When measuring an organization’s performance, it’s essential to look at engagement across all types of employees, since engaged employees are more likely to contribute to bottom-line business benefits and refer the company to others. Employee engagement isn’t just about how employees work, but also how they feel while doing their tasks, such as how enthusiastic and involved they are in their work environment. There are three types of employee engagement – behavioral engagement, cognitive engagement, and emotional engagement – that all play an important role in how your employees work and feel. Here’s a little bit about the different types of employee engagement and the factors that influence each one.



Behavioral Engagement

Behavioral engagement is all about the actions and intentions that demonstrate the amount employees care about their jobs. So what does high behavioral engagement look like in an organization? It’ll be evident in various aspects such as attendance, willingness to go beyond job descriptions, and productivity levels. Employees who are behaviorally engaged are willing to put in extra effort, like coming in on weekends for special projects.

Factors that result in high behavioral engagement include rewards and recognition, such as acknowledging employees’ efforts, removing barriers to their work, and providing supportive benefits. Additionally, supportive policies set by HR and senior leadership are crucial in fostering behavioral engagement throughout the organization.



Emotional Engagement

Emotional engagement revolves around an employee’s attitude toward the values and objectives of the organization and their role. When emotional engagement is high, individuals are generally satisfied and take pride in their work and exhibit loyalty. They talk positively about the organization, and maintain a can-do attitude, which often inspires others. On the flip side, low emotional engagement can lead to burnout, where employees feel drained and lack enthusiasm, leading to a negative impact on their overall performance.

Managers play a critical role in fostering emotional engagement within an organization, as they are the ones who interact most directly with employees. While supportive policies and HR initiatives like special events also influence emotional engagement, it’s ultimately the day-to-day supervision and support from managers that matters the most.



Cognitive Engagement

Cognitive engagement is about the knowledge and belief-based connection that an employee has about the organization’s purpose. It involves understanding and agreeing with the company’s objectives and feeling invested towards achieving them. It also includes the employee’s understanding of how their role impacts within organization. When cognitive engagement is low, individuals lack accountability for their actions and don’t see the significance of their performance on organizational outcomes. They may also feel disconnected from the organization’s goals and activities, leading to a lack of passion and motivation beyond receiving a paycheck.

Leaders play a crucial role in determining the amount cognitive engagement for employees, and thus it’s not something that can solely be delegated to HR. Leaders need to communicate the organization’s purpose, goals, and strategy transparently throughout the organization so that employees understand their role in the company’s overarching mission.


Employee engagement is fundamental to organizational success, since it not only influences individual performance but also overall business outcomes. By valuing the three types of engagement, your organization will create a work environment for employees to thrive and contribute positively to bottom-line business benefits. If you are curious about how your organization rates across these three types of engagement, reach out to us – our employee engagement solutions measure all three and offer targeted recommendations on how to improve engagement to make the most impact.


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