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An engaged workforce is a motivated, productive, loyal one. For businesses, this means increased productivity, improved customer service, and lower turnover. But how can you improve employee engagement in your business?
Without the right approach, you risk bringing about the opposite effect—demotivating and disengaging your employees. It’s crucial to choose the right mix of strategies that suit both your employees and your business. This requires balancing what engages your employees with your company’s mission, goals, and budget.
In this article, we take a closer look at employee engagement and give you 10 effective strategies you can implement to make your workforce more engaged.
What Is Employee Engagement?
According to Gallup, employee engagement is “the involvement and enthusiasm of employees in their work and workplace.”
Engagement indicates whether employees have an emotional connection to a company and its goals. Engaged employees care about their work and are motivated to help the company achieve its goals.
On the other hand, disengaged employees are unmotivated, have a pessimistic or negative attitude towards their work and workplace, and are more likely to be late or absent.
Why Is Employee Engagement Important?
An actively engaged workforce leads to better business performance.
Engaged employees are more productive, which has a direct and positive effect on your bottom line. This is because actively engaged employees are more likely to deliver higher quality work that boosts customer satisfaction.
Good employee engagement also fosters loyalty. It improves job satisfaction, so employees are likely to stay longer with a company. As a result, it reduces employee turnover and absenteeism by up to 43% and 81%, respectively.
In many industries, high employee engagement is also associated with a reduced number of workplace accidents. Engaged employees pay more attention to training and safety protocols and pay closer attention to their everyday tasks. In fact, a 2016 Gallup study showed a strong correlation between the two. Companies in the top 25% of employee engagment had 70% fewer safety accidents compared to those in the bottom quarter.
Given its effect on employee well-being and business outcomes, employee engagement should be a key focus for your organization.
What Is an Employee Engagement Strategy?
An employee engagement strategy is a formal plan about how you engage your employees and keep them engaged.
Also referred to as an employee engagement plan, it aims to improve the level of employee engagement in your organization.
There isn’t a single solution to employee engagement. Instead, you should use a combination of strategies to suit your workforce, business, and budget. It’s also important to identify both short and long-term strategies. This not only improves employee engagement but also helps maintain it.
How To Choose an Effective Employee Engagement Strategy
- Measure the current levels of engagement in your organization. Metrics like increased productivity, decreased absenteeism, and employee feedback help you assess this. Once you know the current state of employee engagement, you can begin creating your strategy.
- Know your budget. Understanding how much you can spend on your employment strategies may guide the ones you choose.
- Put together an employee engagement committee. A dedicated committee working on employee engagement can identify the most useful strategies. Typically, these committees include representatives from human resources (HR), leadership, and management, as well as your employees. Establishing a committee also sends a clear message about how you value and prioritize the employee experience.
- Keep Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) in mind. You have a diverse workforce, so ensure your employee engagement plan reflects this. The most effective engagement strategies apply equally to and benefit all employees.
- Make it a long-term investment. It’s impossible to turn around engagement levels overnight. And you don’t want your hard-earned results to falter down the road. Prepare to apply your chosen strategies over a longer timeframe to see the most significant impacts. Keep this in mind when setting goals and timeframes, too.
- Review and adapt. You probably won’t find the perfect employee engagement solution on the first try, and your employees’ and business’s needs are bound to change over time. Therefore, you should continually review your engagement strategy and make any necessary changes to it.
10 Effective Employee Engagement Strategies
Define your core values
Your business’s core values are the starting point for a company culture that allows employee engagement to thrive.
Core values are the principles that guide what your company does and how it works. When they’re clearly defined, these values can be shared and adopted at all levels of your organization.
Core values unite your workforce. Everyone works as a team toward a common purpose, guided by these shared values. They also help create positive working environments and foster a supportive company culture by building connections with employees.
Employees can’t engage with an organization if they don’t feel they belong to it. Core values help employees develop an emotional connection to the company and its brand.
Promote trust and accountability
Trust and accountability within your workforce supports high levels of employee engagement. In comparison, feelings of distrust or a lack of commitment from some team members affect workplace culture. This can lead to some employees feeling disengaged.
