Workplace Wellness

What is Employee Engagement & 24 Employee Engagement Strategies to Help Your Organization Succeed

Written by Ameer

Does your organization have the right employee experience and employee engagement strategies in place? If not, then your workforce isn’t as productive as they could be! Your employees may not be as invested in your organization’s success as you would want them be.

A recent Gallup poll reports that “employee engagement in the U.S. saw its first annual decline in a decade – dropping from 36% engaged employees in 2020 to 34% in 2021.” The research further found that 17% of employees are actively disengaged from their work in 2022, up from 16% in 2021. 

This is concerning because employee engagement is one of the most critical factors in any organization’s long term success. The question for you is, where do your employees lie?

Are they fully engaged or actively disengaged? Also, how can you tell when they are engaged or disengaged? Do you know how they feel about their work? How do they feel about the company’s direction and goals? Do you know what needs improvement for them to be more engaged at work?

If you answered “no” to any of these questions, it might be time to create or revise your employee engagement strategy.

This research by the Society for Human Resource Management shows that engaged employees:

  • Are more productive
  • Take fewer sick days
  • Produce higher quality work
  • Have a lower turnover rate

In a time when many corporations are struggling to compete with technological advances, globalized competition, or other unforeseen challenges, an engaged workforce can be all that stands between you and complete failure. Read on to learn more about Employee Engagement, as well as 24 proven strategies to help you build and maintain an engaged organization.

Read on to learn more about this topic! Click on the sections below to jump right to your specific question.

What is Employee Engagement? 

Employee engagement is the connection that your employees feel towards their work, the workplace, and fellow co-workers. The more engaged your employees feel, the more you can expect them to contribute to your company success.

Employee engagement is the top factor in the overall productivity of the workplace. A disengaged workforce is hemorrhaging money by only doing the bare minimum. They are actively portraying your brand in a negative light and if they’re interacting with customers, that negativity is passed onto those consumers.

A disengaged work environment is a ticking time-bomb waiting to explode. Look at the corporations facing legal action at this very moment due to their mistreatment of employees. It’s downright problematic!

Read on to learn how to develop the best employee engagement strategies that provide recognition to your workforce, and give them open two-way communication with upper management.

Why Employee Engagement is Important in an Organization

People who are enthusiastic about their job are more engaged with their work, so they put in the extra effort to boost the company’s reputation. They trust their employer, so they are more receptive to the shared values.

Now let’s flip the coin. Disengaged employees are individuals who loathe coming to work. We’ve all worked with someone who just coasted by every day. They do the bare minimum and always find something to complain about at work. These same people are likely bad mouthing the company during their off hours.

Of course, every company wants its employees to be fully engaged so they start throwing around words like “employee satisfaction” and “employee experience.” But these are just fancy catch phrases without the proper employee engagement strategies.

Organizations that have high employee engagement, have invested a lot of time and money into improving the employee journey. Their return on investment is happy employees who are committed to their work. They become more passionate, dedicated, and their performance improves as a result.

We’ve already established that engaged employees are good for the workplace and the organization’s bottom line. Engaged employees can improve an organization’s productivity, morale, and overall performance. Conversely, as this data from HR University proves, disengaged workers are a ticking time bomb.

Here are some interesting statistics to put this into perspective:

  • According to Gallup, disengaged employees cost employers $450-500 billion annually.

Before we share ways to improve your employee engagement, we’ll share a bit more background context so you’re well informed about the subject.

The 3 C’s of Employee Engagement

Today’s dynamic worker is not just looking for a job. Jobvite’s 2021 JOB SEEKER NATION REPORT shows that “COVID’s impact on the U.S. labor market caused profound changes in the concerns, challenges, and priorities for workers and job seekers nationwide.”

For corporate leaders and recruiters, this poses a challenge and an opportunity to understand this evolving workplace. Experts suggest that creating an engaged workforce must begin at the top of the organization’s structure and then trickle down. 

You can shift your focus toward more engagement in your organization by enhancing these 3 C’s: culture, collaboration, and communication.

Culture

Culture is the bedrock of a company’s engagement and simply defines what your company stands for. Many employees want to feel like they are part of something bigger than themselves. 

