Use 15Five to increase employee engagement

As your organization embarks on its journey with 15Five, it's important to identify which of 15Five's three HR outcomes you want to initially focus on driving using the platform: maximize employee performance, increase employee engagement, or decrease regrettable turnover. In this article, we will walk through the basics of employee engagement and how to use 15Five to drive engagement within your organization.

In this article, you will learn...

What is employee engagement?

In today's work world, where company culture matters more to employees than salary, it's more important than ever to appeal to individuals’ deep-seated motivations— the drivers that make them want to work harder, perform better, and take the company further.

At 15Five, we define employee engagement as "An employee’s intellectual and emotional connection with their employer, demonstrated by their motivation and commitment to positively impact the business’s vision and goals."


Did you catch that part about “positively impacting the company vision and goals”? When employees are engaged and committed to the vision and mission of the company, a subsequent path to value ensues. That’s a far cry from employees who are merely happy with their employers and satisfied with the work they do.

An employee can be satisfied with a job that meets their basic needs and still lack the inspiration and motivation needed to excel— and that’s a big deal. The more an employee is driven by passion and purpose, the more meaning they'll find at work and the more profound the bottom-line impacts will be for the business at large.

For more information about employee engagement, check out the sections below:

What drivers impact employee engagement?

There are 17 drivers that employee engagement research identifies as influencers or "levers" of engagement. These engagement drivers collectively contribute to creating a positive and engaging work environment that promotes employee satisfaction, productivity, and overall organizational success.

  • Autonomy: The degree to which employees have the freedom and empowerment to make decisions and have control over their work processes and outcomes.

  • Capacity: Ensuring that employees have the necessary resources, skills, and capabilities to perform their job effectively and efficiently.

  • Coworker Relationships: The quality of relationships and interactions between employees, fostering collaboration, teamwork, and a positive work environment.

  • Fairness: Ensuring fairness in areas such as compensation, promotions, workload distribution, and decision-making processes, builds trust and a sense of justice among employees.

  • Feedback: Regular and constructive feedback is provided to employees regarding their performance, strengths, areas for improvement, and progress toward goals.

  • Goal Support: The extent to which employees receive support, guidance, and resources from their leaders and colleagues in achieving their individual and team goals.

  • Leader Availability: The accessibility and approachability of leaders to provide guidance, support, and address employee concerns or questions.

  • Leader Integrity: The perceived honesty, ethical behavior, and consistency in actions demonstrated by leaders, contributes to trust and confidence in leadership.

  • Manager: The effectiveness and competence of managers in providing guidance, support, and development opportunities to their direct reports.

  • Meaning: The sense of purpose, significance, and value that employees derive from their work, understanding how their contributions align with the organization's mission and goals.

  • Professional Development: The opportunities and support provided for employees to enhance their skills, knowledge, and career growth through training, learning programs, and challenging assignments.

  • Psychological Safety: A supportive and inclusive work environment where employees feel safe to express their opinions, take risks, and share ideas without fear of negative consequences.

  • Purpose: The clarity and alignment of employees' work with the broader purpose and mission of the organization, understanding the positive impact they make.

  • Rest: Encouraging and supporting employees in taking breaks, vacations, and maintaining work-life balance to prevent burnout and promote well-being.

  • Role Clarity: Clear understanding of job expectations, responsibilities, and how one's role contributes to the overall goals and success of the team or organization.

  • Shared Values: The alignment of employees' personal values with the organization's values, fostering a sense of belonging, shared purpose, and cultural fit.

  • Utilization: Employees' perception that their skills, knowledge, and expertise are effectively utilized and that their contributions are valued and utilized by the organization.

Symptoms of low employee engagement

Low employee engagement can manifest in various ways. Some of the most common ones we see are listed below.

  • High employee turnover: When employees are disengaged, they are more likely to leave the organization, resulting in a high turnover rate.

  • Decreased productivity: Disengaged employees tend to be less motivated, which can lead to a decline in overall productivity and output.

  • Increased absenteeism: Disengaged employees may frequently miss work or take more unplanned absences, indicating a lack of commitment or interest in their roles.

  • Complaints about leadership or direction: Low employee engagement often leads to complaints about leadership or direction as disengaged employees perceive a lack of effective guidance, clear communication, and support from their leaders, resulting in frustration, confusion, and a breakdown of trust.
  • Lack of initiative or innovation: Employees who are not engaged often show a lack of enthusiasm for suggesting new ideas or taking initiative to improve processes.