One way to promote trust and accountability is to give employees a degree of autonomy over their work.
Micromanagement can have a negative impact on employee job satisfaction. Giving employees control over some aspects of their work empowers and engages them. For example, you might consider allowing employees to schedule their own shifts for the following week or create personal daily to-do lists.
It’s also important to promote accountability within your organization. Everyone needs to contribute to the team and company goals. Be clear about your expectations of all employees so they can rise to them.
Accountability starts at the top. Leadership and management should lead by example and model the standards and behaviors expected of employees. Different sets of rules for leadership can demotivate employees, leading to disengagement.
Create an effective onboarding process
A strong onboarding process helps engage employees from day one. Onboarding is the first opportunity for management to get to know employees, and it sets the tone for workers’ time at your organization.
During onboarding, it’s essential to introduce new recruits to your company’s values, mission, and culture. This helps them see how they fit in and contribute to the bigger picture.
It’s also a chance to familiarize new employees with company policies and procedures so they feel comfortable and supported. They can also start connecting with their colleagues and supervisors, which promotes a sense of teamwork and belonging. Employees are more likely to be engaged under these conditions.
Improve internal communication
Good internal communication allows employee engagement to flourish in your organization. Employees can’t engage with something that they can’t see or understand. Internal communication is the best way to share company values and goals with employees.
When employees are kept in the loop about these, they feel informed and understand where to focus their efforts.
It also creates a culture of transparency within your organization. When information isn’t shared, employees may feel confused or like they’re being kept in the dark. This can cause them to lose trust in leadership and become disengaged.
Good internal communication also promotes collaboration. This fosters a sense of shared purpose and ensures everyone is working towards the same goals.
Additionally, ensure your employees have a range of ways to communicate with management and each other. In addition to phone or video calls and emails, an all-in-one chat app is a great option for this. It lets you share information and keep in touch with employees in real time.
Read our in-depth review of the best team chat apps to strengthen your internal communication.
Facilitate two-way feedback
An important aspect of internal communication—and therefore engagement—is employee feedback.
Feedback must flow both ways. Exchanging feedback is a growth opportunity for both management and employees.
You need to continually give employees feedback, not just when there’s an issue. Give employees positive feedback and recognize when they’ve done well. Doing so improves their morale and motivation, making them more engaged.
At the same time, you should also encourage employees to share their feedback. They should feel comfortable sharing ideas or raising any concerns with management. Regular one-to-ones are a great way to do this.
More than this, you also need to take employees’ feedback on board and act on it. Otherwise, employees may feel like giving feedback is an empty gesture. Responding to their feedback also reassures employees that their workplace is safe and supportive, which increases their engagement.
Internal communication tools like a chat app keep channels of communication and feedback open.
Employee engagement surveys tools are another useful way to collect regular feedback. These surveys should ask your employees about their day-to-day experiences and explore their relationships with management. This helps you identify employee engagement factors that need to be improved.
Creating employee recognition surveys are a convenient way to distribute and collect feedback. They’re ideal for pulse surveys—short surveys you regularly send out to your employees to gauge engagement levels.
Build relationships with employees
To create a culture of engagement, managers should spend time getting to know employees. This shows that managers care about their team members and also communicates that employees’ opinions and contributions are valued.
The onboarding process and regular employee check-ins are two opportunities for managers to do this. Managers can use these to build strong professional relationships with their employees and understand what motivates them.
Team-building activities outside of jobs sites or the office, such as team lunches or trivia nights, are another way to get to know employees better.
When managers know employees at an individual level, they’re more likely to spot engagement issues early. This allows managers to address problems before an employee becomes actively disengaged. Additionally, managers who know their team members better can communicate with them in a way that makes them feel supported and understood.
Use an employee reward and recognition program
A good rewards and recognition plan is essential for motivating and engaging employees. It makes your employees feel valued and acknowledges their contributions to the workplace. Also, it reinforces employee behaviors that help a company achieve its goals and support its core values.
An employee rewards and recognition program can be tailored to suit your employees’ preferences while also aligning with your company values and budget.