They want to work in an environment where their contributions make a difference. While it’s true that some will only work because they need the money, the majority of employees are genuinely looking to make a difference. The right corporate culture helps them do that and thereby increases their engagement.

As previously stated, employees who feel they are part of something special will go above and beyond to make it succeed. Their positivity will enhance customer experience, leading to more productivity.

  • 49% of employees interviewed by Jobvite inquired about the employer’s goals and efforts to improve workplace diversity. 
  • 86% said a company’s culture affects their decision to apply for a job.
  • 29% have rejected a job because of its values and culture.

Collaboration

A bad boss or immediate supervisor is not necessarily a fire-breathing dragon who constantly belittles their employee. You are a nightmare boss if you micromanage people and discourage collaboration between team members.

Research shows that 75% of workers will voluntarily leave a job because of an unhealthy relationship with their boss or supervisor. On the other hand, a collaborative environment fosters a sense of trust, loyalty, and accountability that breeds engaged employees.

These same studies found that when people collaborate, they feel greater ownership over the outcomes of their efforts and become more committed to those outcomes. When each individual’s skills are utilized more effectively, the team functions well together and builds strong relationships. When organizations tap into these shared values, they unleash energy that drives innovation while simultaneously driving up profitability.

Collaboration also allows the leadership to identify strengths and weaknesses among members and fill these gaps through coaching. Leaders who use coaching to build employees’ capacity have more engaged teams than those who don’t.

Communication

People in healthy relationships have open lines of communication; the same is true for organizations. Communication should be about open dialog between employees and the leadership in the workplace.

This report published in the Harvard Business Review ranks consistent communication as a critical factor in employee engagement. The same study shows that managers who hold regular meetings with their employees have teams that are 3x more engaged than those who don’t.

Managers who use a combination of communication channels (face-to-face meetings, e-mails, and phone calls) have the highest engagement rates. Employees whose managers give feedback within 24 hours feel more heard and valued, which explains their higher engagement levels.

One of the biggest reasons that companies miss the mark when it comes to employee engagement is that they often focus on the wrong issues. They leave core issues unresolved because they are under the false belief that compensation is the top engagement tool. The fact is that communication continues to be the most essential tool for developing a strong foundation between a worker and organization.

Two Often Overlooked Benefits of Employee Engagement

There is a direct link between employee engagement and customer satisfaction according to research found at American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI). Companies that boost the workforce engagement experience a correlating boost in customer satisfaction. Of course, this is more notable within industries where there is direct contact between customers and employees.

Two different studies have been conducted over the past decade that led to the same conclusion. Organizations that have higher employee engagement have fewer safety incidents. Both Gallup and Harvard Business Review have backed up this claim. 

The second benefit of employee engagement is reduced employee turnover. The topic of Employee turnover is quickly becoming a nightmare for businesses as we move further into the 21st century. Hiring costs are high and it takes dedicated resources to ensure that you’re getting qualified workers. Therefore, reducing employee turnover saves money that an organization can invest in growth.

Low employee engagement is the leading cause of high turnover. It also causes organizations to lose their top talent since competitors will snatch them away in a heartbeat.

happy-engaged-employees

The Top 5 Drivers of Employee Engagement

Drivers of employee engagement are factors that impact a worker’s experience in an organization. Generally, people develop commitments toward something because they feel connected to it. The work of corporate leaders and managers is identifying the factors that impact individual employees and acting on them to drive engagement.

There are 5 critical drivers of employee engagement in the current workplace environment. These are recognition and rewards, purpose and fulfillment, strong leadership, work-life balance, and training and development.

Strong Leadership

An organization’s leadership is the first driver of engagement, according to this 2018 Employee Retention Report by TINYpulse. The research also found that;

  • Employees that don’t feel comfortable giving upward feedback are 16% less likely to stay at their companies.
  • 40% of employees who do not rate their supervisor’s performance highly have interviewed for a new job in the last three months, compared to just 10% for those who rate their supervisor highly.
  • 23% more likely to stay if their manager clearly explains their roles and responsibilities.

This data shows that workers want to work in environments they are heard and involved in decision-making. Heather Younger, Founder & CEO of Customer Fanatix, said it best:

“Ninety percent of employee experience is driven by emotions. And leaders get to choose which emotions they unleash within the people they lead.”