  • Low morale: Disengaged employees may exhibit low morale, leading to a negative work atmosphere and reduced collaboration among team members.

  • Poor communication: Disengagement can contribute to breakdowns in communication, resulting in misunderstandings, conflicts, or a lack of clarity regarding goals and expectations.

  • Reduced customer satisfaction: When employees are disengaged, it can affect their interactions with customers, leading to lower levels of customer satisfaction and loyalty.

  • Increased errors or quality issues: Lack of focus and motivation can result in more mistakes, quality control problems, or a decline in the quality of products or services.

  • Lack of employee development: Disengaged employees may not actively seek growth opportunities or take advantage of training programs, which can hinder their professional development and overall performance.

  • Negative impact on team dynamics: Poor employee engagement can create a negative ripple effect on team dynamics, with disengaged individuals potentially affecting the morale and performance of their colleagues.

Why employee engagement is important

Employee engagement is a key driver of overall business success. According to Gallup, companies with highly engaged employees have 21% higher profitability. And disengagement can be extremely costly. In studies by the Queens School of Business and Gallup, disengaged workers had 37% higher absenteeism, 49% more accidents, and 60% more errors and defects.


Thus, it is crucial to actively monitor and address any potential disengagement. When you regularly measure and analyze employee engagement, you’re identifying issues before they have a chance to become full-blown problems, and you set the stage for an authentic culture built around collaboration and trust. This, in turn, makes people comfortable taking on initiatives that help move the business forward. Instead of shying away from big ideas and grand goals, engaged employees will embrace them and find satisfaction in achieving them.

How engagement relates to other outcomes

Employee performance Turnover Manager effectiveness
  • Research shows that engaged employees are 17% more productive than their peers. Engaged employees are more likely to work diligently and expend discretionary effort in their jobs, supercharging productivity and innovation.
  • Engaged employees are 44% more productive than “satisfied” employees.
  • Jacob Morgan, the author of The Employee Experience Advantage, examined the financial data of hundreds of companies and found that those that invest in employee experience had more than 4 times the profits and 2 times the revenue. 
  • Gallup reports that companies with a highly engaged workforce have 21% higher profitability. They also have 17% higher productivity than companies with a disengaged workforce.
  • Organizations with engaged employees outperform those without by an astounding 202%.

Drive employee engagement with 15Five



Before we begin, it's important to note that the feature benefits listed below are not guaranteed. The benefits you get out of 15Five are correlated to how successfully a feature is rolled out, as well as the effort and buy-in of your team. With the right plan, your team can leverage the features below to drive change and help you reach your outcome.

To increase employee engagement, we recommend utilizing one of the following action recipes. An action recipe is a combination of 15Five features that, when combined, can pave the way for increased engagement within your organization.


How these features impact engagement

High Fives

15Five's High Fives feature allows individuals and teams to publicly celebrate wins, reinforce values, and create a culture of connection in just a few clicks. For businesses of all sizes, incorporating high fives into your daily operations can lead to increased morale, better team cohesion, and elevated overall performance.


How high fives impact engagement

When it comes to engagement, high fives can have a huge impact. Research shows that recognition is one of the top drivers of employee engagement and when employees believe they will be recognized, they are 2.7 times more likely to be highly engaged. And it's not a one-way street: high fives are shown to benefit both the receiver and the giver of recognition!

How to give a great high five

To amplify the impact of recognition, we recommend using strengths spotting in your high fives. Strengths-spotting refers to the practice of identifying, describing, and appreciating the innate talents, abilities, and positive qualities of individuals. Practicing strengths-spotting when recognizing people at work fosters heightened engagement and productivity, as it aligns with the core tenet of positive psychology to harness individual strengths for enhanced well-being and performance.

At 15Five, we use an acronym that makes giving strengths-based high fives easy: SEA. Spot the strength this person exemplified. Explain, in detail, the behavior you observed. Details are what set apart good feedback from great feedback. Ask yourself: "What did this person do that worked well?", list out the specific behaviors, then tie them back to the strength you spotted. Finally, express Appreciation for the person's strength and share the impact it had on you.


