It’s hard to cultivate employee engagement, whether you’re a manager, supervisor, or an employee in your own right. But with adequate understanding and good intentions, you can boost employee engagement and motivate your team to succeed. These employee engagement quotes can teach you a lot about the nature of engaged employees—and how to motivate yourself and your team members to accomplish more.
Employee Engagement Quotes
1. “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.” –Aristotle.
We start off our list of employee engagement quotes with this one from Aristotle. He’s saying that achievement is often a product of what we do routinely; master your daily rituals and you’ll be much more engaged with your work (and your workforce).
2. “There is little success where there is little laughter.” –Andrew Carnegie.
Engaged employees know how to have fun. While there’s nothing wrong with a work culture that takes things seriously, it’s also important to loosen up and joke around every once in a while. After all, satisfied employees are more productive.
3. “To win in the marketplace you must first win in the workplace.” –Doug Conant.
There’s a competitive advantage in having more engaged employees; they’ll be willing to work harder for you, and do more to help your organization succeed.
4. “Create caring and robust connections between every employee and their work, customers, leaders, managers, and the organization to achieve results that matter to everyone in this sentence.” –David Zinger.
Your business doesn’t exist in a vacuum; it affects and is affected by dozens of variables—and engaged employees can help you in nearly every area.
5. “Everyone enjoys doing the kind of work for which he is best suited.” –Napoleon Hill.
Even the most hard-working employee will be disengaged if they’re tasked with responsibilities outside their skillset or interest. Try to optimize your assignments to cater to employee strengths and interests.
6. “When people are financially invested, they want a return. When people are emotionally invested, they want to contribute.” –Simon Sinek.
All your employees will be financially engaged, to some degree, because they want a paycheck. You need them to be emotionally engaged with your business and with their work if you want them to reach their full potential.
7. “Turned on people figure out how to beat the competition, turned off people only complain about being beaten by the competition.” –Ben Simontan.
When employees are disengaged, they see everything as an obstacle, rather than a challenge that can help them grow.
8. “You manage things; you lead people.” –Rear Admiral Grace Hopper.
This is one of my favorite employee engagement quotes. It says that creating an engaged workforce isn’t about “managing people.” You can manage resources, time, and other items, but it’s better to think of the human factor as leadership. For example, instead of telling people what to do, help them figure out what they need to do, and motivate them to do it.
9. “Always treat your employees exactly as you want them to treat your best customers.” –Stephen R. Covey.
Employees are the direct link between your business and your customers. The better they’re treated, the better they’ll treat your clientele.
10. “On what high-performing companies should be striving to create: A great place for great people to do great work.” –Marilyn Carlson.
“People” is the operative noun here. By giving your employees a strong foundation and the tools they need to succeed, you’ll greatly improve their capacity to do great work.
11. “Engaging the hearts, minds, and hands of talent is the most sustainable source of competitive advantage.” –Greg Harris.
Even if you can’t beat a competitor’s prices or geographical presence, you can always work to create a harder-working, more engaged team.
12. “Research indicates that workers have three prime needs: Interesting work, recognition for doing a good job, and being let in on things that are going on in the company.” –Zig Ziglar.
This quote speaks directly to what makes an employee “engaged.” They need to be interested, rewarded, and involved.
13. “Engaged employees are psychological “owners,” drive performance and innovation, and move the organisation forward.” –Gallup.
One Gallup report concluded that the best-performing, most-engaged employees were ones who took ownership of their work.
14. “Some companies don’t have an engagement problem, they have a hiring problem.” –Bob Kelleher.
No matter how hard you work, some people will naturally be disengaged—either because they’re a bad fit for the organization or because they aren’t very invested in their work to begin with. Either way, the problem starts with hiring.
15. “There are only three measurements that tell you nearly everything you need to know about your organization’s overall performance: employee engagement, customer satisfaction, and cash flow.” –Jack Welch.
Customer importance is a no-brainer, and logistically, cash flow if your business’s lifeblood. Employee engagement is the third vital factor for success.
16. “Customers do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they’ll take care of your customers.” –Richard Branson.
Your customers may be your highest priority, but only your employees will be empowered to treat them right.
17. “The only way to do great work is to love what you do.” –Steve Jobs.
Employees may not be thrilled to come to work every day, but they should at least have a fondness for their position, their responsibilities, or your organization overall.
18. “We think it’s important for employees to have fun… it drives employee engagement.” –Tony Hsieh.
Here we have another quote suggesting the importance of having fun throughout the workday.
