Employee engagement is a two-way process: organisations must provide the environment for employees to engage, while employees in turn have a choice about the level of engagement, they offer their employer. Engagement is a mutually reinforcing process. A significant body of evidence demonstrates a strong link between employee engagement and productivity, performance, and innovation.

In understanding the concept of employee engagement, it is worth noting the differences between attitude and behaviour and their outcomes. For example, an employee may feel committed, proud and loyal (attitude) or extend himself/herself to serve a customer (behaviour). Outcomes of this employee’s attitude and behaviour may include lower absenteeism, higher productivity, fewer customer complaints or fewer conflicts. All three aspects are important and need to be linked to build and sustain employee engagement.


Engagement is influenced by the culture of the organisation, its leadership, the quality of communication, management styles, levels of trust, respect, the organisation’s reputation and development opportunities.

Bureaucratic organisations and heavy workloads are major barriers to engagement. Lack of trust can lead to disengagement in organisations, particularly in senior leadership. Other factors might be:

  • Job insecurity and fear of job loss
  • Unfairness, particularly in reward and benefit systems
  • Repetitive work and short cycle times
  • Highly stressful jobs
  • Poor line-management behaviour and bullying
  • Working for long periods without a break
  • Lower availability to work

ODRL has designed and delivered a range of employee engagement studies to large complex organisations.