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What Is Employee Engagement, and Why Is It Important?

This article presents what employee engagement is, why it is important and how it affects and benefits the employee performance.

There are many ways of working with employee engagement depending on what you want to achieve. This article covers what employee engagement means, why it is important and how it affects and benefits your employees' performance.

Employee Engagement: Purpose at Work

Studies consider employee engagement as two overall states:

  1. A motivational state 
  2. A work-related psychological state 

First, employee engagement is a “motivational state”. It is reflected in your employee’s genuine willingness to focus on their effort toward achieving and meeting their personal and professional goals. 


It’s important to clarify that no employee can be motivated 24/7 and no manager should expect their employees to be. There isn’t one answer on the degree of the fluctuation of motivation and how long it sustains. It can change from period to period depending on your employees’ state of mind. 


Second, when employee engagement is work-related, it is reflected in the effects that occur psychologically e.g. the experience of feelings or emotions at work. When your employees are motivated to reach their personal and professional goals, they slowly transform work into a meaningful and purposeful accomplishment. 

In short, employee engagement is the level of employees' psychological investment and emotional connection they feel toward their work and workplace.


At the same time, it is also about your employee's behaviour and mindset e.g. how involved, enthusiastic and committed they are to the organization they work in. Engagement is their eagerness and capacity to contribute to their workplace's success. 

So why is it important to have a purpose at work? And what makes your employees run the extra mile? Let’s have a closer look below.




Why is employee engagement so important?

Employee engagement is important because it is fulfilling some basic human needs. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs still matters today and especially in an employee engagement context. 

Out of Maslow’s five human needs, the three needs listed below are especially relevant to keep in mind when you are operating and investing in employee engagement: 

  • Self-actualization: The need for personal growth 
  • Esteem: The need of being acknowledged and appreciated
  • Love and social belonging: The need for interpersonal relations and being a part of a group or community

A study by Gallup found that having close friends at work increases employee satisfaction by 50%. They found that employees who have a best friend at work are up to seven times more likely to engage fully in their job. This shows the importance of fulfilling the need for love and social belonging, also at work which easily can be done by engaging and connecting your employees in the work community. 

The need for esteem can be fulfilled by acknowledging the effort your employees put into their work. Acknowledgement leads to increased confidence and achievements because they feel valued and respected. When your employees feel respected, accepted and acknowledged it strengthens the personal relations and team spirit. 


The hardest need to fulfil is at the top of Maslow’s hierarchy: self-actualization. This need will be fulfilled if you succeed in engaging your employees. You can do it by investing in their personal development e.g. through e-learning, online courses and dialogue. 

When you invest in your employee’s personal development, they will become better at their job because they feel that they can live out their potential. It’s therefore important for you as a manager to outline the goals for your employees.

If you do so your employees know what to strike for and when their potential has been complete. Also, they will realize when they are ready to get more responsible, have more advantage tasks, etc.


The benefits of employee engagement on performance

So it is important to fulfil the basic human needs of your employees to strengthen their self-image and give them more confidence in their job.

Your employees’ behaviour will be positively affected when they develop their skills and their self-image about what they believe they can, also called self-efficacy.

A study found that:

  1. Self-efficacy measures were significantly correlated with job performance 
  2. Employee engagement was significantly correlated with job performance

So when you invest in engaging your employees at work it will pay off on the overall performance. The effects that occur mentally because of employee engagement is e.g. a sense of:

  • Significance
  • Enthusiasm 
  • Inspiration
  • Pride
  • Challenge at work

The sentiments play a differential role in the performance level which is also the reason no one should underestimate the importance of employee engagement.

Boost your employees' sentiments by engaging, involving and supporting them in their work and effort. When your people are growing, you and your business are too. 

If you want to know more about how to engage your employees, we have listed 6 employee engagement strategies you can implement now.

Leah is Relesys's eternally-organized Marketing Campaign Manager. She sometimes moonlights as a globetrotting amateur photographer.

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