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What is Employee Engagement & Why it is the Key to Your Organization’s Success?

What is employee engagement

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Key Takeaways

1. Ambitious companies realize that employee engagement is key to reducing staff turnover and ensuring company growth. 

2. Drivers of employee engagement include: challenging work opportunities, career advancement and training. 

3. Engaging international employees means recognizing the distinct legal and cultural factors that apply in that location. 

4. To ensure employee engagement, clear communication, thorough onboarding, mentorship, and investment in the right tech are crucial. 

In recent years, one of the hottest trends in Human Resources has been the emergence of employee engagement. Today, employers understand that the global marketplace has never been more competitive or interconnected. When competition for the world’s top talent is relentless, and training new staff is so expensive, employers simply must engage their employees. Employee engagement represents the relationship an employer has with its employees.

We define engagement as a psychological state in which employees feel a vested interest in the company’s success and are both willing and motivated to perform to levels that exceed the stated job requirements.

When you imagine an ideal environment for employees, you visualize one where employees are productive, feel a sense of pride in the organization, and belong to a team that motivates them to do their best work.

Importance of employee engagement

Research shows that a workforce of engaged employees is a high-performing workforce. A 2015 Aon Hewitt report notes that “a 5% increase in employee engagement is linked to a 3% increase in revenue growth in the subsequent year.” When you consider how much money this correlates to, employee engagement needs to be prioritized by all businesses.

Other research has shown that engaged employees report lower absenteeism rates, greater satisfaction with employee benefits, and higher productivity rates. To employees, engagement is a crucial part of a good employee experience

According to the Hay Group, their research demonstrates that “highly engaged employees are 2.5 times more likely to exceed performance expectations than their disengaged colleagues”. Additionally, 94% of the most admired global companies believe that their efforts to engage employees directly affect their success.

In contrast, a company with disengaged employees experiences a decline in these areas.

The Harvard Business Review Analytic Services surveyed more than 500 business executives, and “71% of the respondents [ranked] employee engagement as very important to achieving overall business success.

Their feedback implies that businesses with engaged employees are likely to have a competitive advantage. Not only this, but they are also more profitable. 

Drivers of employee engagement

In findings published by Mercer, the key drivers of employee engagement are:

  • The chance to do challenging work

  • Access to needed information

  • Ability to reach career goals
  • Access to needed training

Mercer conducted What’s Working studies worldwide to monitor and track employee perceptions. During these studies, the company developed reliable normative data that enabled employers to assess their employee engagement levels that were relative to national or regional benchmarks.

Among the questions the company measured were responses to “I feel a strong sense of commitment to this company,” and “I feel proud to work for this company.”

Cultural differences

According to Mercer’s research, differences in national culture, market conditions, and the state of economic development influence employee engagement.

Studies noted that workers in the US and the UK, for example, share only one engagement driver –a sense of personal accomplishment – rated first and second in importance, respectively. But this report noted that the top drivers in the UK “paralleled six of the top drivers in Asia’s top market, China.” This included a lot of the 

Engaging international employees

The Mercer report states that companies need to account for cultural differences and a diverse workforce when engaging employees.

They can do this by:

  • Addressing HR decisions in the context of national culture
  • Using valid research – not stereotypes – to align HR practices with actual employee attitudes and perceptions
  • Having valuable data on national norms to interpret employee surveys correctly
  • Understanding that the way an organization conducts its work reflects its corporate culture. How employees are treated reflects how they treat customers.
  • Allowing employees to define the drivers of engagement that work within their culture.

What drives employee engagement in your country?

According to the Mercer findings, the top factors for engagement that are consistent with employees around the world are the work itself, including opportunities for advancement (e.g., be aware of the risk of proximity bias), confidence and trust in leadership; recognition and rewards; and communication delivered in a timely and organized way.

Here are some of the top factors by country, according to the study:

  • China
  • A sense of personal accomplishment, fair pay based on performance, good reputation for customer service, comparable benefits to industry, confidence in senior management, IT systems support business needs, training opportunities, regular performance feedback.
  • India
  • The type of work and promotion opportunities.
  • Japan
  • Base and incentive pay.

You can determine what the drivers are of your employees across locations by conducting an employee survey. If you find that some workers feel they do not get accurate feedback about performance, you can address this.  Take the employees’ survey seriously and be willing to adapt to the workers’ needs. Your firm may also survey employees when they leave the organization and report their reasons for departure.

Be sure to broadcast the news about the improvements your company is making based on the survey. This way, everyone sees that management is responsive to employees’ needs.

How can you ensure that you keep your global team engaged?

When so many people are working remotely, many employers find it challenging to keep their international employees engaged. To assist businesses to maintain engagement levels across their in-house and remote teams, the following tips were shared by Forbes Boston Business Council. We have adapted them to suit an international audience.