19. “Dispirited, unmotivated, unappreciated workers cannot compete in a highly competitive world.” –Francis Hesselbein.
With a disengaged workforce, it doesn’t matter what other advantages you have in place—you will not be able to succeed.
20. “Engaged employees are in the game for the sake of the game; they believe in the cause of the organization.” –Paul Marciano.
For an employee to reach their full potential, they have to believe in what they’re doing. They have to think and function as part of a larger whole.
21. “Employee engagement is the emotional commitment the employee has to the organization and its goals.” –Kevin Kruse.
The same sentiment is stated more precisely here; your organization is the root of all potential employee engagement.
22. “Paychecks can’t buy passion.” –Brad Federman.
Paying your employees fairly and giving them monetary rewards can help to motivate them, but higher pay is no substitute for true engagement; there are passionate workers and dispassionate workers at every level of pay.
23. “The way your employees feel is the way your customers will feel.” –Sybil F. Stershic.
Attitudes are contagious; if your employees are happy and optimistic, your customers will be as well. This is another of my favorite employee engagement quotes as it’s simple but powerful.
24. “Employees who believe that management is concerned about them as a whole person – not just an employee – are more productive, more satisfied, more fulfilled. Satisfied employees mean satisfied customers, which leads to profitability.” –Anne Mulcahy.
Generally speaking, satisfied employees are more productive, and employee satisfaction begins with a foundation of respect.
25. “Everyone wants to be appreciated, so if you appreciate someone, don’t keep it a secret.” –Mary Kay Ash.
When someone does a good job, tell them, preferably publicly and directly. Even a short statement of praise can make a massive difference in someone’s attitude.
26. “…you have to want to be engaged. There has to be deep-seated desire in your heart and mind to participate, to be involved, and to make a difference. If the desire isn’t there, no person or book can plant it within you.” –Tim Clark.
You can’t force someone to be engaged. You have to figure out what motivates each employee, and find a way to give it to them.
27. “Throw yourself into some work you believe in with all your heart, live for it, die for it, and you will find happiness that you had thought could never be yours.” –Dale Carnegie.
When you find a job that truly engages you, you can achieve your full potential.
28. “Appreciate everything your associates do for the business. Nothing else can quite substitute for a few well-chosen, well-timed, sincere words of praise. They’re absolutely free and worth a fortune.” –Sam Walton.
Compliment and reinforce your employees’ best efforts. It costs nothing and takes almost no time to do so.
29. “This is the only country in the world where today’s employee is tomorrow’s employer.” –Marco Rubio.
Though you might disagree with his political views, the idea that almost any employee can rise to a level of leadership is a powerful motivator. Make your employees feel like there’s no limit to their future growth.
30. “Culture is about performance, and making people feel good about how they contribute to the whole.” –Tracy Streckenbach.
A good culture is rooted in good communication. Help people feel good about themselves, and encourage them to do more of whatever they do best.
31. “Accept the fact that we have to treat almost anybody as a volunteer.” –Peter Drucker.
Your employees should be there because they want to be there—not because they feel like they have to be. It’s on you to create an environment that stimulates and interests them.
32. “Your work is to discover your work and then with all your heart to give yourself to it.” –Buddha.
Perhaps a bit philosophical compared to the rest of these quotes, employees should feel compelled to discover the work that suits them best.
33. “Engaged employees stay for what they give (they like their work); disengaged employees stay for what they get (favorable job conditions, growth opportunities, job security).” –Blessing White.
The firm Blessing White states that truly engaged employees care more about their ongoing work contributions than simplistic motivators like a beefy paycheck.
34. “The simple act of paying positive attention to people has a great deal to do with productivity.” –Tom Peters.
The generic term engagement refers to an interaction between two or more parties; accordingly, it’s no surprise to learn that frequently speaking with your employees can make them much more engaged.
35. “Business and human endeavors are systems… We tend to focus on snapshots of isolated parts of the system. And wonder why our deepest problems never get solved.” –Peter Senge.
Don’t let a single interaction or a brief summary comprehensively inform you about an employee’s interest in the job. There are nuances and complexities to employee motivation.
36. “Employees engage with employers and brands when they’re treated as humans worthy of respect.” –Meghan Biro.
The best thing you can do for your employees is treat them like people. This is one of my favorite employee engagement quotes because it’s so important to treat your employees right if you want them to be engaged.
37. “People want to know they matter and they want to be treated as people. That’s the new talent contract.” –Pamela Stroko.
