Which Employee Engagement Framework Should You Use?

Discover the different types of employee engagement frameworks & which one you should use.

What we'll cover

For comms leaders who want to bring their teams together, employee engagement is a critical element in creating a sense of belonging in frontline organizations. There are a number of different employee engagement frameworks available.

Therefore, it’s important to understand their respective strengths and weaknesses to make the right decisions for your teams.

How can you know which one is right for your organization?

The answer lies in understanding the goals that you want to achieve through engagement, and how the different frameworks can help you do so.

At Blink, we believe in the importance of employee engagement, which is why we've carefully evaluated the strengths and weaknesses of key frameworks on the market, to help you find the one that aligns with your organizational goals.

Whether you're an SME looking to create a fast-growing startup culture, or a large enterprise looking to make your employees feel more empowered and innovative, this guide will help you understand what an employee engagement framework is and find the right model for the job.

What Is An Employee Engagement Framework or Model?

An employee engagement framework or model is a strategic structure created to help you understand and measure the factors that drive employee engagement within your organization. 

These models work to identify the specific factors that are most important to creating an engaged employee workforce, and provide a strategic framework for improving these factors as part of your wider employee engagement strategy.

But why does this even matter? Why bother? Well, studies have shown that engaged employees see increased customer satisfaction, boosted job satisfaction and improved turnover (43%) compared to their competitors, amongst a range of other competitive benefits. We know, we've told you before! But that's because it's true.

As for the framework, it provides a core structure to your communications and engagement efforts and helps you to focus on the elements that are most important. So whether you're looking to drive innovation, retention, or productivity within your organization, there's bound to be an engagement framework or model out there that can help you achieve these goals.

Before we dive into how to choose the best employee framework for you, let's take a look at some of the main employee engagement models.

Employee Engagement Framework Examples

When it comes to employee engagement theories, specifically frameworks, the sector is dominated by a few major players. In this section we'll outline the key focus and aims of each employee framework example, hopefully providing you with some insight into which model might be best for improving employee engagement in your organization. 

1. The Zinger Model

The Zinger model of employee engagement consists of 14 employee engagement elements, with key symbols for each element. Together, these elements make up a symbolic framework for measuring employee engagement, with each element representing a specific part of the engagement process. These 14 elements include:

  • Achieve results
  • Craft strategy
  • CARE (Connect, Authentic, Recognition, Engage)
  • Enliven work roles
  • Excel at performance
  • Esteem organization
  • Foster community
  • Serve customers
  • Develop career
  • Leverage energies
  • Experience wellbeing

The model is designed to help organizations evaluate and monitor the factors that impact employee engagement over time, and track progress towards their organizational goals.

While this theoretical model lacks depth in terms of human resource management theory, it does provide a useful visualization of different engagement factors and mechanisms, making it a great choice for comms leaders looking to map out their employee engagement strategy in a visually appealing way.

David Zinger Employee Engagement Framework

2. The Deloitte Model

The Deloitte model of employee engagement was created after two years of discussions and research with clients, revealing five major elements and 20 underlying strategies that work together to make an organization truly “irresistible.” The 5 major elements included in this framework are:

  • Meaningful work
  • Hands-on management
  • Positive work environment
  • Growth opportunity
  • Trust in leadership

All of these factors work together to form a core system of engagement within an organization (See Figure 1 below) that maintains itself through strong company culture. And while the model is aimed at maximizing employee satisfaction, it also works to improve productivity and profitability.

This framework has been used by hundreds of organizations around the world and boasts a high success rate in improving organization-wide employee engagement and company performance. If you’re looking for an evidence-based approach to employee engagement that can help you achieve results across the board, this might be a good fit for you.

3. The JD-R model

The Job Demands–Resources (JD-R) theory of employee engagement is a model that explains how the organizational environment impacts employee well-being and performance.

One central idea in the JD-R theory is that although workers may be based in various sectors–think transport, manufacturing, or finance–their job characteristics can be classified into two categories: job demands and job resources.

