Employee Engagement

employees enjoying working together

What is employee engagement? 

Employee engagement measures an employee’s level of enthusiasm about, and commitment to, their work and workplace. Engaged employees produce better outcomes than other employees, remain with their organization longer than their less-engaged colleagues, and experience less burnout in their roles.

What is the UC Berkeley Employee Engagement Model?

The UC Berkeley Employee Engagement Model shows the 12 elements we’ve identified as critical to employee motivation and commitment. We developed this model by analyzing employee research conducted by GallupGreat Place to WorkGoogle’s Project Aristotle, and Daniel Pink’s work on human motivation to focus on the most impactful areas. 

The following are the 12 elements we've found to be essential for our Berkeley colleagues. Use this information to improve your own, or your team's engagement.

UCB Employee Engagement Model

UCB employee engagement model

UC Berkeley Employee Engagement Guide

Access the Google Doc version of the Employee Engagment Guide here
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When an employee knows what they need to do and what is expected of them.

Learn more: How To Set Clear Performance Expectations For Employees

Ways to Increase Clarity

For everyone

  1. Review your job description and ask your supervisor about their expectations regarding your job description during your next 1:1 or Achieve Together conversation.

For supervisors

  1. (For new employees) Have an onboarding plan 

    1. Check out - BPM 201- Employee Engagement

  2. Engage your employees in updating their job descriptions for accuracy and clarity.

  3. Ensure clarity in the following:

    1. Deliverables (Check out - UCOP People Management Series – Setting Expectations & Individual Performance Goals)

    2. Priorities, processes, and performance

    3. A list of stakeholders/key constituent groups (and their RACI roles)

    4. A list of department/unit acronyms for new employees

    5. Definitions for key vocabulary terms (based upon the role) designed to support an employee who is new to Berkeley or the department/unit

    6. Their role within the department/unit and organization overall

    7. Give regular feedback on performance


Reflection question for you or your direct report,“What about your day-to-day could use more clarity?

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The materials, information and equipment needed to perform a role effectively.

Learn more: Do Your Staff Have the Tools They Need to Do Their Job?

Ways to Increase Resources

For everyone

  1. Identify what resources (equipment, information, training, etc.) are needed for you to perform your role effectively and ask your supervisor/project leader for them. 

  2. Share any information, physical space, and tools colleagues need to perform a responsibility (as applicable). 

  3. Familiarize yourself with resources for staff with disabilities and the Interactive Process

For supervisors 

  1. Identify what resources are needed for your employees and add them to their job descriptions. 

  2. Regularly ask if your employees are in need of resources to fulfill their current projects/tasks and advocate as needed.

  3. Ensure that provided equipment is ergonomic, easily accessible, and that the colleague knows how to use them.

  4. Encourage employees with limitations to request any reasonable accommodations needed to perform the essential assigned duties of their position.


Reflection question for you or your direct report, “What equipment, information, or training do you need to do your job most effectively?”

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The extent to which employees have control and discretion for how to conduct their tasks.

Learn more: The Ultimate Guide to Micromanagers: Signs, Causes, Solutions

Ways to Increase Autonomy & Trust

For everyone

  1. Improve mutual trust through your conversations and reliability

For supervisors 

  1. Identify what areas your employees can have flexibility in (operations, remote work arrangements, etc.), and provide meaningful explanations for when there can’t be flexibility. 

  2. Solicit (and use) opinions. 

  3. Ask your direct report to devise a plan for achieving a goal and owning it.

  4. Focus on accountability for results, not process (where possible).

  5. Increase your skills.

  • Trust your employees 

Reflection question for you or your direct report, “How do you like to be managed?”

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The act of giving workers informal and/or formal acknowledgment of their achievements, effort, performance, and behavior that contribute to your organization’s goals and values.

Learn more: 9 Ways to Level-Up Employee Recognition In the Remote Workplace

Ways to Increase Recognition

For everyone

  1. Make it a habit to share kudos that are: 

  • Timely

  • Specific

  • Aligned with actions you want to encourage

  • Visible to an audience that cares in a colleague’s preferred manner

  1. Write a note sincerely thanking your colleague for something they did recently and state why you appreciate their contribution and/or how it’s valuable on a larger scale.

  2. Give credit to all individuals involved in a solution or project.

Reflection question for you or your direct report, “How do you like to be recognized?”

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A belief that others on the team will not embarrass, reject, or punish you for speaking up with ideas, questions, concerns, or mistakes.

Learn more: Top 10 Ways to Create Psychological Safety in the Workplace

Ways to Increase Psychological Safety

For everyone 

  1. Seek input and show empathy, curiosity and open-mindedness when others share their thoughts.

  2. Allow ample time for everyone to comment during meetings (keep in mind that some people need to digest information in advance). 

  3. Acknowledge your mistakes.

  4. Know the four inhibiting factors: ambiguity, mismatched expectations, interpersonal or social threats, and employee well-being.

  5. Appreciate every constructive contribution from your colleagues- even if their ideas don’t provide the solution you need.

For supervisors 

  1. Notice when employees show psychologically unsafe behaviors (i.e. consistent lack of questions, or opinions shared in meetings; avoidance of seeking advice on challenging projects, etc.) and reflect on whether these behaviors are due to personality (introversion and/or independence) or the current culture. 

  2. Express appreciation for employees’ willingness to vocalize questions, doubts, and confusion, and help them determine the best next steps.


Reflection question for you or your direct report, “What would help you feel comfortable enough to bring up ideas, questions or mistakes?”

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(Gender, Race, Ability, Age, Sexual Orientation & More) - Diversity is having and recognizing differences without judgment or bias. Inclusion is about respecting and incorporating individuals from traditionally marginalized groups in planning and decision-making.

