Who is Responsible for Engagement?

Learning Outcomes

  • Identify who is responsible for driving employee engagement

It is evident that employee engagement is a vital component to increasing company profitability. Human Resources Today even goes as far as to classify the ideas of employee engagement as a financial strategy.[1] The HR Today article also discusses the research of Jacob Morgan, author of Employee Experience Advantage, which found that, “companies that invest in employee experience are four times as profitable as those that don’t and have more than two times the average revenue.”[2] So, who is responsible for driving employee engagement? Pause and think about it for a few minutes. Is the Human Resources team responsible for engagement? Should upper or lower management take the lead on engagement? Or is it something that needs to start as a grassroots movement from the bottom up?

There is a common misconception that employee engagement is the sole responsibility of the management team. However, in actuality, employee engagement is determined by managers and employees alike. An article posted in Gallup’s Business Journal stated that, “Unless employees assume some measure of responsibility for their own engagement, the efforts of their organizations, leaders, managers and teams may have a limited effect on improving engagement.”[3] While it may not be an equal 50/50 responsibility between managers and employees to drive engagement, employees most definitely play a role in the engagement equation.

How do different members of an organization drive employee engagement? Managers, Human Resources, and individual employees each play an important role in promoting engagement. Review the information below to learn how each group can foster a more engaged environment.

Managers

Photograph of five professional individuals standing aroundManagers set the tone for an organization. In order to successfully drive engagement, managers need to lead by example and work with their teams to set realistic and measurable goals. Engagement initiatives start from the top and work their way down. An exemplary management team is one that is passionate about their company’s mission and abides by all company policies and procedures.

Consistency is essential to promoting engagement. Successful managers value honesty, show commitment to company policies and procedures, and refrain from biased behavior. Relationship building is another critical component of promoting engagement. The more a manager knows and respects their team, the more likely they are to gain the buy-in of their team members. Managers, especially at a direct level, have the greatest impact on employee engagement. Whether they have a positive or negative effect on engagement, depends on the environment they create.

Human Resources

The Human Resources team plays an important role in helping to develop company culture, which includes employee engagement. HR can drive engagement initiatives, promote engagement through training opportunities, and utilize feedback from employees to initiate and drive change. Even more importantly, HR is the first line of defense against employee disengagement. The recruitment and hiring process plays a significant role in employee engagement. Hiring the right person for the right job is essential in establishing an engaged culture. A poor hiring choice can negatively impact an entire team. On the other hand, a great hiring decision can play a positive role in spreading engagement.

Individual Employees

As we discussed earlier, employees also play a role in their engagement. While engagement is influenced by management and HR, at the end of the day, it is up to each employee to determine how they think and behave. Employees are responsible for their attitudes and how they approach situations. It is naive to think a “perfect job” exists. Ideally, people enjoy their jobs and are invested in their careers; however, even a dream job still has days that are more challenging than others. Engaged employees are able to take the good days with the bad, and make conscious efforts to stay invested in their work and their organization.

Watch This

Check out the video below to learn more about how to drive employee engagement.

You can also download a transcript for the video “Who’s responsible for employee engagement?”

Practice Question

Sources

Preston, Camille. “Who Is Responsible For Your Engagement?” Forbes. Forbes Magazine, April 13, 2018.

Psichogios, Peter. “10 Opportunities to Improve Your Employee Engagement.” 10 Opportunities to Improve Your Employee Engagement, September 21, 2017.

Who Is Responsible for Employee Engagement—and Why Does It Matter?” Artisan, October 16, 2018.


  1. Lauby, Sharlyn. "Employee Engagement is a Financial Strategy." HR Bartender. August 12, 2018. Accessed October 29, 2019.
  2. Ibid.
  3. Royal, Ken and Susan Sorenson. "Employees are Responsible for Their Engagement, Too." Gallup. June 16, 2015. Accessed October 29, 2019.