Effective Employee Engagement Strategies

Sunday, February 5, 2023

What do you think defines a workplace? It isn’t the equipment, the office, or even the facility as a whole. A workplace is defined by its workers, also called human capital. These people determine the future of the organization as well as the quality of the workplace. Employees who are more engaged result in a better company.

Three colleagues in a library celebrating a birthday, with two wearing party hats and one holding a cake with lit candles as the woman reacts with joy.

Making sure your employees are engaged and connected has a huge impact on business. But employee engagement isn’t just about bonuses, perks like corporate gifts for employees, and good pay.

Before you ask how to improve it, you need to know what workers prioritize. This creates an environment where people stay, refer others, and put in their best effort every shift.

Today, we’ll be looking at what employee engagement is, the reasons it is important, what benefits it offers, and which employee engagement strategies work best. We’ll offer a variety of options to increase employee engagement through surveys, activities, and so much more.

What Is Employee Engagement?

Before we delve into additional topics, we want to provide a definition. In a few short words, employee engagement refers to an emotional and mental connection that employees feel toward their organization, their teams, and the work that they do.

Beyond that, employee engagement can be broken down into several levels. This lets a company determine how people feel about where they work. An employee’s perception of the workplace puts them into certain categories, which we’ll go into below:

1) Disengaged

Workers who have a negative opinion about their workplace are going to be disengaged. These employees are not connected to the future, goals, and mission of the company. They do not commit to their responsibilities or position.

Having a plan in place to handle disengaged employees is essential. If not, their negative feelings could lead to lower productivity in the employees around them.

2) Slightly Engaged

Slightly engaged workers tend to feel indifferent toward the place where they do work. Most of them will have no motivation for their role and do only what is required to get through the day. Some of them may not even do that much.

Slightly engaged workers have a high turnover rate and could be researching other workplaces.

3) Moderately Engaged

Next up is the moderately engaged employee. These workers see their workplace as moderately favorable. Perhaps they like the business but also see things that they wish would be improved.

They might not perform at their best and are less likely to ask for additional responsibilities. Something about the job or business holds them back from 100% engagement.

4) Extremely Engaged

Extremely engaged workers have very favorable opinions about the place they work. These employees love their jobs, are connected to their teams, and generally have positive feelings about the company. These are the individuals who will stay late and do extra work to ensure the business succeeds.

They speak well of the brand when speaking to friends and family. They also offer encouragement to other workers to do their best.

What Is Not Employee Engagement?

Now that you have an idea of what employee engagement is and how to gauge the engagement of workers at your business, you should know what employee engagement is not. Many people confuse employee engagement with well-being, satisfaction, or happiness. However, there are some major differences:

1) Wellbeing

What is employee well-being? It’s measured using a variety of parts of the worker’s life. For instance, well-being looks at whether a worker is reaching their potential or how well they handle stress. While well-being and engagement are not the same, they are connected. When employees have resources for better well-being, this can increase their employee engagement.

Employee engagement focuses on how someone connects with a company, not their own well-being.

2) Satisfaction

Employee satisfaction is hard to gauge on anything but a surface level. Some satisfied employees are not engaged. These are the people who don’t find ways to go above and beyond. They aren’t likely to leave but they don’t have the drive to keep going.

An engaged employee is highly productive, while a satisfied worker might cost through based on experience and knowledge.

3) Happiness

Many employers looking for an employee engagement tool are thinking about how to make employees happy. Happiness is wonderful but it isn’t the same as employee engagement. It doesn’t give insight into how invested workers are in a company or how hard they’re willing to work. Instead, happiness is changing and a short-term measurement. After a raise, someone might be happy for a while but then grow disengaged again.

Instead of being short-term, employee engagement is all about a long-term connection to a business.

Why Is Employee Engagement Important?

As a leader in a company, employee engagement is highly appealing. This is because it benefits things like happiness, job satisfaction, recruitment, and retention. However, the benefits of employee engagement can go much further than that. We’ll get into that a bit later on in this article.

Any organization driven by employee talent knows that workers are the greatest source of business success. In fact, 92% of surveyed executives believe employees who are engaged have better performance. This is only a single statistic that shows how important employee engagement is to a business of any kind.

If the workers are engaged in the workplace, the effort starts to rise. People want to do more than what is the basic role of their position. When managers and leaders channel that effort and energy into the right things, employee engagement offers a ton of benefits.

Excellent Benefits of Employee Engagement

Are you looking for productive workers? Research indicates that engaged employees are 17% more productive than others in the same company. Engaged people will put more effort into their jobs and work diligently regularly.