  • Job demands are job aspects that require continuous effort and usually come with physical and mental costs. Some examples could include a heavy or unmanageable workload, conflicting demands from managers and customers, and workplace bullying.
  • Job resources help workers progress in their careers, make their jobs less demanding, and improve their day-to-day life both professionally and personally. Some examples of resources could include anything from an easily accessed Central Hub storing core company resources to scheduled breaks during the work day and access to line management training, enrolling on employee engagement training programs and other development initiatives.

Using a variety of methods to study leadership and workers, such as Employee Surveys, interviews and administrative data, the JD-R model has been proven to be a valid method for assessing how employees feel about their job resources and demands, and in turn their engagement levels.

overview of the JD-R employee engagement framework

4. The Gallup Employee Engagement model

The Gallup model of employee engagement refers to their Q12 Survey, which consists of 12 employee engagement survey questions. After taking the Q12 survey, leaders and managers will be able to effortlessly work each item's concepts into conversations, meeting agendas, performance evaluations and team goal setting. The 12 questions are:

  1. I know what is expected of me at work.
  2. I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right.
  3. At work, I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day.
  4. In the last seven days, I have received recognition or praise for doing good work.
  5. My supervisor, or someone at work, seems to care about me as a person.
  6. There is someone at work who encourages my development.
  7. At work, my opinions seem to count.
  8. The mission or purpose of my company makes me feel my job is important.
  9. My associates or fellow employees are committed to doing quality work.
  10. I have a best friend at work.
  11. In the last six months, someone at work has talked to me about my progress.
  12. This last year, I have had opportunities at work to learn and grow.

The 12 questions are split into four levels (See image below) required for an environment of trust and support in the workplace. By meeting the needs of the three levels of foundational employee engagement drivers, leaders can drive top level personal and professional growth for their employees.

Using these levels as a guide to manage your team, you can improve their performance and continue developing them professionally.

It's important to note that these four levels do not represent consecutive phases. Managers do not complete level one and then level two, etc. Leaders must ensure that employees' needs are met on level one first, however they must then continue to deliver on that level while meeting their needs on the second, third and fourth levels.

Simply put: if you don't meet your employees basic needs on an ongoing basis, the other levels won't follow.

Graphic showing the gallup employee engagement model

5. The AON Hewitt model

The AON model of employee engagement consists of three main sectors, Say, Stay and Strive. Based on employee responses to "say, stay, and strive," engagement levels can be determined and used as a predictor of business outcomes. 

AON goes on to recommend some key steps when implementing an engagement framework, which include:

  • Define your improvement strategy
  • Boost the impact and effectiveness of your managers and leaders
  • Create an aligned employee value proposition
  • Design and implement total reward programs.

By using these steps, leaders can successfully improve employee engagement and drive better business outcomes for their organizations.

Graphic showing the AON Hewitt employee engagement model of say, stay, strive.

How to pick the right employee engagement framework for you

What business targets are you aiming for?

To choose a fit-for-purpose engagement model, you need to understand the goals that you want to achieve through engagement. Some of the most common business targets are: improved innovation, increased employee retention and productivity, and better financial performance.

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) built around employee engagement metrics can also make strong targets for your engagement framework. For example, some organizations might aim to increase employee participation in the workplace and their willingness to contribute to company goals – both of which are important metrics for measuring employee engagement and satisfaction.

Some key questions to ask yourself at this point could include:

  • What's the main engagement problem you’re currently facing? 
  • What are your business targets?
  • Does the engagement framework align with KPIs and company goals?

Understand your team setup

The first step in choosing the best employee engagement framework for your organization is to understand the different types of teams that you have. This will help you to better understand the specific engagement needs of your team, and tailor the framework accordingly.

For example, a frontline workforce is going to require specific framework targets, such as increasing employee engagement in nurses or on the factory floor. On the other hand, an office-based team may be looking to increase employee participation in company events or projects.

