In the grand dynamic of organizational success, there are two stars that take center stage, each influencing the other in a dance of productivity and job satisfaction. Here, we’ll explore the intricate connection between employee engagement and performance, uncovering the secrets to a symphony that hits all the right notes.

The Symbiotic Relationship: Employee Engagement and Performance

We can probably all agree that the ideal workplace is one where employees don’t just drag themselves through the day but show up excited about their tasks and genuinely, consistently invested in the company’s goals. However, according to Gallup’s State of the Workplace Report for 2023, only one out of every four employees is engaged at work. Thanks to a rise in remote work and trends like quiet quitting, a staggering number of workers (nearly 85%!) are unengaged and unmotivated. The data is disheartening but also represents a ton of opportunity for growth.

Employee engagement refers to the emotional commitment and attachment employees feel towards their work and organization, while employee performance relates to the results and outcomes employees achieve in their roles. While employee engagement and performance are separate concepts, they are tightly connected and have a significant impact on each other. Understanding the relationship between them is essential for creating a thriving and productive work environment.

Let’s set the scene.

What is employee engagement?

Employee engagement can be defined as the emotional connection employees form with their work, colleagues, and the organization as a whole. It goes beyond job satisfaction and reflects a deeper level of commitment and loyalty — technically, an employee can be satisfied with their job but only put in the minimum effort.

Employee engagement also encompasses the level of involvement, enthusiasm, and dedication employees have towards their work and organization. Engaged employees are passionate, motivated, and committed to delivering their best performance, all the time. They go beyond their basic job responsibilities and actively contribute to the larger success of the company.

Why it’s so important.

Employee engagement is the difference between a group of bored, tired robots and an agile, high-performing team. Engaged employees are more likely to be innovative and dedicated to achieving organizational goals — the best-case scenario for any business. High levels of employee engagement have numerous benefits for organizations, including increased productivity, improved customer satisfaction, higher employee retention rates, and a positive, collaborative work culture. Engaged employees are more likely to go the extra mile and contribute to ROI — Gallup finds that highly engaged teams are 21% more profitable.

Factors that affect employee engagement levels

From work-life balance to a collaborative environment and opportunities for growth, there are a variety of motivators that help employees stay engaged and invested in their roles.

  • Effective leadership: Supportive and inspiring leaders who communicate clearly, provide guidance, and empower employees help create an environment that boosts (and sustains) engagement.
  • Transparent and open communication: Regular feedback, recognition, and opportunities for open dialogue contribute to higher levels of engagement. It also allows employees to feel heard, valued, and involved in important decision-making processes.
  • Healthy work-life balance: Companies that prioritize work-life balance and offer flexible schedules and supportive policies tend to have more engaged employees (not to mention less employee burnout!). A Quantam Workplace study finds that employees are 38% more engaged when they believe their employer cares about their health and well-being.
  • Opportunities for growth and development: Employees who see a clear path for advancement, receive training and support, and have opportunities to upskill and reskill are more likely to stay hungry and motivated at work.

A positive and inclusive organizational culture: Organizations that value diversity, equity, and inclusion have more engaged and innovative employees. When workers feel a sense of belonging and alignment with the organization’s values, they bring their best selves — and their maximum effort.

“Take care of your people, and they’ll take care of the mission.”

— Deano Roberts, Slack

What is employee performance?

The co-star of this show is employee performance. Employee performance refers to the level of effectiveness and efficiency with which employees carry out their job responsibilities and achieve desired outcomes. It involves the quality, quantity, and timeliness of work performed.

High-performing employees consistently meet or exceed performance expectations and contribute to the overall success of the organization. They execute tasks with excellence and smash their professional goals. Not only do high-performing employees deliver winning results, but they also inspire and motivate their colleagues, contributing to a positive work culture and driving overall growth.

Factors that affect employee performance levels

Just like a stage production needs the perfect lighting and set design, employees need the right environment, tools, and support to perform at their best. Factors affecting performance range from clear expectations and adequate resources to a bit of appreciation for a job well done.

  • Clear expectations and goals: Well-defined goals provide direction and motivation, leading to improved employee performance. It also helps workers to better understand what is expected of them and align their efforts accordingly.
  • Continuous learning and development: Offering employees opportunities for consistent growth enhances their skills and knowledge, enabling them to perform better in their roles. According to Gallup, strength-based learning can lead to an 18% increase in performance, proving that investing in employee development really fuels success.
  • Necessary resources and tools: Providing employees with the proper support to carry out their responsibilities is essential for high performance. Access to technology, training materials, and supportive colleagues give employees a reason to perform their best.
  • Regular feedback and recognition: Research from Zippia shows that 68% of employees who receive accurate and consistent feedback feel fulfilled in their jobs — for millennials, the number jumps to 72%! Constructive, meaningful feedback helps employees identify areas for improvement, while recognition and appreciation for their achievements pump up performance.