Steady and thorough communication

Share your company news and report items about employee recognition, promotions, and transfers with your employees. Announce this information via your company’s website regularly. If your employees are scattered around the world in various locations, highlighting the achievements of far-flung employees will not only bring them peer recognition but further enable them to work well with colleagues in other sites. Also, implement Microsoft Teams integrations to facilitate seamless communication and collaboration among team members, regardless of their geographical locations.

Culturally sensitive onboarding

Respect local practices during your international onboarding process. Standardize procedures to ensure everyone gets the same information and the same strong start.

  • Ensure that the onboarding you provide to new employees reflects a familiarity with their national culture and norms. If you are not sure what those norms are, assign a native employee to interview other locals to outline the most important behaviors.

Among the most essential features of international onboarding are:

  • Setting and sharing specific role expectations.
  • Giving everyone the same access to tools and resources.
  • Creating a welcoming culture of social support.

Invest in video  

Your company can regularly engage its workforce with video communications, regardless of location. Some companies use this capability to launch an internal “get to know your co-worker” video series.

Communicate what success looks like

Reward employees who personify your culture of treating one another with respect, dignity, and kindness. When employees are recognized for their professional treatment of colleagues or customers, they learn what the company’s values are and how to represent the organization well.

Assign a mentor

When you assign a mentor to employees to foster employee engagement, you strengthen both the company culture and the individual’s sense of belonging. Try to select mentors for international employees who are familiar with the culture, whether they are based in the same location or not. Giving employees a sense of connection to others helps promote their feelings of belonging, security, and pride.

Develop trust in team leaders

The ADP Research Institute (ADPRI) surveyed over 19,000 employees worldwide to measure their engagement levels. They found that teams and trust in team leaders were the most important influences on employee engagement.

Check-in often

You can do this in many ways that can include an employee survey every six months or by having an HR executive touch base via video conference with an international team. When managers check in often with employees to monitor their engagement, they let workers know that they value the employee voice and their feelings about the company. Employees may have had to go through a stressful sales period and may welcome a chance to let off steam by analyzing what could be done better next time. Listen, and learn.


Recognize that what drives employees in the UK may not be the same factors that drive employees in China. Adapt your employee engagement to each location to ensure that you are informing all employees of valuable information they need to succeed in your company. However, do this in a way that respects their culture and identities. 

Companies that have succeeded

HR experts note that there are companies known for highly engaged employees. In an article for the Chartered Management Institute (CMI.org), Mandy Flint and Elisabet Vinberg Hearn said:

“Google has been very intentional about creating the culture they want. One aspect of that culture is its focus on transparency. The idea is to break down barriers, encourage creativity and collaboration. And employees, as a result, are feeling empowered by that transparency”.

Experts cited Hyatt Hotels as another company doing employee engagement the right way.

The hotel group’s high employee retention and long tenure speak volumes in an industry known for its high employee turnover,” wrote the authors.

The focus on employee development and promoting from within plays a large part in this. Another interesting practice, connected to development, is how they empower their employees (whom they call associates), to listen carefully to each other and guests, to be able to solve problems and create new solutions, rather than following scripts of what to do, making the guest feel special and heard.”

As these companies show, treating people well translates into success.


Employee engagement drives productivity, and productivity drives profits. To run a successful company, it is vital that you have highly engaged employees.

You can learn from your employees in international locations about the drivers of engagement important to them.

If you launch a company survey to evaluate employee engagement, be sure to act on areas in which improvement is needed.

Engaged employees manifest greater satisfaction with their work and have lower absenteeism rates than disengaged workers. People who feel a sense of pride in their workplace will do their best work and not arbitrarily leave. If your employees trust their team leaders, they are more likely to feel a high sense of engagement. In turn, these engaged employees will make your business a success.

Horizons are global employment experts

Horizons specializes in the strategic recruitment of high-level talent to drive your global expansion. Our team of global headhunters will identify and match your organization to exceptional talent across any industry vertical.

You can simplify your expansion with our Global PEO. Horizons streamlines your compliant expansion into your new market. Horizons recruits your global employees and becomes their legal Employer of Record. This allows you to go-to-market faster, while saving up to 85% on standard expansion costs. We take care of all risk mitigation, compliance, payroll, and benefits.

By partnering with our Global PEO, your business can tap into emerging international markets without needing to establish a local entity or subsidiary.

We will ensure that you have the necessary support to hire the best employees in each location where you operate and that you have programs that will reward and retain these workers. As a result, you will promote employee engagement.

Frequently asked questions

Employee engagement means ensuring that your workforce feel connected to the organization and its activities.

Employee engagement is crucial to retaining top staff and, being able to market your company as a desirable employer for new staff. 

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