That isn’t the only way employee engagement benefits your brand. When someone is engaged in their job, they do not need to search for a position elsewhere. Three reasons engaged employees have lower turnover rates:

• Engaged workers are aware that their contributions will be recognized.

• Engaged employees see opportunities for career development and professional growth.

• Engaged people understand when and why organizational change has to happen.

These three things play into how a worker can connect the present with the future.

Over 70% of surveyed professionals have seen that very engaged workers also create happier customers. To take it back to corporate promotional gifts, workers are happier when they receive something that shows leaders care. Since engaged workers care deeply about their jobs, they also tend to treat their customers well.

Having people get up every day and show up at the office can be challenging in some situations. However, when your employees feel committed to the company mission, those are the people who will show up. Engaged workplaces experience 41% lower absenteeism.

At this point, you might wonder what other benefits could possibly be created by using employee engagement tools. There are two more we want to share with you at this time. The first is that engaged employees tend to be healthier. They are less likely to be obese or suffer from a chronic disease. They are more likely to exercise and eat healthier. Having healthier workers impacts the bottom line.

Finally, engaged employees pay more attention to their surroundings and focus on whatever task is the most important. This also means that they tend to be involved in fewer workplace accidents. Research shows that highly engaged workplaces have 70% fewer safety incidents.

The Main Drivers of Employee Engagement

When we talk about employee engagement drivers, we’re looking at things that hugely impact employee engagement outcomes. These are the things you should be considering when using employee engagement software or choosing a platform.

Every driver can have an impact on engagement – what is important is knowing which of them will have the most significant impact on your specific company. Once you have that information, it’s easier to come up with great employee engagement ideas.

Below are the 10 largest drivers of employee engagement to save you time when creating engagement strategies:

  1. Having all the needed information to do a job well.
  2. Being able to utilize strengths.
  3. Seeing senior leaders who demonstrate integrity.
  4. Trusting leaders to drive the company to success in the future.
  5. Having the ability to access career development and professional growth opportunities.
  6. Finding the job challenging and interesting.
  7. Knowing recognition will come when contributing to the company’s success.
  8. Seeing leaders value people above all other resources associated with the brand.
  9. Believe the business will succeed in the future.
  10. Knowing opinions count while in the workplace.

You may be able to pick out a few themes from this list that are powerful for increasing employee engagement. They speak about what is essential for engagement and connection within a workplace.

Presence of Motivating Work

While a corporate gift basket might be ideal as a reward for doing well, you also have to think about what kind of work an employee is tasked with. The majority of employees want roles that they find challenging. People want to own tasks that use their skills. They also wish to have the opportunity to access development for their careers and roles.

Because of this, leaders need to match workers to the right roles. They should have all of these aspects to create a more engaging job.

Inspiring Leaders and Teams

Team and leadership relationships are a crucial part of employee engagement. Workers want to work for teams and leaders who prioritize people, show integrity, and value the contributions of employees.

Commitment to the Organization

One of the best things a company can do is have a strategy for its success. This is the kind of place where workers want to be. They want to believe that their own contributions can play a part in that success. People tend to want to contribute to organizations and teams that are out there scoring wins.

Who Has an Impact on Employee Engagement?

Everyone within a company can have an impact on employee engagement. This comes from their attitudes that come into the workplace, their teamwork approach, and the quality of the relationships being built. However, the way that employee engagement is impacted can differ depending on the role:

1) Employees

We’re already talked about how workers are the most important aspect of employee engagement. These are the people out there on the front line and can offer insight into what the employee experience is like. Employees should be relied on to do the following things:

• Create meaningful relationships with their managers and teams.

• Own their development and performance.

• Brainstorm creative new solutions to address their concerns.

• Provide actionable, candid, and honest feedback about what is or isn’t working.

2) Managers

Managers are going to be engaging with employees more than anyone else. It’s their job to create a space where every individual can be engaged and thrive. Managers should be doing the following:

• Help employees grow and develop.

• Build great relationships with every worker.

• Offer continuous feedback on performance.

• Act as a sounding board for employee suggestions and feedback.

• Celebrate and recognize both team and individual performance.

3) Human Resources

The people who make up human resources should own employee engagement initiatives and keep teams accountable. These people are behind the scenes ensuring things go smoothly. Some of the things they should be doing include:

• Manage day-to-day happenings and needs associated with management efforts.

• Choose the right employee engagement partner.

• Develop and support managers.

• Implement processes and tools.

