Employee Engagement Strategies
Engaged Employees are more likely to be productive, innovative, and committed to their jobs. In the best of cases, they will also be happy at work and have a higher level of morale than their disengaged peers. But how do you create engaged employees? What is the key ingredient that will make them want to stay with your company for as long as possible? There is no one answer - different people respond differently depending on what they've experienced in previous roles or other factors.
According to the Gallup Organization, employee disengagement costs US businesses $450 billion annually.
On the other hand, also according to Gallup, if organizations can create a culture of engagement, their results improve. Engaged employees are:
1. 480% more committed to helping the company to achieve its objectives
2. 250% more likely to recommend improvements
3. 370% more likely to recommend the company as a good employer
As the workforce continues to change, job titles like Chief Happiness Officer or Employee Engagement Officer are on the rise. More and more companies are starting to understand that to build a successful business, you need more than a good product or idea: you need people who are willing to use their discretionary effort and energy to produce the outcomes you expect.
And those people want something extra - they are looking for opportunities for development and meaning alongside their day-to-day tasks; they want to be respected as much as they respect themselves, and sometimes all of this is encapsulated by the search for meaningful work (and not just any old task). To create engaged employees in your company, get creative!
Luckily, we have compiled seven employee engagement strategies that work today...
Let us break down employee engagement, so you can start building it from the ground up.
In this article, we will dive into what employee engagement is, why it works and what you can do to make it effective for you.
What is employee engagement?
Employee engagement is an emotional connection to your business easily summarized as:
Disengaged employees stay for what they can get/take from your business. Engaged employees stay for what they can give.
Why does employee engagement matter?
Engaged employees will be more productive, innovative, or creative than disengaged ones; they will have lower turnover rates and higher performance levels, and on top of that: engaged people tend to feel happier at work!
Engagement can help you attract new talent, retain them through tough times (like changing markets), achieve better customer service ratings by providing excellent support for customers - without even mentioning how much easier it would be to recruit volunteers for other initiatives like community outreach programs.
Employee engagement is great for your organizational culture and high engagement improves morale in the workplace and job satisfaction.
Higher employee engagement improves customer satisfaction. Your staff faces your customers, and your customers will be able to tell when one of your employees is disengaged. For example, you will hear the difference on the phone between a customer service agent who does or doesn't like their job — and happiness is contagious.
You will spend less time and money on hiring new people. Employee engagement and turnover are so closely related. If you want to work on employee retention - a.k.a attracting top talent and keeping them on board for a long time - invest in employee engagement. It is cheaper than starting a new recruitment process, putting out ads, and onboarding new people.
Improving employee engagement could be the missing piece of the puzzle for business success as improved engagement shows up in employee performance and your bottom line.
How do I create engaged employees?
There are many drivers of engagement and the best place to start improving your employee engagement scores is to ensure your company values are aligned to your employee engagement initiatives.
1. One way is to improve employee engagement levels is to be transparent in all your actions: communicate the reasons for any changes that will affect employees; provide opportunities to voice concerns, offer feedback on decisions being made about them; share plenty of details around what is happening at every level of the organization - from strategy down to day-to-day operations (even if it doesn't seem important!)
2. Create an environment where people feel heard and respected. Employee feedback is critical for sustainable growth in a company that seeks to improve employee engagement scores. The best environments have collaboration spaces that encourage open dialogue about ideas rather than just one person speaking as "the boss". There should also be regular check-ins where teams talk through progress together, so everyone feels like they are contributing towards the same goal.
3. Be honest: be as transparent and open about the state of your company, its finances, or other challenges it faces. It is not always easy to hear (especially if you're in a bad place), but people are often understanding when they know what's going on; they'll appreciate that management is being upfront with them rather than hiding facts from them or only speaking up when something goes wrong.