A similar idea is echoed here.
38. “To build a culture of engagement it is important to incorporate training on intrinsic motivation and employee engagement into management development programs.” –Kenneth Thomas.
Extrinsic motivation (e.g., raises, bonuses, and benefits) can be effective, but intrinsic motivation (i.e., a genuine internal desire to do better) is much more powerful.
39. “By letting your employees grow, your company will also grow exponentially.” –Mark Samraj.
As your employees become more productive and more responsible, your business will certainly grow as well.
40. “Highly engaged employees make the customer experience. Disengaged employees break it.” –Timothy R. Clark.
Your employees can make or break the average customer’s experience. Treat them accordingly.
41. “Everyone talks about building a relationship with your customer. I think you build one with your employees first.” –Angela Ahrendts.
Successful employee engagement stems from a genuine relationship. You have to know what motivates your employees, and what makes them tick—and you have to work together for a common goal.
42. “When people go to work, they shouldn’t have to leave their hearts at home.” –Betty Bender.
Too many people treat work as a chore, and as a necessity. It’s much better for employees and employers alike when employees are actively interested in coming to work.
43. “Connect the dots between individual roles and the goals of the organization. When people see that connection, they get a lot of energy out of work. They feel the importance, dignity, and meaning in their job.” –Ken Blanchard.
Every employee in your organization should feel like they’re an integrated part of a bigger, grander whole. Go out of your way to make your employees feel like their work matters.
44. “We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.” –Epictetus.
Employees and employers should both work to listen to the other. The more you learn about the other’s needs and desires, the better you’ll be able to effectively collaborate.
45. “Every company has a culture. The question is whether it’s the culture that you want. Is it the culture that is going to be able to deliver great guest experiences?” –Shane Green.
Your business has a culture whether you worked on developing it or not. But only through careful planning and crafting will you be able to tailor this culture to your values and goals.
46. “Take time to appreciate employees and they will reciprocate in a thousand ways.” –Lee Lacocca.
When employees feel appreciated and rewarded, they provide a multitude of benefits to your organization—they work harder, they’re more cooperative, they’re happier, and they’re more likely to stick around. It’s hard to overstate the potential return on this investment.
47. “You’ll attract the employees you need if you can explain why your mission is compelling: not why it’s important in general, but why you’re doing something important that no one else is going to get done.” –Peter Thiel.
To be engaged, employees need to understand the “why” of your mission as much as the what, and they need to know what makes this organization unique.
48. “Your number one customers are your people. Look after employees first and then customers last.” –Ian Hutchinson.
Reversing the “customers first” mentality can actually improve your customer experience in the long run, due to the influence of more active, invested employees.
49. “The greatest asset of a company is its people.” –Jorge Paulo Lemann.
Simply put, your employees are arguably the most important element of your business. Hire the right people, treat them well, and make sure they’re adequately motivated; it’s the only way to succeed.
50. “A group of people get together and exist as an institution we call a company so they are able to accomplish something collectively that they could not accomplish separately – they make a contribution to society, a phrase which sounds trite but is fundamental.” –David Packard.
The last of our employee engagement quotes, but certainly not the least. This one says that no individual team member within your organization is directly responsible for its impact, but every individual contributes to its impact. Instilling this mentality is vital to make employees feel as if their contributions matter, and to encourage more cooperation and collaboration between your team members.
Improving Employee Engagement
Now that you’re familiar with these employee engagement quotes, be sure to check out these motivational quotes for employees if you’re looking for even more inspiration. If you’re interested in better understanding and improving your employee engagement, but you don’t know where to start, a good place to begin is studying and better understanding how your employees communicate. Engaged employees are quick to respond, attentive, detailed, and willing to take on extra responsibilities when they have spare time. Un-engaged employees avoid emails when possible, mismanage communications frequently, and express dissatisfaction at least occasionally.
One of the best ways to keep tabs on employee communication is with the help of a tool like EmailAnalytics. With EmailAnalytics, you’ll get critical insights into your employees’ communications, including how many messages they send and receive, their busiest times and days of the week, and their average email response time. Sign up for a free trial today, and learn more about employee engagement in your organization.
Jayson is a long-time columnist for Forbes, Entrepreneur, BusinessInsider, Inc, and various other major media publications, where he has authored over 1,000 articles since 2012, covering technology, marketing, and entrepreneurship. In 2010, he founded a marketing agency that appeared on the Inc. 5000 before exiting it in January of 2019, and he is now the CEO of EmailAnalytics.