4) Senior Leaders

The last group to talk about is the senior leadership. Company leaders should be advocates for employee engagement. They are the top promoters and most influential campaigners for engaged company culture. Having buy-in from leadership is essential when considering employee engagement. A leader should be responsible for the following:

• Update the company on progress.

• Build a vision.

• Communicate any made changes.

• Set the tone.

Reason to Measure Employee Engagement

The first step to improving employee engagement is knowing what the company could improve and what it does well. Understanding how to measure employee engagement is the next step in the purpose of evolving your engagement strategy.

In some cases, measurements are simple since the concepts are solid. For instance, you can easily measure how many red lights you can hit without being late to work. However, employee engagement is a bit more complicated since it involves many factors and is less concrete.

Every business is unique so engaging employees will also need to vary based on the company. When you measure employee engagement, you get insight into the best ways to engage workers to create a successful future for the business.

Before we share some tips for measuring employee engagement, let’s look at a few reasons to go forward and do so.

Identify Problems, Strengths, and Hidden Truths

When employee engagement is measured regularly, obstacles can be found and tackled before they turn into major issues. The data you get from this practice also indicates what is going well and determine which teams and departments are stronger and weaker.

Build Trust

When an employee is asked for their opinions, it shows them that you care about how they feel at work. You need to prove you are there to listen to whatever they have to say so you can create an amazing experience for everyone in the company.

Help Everyone Understand What’s Happening

After the data is available from employee engagement survey questions, make sure it is shared across the business. That includes employees, managers, and leaders. When everyone has this information, they can all play a part in contributing to an excellent culture.

Understand Trends

Having data is essential so you know how things are going by team, location, over time, or even in comparison to industry benchmarks. This lets you keep an eye on where and how the operation is progressing (and where it might need some more attention.)

Creating the Right Employee Engagement Measurement Strategy

One of the best things you can do to measure employee engagement is to create a survey. However, any business can write up some employee engagement questions, send out a survey, and get a great deal of participation. The question becomes what to do once the survey is closed.

In many cases, companies feel unsure of how to move forward and become stuck at this point. If that’s the case in your situation, you may not have created a measurement strategy for the engagement survey.

To avoid this, start your survey from the conclusion. Think about the impact the survey should have and then go backwards from that decision. A few questions to ask yourself include:

• What form does the desired action take?

• Who is in charge of taking action based on the results of the survey?

• Who is accountable for following up on results?

While you design an employee engagement strategy, you need to measure answers to these inquiries. Managers should also be included.

Tips for Measuring Employee Engagement

Every question on an employee engagement survey should have a purpose. You want to have a way to measure things with several components. Below are a few of the things to think about for better measurement of employee engagement.

Determine Outcomes

Engagement outcomes are survey questions that represent the feelings or behaviors of an engaged worker. Most of these questions will measure advocacy, intent to stay, and pride in the organization. Outcomes can also indicate how employee engagement is at present in the company.

Let’s look at an example: “I think this company is a great place to work.”

This doesn’t have any specific action associated with it. The questions should identify outcomes so businesses know where to improve or maintain.

Identify Employees Priorities

Some survey questions are engagement drivers. These look at how employees fall under employee engagement levels. These questions might ask workers to rate things like the following:

• Career development

• Communication and change management

• Confidence in the future

• Individual needs (such as pay, benefits, or perks like corporate gift ideas)

• Recognition and value

• Teamwork

• Trust in coworkers and leaders

All drivers will have an impact on engagement but some are more important than others. Make sure the survey goes over many topics that impact engagement.

For example: “When I contribute to the success of the brand, I’m always recognized.”

Responses to this give an idea of how employees feel the company recognizes them and their efforts. Having drivers lets you determine what has the biggest impact on engagement. It can also determine the best employee engagement programs for the company.

Do a Drivers Analysis

A drivers analysis looks at which drivers are going to have the largest impact on the company. When this kind of analysis is done, you will likely find that the workers who rate certain drivers as more favorable are also more engaged than others.

The best strategy is to understand exactly what creates engagement in the business. It’s also good to look at the weak spots within the major drivers. Put employee engagement programs in place to improve those areas.

Create a Continuous Listening Strategy

Regular surveys are important for having actionable and valid results. However, that still leaves the question of how often is right. Research indicates that having an annual survey is better than a less frequent one. However, preferences and behaviors can change over time.

This means that the best option is to survey in different ways on a more frequent basis to make sure each person’s voice is heard. For instance, pulse surveys can be used to dig deeper into results and get more feedback on essential topics. On the other hand, lifecycle surveys let you measure perceptions across the important moments of the employee journey.

