Over the years, a lot has been written and said about the topic of employee engagement. This is a complex area we’re learning more and more about as each year goes by. New employee engagement trends emerge, we learn how to better motivate and support our employees and we become better leaders in the process. If you are experiencing employee engagement issues at your organisation or if you are simply looking for a way to take your company to the next level, we’ve collected 35 incredible employee engagement quotes to inspire and motivate you.
1. “The key element of engagement is trust; building trust requires companies to provide workers with as much autonomy and flexibility as possible.” Matt Charney
Flexibility is one of the best workplace perks you can offer. By giving your employees space to work, you show them you trust them, which allows employee engagement to develop.
2. “Highly engaged employees make the customer experience. Disengaged employees break it.” Timothy R. Clark
Employee engagement has a lot of knock-on effects — one being customer satisfaction. When employees are engaged, they are committed to working harder and portraying the company in a good light, which has a direct impact on customer experience and, therefore, profit.
3. “Always treat your employees exactly as you want them to treat your best customers.” Stephen Covey
You couldn’t do business without customers or clients — but you need dedicated employees to keep these customers happy. It doesn’t matter how well you treat your customers if you treat your employees poorly, something Sports Direct discovered in 2016.
4. “When people are financially invested, they want a return. When people are emotionally invested, they want to contribute.” Simon Sinek
This employee engagement quote demonstrates the real value of an engaged employee. They are more than just workers doing a job. They are invested, they care and they want to go that extra mile for their organisation.
5. “I think when people say they dread going into work on Monday morning, it’s because they know they are leaving a piece of themselves at home. Why not see what happens when you challenge your employees to bring all of their talents to their job and reward them not for doing it just like everyone else, but for pushing the envelope, being adventurous, creative, and open-minded, and trying new things?” Tony Hsieh
This is an important employee engagement quote as it demonstrates the stark difference between a disengaged and an actively engaged employee. When an employee is engaged, they look forward to going to work, because it gives them a chance to contribute, to develop and to exercise another part of their personality.
6. “There are only three measurements that tell you nearly everything you need to know about your organisation’s overall performance: employee engagement, customer satisfaction, and cash flow. It goes without saying that no company, small or large, can win over the long run without energised employees who believe in the mission and understand how to achieve it.” Jack Welch
Although Jack Welch popularised stack ranking — a system of rating and ranking employees ultimately terrible for employee engagement — he has a good point here. Employee engagement is an important part of the company performance equation. Without engaged employees, your organisation’s performance will suffer.
7. “To win in the marketplace, you must first win in the workplace.” Doug Conant
You need engaged employees to compete in the long run. To dominate the marketplace, you need to have a team of dedicated, ambitious and enthusiastic employees behind you.
8. “Employee engagement is the art and science of engaging people in authentic and recognised connections to strategy, roles, performance, organisation, community, relationship, customers, development, energy, and happiness to leverage, sustain, and transform work into results.” David Zinger
This quote is crucial as it demonstrates just how complex the area of employee engagement is. It’s not easy to get right and it isn’t a task you can complete immediately. It requires continual adjustment and an ongoing commitment.
9. “Engaged employees stay for what they give, while disengaged employees stay for what they get.” Terrie Nolinske
Engaged employees stay with roles and companies because they genuinely want to — they’re excited about their role in the organisation and the direction the company is headed. They’re also convinced they can help their company achieve its goals.
10. “I consider my ability to arouse enthusiasm among men the greatest asset I possess. The way to develop the best that is in a man is by appreciation and encouragement.” Charles Schwab
These days, leadership is increasingly focused on what was conventionally thought of as “soft” skills. These are people skills like coaching, communication and encouraging employees to perform. All of this results in a highly engaged employee.
11. “The only way to do great work is to love what you do.” Steve Jobs
Equally, the only way to get a workforce full of hard-working employees is to put measures in place to ensure they engage with their work.
12. “All employees have an innate desire to contribute to something bigger than themselves.” Jag Randhawa
This is something that should be considered during the goal-setting phase. When companies align goals upward they give employees context and insight into company aims and objectives and work with them to design their own SMART goals, they make employees feel part of a larger, well-functioning team.
13. “The real damper on employee engagement is the soggy, cold blanket of centralised authority. In most companies, power cascades downwards from the CEO. Not only are employees disenfranchised from most policy decisions, but they also lack even the power to rebel against egocentric and tyrannical supervisors.” Gary Hamel
In old-fashioned organisations, information is released on a need-to-know basis and employees have precious little authority or ownership over their work. This is a surefire way to disengage and frustrate employees.
14. “Employees engage with employers and brands when they’re treated as humans worthy of respect.” Meghan M. Biro
When you hire an employee, you hire a respectable adult — you should treat them as such, and trust that they want to do their job and do it well, without micromanaging or demonstrating a lack of trust.
15. “Paychecks can’t buy passion” Brad Federman
Pay will always matter. You need to pay your employees fairly and reward them for their efforts. But pay isn’t everything and it won’t buy engaged employees.
16. “TURNED ON people figure out how to beat the competition, TURNED OFF people only complain about being beaten by the competition.” Ben Simonton
This employee engagement quote highlights the importance of employee engagement efforts. An engaged employee will put in discretionary effort to ensure your company remains competitive.
17. “You’ll attract the employees you need if you can explain why your mission is compelling: not why it’s important in general, but why you’re doing something important that no one else is going to get done.” Peter Thiel
A recent retention study revealed the reason employees choose to stay at organisations — company purpose. When employees feel aligned with this purpose, they are motivated and engaged by it and feel invested in its success.