Performance incentives: Bonuses or rewards for achieving specific targets can boost motivation for exceptional performance, further enhancing engagement and productivity.

What’s the link between employee engagement and performance?

Employee engagement and performance are closely interconnected, with each influencing and reinforcing the other. According to Gallup data, highly engaged businesses see an 81% difference in absenteeism and a 14% difference in productivity. It’s pretty simple: engaged employees are more likely to perform at a high level, while high-performing employees tend to see their engagement soar.

A potent impact on performance

Engaged employees are more motivated, committed, and focused on delivering exceptional results. They feel a greater sense of ownership and pride in their work, which drives them to go above and beyond to achieve organizational goals. Engaged employees are more likely to take initiative, solve problems creatively, and contribute innovative ideas, all of which lead to improved outcomes and ROI.

Enhancing employee motivation and commitment

When employees feel valued, supported, and recognized, they are more likely to demonstrate higher levels of commitment and dedication to their work. Highly engaged employees have a sense of purpose and see the value in their contributions, which in turn motivates them to perform at their best.

Engaged employees don’t just meet performance expectations; they surpass them.

Fostering a positive work culture

Employee engagement is central to a positive work culture, one that is characterized by trust, open communication, collaboration, and employee well-being. Engaged employees thrive in this type of environment. A positive work culture encourages teamwork, knowledge sharing, and continuous improvement, all of which contribute to higher levels of employee engagement.

Did you know?

Employees who are not engaged or who are actively disengaged cost the world $8.8 trillion in lost productivity,

Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace 2023 report

That’s a major hit to the bottom line!

Colleagues looking at graphs

What are the best ways to measure employee engagement and performance?

There are various methods and tools that companies can use to identify areas of improvement, track progress, and measure employee engagement and performance.

Gather employee surveys and feedback

Think of employee feedback as a backstage pass to understanding engagement. Salesforce reports that employees who feel their voice is heard are nearly 5x more likely to “feel empowered to perform their best work.” Conducting regular surveys can give valuable insights into employee engagement levels, satisfaction, and areas for improvement. Group sessions, one-on-one meetings, and weekly check-ins are also effective ways to gather employee performance data.

Establish objective and key results (OKRs)

Objective and key results (OKRs) create alignment and employee engagement around measurable but ambitious goals — what do you aspire to do, and how will you measure it? Research shows that employees with OKRs are more effective and engaged than those using other frameworks. Establishing good OKRs breaks down company goals into bite-size chunks and allows organizations to track employee contributions more objectively. Regularly reviewing them helps identify high-performing employees and areas for growth.

Offer performance appraisals and assessments

More than just annual check-ins, performance reviews are an ideal way to set the stage for continuous improvement. These assessments should involve setting performance goals, providing feedback, and discussing areas for development. Frequent, light-touch feedback keeps employees on track and motivated to stretch themselves, while also keeping communication strong.

What is the future of employee engagement and performance management?

The landscape of employee engagement and performance management is continuously evolving, and several trends are shaping the future.

Now that hybrid work is a way of life, companies around the world are creating a virtual water cooler where connections and collaborations flourish. Organizations need to adapt their strategies to effectively engage and manage remote employees, leveraging digital tools and platforms.

Embracing tech and data analytics

Sure, technology is a tool, but it can also be an effective partner in performance management. From AI-powered insights to virtual team-building activities, new breakthroughs in technology are reshaping how we engage and perform.

Technology and data analytics offer valuable insights into employee engagement and performance. Organizations should leverage toolsets like the Human Success Platform to gather real-time data, monitor performance, and personalize engagement initiatives.

Empower your employees to engage and perform like never before.

Employee engagement and employee performance are an inseparable duo, and can hugely impact how an organization functions. By better understanding their interconnected dance, you can create an environment where employees thrive, excel, and contribute to your company’s continued success.

Our Human Success Platform exists to inspire employees and their managers to have better, more meaningful conversations. Using advanced AI technology, it helps teams check in regularly with their managers to celebrate successes, ask for support, set goals, manage wellbeing, and understand what’s expected through performance management updates. Start hitting all the right notes of employee engagement and performance.