Recognition and Rewards

Leaders can drive up employee engagement by making their employees feel valued. Employees who do not feel appreciated by their bosses and immediate supervisors are more disengaged and more likely to leave an organization.

TINYpulse reports that 24% of employees who felt they had not received recognition from their direct supervisor in the past two weeks had recently interviewed for another position, compared to just 13% who had received recognition.

You don’t necessarily need to offer your employees an expensive gift in an elaborate ceremony. Recognition can be as simple as saying thank you for doing an excellent job in passing or as lavish as a company celebration. However you do it, let employees see what they do matters by linking rewards to organizational goals.

Work/Life Balance

Employees without a work-life balance often experience stress and burnout at higher rates than those who do. They also have less time to exercise, socialize with family and friends, or participate in personal development programs. 

In the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, priorities are changing fast.

  • 53% of employees working remotely say a long-term remote work policy would make them consider staying at their organization longer.  
  • 10% would probably quit their job if their employers required them to return to the office full-time.
  • 87% are happier working independently
  • 72% of people consider work-life balance when job-searching.

Training and Development

The lack of high-quality training is a significant contributor to employee disengagement. Monster Insights reports that 45% of workers would be more likely to stay at their current job if their leaders offered more training. That sounds easy, but it’s not. 

The world is currently experiencing a rapid technological revolution. On the one hand, that is good because it has created platforms that make communication easier between teams and individuals. On the other hand, it means knowledge is becoming obsolete at unprecedented rates.

That said, brands must have innovative employee development programs aligned with the company’s values. The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) recommends developing programs that ensure your employees have top-notch skills, but not limiting it to that. The programs should also “outline and reinforce the organization’s core values and make sure that appropriate rewards and recognition go to employees who truly embody the values.”

Experts recommend embracing digital learning and educating solutions, like augmented and virtual reality, and implementing a blended training approach. According to the Achievers Workforce Institute, a “well-executed training and development program will result in workers who care more about today’s tasks and are more hopeful about tomorrow’s opportunities.”

employee-learning

Purpose and Fulfillment

Your employees do not just want a stable job that gives them great earnings. They want to feel they are contributing to something bigger than themselves. Author Daniel Pink’s research concludes that engaged employees are not motivated by fear of disciplinary action or worries of being reprimanded.  

Pink notes that human beings need to feel like they are in control. The desire to do good work and unleash creativity that impacts the world contributes significantly to employee engagement.

Deloitte’s research findings support this statement;

  • 42% of employees seeking new jobs believe their jobs do not effectively utilize their skills and abilities.
  • 27% cited a lack of challenge in their current jobs as the primary reason they need a new job.

On that note, you may be curious to read about what the best companies do, in order to make their employees feel like they truly matter!

Which of the Four Levels of Employee Engagement Fits your Company?

Employee engagement is measured in four levels. Each of these levels dictates everything from productivity to employee turnover. Which level does your company fall under?

High Engagement

This is the level every company tries to achieve but only select few organizations are able to achieve it. Employees who are highly engaged will reflect it in their everyday actions. They want the organization to succeed because they trust that the company’s growth will lead to their own success. Highly engaged employees also become brand advocates who always speak highly of their job to friends and family. This word of mouth praise often leads to customers, clients, and attracts top talent. It’s the position every company wants to be in.

Moderate Engagement

This is the middle ground where most companies find themselves positioned. Employees like their job but are open to further advancement from other sources. The workplace environment is hit or miss. Some employees are motivated to go above and beyond while others are content to just do the bare minimum. While they don’t dislike their job, they won’t go around bragging about it. Companies that fall under this level of engagement have a bottleneck somewhere. They won’t be able to boost employee engagement without removing that bottleneck.

Low Engagement

Companies that fall into this category either don’t have an engagement plan in place or they are using the wrong tools. Employees here couldn’t care less about their job. They are there to get a paycheck but if a better opportunity were to arise, they would leave in a heartbeat. Still, the workplace conditions are good enough to keep them coming to work but they will do the bare minimum.