18. “Everyone enjoys doing the kind of work for which he is best suited.” Napoleon Hill
It’s worth keeping employee strengths in mind when creating goals. When an employee feels they are using their skills and contributing, they are going to be much more engaged.
19. “Employee engagement is the emotional commitment an employee has to the organisation and its goals” Kevin Kruse
Engaged employees care about their own goals, but they are also hugely invested in organisational objectives and how one feeds into the other.
20. “Dispirited, unmotivated, unappreciated workers cannot compete in a highly competitive world.” Francis Hesselbein
And to further this point, companies with dispirited, unmotivated, unappreciated employees can’t thrive.
21. “Engaged employees are in the game for the sake of the game; they believe in the cause of the organisation.” Paul Marciano, PhD
The truth of this quote reflects the fact that most millennials would take a pay cut to work at an environmentally responsible company. Most employees don’t just want to work. They want to work to further a purpose.
22. “Accept the fact that we have to treat almost anybody as a volunteer.” Peter Drucker
Don’t take your engaged employees for granted. Remember, top performers have a lot of options and they are choosing to work (and work hard) for you. In turn, you should be doing all you can to ensure they have a great employee experience.
23.”Employees who believe that management is concerned about them as a whole person — not just an employee — are more productive, more satisfied, more fulfilled. Satisfied employees mean satisfied customers, which leads to profitability.” Anne Mulcahy
Employees don’t want to feel disposable or superfluous. They want to know you care about them and you are supportive of them, their career aspirations and their development.
24. “Some companies don’t have an engagement problem; they have a hiring problem.” Bob Kelleher
This is an interesting employee engagement quote, as it highlights the importance of recruitment. At this stage, company values, purpose and direction should all be kept in mind, so you hire the right employees. If an employee isn’t motivated by what your company stands for, they’ll never be engaged.
25. “Create caring and robust connections between every employee and their work, customers, leaders, managers, and the organisation to achieve results that matter to everyone in this sentence.” David Zinger
Employee engagement is all about connection. If you have an employee engagement problem at your organisation, do your best to find the disconnect.
26. “We think it’s important for employees to have fun … it drives employee engagement.” Tony Hsieh
Employee engagement strategies should keep in mind the importance of unwinding and entertainment. Give employees a chance to have some downtime and to develop workplace relationships.
27. “To build a culture of engagement it is important to incorporate training on intrinsic motivation and employee engagement into management development programs.” Kenneth Thomas
Employees with managers who excel at people development perform 25% better than employees who don’t make people management a priority. Employee engagement isn’t all about HR. Managers need to step up and play their part.
28. “Research indicates that workers have three prime needs: Interesting work, recognition for doing a good job, and being let in on things that are going on in the company.” Zig Ziglar
What engages one employee will be different from the next, but these needs are pretty universal. Building these needs into a company is harder than it sounds, but it will certainly pay off in the end.
29. “Connect the dots between individual roles and the goals of the organisation. When people see that connection, they get a lot of energy out of work. They feel the importance, dignity, and meaning in their job.” Ken Blanchard and Scott Blanchard
This employee engagement quote goes back to our point about aligning goals upward, but it is more widely about the issue of transparency. The more aware an employee is of their surroundings, the function of their job and their place in the organisation, the more they will flourish.
30. “When people go to work, they shouldn’t have to leave their hearts at home.” Betty Bender
Work-life balance is a concept that is falling out of favour. More often these days, employees are looking for work-life integration. They want to join two meaningful aspects of their lives and they want to care about the work they do when they’re in the office as much as they care about their private lives.
31. “You manage things; you lead people.” Rear Admiral Grace Hopper
People need to be engaged. You can’t simply tell them what to do and expect them to be excited. Leaders need to get to know their team, learn what motivates them, what their strengths are and how to encourage them to exert discretionary effort.
32. “People want to know they matter and they want to be treated as people. That’s the new talent contract.” Pamela Stroko
Why would an employee choose to stick with your company when they feel as replaceable as the office furniture? We spend 40 hours a week at work. If we feel we aren’t noticed or we aren’t making a difference, we’re not likely to feel engaged with our work.
33. “Every company has a culture. The question is whether it’s the culture that you want. Is it the culture that is going to be able to deliver great guest experiences?” Shane Green
The employee experience and employee engagement levels are hugely dependent on company culture. Take the time to analyse yours and explore whether it is conducive to employee engagement and if you are taking the opportunity to regularly review what’s working and what isn’t.
34. “On what high-performing companies should be striving to create: A great place for great people to do great work.” Marilyn Carlson
It’s not all about beanbags and ping pong tables, but we should all be making an effort to create a great place to work. How you do this will vary depending on your company culture, your workforce and what engages them.
35. “Everyone wants to be appreciated, so if you appreciate someone, don’t keep it a secret.” Mary Kay Ash
Employee recognition doesn’t have to cost much — a simple “thank you” can do a lot. But take the time to show your employees you appreciate their hard work and their efforts. Doing so can make all the difference between engagement and disengagement.
Stuart Hearn has 20 years experience in the HR sector. He co-founded plusHR, a leading UK HR consultancy, and previously worked as International HR Director for Sony Music Publishing. Stuart is currently CEO of Clear Review, an innovative performance management software, and OneTouchTeam, an online staff leave planner.