All of these findings help you build better strategies and make smart decisions that impact workers.

Things to Avoid When Measuring Employee Engagement

Now that you know how to measure engagement in the workplace, we also want to talk about what doesn’t work the way you might assume it does. There are some methods of measuring engagement that should be avoided. We’ll share more about that below so you can streamline the process.

Don’t Rely on Pulse Surveys

More frequent short surveys can be a useful part of a business’ employee engagement strategy. However, this should not be the only thing that is used to measure engagement.

For instance, the annual engagement survey gives you a big-picture view of what is occurring across the organization. It also gives you data to track important trends over time. This data is essential to building an all-inclusive strategy that meets the needs of the business.

However, this doesn’t mean you should avoid pulse surveys altogether. Instead, implement them to collect basic feedback on specific topics. The results of the surveys give you a timely view of employee engagement levels and the ability to adapt and respond fast.

Don’t Use Sample Populations for Surveys

Survey fatigue is real. However, many companies survey only a part of the workplace to avoid this fatigue. While this is done with the best of intentions, the annual engagement survey should not reach any less than every person who is an employee of the company.

When you leave out large numbers of employees, this is likely to skew the results you end up with. Choosing a sample population also defeats the purpose of why you are doing the survey. One of the most important things is to communicate that management and the company care about their employees.

As long as you create a thoughtful and strategic survey strategy, survey fatigue shouldn’t be much of an issue.

Don’t Focus Solely on Quantitative Results

We’ve already mentioned how useful engagement results can be. They are there to help you understand how successful attempts to improve have been through the eyes of employees. However, this doesn’t always work the way you would want. If the company only focuses on one or two data points, this can derail the process.

The whole point of an engagement survey is to get opinions and feedback from employees. It isn’t about hitting a certain score or seeing a specific number. Sometimes companies even find themselves voluntarily designing a survey that there’s no way to “pass.” This should be avoided at all costs.

Instead, look at the data points (quantitative results) along with the open-ended comments (qualitative feedback). When you use both of these things simultaneously to determine what the best options are for the business moving forward.

Don’t Use a Satisfaction Survey

A satisfaction survey or culture survey isn’t a bad thing to send out. However, this is not a method for measuring employee engagement. Or at least it shouldn’t be. Many of these surveys do not look at the measurement factors we talked about earlier in this article. If this is what you have created, be aware of that. When engagement items aren’t included, you’re measuring opinions and will have little idea whether it will impact overall engagement.

Don’t Only Use Surveys for Employee Engagement

Measuring employee engagement is important. However, it’s not the only process that should be in an engagement strategy. It’s only a first step before you move forward and put employee engagement ideas into effect. Surveys can’t make changes on their own – you have to use other tools for that.

After the survey, it should be analyzed. Next, direct reports and managers should take action. The best follow-up will use employee engagement technology to support and create habits that lead to increased engagement.

How to Increase Employee Engagement

There are a ton of methods to increase employee engagement. These could be long-term, such as improving training and development. Some might be short-term but important to the business and its employees. Below are a few of the best methods to improve employee engagement.

1) Live Your Values, Vision, and Mission

What is the purpose of the company? What is valued internally? Workers want to see that the organization they work for looks at the bigger picture and offers meaning to others or themselves. When a company puts its values into the overall work life, it can foster a work environment that is more meaningful to employees.

Most companies place their mission statement on their website but you need to go beyond this. The brand’s long-term values and mission should be incorporated into business functions to show employees you mean what you say. When employees understand the values of the company and why they matter, they are more likely to feel engaged and inspired.

2) Train Employees for Their Roles and More

Of course, every employee should have the training to do well in the role they were hired for. However, when you look at common reasons people choose to seek a new job, one of them is for more career growth opportunities. Having a clear path to develop can positively impact employee retention and recruitment.

For example, show workers how they can grow within the company rather than giving them another reason to seek employment elsewhere. Employees want to know they are supported and cared for by leaders and managers. This is something any good manager should provide. Mutual respect builds connections and can lead to success. The best companies realize employee potential can be unleashed with managers who support development.

The best way to go about this is by building a relationship where workers feel safe to share their interests, skills, and motivations. A few other options include:

• Incentivizing managers to help employees grow, even if that requires a transition between teams.

• Encouraging managers to care and learn more about their workers’ career goals.

• Ensuring new job opportunities in the company are internally publicized and employee development is celebrated.

• Helping managers look for development and cross-training opportunities through the use of interdepartmental manager meetings.

