Part ‘five’ of our talent war series provides a range of methods to assess and boost the engagement and motivation levels of employees...

Employee engagement is one of the issues plaguing big businesses and HR today. Research shows that more than two-thirds of employees have ‘checked out’, in that they are not actively motivated or are seeking opportunities outside of their current organisation. In the quest to reduce turnover and retain talent, it is crucial to measure what ‘drives’ your employees.

What is employee engagement?

Engagement is a multi-faceted concept that consists of a number of different elements:

  • An employee’s motivation levels
  • Satisfaction within his or her role
  • Commitment to the organisation
  • Agreement with the organisational culture
  • Willingness to go the extra mile to get something done
  • Investment in the overall goals of the organisation

Measure engagement via motivations

One of the most objective ways to assess engagement is via an online Motivations assessment. This assessment is a quick and simple tool that profiles the wants, needs, drivers and motivators that underlie an employee's behaviour in the workplace. Reports can be analysed on an individual or group level to assess trends within teams, departments or the organisation as a whole.

Understanding what drives your employees is the first step to boosting engagement

Another way to assess engagement is to conduct a culture or climate survey. This can consist of as few as 10 or as many as 100 questions. It is not an objective assessment, but instead a subjective survey that asks employees to provide their opinion and thoughts about aspects such as management style, rewards structures, remuneration and teamwork.

How to manage (and increase) engagement and motivation

There’s no one size fits all approach to improving engagement. However, there are strategies that can be applied both at an organisational level and an individual level to proactively retain talent in your company.


At an individual level, it is crucial to align an individual’s strengths and drivers to a role that suits his or her talents. If someone is a good fit to their job role as well as their team role, they will find the work they do to be more motivating.

e.g. Candidate A was hired as a sales executive but is not performing or meeting targets. Assessing her motivators, as well as her competency potential, has shown that she has a strong preference for structure, security and analysis. In addition, she is more introverted and isn’t able to easily strike up conversation with new people. Moving Candidate A into a more administrative or technical role will enable her to work to her strengths, and will greatly reduce the pressure that she places on herself each day to meet the expectations of her current sales role.

The results of an individual’s motivations assessment will also reveal specific insights that can be shared with the line manager. Each person should be managed, where possible, according to these drivers in order to maximise performance.

Organisation level:

At a company-wide level, a number of different strategies can be employed to address the engagement issues that are most commonly highlighted by employees across the world:

  • Many employees express a preference for the provision of detailed and growth-oriented feedback from line managers. This is so that they know where they stand and can continually improve their performance.
  • Work flexibility is increasingly valued by employees, especially those who are strongly motivated by independence, or those with family commitments. Companies around the world who offer greater flexibility report positive returns in terms of engagement, commitment and performance.
  • Not surprisingly, many employees who report themselves as disengaged are also unhappy with the rewards system in their organisation, whether financial (not earning enough or a system that is seen as unfair) or recognition-based (people are not rewarded based on their performance or are not being recognised for going above and beyond). A rewards system based on recognition can do wonders to create an element of competition and appreciation in the organisation.
  • Job enrichment and development are crucial to retain the interest and engagement of employees, especially those who are driven by the need to analyse, learn and grow. One important element of a development strategy is the measurement of employees’ learning agility - an individual’s behavioural response to change - in order to get an objective indication of future potential and learning preferences. These can inform an organisation-wide or individual-level development strategy, and best motivate employees to grow in a way that is best suited to their preferences.

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