4. Give opportunities for personal development - this can take many forms like formal training programs, self-directed learning projects outside their day job, promoting from within by giving someone who has been doing an excellent job more responsibility over time
5. Provide a sense of meaning be sure to provide opportunities for your employees to feel like they are contributing something meaningful or valuable. Some companies do this by making giving back an important part of their culture; others offer career development programs, mentorship, and coaching around skills that will improve employability in the future; still, other companies have good training programs but do not give people enough responsibilities afterward, so it feels worthwhile - they need more than just feeling competent at their job if you want them engaged!
6. Give feedback, both positive and constructive. It is important to provide regular feedback, so employees know how they are doing and what their work is like in order to do it better.
7. And remember, not everyone needs all these things! What is best for one employee might be too much for another. The key is providing an environment where each employee can find what they need most from work as well as get what they need from life.
It takes creativity. There isn't one way to create engaged employees because everyone responds differently to different factors.
To get a more in-depth understanding of what employee engagement is, let us look at what an engaged employee looks like.
5 key metrics that indicate your employee engagement reality
1. Employee turnover rate
The lower the turnover rate, the better. It's a sign that your employees are feeling happy and satisfied with their jobs; they don't want to leave because things work well for them.
When you have low employee turnover rates, it has an impact on how much training costs - which is good news if you're in charge of HR or training.
Employee turnover rates are related to other signs of employee engagement: the higher the turnover rate, the lower your company's productivity will be
This is another indication that your employees are happy and content with their jobs. The more engaged they are, the less likely it will be for them to take time off.
And if you have absenteeism in one department but not others, this may signify an engagement issue - such as a toxic culture or uncompassionate manager. It could also mean that the manager in question isn't putting enough effort into their employees.
Employee turnover rates and absences are both good indicators of how engaged your team is feeling at work.
3. Employee Net Promoter Score
Employee Net Promoter Score is one way of measuring the happiness your employees feel for your company. The Net Promoter Score was pioneered by Bain & Company and Fred Reichheld to measure customer loyalty and the Employee Net Promoter Score is a version of the original.
The eNPS asks the question: ‘On a scale of 0-10, how likely are you to recommend this company’s products and services to a friend, colleague, or family member?’ Those who answer in the range of 0 - 6 would be considered detractors, 7 or 8 would be passives, 9 and 10 are promoters.
The score is calculated by subtracting the detractors from the promoters.
If the eNPS is low, then it could be an issue with communication - where there are not enough channels for staff to voice concerns or get feedback and addressed quickly. Or maybe management is not doing as much listening - which can lead to disengaged employees who feel frustrated by the lack of response from higher-ups.
Personally, I am not a fan of the Net Promoter Score because it doesn't give you the insight you need to make a decision -- you don't know "why" the score is what it is. You also do not know if the person randomly picked a number (I always choose 7 as my answer so that I'm not counted in the tally because of my feelings about it.)
However, if you need a simple way to benchmark a number, NPS will give you one.
4. Cost of Recruitment
If you are constantly replacing employees, the cost of recruitment can really impact your profitability, especially if you are hiring for specialized skills.
Therefore, monitoring the cost of recruitment (unless you are in growth mode) is a good indicator to track for employee engagement scores.
5. Profit per Employee
Is your profit per employee above or below industry average? One way companies can measure their success is to look at the ratio of profit per employee. Take the 12 months of net income and divide by the number of full-time employees. If your profit per employee is low, why is it low?
As with cost of recruitment, profit per employee can be an indicator of employee engagement but there are many other factors that can impact these results.
Why is employee engagement important?
You cannot expect your employees to provide a great customer experience if their employee experience is not great. Your employees talk to your customers and do all the other work for you. If they are more engaged with their jobs, they will try even harder to do a good job.
Employers must strategize on how to motivate employees in an increasingly competitive and fast-paced business environment.
It is important to find out what motivates your employees to engage them.
The more you know about the type of person they are, the easier it will be for you as a manager or company owner to motivate and engage each individual employee on an emotional level. For example, if someone likes recognition from their coworkers, then surprise them with thank-you cards or flowers occasionally.
This strategy can help reduce turnover rates and increase productivity levels among team members. There is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to engagement strategies; some people may respond better than others depending on how motivated they are by different techniques like awards ceremonies or praise from managers.
