2018 Employee Engagement Driver Benchmark Results

DecisionWise has measured employee engagement drivers for over 20 years. Our research shows that there are 5 keys that drive employee engagement: Meaning, Autonomy, Growth, Impact, and Connection what we call ENGAGEMENT MAGIC®.

The Five Employee Engagement Drivers

  • Meaning: Your work has purpose beyond the job itself.
  • Autonomy: The power to shape your work and environment in ways that allow you to perform at your best
  • Growth: Being stretched and challenged in ways that result in personal and professional progress.
  • Impact: Seeing positive, effective, and worthwhile outcomes and results from your work.
  • Connection: The sense of belonging to something beyond yourself.

We looked at the latest employee engagement survey results for employees in 10 industry categories to find out where employees find the greatest ENGAGEMENT MAGIC® in their jobs.
Meaning: Your work has purpose beyond the work itself.

  1. Technology Employees Feel the Most Meaning in Their Jobs

Employees experience meaning when their work has purpose beyond the job itself. Technology companies lead all industries with 78 percent of employees answering “agree” or “strongly agree” when responding to: “My job provides me with a sense of meaning and purpose.” Surprisingly, Healthcare ranks fourth in Meaning, even though many would say organizations in this category are “directly responsible for saving lives.” Government and Utilities occupy the lowest two spots, at only 60 and 56 percent favorable responses respectively. Our research shows that organizations that operate under strict regulations sometimes make it difficult for employees to feel purpose in their work.


Autonomy: The power to shape your work and environment in ways that allow you to perform at your best.

  1. Professional Services Employees Experience the Most Autonomy

Autonomy gives employees the power to shape their work and environment in ways that allow them to perform at their best. Professional Services, followed closely by Technology industry employees, experience greater degrees of Autonomy than other industries, the study found. Autonomy empowers employees to make decisions about how work is performed, while simultaneously holding them accountable for results. Employees in the Manufacturing and Transportation industries report the lowest degrees of perceived freedom in how they perform their job, due, in part, to less-flexible operating procedures.


Growth: Being stretched and challenged in ways that result in personal and professional progress

  1. Healthcare and Technology Encourage the Most Employee Growth

Growth is different than “getting a promotion” or advancing up the organizational ladders, as many would claim. Rather, it means feeling stretched and challenged in ways that result in personal and professional progress. Employees report feeling the most challenged and stretched in their work in the Healthcare and Technology industries. Both of these industries are in a constant state of change as technology improves and regulations change, requiring employees to learn and grow. Restaurant and Hospitality employees perceive fewer growth opportunities, with only 64 percent of employees responding “agree” or “strongly agree” to: “I feel challenged and stretched in my job in a way that results in personal growth.”

Impact: Seeing positive and worthwhile outcomes and results for your work

  1. Multiple Industries Provide Employees a Sense of Impact

When employees see positive, effective, and worthwhile outcomes and results from their work, they are also more engaged. Three industries tied for highest scores around Impact, including Healthcare, Non-profit, and Transportation sectors. Employees in these industries clearly report seeing they are “making progress on important work projects and initiatives.”

Connection: The sense of belonging to something greater than yourself

  1. Strong Sense of Connection Felt Across Most Industries

Connection is a sense of belonging to something beyond oneself. Employees connect socially to their coworkers and emotionally to the organization’s mission and values. Connection is measured with one simple statement: “I feel like I belong here.” Employees across most industries responded with “agree” or “strongly agree” 75-77 percent of the time. Manufacturing employees reported the least amount of Connection, coming in at a 72 percent favorable rating.

Engagement MAGIC
And the Winner Is…
So, which industry shows the highest level of employee engagement overall? Based on the average score of a validated set of employee engagement anchor questions, we rank-ordered industries from most to least engaged in 2017. Professional Services claimed the top spot, followed closely by Finance, Technology, and Healthcare. Manufacturing showed the smallest percentage of engaged employees at 76.2 percent. The good news?

All industries averaged above 75 percent when it came to employee engagement. This study, the largest in its kind, contradicts reported findings that most employees in most organizations are disengaged in their work and unlikely to be making positive contributions.

About this Study

Each year, DecisionWise conducts employee engagement surveys with hundreds of companies around the world. At the beginning of each calendar year, DecisionWise updates its rolling three-year global benchmark study database (2015-2017) with the results from the previous year. Results are broken out by question and themes into 10 common industry categories. Each question includes results from several hundred organizations across the globe and hundreds of thousands of employees. Industries include:

  1. Technology– Hardware and software manufacturers, developers, and service providers
  2. Manufacturing– General manufacturing
  3. Services– General services such as equipment maintenance, distributors, and support
  4. Healthcare– Hospitals, clinics, pharmaceuticals, testing, and imaging
  5. Finance– Banking, investment, and insurance
  6. Non-Profit– Charitable, membership, and advocacy
  7. Restaurant/Hospitality– Restaurants, hotels, resorts, casinos
  8. Professional Services– Law, engineering, and consulting services
  9. Government– Federal, state, and municipal government agencies
  10. Utility– Power, water, sanitation agencies
  11. Transportation– Airlines, freight, shipping, distribution

The MAGIC concepts are measured using employee engagement surveys to provide an engagement profile for each company. Organization scores vary significantly. For example, a technology consulting firm may score very high on autonomy-related questions, while employees in a government agency who operate within strict policies and procedures experience less autonomy.

For more information on the MAGIC concept, as well as how to create engagement within an organization, details can be found in the award-winning book, MAGIC: Five Keys to Unlock the Power of Employee Engagement.

Special thanks to Brittany Vandenbos, DecisionWise Operations Manager, for compiling the 2017 employee engagement survey benchmarks and the background research for this article.

Recommended Posts