by Mark Marone  |  August 20, 2020

Of the three factors that impact employee engagement:

  • Trust in leadership may be the most difficult to affect
  • Connectedness with immediate managers shows room for improvement
  • Pride in organization matters more than you may think

Driving Employee Engagement is an Enormous Undertaking

If you’ve been following employee engagement trends over the last decade or so, you know engagement rates have hardly budged until a small recent uptick. It’s not something you decide one day to improve and then it happens overnight. Engagement is so intimately linked to corporate culture and culture typically changes very slowly.

Dale Carnegie conducted a study in 2018 and found that about 30% percent of U.S. employees continue to be Fully-Engaged, while 51% are Partially-Engaged and the remaining 19% are Disengaged. On average, employee engagements rates have hovered around 30% for the last 18 years (Link to Gallup, 2018, Employee Engagement on the Rise in the U.S.,

Why can’t companies gain traction on engaging their employees?

What are the 3 Factors That Affect Employee Engagement?

In an effort to drive engagement, organizations often focus on too many things, thinking they need to fix everything at once. Our research shows that three drivers, among others, can have a significant influence on employee engagement rates and should be focused on first.

  1. Trust in leadership
  2. Relationship with the Manager
  3. Pride in organization

Research we conducted in 2018-2019 shows that factors associated with trust in leadership fare the worst. Twelve factors rank higher than the first leadership factor we tested for fully engaged employees by a spread of 17 points. Eighteen factors rank higher than trust in leadership for all respondents.

Similarly, while the relationship employees have with their immediate managers theoretically has the biggest impact on engagement rates, in practice many managers haven’t hit their stride. Although managers excel at treating employees with respect and holding them accountable for their performance, they fall short in promoting employees’ growth and development, a gap of 19 points.

Having Pride in Their Organization May Have the Strongest Impact of All

In our most recent study, factors related to pride in organization are the top factors in influencing employee engagement, slightly outweighing trust in leadership and connectedness with immediate managers for influencing engagement levels.

Why might this be the case? Our definition of pride in the organization encompasses multiple factors that reflect the overall culture of the organization. How employees relate to the culture – whether they are aligned with it, understand it or feel that it’s positive – has a significant impact on how engaged they are.

We measured pride in organization by looking at the following 6 factors:

  • Mission and goals
  • Brand and reputation
  • Commitment to the community
  • Treatment of employees
  • Alignment of organizational and personal values
  • Individual fit with organizational culture

For fully engaged employees, pride in organization factors captured six of the top eight factor rankings out of 36 factors tested. An impressive 82% of fully engaged employees, for example, were proud of their organization’s brand and reputation compared to 45% of partially engaged employees and 15% of actively disengaged employees.

Similarly, 79% of fully engaged employees strongly agreed that they were a good fit with their organization’s culture compared to 16% of actively disengaged employees.

So, Start Here to Boost Your Employee’s Performance

If your engagement numbers need a boost, spend some time and resources on the pride in organization factors. Why? Because these factors may be the shortest path to a quick win.

First, any efforts associated with the pride in organization factors affect all employees simultaneously—unlike factors associated with connectedness with immediate manager. Those factors entail one-on-one interactions. And take longer to produce results.

Second, factors that make up pride in organization are more readily identifiable and more visible to employees than trust in leadership factors. Sure, leadership may be promoting diversity or treating employees equitably, but employees often don’t see it. There’s work to be done here, of course, but trust in leadership is probably not the place to start.

Everyone should feel proud of the company they work for. Clearly, this alone isn’t sufficient to solve all engagement ills, but focusing on communicating what there is to be proud about and modeling the organization’s values on a consistent basis will go a long way to driving engagement levels.

Written By

Mark Marone

Mark Marone, PhD. is the director of research and thought leadership for Dale Carnegie and Associates where he is responsible for ongoing research into current issues facing leaders, employees and organizations world-wide. He publishes frequently on various topics including leadership, the employee/customer experience and sales. Mark can be reached at

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