14 min read
Learn about the employee engagement models that can drive performance and improve workplace culture.
There’s no question that employee engagement is a critical factor in determining an organization’s success.
Engaged employees are more productive, more innovative, and they tend to be more dedicated and loyal — however, they don’t just happen by chance.
But there is something you can do! There are several employee engagement models that have proven to be instrumental in driving success for a wide range of organizations.
What are employee engagement models? They’re structured frameworks or strategies that organizations use to help develop and maintain high levels of employee engagement.
They provide a systematic approach to understanding and improving employee engagement through different practices and principles that are aimed at creating a positive and supportive work environment.
Employee engagement models can vary in complexity and focus, but all of them have a common goal — enhancing the emotional connections and commitment of employees to their jobs and to the organization as a whole.
Just as every person is unique, every organization is unique and diverse in its own ways. So when it comes to employee engagement models, there’s no one-size-fits-all. The purpose of this article is to help you determine which model will help drive success in your unique organization.
Several employee engagement models have been around for decades, or at least long enough to be thought of as traditional. In this section we’ll look at three traditional models, highlighting some of their benefits and limitations.
Gallup Inc. is a management consulting company that was founded in 1935. Today, they operate in 30 regions and have about 40 offices globally.
Their engagement model is a widely recognized and researched approach to measuring and improving employee engagement. It consists of 12 key questions that were designed to assess various aspects of engagement. By means of surveys and assessments, these questions are used to gather data on employee perceptions and feelings about their workplace.
The theory behind the Gallup 12 model is based, in part, on the following key principles:
The 12 closed questions are asked survey style and require either a yes or no answer.
For example, questions 1 and 2 assess whether or not employee has a clear understanding of their role and responsibilities and whether they feel they have the necessary tools and resources to perform them effectively:
And questions 3 through 6 take things a step further and address an employee’s development, strengths, and contributions. It also assesses whether they feel valued and appreciated.
Like any assessment, this employee engagement model has its benefits and limitations. Here are some of the key advantages and disadvantages of the Gallup Q12 Model:
There’s no question that the Gallup Q12 Model is a valuable tool when assessing and improving employee engagement. However, it should be used in conjunction with other methods and should be customized to fit your organization’s specific needs and context.
This is a psychological theory that was developed by Abraham Maslow in the 1940s and 1950s. The model is often depicted as a pyramid, with five distinct levels of human needs, arranged in hierarchy. According to Maslow, everyone is motivated to fulfill their needs in a specific order, with lower level needs taking precedence over higher-level needs.
Lower-level needs would include psychological, or most basic, fundamental needs. Things necessary for survival, like:
If these needs aren’t being met, a person’s focus will remain primarily on their physical well-being.
Top-tier needs include things like:
Clearly, these things aren’t necessary to survival.
So how is Maslow’s theory expressed through an organizational lens? Let’s look at the same tiers as above, the lowest level and the top level. In the context of an employee engagement model, psychological needs — the lower-level tier— translate into the following:
In contrast, top-tier needs include:
While this model does provide valuable insights into employee motivation, over the years it has been criticized and modified by newer psychological research. Some argue that the hierarchy isn’t as rigid as Maslow originally proposed, and that employees — or people in general — can be motivated by needs on different levels simultaneously. Also, some may prioritize needs differently based on their own unique circumstances or cultural influences.
This employee engagement model is unique in that it focuses on designing jobs that enhance employee satisfaction and drive success. It identifies five key components, which are often referred to as the “core job characteristics” that contribute to meaningful, engaging work. They are:
The Hackman and Oldham’s employee engagement model promotes engagement by addressing factors that contribute to job satisfaction, motivation, and a sense of purpose in the workplace. Designing jobs that implement the five key components mentioned above produces:
When the five key components of this model are present, employees are more likely to be highly engaged, which leads to improved job performance and helps contribute to a positive workplace that fosters growth, collaboration, and long-term success.
Now that we’ve covered the more traditional models, let’s take a look at some of the more modern approaches.
The strengths-based approach is a philosophy and management strategy that emphasizes the identification and utilization of employee strengths. It’s founded on the belief that individuals are more productive and engaged when they have an opportunity to use their natural talents and abilities. Here are some key aspects and benefits of the approach:
The social recognition model underscores the significance of recognizing and appreciating employee contributions within an organization. It’s rooted in the idea that acknowledging and celebrating the efforts and achievements of employees plays a crucial role in boosting morale, engagement, overall performance, and even retention.
Some key aspects of this model and their benefits are:
Here are several techniques to help you establish and run a social recognition program within your organization:
The total rewards employee engagement model is a comprehensive approach to employee compensation and benefits that goes beyond traditional forms of compensation — such as salary or bonuses — to encompass a wide range of rewards and incentives offered to attract, retain, motivate, and engage their employees. This can include both monetary and nonmonetary rewards.
Rewards can include:
Their impact on employee engagement can include:
Your organization will need to create a comprehensive strategy that goes beyond traditional compensation and includes different monetary rewards such as those mentioned above. Here are some considerations when designing an effective program for your company:
To successfully implement an employee engagement model, you’ll need the commitment of leadership, effective communication, employee involvement, empowerment, continuous feedback, and focus on improvement. Here are several best practices for each of these elements.
Leadership commitment and communication. Leaders must:
Employee involvement and empowerment:
Continuous feedback improvement:
A Google search will offer up multiple case studies for each of the employee engagement models mentioned above — studies that prove employee success leads to organizational success. We’ll provide two here:
The Ritz-Carlton hotel company uses the Gallup Q12 model to assess and improve employee engagement. They regularly survey their employees, asking them to respond to the Q12 questions. The leadership team places a strong emphasis on the results, focusing on improving specific areas identified in the survey.
Deloitte implemented a strengths-based culture by focusing on identifying and leveraging employee strengths. They initiated a program known as Strengths-based Leadership, which includes personalized coaching, training, and development programs aimed at helping employees recognize and utilize their unique talents.
There’s no question that employee engagement is a fundamental driver for organizational success. It boosts productivity, improves performance, enhances retention, creates a positive work culture, and gives employees greater well-being.
However, it could be said that it’s even more important that organizations choose the right employee engagement model. Using the right model will align with organizational goals, have greater effectiveness, be more sustainable, and ultimately give your organization a competitive advantage when attracting new talent and retaining the talent you already have. It will drive success.
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