True employee engagement is not just about ensuring that your workforce enjoys their jobs. It also has very real benefits for the employees themselves as well and, ultimately, for the business itself. The following are seven areas where an engaged workforce comes in especially handy:
1. Employee retention: happy employees tend to stay longer which reduces future recruitment needs
2. Higher productivity: engaged workers have been found to be more productive
3. Cost savings from lowered absenteeism and turnover: Those who feel they can trust money invested in them are less likely to choose unemployment or another job opportunity Companies with engaged workers score 21% higher on profitability and 17% higher on productivity than those without.
4. Less time spent on low morale tasks such as onboarding new hires and managing disagreements between colleagues all of which costs time away from development priorities
5. Mental health benefits: An engaged workforce is happier and less stressed
6. Increased loyalty: An engaged workforce is more loyal to the company in your team.
7. Improved customer service: Happy employees tend to provide better customer experiences
What are some things employers can do to increase employee engagement?
Check out the article: Employee Engagement Connection to Drive Business Performance: 18 Key Drivers to Inspire Employees
7 factors that impact employee engagement
Employee engagement is affected by a lot of things and engagement is unique to the individual. Therefore, your employee engagement initiatives need to keep this in mind because there is no one-size-fits-all approach to employee engagement.
1. Compensation and benefits
Employees need to be compensated sufficiently in order to remain engaged. Compensation should not be seen as the lone motivator for increased engagement; instead, it is a valuable component of a comprehensive approach that drives performance and retention.
2. Work-life balance
When people feel like they're spending way more time at work than they do with their personal lives, it can start to show that they're less engaged on the job. This is especially true for people who are single parents or those with disabilities.
3. Training and development opportunities
Engaged companies offer training programs for their staff so they're able to grow in their role, which provides them the opportunity to become even more valuable members of your team. It also gives them some autonomy over what they want to learn next - which research has shown is one of many factors related to increased employee engagement.
4. Internal Communications:
It is important to keep employees informed about what they're doing for the company. If you want them to be fully engaged in their work, let them know how it contributes to the success of a project.
If employees feel they are in control of their work, and able to make decisions on how best to complete the task, this will greatly increase engagement. They will feel that they have a more vested interest in the company's success. With autonomy comes accountability and responsibility so be sure to clearly identify expectations.
6. Fairness and respect
If employees are treated fairly, this can lead to increased engagement. Fair treatment means being involved in decision-making processes; feeling included at work; not experiencing harassment or discrimination on account of their sex, age, race, or other status protected by law. It also includes having access to needed accommodations for disabilities - which is often overlooked but hugely important when it comes to employee engagement.
The good news about all these things? They are supposed to be part of your strategy already! If you start implementing them now, you'll be well ahead of the curve as you face the monumental changes we've outlined here today.
Employee recognition is an effective way to boost morale among your staff. Sociologists have shown acknowledging their hard work motivates people and even increases productivity more than a paycheque or bonus would because it provides them with self-worth.
What employee engagement strategies are most effective?
Rather than placing all your eggs in a single basket, mix up these seven areas and try different combinations until you find what works best for each individual person.
An employee engagement strategy should be to engage your employees and grow their skills. Rewarding employees for a job well done provides the incentive for them to improve on what they do best so that they can help your company reach its full potential.
When people feel like they are spending way more time at work than they do with their personal lives, it can start to show that they are less engaged on the job.
It is important to give your employees enough time outside of the office to do what they enjoy.
It is no secret that stress is a major factor in employee engagement. When your employees feel like they are being pushed to their limits, the work environment can become less than ideal and may cause them to disengage. Try teaching them how to manage stress with activities such as yoga classes or meditation so that you have more engaged workers on hand.
People are often motivated by recognition of their achievements both large and small – an award ceremony for one thing might make all the difference between someone staying at your company or not. You could also try providing praise from managers if this strategy works better for certain people who need greater motivation when it comes to avoiding burnout due to a lack of appreciation from the company.
