-managed organization. In companies that communicate and coordinate well between departments and business units, there are fewer disruptions, delays, and needs for damage control.

Factors Driving Employee Engagement

5. Role conflicts
Similar to #4 above, employees feel better working in an organization that has policies and processes that are consistent with one another and that employees understand are appropriate. Employees tend to disengage if asked to blindly follow instructions that they feel are incorrect or enforce management policies that they feel are in conflict with one another.

6. Effective training
Effective initial and ongoing training can get employees engaged in their work. New employees that are given thorough orientation and training can take their new skills and start performing in their role with confidence. Ongoing training demonstrates that the organization values the employee in their current role as well as their potential for future personal development.

7. Personal autonomy
When a capable employee is afforded freedom, authority and discretion to execute their role optimally they tend to engage and take ownership of their job. The organization must also provide support in the form of resources, information and training.

8. Manager ability
Employee engagement and motivation is influenced by the style, strengths and weaknesses of their supervisors. The study cites three areas of managerial ability that can have a positive impact on employee engagement: Expert power (technical expertise or managerial competence of the manager), Referent power (the respect that the employee has for their supervisors), and Exchange power (a supervisors’ willingness to be influenced by the employee.


These drivers are all basically related to feelings an employee has towards their role (and the organization) with regard to personal value, respect, and freedom. In summary, employee engagement is largely driven a feeling that the organization values his/her contribution, and that it is doing its best to remove barriers from getting the job done the “right” way.


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    • dondarko profile image

      Darko Atanasov 2 years ago from Skopje

      I would add reward and recognition as an important factor for employee engagement. How can you feel important for the company if no one reward you or recognize the most important outcomes you create for the business.

      People need to feel important to be engaged.