When a person is engaged in their work they bring energy and commitment to it and become happily engrossed in what they are doing. They do better work and more of it and they have happier customers and colleagues. They love going to work – they look forward to it. Engagement is worth pursuing for both moral and commercial reasons. It is good business and it enhances the wellbeing of employees.

But what causes it? Research (eg Crawford et al, 2010) shows a number of things which seem to be important. Research we have undertaken in partnership with Deakin University indicates that some of the key drivers of engagement are:

  • The level of autonomy employees have. If you have top-down, controlling leadership in your team you cannot have optimum engagement. At best it will be about average in comparison with other teams.
  • Variety. If you want people to be truly engaged you need to ensure that the employee is not doing the same simple task over and over. If you measure the levels of engagement in highly routine jobs you can see them dropping month by month as employees become bored.
  • Learning. Related to the point on variety, human beings have a desperate need to learn. Think of the time in your life when you most loved your work. I’ll bet it was a time when you were learning lots of new things.
  • Self confidence. We cannot be highly engaged in jobs if we are not confident we can do the work. Challenge is fine, but a lack of confidence is an engagement killer.
  • Optimistic, positive atmosphere. Going to work in an atmosphere of gloom, negativity or cynicism is bad for us, both for our wellbeing and productivity.

These are the key levers you have available to you to manage engagement at work.

Check our upcoming SACS events for seminars and webinars on how to use this information to maximise the engagement in your organisation.

Learn more about how to measure your organisation’s engagement and stress, and its causes.



Crawford, E. R., LePine, J. A., & Rich, B. L. (2010). Linking job demands and resources to employee engagement and burnout: a theoretical extension and meta-analytic test. Journal of applied psychology, 95(5), 834.

Andrew Marty