Your program should include a mix of monetary rewards, like gift cards and bonuses, and non-monetary rewards, like extra paid time off (PTO) and flexible working hours. Rewards don’t have to be expensive to be effective. Employee recognition methods like a shoutout in the company newsletter or a handwritten note from a manager can be just as effective as a one-time bonus.
As well as top-down rewards and recognition, peer-to-peer recognition has an important role to play. It encourages daily acts of recognition and encourages employees to have positive working relationships with each other. It also allows employees to celebrate smaller wins that a structured rewards program might overlook.
A rewards and recognition app, such as Connecteam is ideal for managing your employee rewards program fairly. Not only does it allow for easy peer-to-peer recognition, but an app also helps you deliver rewards and recognition in real time. This ensures they have the maximum impact on engagement by creating a strong tie between performance and recognition.
Read our in-depth review of the best employee recognition software to pick the one that is best for your organization.
Support employees’ career growth
Employees want professional development opportunities and a clear path for progression within your organization. This helps them feel motivated and invested in the work they do.
You can send them to a conference or cover the cost of a traini׳ng course relevant to their role. Other ideas include offering education stipends, subscriptions to trade publications, and internal mentoring opportunities. These gestures show employees you support their professional development.
At the same time, it’s also essential to provide employees with a roadmap for career advancement within your organization. Internal promotions show a willingness to support employees. They also give them a goal to work towards that aligns with the company’s goals and vision.
When employees can picture a future with your company, they’re more engaged and more likely to stay long-term.
Foster a positive company culture
A company’s culture has a direct impact on employee engagement levels. A negative culture can create a toxic work environment, leading to disengaged employees. A supportive, inclusive, and positive company culture improves the employee experience and keeps them engaged at work.
What does a company culture that supports employee engagement look like? It should be open and transparent, where employees are encouraged to raise concerns and share ideas. It should also prioritize clear communication and collaboration, so gather feedback and stay in regular contact with team members.
Having a safe workplace and a sense of community within your organization also contributes to a positive company culture. To do this, you can arrange semi-regular employee engagement activities, like bowling or golf, group volunteering, or cooking classes. Or, find ways to celebrate employee milestones such as birthdays and work anniversaries.
Additionally, consider employees’ physical workspace. Does it encourage collaboration or make it difficult for workers to connect? You might consider rearranging the layout of a job site or redesigning your office to have an open floorplan.
Make sure you also consider how to include your employees in building out company culture. Having good communication tools is a strong first step. A great mobile app—with a chat feature, updates feed, and opportunities to leave feedback—can help workers in the field stay connected and will foster a sense of community within your organization.
It’s also important to ensure that all employees have similar levels of support and facilities, whether working on a job site or at a main office. Different standards can stir up resentment and make certain workers feel disconnected, impacting their engagement levels.
Support employee well-being
Supporting your employees’ well-being is important for their health and happiness. It reduces the chance of them experiencing burnout and becoming disengaged as a result of stress and overwork.
When employees are less stressed and feel supported at work, their engagement is likely to increase. This in turn reduces employee turnover and absenteeism.
Approach employee well-being from all angles—physical, mental, and financial. Employee benefits are a great, flexible way to support your employees and their well-being. Examples include:
- Additional PTO
- Work equipment stipend
- Commuter benefits
- Gym membership discounts
- Pay advances
A good work-life balance is also essential for employee engagement. Leaders and managers must champion this at every level. This includes leading by example. Overworked managers may struggle to have the emotional availability and headspace to be patient, supportive, and engaging. Additionally, strategies such as flexible working arrangements help employees juggle their professional and personal lives, improving their engagement at work in the process.
Choose the Strategies That Work for You and Your Employees
Employee engagement is the key to running a thriving business. It’s about more than keeping employees happy and motivated. Actively engaged employees are more productive, less likely to leave, and tend to work more safely. But to achieve this, you need to have an effective employee engagement strategy in place.
From clearly defining your company values to improving internal communication, there are many ways to keep your employees enthusiastic about their work. The best approach is to use a combination of strategies to suit your employees’ and business needs. Your employees (and your bottom line) will thank you for it!
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