The truth is, frontline workers are often left with no engagement projects that meet their needs. Unfortunately, this has led to a growing number of frontline workers left feeling unheard and disengaged

To do better for your staff, start by really getting to know them and their team setup.

Assess your current technology

When choosing your framework to engage employees, run-of-the-mill employee engagement activities and boring old company practices need to stay in the past.

If you really want to drive employee engagement outcomes in your organization, you need the right tech. Luckily, when it comes to the best digital tools for employee engagement, we know a thing or two.

From employee engagement platforms and digital communication tools to online learning resources, there's a growing number of technology solutions available to help you improve your organizational culture and increase engagement.

In our humble opinion, Blink is the absolute frontrunner when it comes to tech solutions for engaging employees. Blink offers:

  • Secure Chats to drive feedback loops, two-way communication and meaningful workplace relationships
  • Central Hub for instant access to core company policies, procedures and files
  • Blink Feed for company announcements and engaging day-to-day updates
  • Frontline Intelligence to help you measure and analyze how your employee engagement strategy is performing
  • Employee Surveys to drive a movement of listening within your organization.

With these digital features in one Frontline Engagement App, Blink really is the perfect fit for any business looking to improve employee engagement and, ultimately, business outcomes.

So if you're ready to start taking your employee engagement efforts to the next level, how about trying Blink today? You'll be able to easily meet your communication, collaboration and company culture goals!

Identify engagement framework allies

Employee engagement framework allies are those who are invested in improving your organization's culture and are willing to work alongside you to help achieve this.

For example, if you're looking to boost employee participation in your workplace, it might be worth reaching out to HR teams or management to see if they can dedicate budget towards more frequent team meetings or staff events.

Alternatively, if you're a comms or HR leader, you might need to get CIO or even CEO buy-in in order to implement the right digital tools to kickstart a new framework.

Overall, finding allies for your employee engagement framework can be a powerful way to get more support behind your goals, and achieve better results in the long run. So make sure you reach out to anyone who might be able to help you move forward.

How do you implement an employee engagement model?

It’s important to choose the right model and identify your allies to ultimately achieve your goals. To implement this thinking, it's important to approach implementation in a structured way. This will help you have a clear plan to manage the process from start to finish.

Some key steps include overhauling your digital employee engagement tools, testing and setting measurable goals, creating regular check-in points for measuring progress, and ensuring that everyone involved is aligned with the same vision and implementing employee engagement best practices.

What Blink can do for you...

Now that you have a better understanding of how to implement an employee engagement model in your organization, you can think about implementing a tool like Blink.

At Blink, strong employee engagement is at the heart of what we do. That's why our mobile engagement app offers a range of powerful tools and features to help frontline organizations improve their culture and build better relationships with their staff.


With an average activation rate of over 85% across numerous deskless industries, Blink can help you drive more open and honest communication, increase employee participation in your initiatives, gather feedback from across all departments, all of this to help you drive key metrics and KPIs. 

Get started today

Employee Engagement Framework FAQs

What are employee engagement models?

Employee engagement models are frameworks that provide guidance and structure for organizations looking to improve employee participation, productivity, and overall workplace culture.

Typically, these frameworks include key principles or components that should be considered when building an engagement strategy, such as communication channels and tools, measurement strategies, incentives or rewards programs.

What are the three models of engagement?

There are many models and frameworks of employee engagement available, some including the Zinger Model, the Deloitte Model, the JD-R model, the Gallup Employee Engagement model and the AON Hewitt model.

Ultimately, there is no "one size fits all" approach to engagement ideas and models; choosing a framework that aligns closely with your organization's goals, priorities, culture, and existing structures will always be the best bet.

How do you develop an employee engagement model?

Creating your own employee engagement model can be a great way to tailor the framework specifically to your organization's needs and goals.

However, it's important to remember that there is no single correct way to do this, and it can be a long and complex research project that needs refining over time. We'll write in more detail on this soon, so stay tuned for more tips on developing your own employee engagement framework.

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