7 tried and tested employee engagement strategies
1. Recognition, Appreciation, and Rewards
It is important to recognize and reward employees for their hard work. Many companies offer rewards in the form of cash, vacations, awardpoints (redeemable in a catalog of reward options), plaques, time off, lunch with the boss, special parking spots, and more.
However, there are many different strategies you can use that cost nothing - such as a personal handwritten letter from an executive on nice paper, a public thank-you session with senior management, or team events and activities put together just for fun, so it doesn't feel like more work.
The goal is to get your employee excited about coming back to work every day. And one way to do this is by showing them how much they matter through appreciation and recognition of all kinds.
Make sure these types of simple gestures do not go unnoticed among staff members who might need reassurance that what they're doing matters.
Be sure they know you are listening by responding in a timely manner with constructive feedback or action items that will help them grow professionally.
Job satisfaction is a two-way street. It's up to the employee to share their experience and insight and it's up to the decision-makers to take the feedback and implement it (if it's useful) or explain to the employee why it can't be used at this time.
Too many employers feel that they have to come up with all the ideas. The reality is that the best ideas come from people who are affected by the situation -- so ask a customer service rep to share the most common frustration that customers have, ask a salesperson to share the reasons why customers choose a competitor, ask people in operations how they'd reduce expenses and waste and so on.
Managers can set the guidelines and the goals and ask for ideas. By going through the process as a team, employees will learn more about how decisions are made -- what priorities are most important, how the company core values impact decisions, and what is expected to get ideas and initiatives approved.
Everyone is "in this together" so ensure you use open, honest, respectful, supportive two-way communication.
3. Improve employee wellbeing
Many of the most common causes for employee turnover are related to stress, including high workloads and lack of work-life balance.
Try implementing a wellness program that includes things like meditation classes, mindfulness training sessions or company lunchtime yoga.
Start by talking to your employees about their own wellness and taking steps to create a healthy environment for them. This will help alleviate some of the stress that can lead to burnout.
4. Transparency at all levels of the organization is an important way to maintain employee engagement.
Employees need to be aware of what their company offers for them to be part of a well-functioning workplace, and managers should explain why changes are essential.
A lack of communication can lead employees to feel isolated and less inclined to provide input or suggestions, which hurts productivity—an even more pressing issue considering worker shortages that are predicted.
5. Give your employees robust ownership, responsibility and hold them accountable for their actions.
It is important to provide your employees with the autonomy to make decisions and feel like they're in control of what they do. And you should hold them accountable for those things, too.
Provide training that includes accountability best practices so that if an employee makes a mistake or does not complete his/her task on time, it won’t be because he/she didn’t understand how.
If this sounds daunting— do not worry: You can start small by having open discussions about mistakes made in meetings or getting buy-in from employees before announcing company changes (like updating benefits).
The goal is to give your employees more responsibility rather than less over time while still holding them accountable for their work—and you will see a payoff in the form of higher engagement.
6. Engage managers as coaches of their employees
Many managers are not trained in coaching, which is a skill that takes time and practice. However, if you want to make sure your team members can grow professionally, it's important for direct managers (who could be yourself) to play this role.
This will help develop a better understanding of the needs and goals for your employees.
This, in turn, will lead to an increased degree of engagement from your team.
For example: if a manager notices that one employee is struggling with leadership skills or balancing work and life responsibilities, they can coach the employee on how to better manage those challenges.
7. Give your people room to grow
It is not always easy to let go of the reins, but it is necessary for your employee to grow in their position.
If you feel like they are doing well on a task or project and have mastered the skills needed, this might be an opportunity to allow them more autonomy with that aspect of work. This can help foster a sense of job security as well - if employees know they are trusted by their managers, then engagement will likely increase as well!
How to develop your engagement strategy
Recent research indicates that employee engagement initiatives need to be tailored to the business and employer. Here are some guidelines for finding an engagement strategy match.
Step 1: Conduct an employee engagement survey
Hold an Employee Engagement Survey and Reward Contest to gauge the level of engagement within your organization and by each department.