Complete Disengagement

This is the bottom of the barrel. Employees who are completely disengaged from their job will have a negative opinion of the company. They don’t care about the mission, goals, or what happens to the organization. These employees are a ticking time-bomb and will leave at the drop of a hat even if they don’t have another job lined up. They always do the bare minimum. You do not want to have a disengaged workforce. If you notice an employee reflecting this type of attitude, you must take action as quickly as possible. They will negatively impact the whole workplace.

What are Employee Engagement Strategies?

Increasing employee engagement requires increasing positive emotional connection between an employee and the organization. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to achieving this goal because every company has unique needs. 

What one company might see as success, another may not find useful at all. Creating an employee engagement strategy can help measure your team engagement and provide insights into how you improve it.

As the term suggests, an employee engagement strategy is simply a series of steps and tools that helps an organization boost engagement.

Components of an Employee Engagement Strategy

As an organization, you should:                        

  • Review the company’s policies and procedures related to employee engagement
  • Identify areas where employees feel engaged or disengaged with their work
  • Implement feedback mechanisms that allow for open communication between managers and staff members
  • Periodic review and revision of the employee engagement strategy to ensure it remains relevant and effective

The core components of an employee engagement strategy include:

  • Ways to measure employee engagement 
  • Goals for employee engagement
  • Activities or initiatives to improve employee engagement 

24 Employee Engagement Strategies to Help Your Organization Succeed

The following is a round-up of effective employee engagement strategies shared by top HR experts across diverse industries. 

Identify Areas of Action

In order to create a solid employee engagement plan, you need to measure the right metrics. Don’t try and hit every driver because that won’t work. You need to determine which drivers are critical to your specific business and which ones your organization has the tools to hit.

Break out the drawing board and start mapping out areas where you can take action right now. For example, if you have a workforce currently struggling to be engaged, then you should start with them. Find ways of improving their engagement. Ask questions, hand out surveys, and figure out what steps you can take right now.

Create Sustainable Employee Engagement Strategies

A sustainable employee engagement strategy goes above and beyond simply handing out surveys and asking a few questions. An organization must lay out a detailed process that outlines consistent steps that are taken to boost engagement. Commit to a long-term strategy and get everyone involved. Leaders and staff will all have assigned roles within an employee engagement plan.

List all measurable in this plan and make sure it’s updated regularly so you know its performance. This plan is adapted over time as your business grows and employee desires change.

Communicate Clearly and effectively

The key to effective communication is knowing how and when to communicate. Effective communication can increase employee engagement exponentially, but it has to be prompt, precise, and up-to-date. If you know what people are supposed to do, let them know promptly. Also, ensure you provide routine updates if anything changes in the organization’s vision or mission so that employees clearly understand their role within the company and where they fit into the bigger picture. 

Cultivate Trust

Employees who feel they can trust their leadership are typically more engaged than those who don’t. Trust makes them feel more valued and appreciated, boosts a sense of ownership of their roles, and makes them more productive. 

“Trust is not gained through one big gesture, but is rather built in continuous small interactions and moments.” Rachel Botsman, author of ‘Who Can You Trust.’

Promote a Sense of Community Among Employees

For most people, the workplace is their second home. We spend a lot of time with our co-workers, so keeping things positive and enjoyable for everyone is essential. 51% of employees have left jobs because they lacked a feeling of belonging.

Community building does not just happen overnight; it takes time, effort, and creativity. Some tips for promoting a sense of community include hosting simple office games, team-building activities outside the office, and going for company-sponsored picnics.

Encourage Employee Participation in Decision-Making Processes

People are typically committed to something they helped to create. When you allow people to have input into how things are done at work, they will feel like they are being heard and valued as part of the team. More brains mean more inputs, and that translates to better solutions. Involving the team in decision-making also promotes transparency and ensures there’s less resistance to change.

Foster a Positive Work Environment

Employees who work in a toxic environment are unlikely to be happy, motivated, or engaged in their work. This workplace will lower their mood, drive, mental health, and productivity. You can increase employee engagement in your organization by taking care of the office ambiance, introducing a wellness program, and promoting diversity. Implementing a wellness program is easier than ever through wellness program softwares, and wearable technology. You, and your employees will benefit from this investment in the employee experience through increased employee engagement. There are tons of types of employee benefits that you can implement in your wellness program, some common examples include biometric testing to educate your employees about their health, wellness challenges to build team camaraderie, through to reimbursing your employees for their personal wellness purchases!