Additional resources

Weekly 1-on-1s

15Five's 1-on-1s feature is designed to help you get the most out of your meetings. Using our guided structure, it’s easier to focus on priorities, challenges, and progress so everyone’s aligned, motivated, and engaged.


1-on-1s are weekly 30-45 minute conversations that are held between a manager and direct report. Effective 1-on-1s include relationship building, dialogue about goal progress and growth, feedback including appreciation and redirection, and agreements about who will do what by when.

How weekly 1-on-1s impact engagement

  • Employees who seldom or never have one-on-one sessions with their managers are more likely to be disengaged. Conversely, those who engage in one-on-one meetings with their managers twice as often as their counterparts have a 67% reduced likelihood of being disengaged.
  • Only 15% of employees who work for a manager who doesn't regularly meet with them are classified as engaged, whereas engagement levels in employees who meet regularly with their managers is almost tripled.
  • Great conversations between managers and employees are correlated with higher engagement, but only about half of employees are having them.
  • A series of studies conducted by Professor Steven G. Rogelberg show that weekly 1-on-1 meetings are correlated with the highest levels of employee engagement, whereas monthly 1-on-1s are associated with smaller gains in engagement.
  • Regularly discussing goal progress, removing roadblocks, and celebrating wins impacts the "Goal Support" Engagement Driver.

How to hold a great 1-on-1

  • Be present. Let the other person know you will be taking notes. Don’t multitask. It’s obvious when you’re reading another email or message.
  • Honor your agreements to support your team’s performance and engagement, as well as build trust.
  • Be consistent. A consistent structure is the foundation of an effective 1-on-1. We recommend that managers use the following structure for the conversation:
    • Relationship building: Make time for connection. Ask a genuine, "How are you?” and "What’s top of mind for you?"
    • Goal progress: Check in about the progression of OKRs and goals. Ask, "What’s going well?" "Are you facing blockers, such as any input or decisions you need from me?" "How can I best support you right now?"
    • Feedback: Share recognition regarding wins and progress. As needed, share redirection and help your direct report prioritize what's most important.
    • Agreements: Agree on what action items should be completed before the next 1-on-1. Action items can be assigned to either 1-on-1 participant using 15Five's 1-on-1 agenda.

Additional resources


15Five Check-ins replace status reports with quick employee feedback through a few questions, taking 15 minutes to fill and 5 minutes for managers to review.


Check-ins help keep people focused on what matters most by prompting them to regularly update priorities, share goal statuses, celebrate wins, and discuss challenges. They're also a great tool to help managers understand how to best support people and progress by enabling more frequent and continuous feedback and coaching.



Check-ins and 1-on-1s should be used in combination on a weekly basis. Check-ins are often due on Fridays, with managers providing feedback on check-ins on Monday and having 1-on-1s on Tuesdays.

How Check-ins impact engagement

Research shows that continuous performance management makes employees more competitive and engaged, enhances leadership development, supports higher transformational change, and contributes to higher levels of organizational performance. Check-ins were designed with this in mind and contain the following sections:

  • Pulse: In each Check-in, the Pulse question asks employees, “How did you feel at work this week?” on a 1-5 scale. This question is designed to gather real-time feedback on employee engagement, which enables leadership to keep a consistent pulse on how employees are feeling. When engagement is measured accurately, thoroughly, and consistently, you can see which qualities of your organization are hindering engagement and which ones are driving it. Research also shows that it's important to become aware of when we're happy at work so we can clearly identify the type of work that makes us feel great— which is usually work that builds on our strengths. Conversely, it's important to be aware of times employees are less happy and identify the work and/or roadblocks employees are facing. 
  • Objective Updates: Employees are asked to update their objective and key result progress in each Check-in. This practice is intended to keep employees connected to their long-term priorities and allow managers to support their team members. When goal support is not available, this can have an impact on achieving targets and morale and can contribute to feelings of burnout for employees.
  • Priorities: The "Priorities" section of Check-ins allows employees to set and track their priorities over time, providing visibility into progress and helping managers to identify areas where they can provide support. Classic research shows again and again that setting goals is extremely effective at increasing motivation in organizations.

  • Customizable questions: Organizations can add tailored individual, group, or company-wide questions to Check-ins to suit their unique needs and culture, ensuring that conversations are relevant and meaningful. Use questions to gain valuable information about your team and surface opportunities to support employee development— a main driver of engagement.