Send out the employee survey to your employees, have them fill it out anonymously, then reward those who responded with prizes for their participation in the contest.
Ensure that your employees know that their responses will be treated as anonymous feedback and that their direct supervisors and the management team will not be given individual feedback.
This is a great way of showing that you care about what they think and how they feel at work while simultaneously motivating others to participate in this process as well!
When determining which employee engagement strategy will be best for maintaining employee loyalty, remember that "one person's idea can change everything."
Employee engagement surveys can help you find solutions to future problems before they even arise. Furthermore, the feedback from employee input is essential for improving business in your workplace.
Consider using both happy and sad images to better represent your employee's mood.
- How do you feel about our business?
- How do you feel about our vision?
- How proud are you to work with us?
- How do you feel about work today?
- How excited were you when you were on your way to work here today?
- Which company core values do you share?
- Which company values do not align with your values?
- When was the last time you felt appreciated at work?
- What do you want to achieve in the next five years?
- How often do employees have opportunities for internal promotions or growth in their position?
- What is your favorite part of working at this company, and why?
- Do you like working with your co-workers / teammates?
- How happy are you with your wage/salary?
- How happy are you with your benefits?
- Would you recommend us as an employer to your friends and family?
- If you could offload one aspect of your job to your boss for a day, what would it be and why?
- If you were in a decision-making role, what would you change and why?
- What are some of the benefits that your job has introduced you to?
- What reasons are there for not being happy with your current job?
- What is your favorite part about working this job?
- When a team member has an idea that would positively impact work overall, what happens to that idea? (For instance: does it get passed onto management only to be ignored?)
- Are there any consequences when people don't reach goals or deadlines set by management on time?
- How likely are you to still work at this company within two years if everything stays the same?
Also, use the T-Form to get open-ended answers. The T-Form asks a simple question: Using this form, what should we Start; Stop; Increase; Decrease; Not Touch because it works well.
In this phase, it is important to explain why you are asking your employees to answer these questions. Remember to be transparent and tell them what you intend to do with the responses. Assure confidentiality and explain how the results will be shared. This could help them think of advice that can be beneficial.
When you have reviewed the results and highlighted the feedback, decide what you are going to do.
Steps for creating a strategic action plan to improve employee engagement:
- Create a strategic plan to improve employee engagement based on the survey data and benchmarks from your industry. Include actionable steps for improving employee engagement.
- Hire an Employee Engagement Leader or a specialist consultant who will work with HR leaders across the organization to focus on developing policies that impact employee satisfaction, retention rates, productivity levels, customer service ratings, and more; they will report directly to CEO or COO (depending on company size).
- Develop an ongoing strategy with measurable targets (like increasing team morale) so you know if this initiative is working
Step 2: Choose the areas you will focus on
Based on the extremely valuable feedback you receive, pick the key areas that need work. Get to the root of the problem, not just the symptoms. This is the key to making sustainable change. It can also be tough to accept, especially if it's something you're not used to or something that you are emotionally vested in, but the unpleasantness of change is worth it in order for your business to be a place people want to work.
Step 3: Pick your employee engagement strategy
These are the strategies and tactics that will help you identify how to get employees engaged in your workplace.
- Be clear about what is expected from each employee, what goals they should strive for, and why this matters for them personally - not just at work but also outside of it.
- Offer ongoing opportunities for growth so that employees know there's a chance to move up through the ranks or explore new skillsets within their current role. That way, even if an employee isn't happy with where they currently stand on the ladder, they can see some light at the end of the tunnel.
- Encourage employees to take time for themselves and recharge so that they're ready to give their best at work. This means understanding the difference between good stress (the kind of pressure that gets you excited because it's a new challenge) versus bad stress (that robs your motivation). The better we understand this, the easier it is to have realistic expectations about what our goals should be, how long things will take, and when we need breaks.
Steps: Write step by point instructions on how an employee engagement leader could help create a successful strategic plan with measurable targets over the next year. Be sure to include actionable steps in order for HR leaders across the organization can measure success rates from employee satisfaction surveys, retention rates, etc.