An open and welcoming environment for all workers, regardless of ethnicity, gender, or age/experience level, is likely to have more engaged employees than one where diversity is shunned.

Develop a Purpose-Driven Mission

Employees are so much more than a commodity that can be bought for the right price so your mission needs to reflect this fact. Obviously you have to pay people their value but your employee mission must go above and beyond just their paycheque.

Create a mission for each department so everyone understands the value they are adding to the company. Post this mission so everyone can see it. Having purpose makes people feel like they are important and it will boost their morale.

Stick Up For Your Core Values

Your company’s core values have a direct impact on employee engagement. Every company has values that are near and dear to them so be sure that you stick to those values in all situations. A company’s core values should never be compromised. When you say one thing and do another, employees will take notice and lose trust. Furthermore, top talent decides what company to work for based on its values.

Define these values right away and make sure they are posted somewhere in the workplace.

Encourage Employee Feedback

An organization can have an awesome boss and a positive work environment and still have disengaged employees. While that may not be the company’s fault, it doesn’t hurt to ask the disengaged members why they are disengaged and what you can do to change that. Make it easy for the employees to come to you with compliments and constructive criticism. Encourage formal and informal feedback from your team. This will help you figure out where you are going wrong and adjust your strategy accordingly.

Set Engagement Goals

Set goals for your employee engagement strategies just like you would any other business goal. Use the SMART acronym to ensure these are high quality goals. Define what you want to achieve, how it will be measured, and what role the goal will play in the overall strategy.

Creating tangible goals keeps your engagement strategy on the right path. Furthermore, if you make these goals public within your company, then they will also motivate employees.

Provide Employees with Appropriate Training and Development Opportunities

Learning should be continuous throughout an employee’s career, not just something that happens at the beginning or end of it. 80% of employees would feel more engaged in their work if they had access to continuous learning opportunities, according to research by Udemy. Other benefits of learning, educating and development programs include:

  • Increasing employee retention
  • Ensuring a solid leadership pipeline
  • Better teamwork and collaboration
  • Preparing the organization for change
  • Helping employees come up with new ideas, so they can contribute to the organization’s growth

Reward Top Performers Fairly, Consistently, and Generously

The need to be appreciated and valued is a fundamental human need. Recognizing employees for their work-related accomplishments can make them feel more valued, encourage them to do better work, and enjoy what they do on the job more often.

Address Employee Concerns Promptly and Effectively

Good managers listen to their teams. Great managers listen and promptly act on the issues their employees raise. They also actively manage employee engagement, by seeking employee feedback and concerns. Engaged employees will quickly lose motivation if they feel their concerns are being ignored. Being dependable will make you more trustworthy to your team and increase employee engagement.

Promote a Positive Work-life Balance for all Workers

In the post-pandemic world, remote work and work-from-home programs are the new norms. While that may offer your employees more flexibility, the lack of clear delineations between the company and personal hours poses a significant challenge. Stressors in the employee’s personal life can trickle into their professional life resulting in stress, anxiety, burnout, and depression, all of which have adversely affect employee engagement and productivity. Implementing positive work-life balance strategies can help avoid that.

Give Employees Autonomy

Giving your employees autonomy allows them to take responsibility for themselves and the things they need to get done. The sense of empowerment will boost morale and encourage creativity because it feels like you trust them enough. It will also increase creativity, boost productivity and promote skill development.

autonomy

Fulfill Contractual Obligations Promptly

When an employer and employee enter into a contract, they both have expectations of what the other party will do. Employees want to be treated with respect and have their contractual obligations fulfilled promptly. If you don’t meet these obligations, it can cause employee disengagement and lowers productivity. In other words, honor your commitments if you want an engaged workforce.

Uphold Accountability in your Organization

It doesn’t matter how high you set the bar if there’s no accountability process in place. An organization’s accountability process can be seen as a safety net for its employees.

It ensures that they follow the rules and stay in line with expectations while holding them accountable to their commitments. When there is no accountability process in place, people are more likely to stray from what is expected of them. However, it’s essential not to take away someone’s sense of autonomy by constantly policing them.