  • Give a High Five: The "High Fives" section of Check-ins allows employees to provide instant peer recognition, improving team communication while boosting morale. Managers can also give high fives as they review their direct reports' Check-ins. Research shows that recognition is one of the top drivers of employee engagement.



Managers should review Check-ins prior to 1-on-1 meetings. When you review check-in responses, add items to your 1-on-1 agendas (remember you can add private items), comment, react, and give high fives.

Additional resources

Best-Self Kickoff

The Best-Self Kickoff is a structured 1-on-1 between a manager and an employee that helps them understand each other and what to expect. Best-Self Kickoffs create connection, role clarity, and psychological safety and accelerate (or renew) relationships between managers and their people. They also help your managers understand what will help their people perform, engage, and stay with your organization.



Best-Self Kickoffs should be completed by all manager-employee pairs, even ones that aren’t new.
Almost all managers and employees will find that they learn new things about themselves and each other.

How Best-Self Kickoffs help increase engagement

  • By holding Best-Self Kickoffs, managers will better understand their direct reports so they can better communicate with, coach, and engage them. An employee's relationship with their manager relationships is a key driver of engagement.
  • Participating in a Best-Self Kickoff leads to employees feeling seen, understood, and appreciated for who they are by their managers. This, in turn, can lead to increased job satisfaction, as well as increased engagement.
  • The second part of the Best-Self Kickoff is focused on role clarity (job responsibilities and expectations), which helps cultivate psychological safety in the workplace.

How to conduct an effective Best-Self Kickoff meeting

  1. Set the stage. “Hey Christiana, I’m eager to listen and learn during this meeting. Our goal is to understand each other more fully so we can work together effectively. Any questions as we get started?”
  2. Be fully present. Don’t multitask during the meeting. It’s obvious when you are reading an email or message.
  3. Be curious. Use silence and sounds of agreement (e.g., mmm mmm) to encourage additional sharing. Ask follow-up questions.
  4. Use the questions provided to focus on what matters most. The questions in the Best-Self Kickoff were carefully chosen to support a conversation that accelerates your working relationship and provides role clarity.
  5. Share things about yourself. This isn’t a one-sided interview. It’s a conversation about both of you.
  6. Schedule a Part II if needed. Because Best-Self Kickoff conversations are often enjoyable and interesting, sometimes the conversation goes longer than scheduled. Schedule another 30-60 minutes as needed.

Additional resources

Other notable features to increase engagement

Use 15Five's HR Outcomes Dashboard to track employee engagement

The HR Outcomes Dashboard provides a reliable way for HR executives to consistently capture, synthesize, and present the outcomes they are measuring and working to improve: manager effectiveness, employee engagement, employee performance, and regrettable turnover. This allows HR leaders to show clear and concise data that directly links programs like employee learning and development to outcomes like employee retention, which can, in turn, be connected to business outcomes like customer satisfaction and revenue. The HR Outcomes Dashboard is available in 15Five's Total Platform plan.

Additional resources

Webinars 🧑‍💻
  • Building a Thriving Community: Strategies to Launch Employee Resource Groups and Boost Engagement: In this webinar, you will discover the benefits of launching ERGs, learn how to identify the ERGs that will have the greatest impact on your organization, and explore best practices for promoting and encouraging participation. You’ll also gain insights and inspiration from successful ERG leaders, Cheri Armour, Community Coordinator at 15Five, Kenrica Sands, Sr Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion and People Programs Coordinator at Pendo, and Jennifer Therrien, VP of Global Talent Management and Development at PrismHR. They will share their experiences and tips for achieving lasting success.
  • Engagement, Elevated: New Ways to Identify and Engage High Performers: Top performers are vital to every company’s success. Now more than ever organizations are scrambling to define outstanding performance, while also rewarding and recognizing the employees who consistently move the needle forward. In this webinar, Jennie Yang, VP of People & Culture at 15Five, and Vince Huang, Chief Product Officer at 15Five, sit down and discuss innovative ways for organizations to identify and engage their high performers.
HR Superstars podcast 🎧
  • Building a Culture of Authenticity with Tyneeha Rivers (31 min): Curaleaf CPO, Tyneeha Rivers, breaks down the process of creating lasting cultural change to create spaces where people can be their authentic selves. As you listen, you’ll hear strategies for equipping leaders to empathetically connect with employees and techniques for using data to measure and improve employee engagement.

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