Step 4: Create your plan
Your employee engagement plan will have a major impact across your entire organization. Do not work in a silo. Instead, be inclusive, open and transparent.
Identify the logical order for implementing your plan for minimum disruption and for maximum benefit. What is the best starting point so you can have quick success? Which order is best so that you each step adds to the previous one?
Create your budget and the business case for change.
Get buy-in from others as you proceed. Ultimately, your goal is to have approval and support from upper management, whether the CEO in a large company or the owner of a small business.
Hold a premortem exercise to identify all areas where the plan can derail.
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Actions: Write step-by-step instructions for creating a successful strategic plan that would help increase employee retention rates over the next year. Be sure to include actionable steps. While you are doing this, think of ways you can gamify your plan and make work more fun and enjoyable.
Step 5: Implement your plan and adjust as needed
Step 3 is critical for success but nothing is going to happen until you implement your plan.
No matter how carefully you crafted your plan, it’s likely not going to roll out exactly as you expect. Every action has an impact and sometimes the impact isn’t quite what you planned for.
Employee engagement is not a one-time action, it becomes part of your culture and your company DNA. Naturally, evolution occurs and you’ll always be adjusting and tweaking to address challenges and optimize outcomes.
It is important to remember that some people will be resistant to change – even if it is positive change – and if they are disengaged or actively disengaged, they may even sabotage your plan.
You will need to have a plan to address the disengaged detractors. How will you win them over? And what if you cannot win them over? Sometimes, the problem with low engagement is because the disengaged are fanning the fires of disengagement – “if I’m miserable at work, you should be too”.
One of the tough decisions you will need to make is to decide a what point a disengaged employee is better off working with another company. Keeping a toxic person, who does not want to change, onboard is bad for business and bad for your culture. Be prepared to release them if they undermine your efforts.
Step 6: Revisit your recruitment practices
When you get to the root of the problem for low engagement, you might discover that your hiring practices need to be revisited.
You can teach people skills but if there is an obvious disconnect between their values and yours, or their beliefs about how they should be managed and yours, or their expectations about their level of productivity and willingness to be accountable for their outputs than yours, you will run into problems.
I have seen this far too often. The engagement problems are exacerbated by a vocal detractor who should not have been hired in the first place. They were hired for their skills, but their attitude and behaviour destroy the soul of the business.
Also, ensure that your supervisors and managers have the necessary training and resources to lead the transformation within their departments. Again, they may have the technical skills for the job but if their people skills and their attitude clashes with the direction you are headed, you must be prepared to make tough decisions.
Step 7: Implement formal and informal recognition and rewards programs
It's important to have a formal recognition and rewards program so that you can monitor the sentiment within your organization, and so that you are aware of the contributions of individuals who are being recognized by their peers and managers.
We create these types of programs and we also implement and manage them. Contact us to find out more.
Formal rewards and recognition programs need to be aligned to your values, vision, purpose, and business strategy. You want to be sure that the rewards and recognition are in line with your company culture.
What you focus on expands, so focus on the behaviours that you want to see more of.
Informal rewards and recognition really come from your employees when they see someone going out of their way, or doing something different in order to help the company grow and improve.
It is important that you provide these opportunities because it can be a powerful motivator for an employee who was not formally rewarded with financial compensation but received informal praise instead.
For many people, this type of reward has even greater value - especially if the person appreciates public acknowledgment as well as being acknowledged privately by management.
Informal programs do not need to be planned or formalized but they still work if you have a collaborative team who genuinely likes each other, communicates well about their accomplishments to one another without prompting, and celebrates successes together. They also need to feel like they can take risks within the organization because there is an environment of openness.
In order to create a successful long-term employee engagement strategy, you must be committed and have the right team in place. Employees need to be fully invested in your company's objectives and success for this plan to work. If they are not happy or engaged with their jobs, there is no point continuing on with these strategies until that issue has been resolved. This may require some reorganization of your company or changing employees to ones that can be more invested in what you are trying to accomplish. While this is a daunting and time-consuming process, it will pay off for the long-term success of your organization