Optimist Performance

How do you recognise engaged employees? How can you improve their engagement? And why should you care about it?

Research suggests:

  • Companies with engaged employees are 17% more productive.  
  • Companies with high employee engagement are 22% more profitable. 
  • Teams who score in the top 20% in engagement experience a 59% decrease in employee turnover.
  • And according to a Gallup study, highly engaged workspaces saw 41% lower absenteeism levels.

Yet the level of employee engagement in the UK is only 8%. And around the globe, only 15% of employees reported feeling engaged.

The good news is that the pandemic has brought a lot more attention to the value and care of the employee, with more significant concern for mental health and well-being. Also, it has accelerated many trends that were originally in their infancy, like the flexibility to work anytime, anywhere or the importance of investing in employee’s development. 

All of the above can have a significant impact on employee engagement. Still, a crucial part is to recognise engaged employees and work towards maintaining and improving those levels of engagement. 

Here are 7 characteristics of engaged employees and tips about how to keep increasing those levels of engagement.


Here are seven characteristics of an engaged employee and some tips as to how to maintain these seven attributes:


Engaged employees have a sense of belonging; they feel part of the organisation. Their goals, growth and success align with the company, and they always look out for the company’s best interest.


Create an environment that attracts people. It is not enough to offer a good salary and perks; companies need to provide a great environment that people want to belong to. 

As Gareth Southgate said on  “The high-performance” podcast when discussing the selection of players for the England team, “we should cut out the arrogance that everyone will want to belong to this team”. 

This example can easily translate to companies. With ever-growing opportunities, it’s naive to assume that people will want to be part of a company because of its name, salary or perks. Company cultures, workplace environments, diversity & inclusivity levels and ESG commitments are also significant factors in employees’ decisions. 

According to statistics, more than 4 million people quit their job in the USA in April because they felt confident about finding a new and better job.

Build an excellent company culture. Establish and communicate your vision and mission. In the same way that the work environment matters, people also want to feel that their jobs are meaningful. Younger generations not only care about their daily jobs, but they also want to work for a company with great values and purpose. 

Be open and transparent with every person in the organisation. Transparency is critical to create a great work environment and align people with the company culture. 

Listen to employees and what they have to say. Provide safe listening channels where people feel comfortable giving feedback and suggestions. Open chats are an excellent way for employees to communicate their doubts, worries and needs.

Motivated and Enthusiastic 

Engaged employees are the ones who brighten up the room. They are passionate about what they do, and they are always willing to go the extra mile. 


Show appreciation. You can offer some types of reward, but showing appreciation sometimes is more about genuine gestures. For example, sharing and congratulating someone is a great way to recognise their efforts.  

“People want to know they matter, and they want to be treated as people. That’s the new talent contract.”Pamela Stroko.

Provide constructive feedback. Feedback should be an ongoing process, and it should also be reciprocal. Leaders and managers not only should be giving feedback, but also they should be asking for it. 

engaged employees

“The biggest concern for any organisation should be when their most passionate people become quiet.” – Tim McClure.

Incentivise motivation. When possible, try aligning people’s personal goals with the company’s goals. In addition, try to keep morale high within the organisation by trying things out of the ordinary. Activities, events, support, anything that demonstrates thought and gratitude can help maintain and improve morale, motivation, and engagement. 

Satisfied and loyal 

They are content and happy with their jobs. Engaged employees are loyal to their teams, managers, and organisations, which means they are more inclined to stay through the tough times. Not only are they loyal, but they also show greater levels of resilience through difficult times.


It’s great to have employees who are loyal to you or the organisation, but loyalty should be reciprocated. You need to have their backs too, and be ready to protect them if necessary. 

Keep open lines of communication. It’s in difficult situations when genuine and authentic communication is critical. Don’t be afraid of including people in difficult conversations; sometimes, you can be surprised at the ideas they can bring to the table. 

Show vulnerability. Sometimes leaders and managers feel the need to look strong when in reality, people feel more connected when they show vulnerability. It makes them more human, more relatable. 

Accept failure as part of the journey. Create an environment where failure is seen as a path towards learning instead of something to be avoided and ashamed of. Sharing mistakes and lessons learned can be an excellent way to overcome failure, and it also allows others to learn from previous experiences. 

Growth mindset 

Engaged employees want to keep growing and learning with the company. They engage not only with their tasks but also with other teams and work areas. 


Set up training programmes that allow people to continually learn and grow. Training shouldn’t only be about technical skills; soft skills are just as necessary. After the pandemic, more companies are seeing the value of investing in reskilling. 

Personal growth matters too. According to the ADP Research Institute study about employee engagement, the most engaged employee is the one who has a side hustle. A great example is the 20% project at Google. They allow their employees to use 20% of their time on their personal projects. 

Fortunately, you don’t need to be Google to ensure personal growth within the people in your organisation. Connecting people, teams, and tasks according to someone’s passions can be a great way to secure personal development. 

Promote in-house hiring. Offering development and growth opportunities to engaged employees shows appreciation and keeps motivation and engagement levels high. 


They know the company values, vision and mission and align with them. They also know their role and the value they add to the company. 


Establish clear roles, responsibilities and boundaries. Whilst providing clarity around roles, responsibilities and expectations within the role is important, it is essential to set up clear boundaries that allow people to separate their professional and personal lives. These boundaries are great contributors to mental health and work-life balance too.

Have high expectations that positively challenge people. When you expect great things from the people you work with, more often than not, they deliver. In contrast, if your expectations are low, no one will make an effort to do better. Nonetheless, high expectations should be moderated and kept within reason so that you continually aim to provide growth and improvement for the individual. 


Engaged employees feel accountable for their jobs. They are responsible and reliable; you can always count on them to do their jobs and beyond. 


People feel more accountable for their jobs when they have some level of autonomy. It also shows trust. 

Give your employees flexibility. “Work anytime, anywhere” is becoming increasingly popular, and it will be a significant factor in employee engagement. 

Offer autonomy. Don’t tell people how to do their jobs. Instead, you should challenge them to be creative, resourceful and independent. Ask questions instead of giving answers. It’s a great way to encourage independence and accountability. 


They believe in themselves, but also their teams, managers and organisations. An optimistic employee will always look at the silver lining and find the way forward in difficult situations. 


engaged employeesCreate a healthy and positive environment. We are all influenced by the people around us, and unfortunately, negative emotions and behaviours spread faster than positive ones. So engaged employees will become less involved and ultimately leave the company when exposed to a hostile environment. 

As Perry Belcher says, “Nothing will kill a great employee faster than watching you tolerate a bad one.”

Be conscious about emotions and behaviours at work. It’s not only productivity and performance that matters. Emotions and behaviours have a significant impact and should be considered too. Having frequently one to one conversations with your team, offering support for mental health, or if your company is working remotely, putting systems in place that allow enhancing the community can be great ways to maintain positive emotions and behaviours.


At Optimist Performance, we are very aware of the value that engaged employees have for a business. But we also know that keeping high levels of engagement can be tricky, even more so in big companies.

Nonetheless, employee engagement should always be a priority for management because when you care about your employees, they care about your customers and about your business. 

If you are looking for that extra dose of motivation, and engagement, get in touch with us. We organise experiential events and motivational speaking sessions that aim to keep your team’s morale and engagement at an all-time high. 

What do you do to make sure your employees are engaged at work? Let us know in the comments.