Impact of employee engagement on productivity

October 2012

Impact of employee engagement on productivity

Employees who are engaged with their job and employer are more productive because they are motivated beyond personal factors. They are more focused and more motivated than their disengaged counterparts. This means they work more efficiently and with the success of the organisation in mind.

In 2009, Harter et al. conducted a meta-analysis encompassing 199 research studies across 152 organisations in 44 industries and 26 countries. They statistically calculated the available data on business/work unit level relationship between employee engagement and performance outcomes within in each study. The studies covered 32,394 business/work units and 955,905 employees (Harter et al. 2009). Their findings quantified significant differences between business units ranking in the top and bottom 25% on engagement. They found an 18% drop in productivity between the top and bottom performers. Additionally, there was a 60% drop in quality (measured by defects in products).

In a similar study into Fortune 100 companies, it was found that there was a dramatic 1,000 percent increase in errors among disengaged versus engaged employee populations (Gonring, 2008).Research consistently shows that low levels of employee engagement are detrimental to performance. In fact, it has been found that employees that are highly engaged are twice as likely to be top performers (Taleo Research, 2009).


Not only does high employee engagement increase focus and efficiency, it decreases rates of absenteeism. Because engaged employees care about what they do, they recognise the importance of their effort in contributing to the success of their employer. This means that employees consistently turn up to work and work well while they are there (Nahrgang, Morgeson & Hofman, 2011; Harter, et al. 2009; Gonring, 2008).

Looking at the numbers, it is clear that engagement plays a significant role in determining rates of absenteeism. Harter et al. (2009) found that absenteeism was 37% higher in organisations scoring in the bottom 25% on engagement. This has wide reaching practical implications for businesses' bottom lines and productivity overall.

Other employee engagement resources


Gonring, M.P. (2008) Customer loyalty and employee engagement: an alignment for value.The Journal of Business Strategy, 29(4), 29-40.

Harter, J. K., Schmidt, F. L. & Hayes, T. L. (2002). Business-unit-level relationship between employee satisfaction, employee engagement, and business outcomes: A meta-analysis. Journal of Applied Psychology, 87(2), 268-279. 

Nahrgang, J, Morgeson F. & Hofman, D (2011). Safety at Work: A Meta-analytic Investigation of the Link Between Job Demands, Job Resources, Burnout, Engagement, and Safety Outcomes. Journal of Applied Psychology.

Taleo Research (2009). Alignment Drives Employee Engagement and Productivity. Retrieved 29 May 2011 from