3) Make Sure Feedback Is Communicated the Right Way

When workers are at an organization with excellent internal communication, they tend to feel happier. They are heard, recognized, informed, and collaborate well with other teams. Encouraging a culture of connection and communication is what causes this.

• Show authentic care for workers and their concerns.

• Build a safe channel for workers to offer honest feedback and opinions.

• Ensure workers are informed about important business decisions.

• Show that you understand what is happening within the company.

When open communication is expected and made into a value from the top to the bottom, workers are more likely to ask for feedback and provide their own thoughts in return.

4) Volunteer as a Team and Engage in Other Activities

Acting as a team or participating in team employee engagement activities is a great way to create stronger relationships in the company while also helping people in the neighborhood. When team members engage in activities together, they build and grow relationships.

Think about your company values and mission as you create a team activity like volunteering for a local charity. This shows employees that you care about the things you promote as a brand. This doesn’t have to be expensive or time-consuming. It could as be simple as a lunch away from the office or as exciting as visiting an amusement park.

5) Address Inefficiencies and Evaluate Processes

Daily, make it a point to ask employees what their challenges are. This is great for finding out about any inefficiencies in the workplace. It can also drive improvements that make employees more engaged in their work. This offers a way to encourage new ideas, build trust, and hear concerns. After all, workers are those who are closest to problems and potential solutions.

6) Provide Meaningful Work

Since most people are spending hours at work every day, they want what they do to be meaningful. If there is meaning within work, employees tend to be more engaged, happy, committed, and productive. Employees who fully understand how their contributions help the business (and those it serves) are going to be motivated beyond a simple paycheck for a few perks.

7) Prioritize Onboarding

Everyone knows that first impressions are critical, which applies within the workplace. The process in place for onboarding gives a glimpse at how workers view their position and the company as a whole. Onboarding new employees is a great method to connect them with the company's values, vision, and mission. It gives them insight into how they fit into the larger organization.

The onboarding process should be used to show what makes the culture of your company unique. It also should go into how they will be vital in the team and as part of the business. Provide information about the role and express expectations for communicating with team members as time goes on.

8) Promote Healthy Habits at Work

A great way to increase employee engagement is by encouraging healthy habits among employees. For instance, when you promote the use of breaks during the workday, it helps prevent instances of burnout in the workplace. It avoids burnout and overworking, makes employees feel cared about, and can lead to more productive work.

The main priority here is to be certain all employees feel comfortable in the workplace. Allowing workers to have a flexible work schedule might be an option. Or perhaps you encourage a better work-life balance to ensure employees know you care about their well-being.

9) Ensure the Right Tools Are Available

Insufficient processes and a lack of resources can frustrate employees. That, in turn, can lead to lower employee engagement in the workplace. Use some of your time to be certain each employee has all the needed tools to get through the day. When there are fewer barriers to efficiency and employees feel connected, they are much more likely to be engaged.

10) Assign Workers to the Ideal Roles

When someone comes on as a new employee, they value being able to make the most significant contribution possible. This is why it’s critical to be sure every person is in the best role. It’s the only way that workers can reach their full potential. Make sure to bring this up as soon as possible, ideally during the hiring process. Then work to continue meeting expectations down the road.

11) Talk About Engagement Often and Openly

Not only should employee engagement be talked about regularly, but it should be a discussion that can be open. This allows you to incorporate it into the culture and show workers that you are taking it very seriously. Living the values of the company and being transparent increased employee trust and alignment at all levels of the company.

12) Make Use of Corporate Thank You Gifts

We’ve mentioned corporate logo gifts a few times and they can be a great way to show care and recognition for employees. Rather than giving hard workers a generic gift, look for customized corporate gifts that they will appreciate. The best corporate gifts are individualized and based on an employee’s hobbies, skills, and interests.

The top ideas for corporate gifts will be meaningful. These are things that fulfill someone in some way. It’s important to think about which luxury corporate gifts will make workers feel valued and cared about. This is going to vary between people and their roles in the organization.

When it comes to ideas for corporate gifts, think about a mission-driven gift, an employee recognition gift, an employee family gift, a gift for personal celebrations, or gifts for team milestones. You’re sure to end up offering something that is treasured and remembered, which can lead to better employee relationships and engagement.

When you’re looking to increase employee engagement, it’s best to start by determining where you stand now. Take meetings with employees and managers and look into the current engagement rate so you know where you are starting. Using the right software and tools can make this process easier. Keep up with surveys to continue making needed changes in the future.

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