Conduct Periodic Employee Engagement Surveys

Periodic employee engagement surveys are a great way to keep tabs on how your employees feel about their work and what you can do to make them happier. They’re also an excellent opportunity for early intervention if your organization starts to see declining morale or performance. Choose a suitable employee engagement survey and stay ahead of your employee engagement needs.

Define and Live out your Core Values

Every organization has a set of values that inform its mission and vision. Values help to bridge the gap between how a company presents itself and what it actually does. Your role as a corporate leader is to define the values that guide your company and lead by example in its execution. Employees who identify their values in the workplace are more engaged than those who don’t.

Prioritize Employee Wellness

If you take care of your employees’ physical and mental health, they will be more engaged with their work. One of the best ways to promote employee personal wellness is by instituting on-site exercise facilities or subsidizing gym memberships for all employees. You can also introduce healthy eating habits at work through catering choices and healthy food options available in break rooms. These practices can lead to happier and more engaged employees and thus increase overall productivity.

Form an Employee Engagement Committee

Conducting the survey helps you identify the gaps in your strategy and what you can do to fill them. An employee engagement committee enables you to develop a plan for implementing these findings into your company culture so it has the maximum impact on employee engagement. An employee engagement committee should include all levels of management, HR representatives, and line employees. That will help you to understand your organization’s strengths and weaknesses from different perspectives and how best to tackle them.

Design a Solid Onboarding Process

A company’s onboarding process is one of the most critical parts of a new employee’s experience. While some may believe that an effective onboarding process simply involves teaching employees how to do their job, an engaging onboarding process can increase retention rates by creating excitement about the position and responsibility before anything else happens.

Bring in Top Managers

Managers are generals who lead employees into battle every day so they must be competent in keeping their workers motivated. Bad managers will wreak havoc on a workplace. We’ve all had at least one bad manager in our careers and I think we can agree that their influence is devastating to morale.

Create a vetting process that ensures you are hiring top managers. They must be able to handle employees and should be open to criticism. Make engagement a primary concern when bringing in new managers or promoting from within the company. 

What are Employee Engagement Tools

There is an app for virtually everything these days, including tracking employee engagement in your workforce. Employee engagement tools are technological innovations that help companies monitor what their employees need.

There are many different types of these tools, each with a different purpose or focus area. Some of the most popular employee engagement tools include:

  • Project management tools – These help teams organize, monitor, and keep track of their projects. They include tools like ProofHub, Monday.com, and Trello.
  • Employee engagement survey software – Helps gather information about how happy or unhappy employees are with their work environment. IncentFit helps companies gauge employee engagement through our Pulse Surveys product.
  • Employee recognition software- Simplifies the reward and recognition process and helps you increase employee engagement. Include tools like Reward Gateway, Kudos, and Kazoo.
  • Employee review platforms – Facilitate painless periodic performance reviews for feedback and goal setting. Include tools like Impraise, Lattice, and Reflektive.
  • The Best Employee Engagement Strategies Take TimeModern communication platforms- Foster effective and prompt communication in the organization. Include tools like Slack, Google hangouts, Zoom, and Mailchimp.

The Best Employee Engagement Strategies Take Time

It’s important to be realistic when creating employee engagement strategies. You won’t change the landscape of the workplace overnight. Take one step at a time and slowly improve engagement. Set realistic standards for your team to follow and be specific. You won’t raise engagement by creating unrealistic expectations of your employees.

Other Resources

Interested in how to use Wellness to promote an engaged workforce? Check out the “Definitive Corporate Wellness Landscape” for a high-level view of all of the options on the market right now! (Pro tip: look for the comparison table to which products are most common with companies your size.)

Want to learn more about corporate wellness? Take our three-part Wellness Foundations Webinar Series for HR managers. It’s a kickstart for anyone who wants (or needs) to dive head first into the industry. 

Learn more about IncentFit Pulse Surveys, to see give your employees a voice, and gauge your organizations’ level of employee engagement

Interested in speaking with a benefits expert for more one-on-one support? Schedule an introductory call with IncentFitWe’ll learn a bit more about your company’s unique needs and point you in the right direction.