Learn more:  10 Steps Businesses Can Take To Improve Diversity And Inclusion In The Workforce

The No. 1 Strategy for True Inclusion in the Workplace

Ways to Increase Diversity & Inclusion

For everyone

  1. Take the UC Managing Implicit Bias Series

  2. Participate in the Berkeley Equity Training Series (BETS)

  3. Invite people who are affiliated or impacted by a project to decision-making meetings.

  4. Make eye contact and show interest in what is being shared.

  5. Thank a colleague for their contribution even if you disagree. 

  6. Let a person finish their statement.

  7. Allow enough time for everyone to share their constructive input.

For supervisors

  1. ​​Develop an inventory of the DEI programming that staff are welcome to attend.

  2. Encourage your employees to 

    1. become involved in a staff organization

    2. attend campus trainings/events/programs on DEI topics and share what they learn at a future meeting.

    3. share DEI announcements. 


Reflection question for you or your direct report, “What would help you feel more welcomed at work?”

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When an employee perceives that they are valued for their authentic self and contributions.

Learn more: Most Employees Feel Authentic at Work, but It Can Take a While

Ways to Increase Belonging

For everyone

  1. Encourage, appreciate and celebrate your colleagues.

  2. Be authentic.

  3. Serve as a fair-minded ally.

  4. Practice conversational receptiveness

Reflection question for you or your direct report,“What would help you show up and feel valued for your authentic self?”

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When the employee feels they're cared about as a person.

Learn more: Great Leaders Show Genuine Care for Their Teams

Ways to Increase Caring

For everyone

  1. Practice intentional listening.

  2. Ask about your colleagues' priorities and interests, remember details, and follow up about them.

  3. Show empathy.

  4. Engage in perspective taking

For supervisors

  1. Plan projects around the availability of direct reports to prevent burnout. 

  2. Communicate direct reports’ realistic turnaround time or outputs given their availability and advocate that stakeholders respect these timeframes.

  3. Acknowledge and appreciate work done by employees.

  4. Provide coverage when employees are out of office (as appropriate).


Reflection question for you or your direct report, “What helps you feel cared about?”

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When the employee perceives management’s actions match its words and are ethical; competent, communicative,  honest and in alignment with our Principles of Community.

Learn more: The 3 Elements of Trust

Ways to Increase Trust in Management

For everyone

  1. Pay close attention to communication and information shared by leaders to ensure you have as much knowledge as possible.

  2. Ask questions about anything that lacks clarity.  

For supervisors

  1. Listen

  2. Share information that will help employees see the larger picture.

  3. Build positive relationships

  4. Demonstrate good judgment/expertise

  5. Gain input from your team on upcoming decisions and when their input can’t be used— provide the reason. 


Reflection question for you or your direct report, “What actions can leaders take to increase your trust in them?”

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Fair treatment and equality of access to opportunity.

Learn more: How Managers Can Avoid Playing Favorites

Adams’ Equity Theory

Ways to Increase Equality

For supervisors

  1. Consciously ensure all employees have equal access to opportunities to demonstrate high performance, such as being assigned an important, high-visibility project — and keep track of whose turn it is so you can rotate them.

  2. Review and update job descriptions for accuracy. Assess if your employees' responsibilities have changed significantly and may need a reclassification review (Contact your HR Business Partner for guidance).

  3. Provide transparent decision-making.

  4. Announce job or career opportunities with everyone on your team.

  5. Be inclusive. As you’re picking a team to work on a new project, think, “Can I add one more position, even in a minor role?” 


Reflection question for you or your direct report, “What would enable you to feel like you have an equal opportunity to succeed?”

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The opportunity to learn, increase mastery, and advance.

Learn more: If You’re Not Helping People Develop, You’re Not Management Material

Ways to Increase Growth

For everyone

  1. Think about your goals, review the People and Organization Development (POD) site, and speak with your supervisor about what you’d like to pursue during your next 1:1.

    1. Meet with a Career Coach if you need help identifying your goals.

  2. Identify stretch assignments of interest and speak with your supervisor about pursuing them.

  3. Seek a role within a staff organization

  4. Ask for feedback

For supervisors

  1. Share the POD site with your employees and encourage them to speak with you about what they're interested in pursuing during your next 1:1.

  2. Plan to speak with your employees about incorporating 5% professional development to their job descriptions and what this looks like.

  3. Provide stretch assignments.

  4. Model learning and development yourself.

  5. Have frequent short conversations about employees’ career goals and interests (See Achieve Together).

  6. Encourage participation in a staff organization

Reflection question for you or your direct report, “How do you want to grow?”

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The sense of making a difference, and contributing to an important endeavor.

Learn more: Helping Your Team Feel the Purpose in Their Work

Ways to Increase Purpose & Impact

For everyone

  1. Use action identification theory, to think about your responsibilities and how to convey impact (e.g. Cleaning a building could be seen as “wiping down objects” or “keeping people safe from the deadly Covid-19 virus”) 

For supervisors

  1. Communicate the strategic plan for your department or team and where you are in terms of progress often. 

    1. Work with a POD consultant if you need a strategic plan.

  2. Help employees see their impact on others. 

Reflection question for you or your direct report, “How do you see your work connecting to a larger purpose?”

Work with a consultant to improve your team’s engagement

E-mail Shirley Giraldo (shirleyg@berkeley.edu), Employee Engagement Consultant, for more ideas or to assess, create, implement or refine an employee engagement strategy and increase your team's motivation whether you’re a formal people manager, committee leader, or meeting facilitator.