How to Improve Employee Engagement

how to improve employee engagementEmployee engagement is a hot topic. And it’s no wonder.

Employee engagement is linked to lower turnover, increased productivity, and improved business performance. But improving employee engagement isn’t always simple.


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There are many factors that impact employee engagement. In this article, we’ll cover why engagement is important and proven tips for how to improve employee engagement and drive better business outcomes, such as:

  • Prioritizing company culture
  • Reaffirming areas of strength
  • Understanding the needs of disengaged employees
  • Coaching and training great managers
  • Tying engagement efforts to business outcomes
  • Making engagement a strategy, not an activity


The importance of keeping employees engaged at work


There’s been a lot of talk about employee engagement in recent years. So what’s all the fuss? Is engagement really all it’s cracked up to be?

While engagement won’t solve all your problems, it can create the type of organization where employees want to work and where they can excel. This is good for employees and for business.

A few key benefits of employee engagement include:

  • Improved employee health (leading to fewer sick days, lower insurance costs, and higher productivity)
  • Lower turnover and greater employee loyalty
  • Increased productivity, sales, work quality, and profitability

Gallup found that highly engaged employees outperform disengaged employees by 10% on customer ratings, 22% in profitability, and 21% in productivity.

In other words, higher engagement means better performance across the board.

So what can you do to improve employee engagement in your organization?


6 tips for improving employee engagement


Engagement drives employee performance, satisfaction, health, and loyalty, leading to better work, happier customers, and a healthier bottom line. But what drives engagement?

Engagement isn’t achieved with just one solution. Creating and supporting an engaged workforce requires a multi-pronged engagement strategy fueled by continuous improvement.

Whether you have already prioritized engagement at your organization or are just getting started building it into your business strategy, there are many things you can do to impact engagement.


Here are a few proven ways you can increase employee engagement:


1. Prioritize company culture.

Positive company culture is linked to lower turnover and high employee engagement. So any conversation about engagement must include a strategy for improving company culture. 

However, it’s worth noting that while company culture and employee engagement are interrelated, they are distinct: 

Company culture is the shared values, characteristics, and norms of an organization that make up the overall work environment.

Employee engagement is how connected employees feel toward their places of work.

The type of culture you create can either strengthen or weaken your employees’ connection to their work.

For example, company culture can impact engagement drivers such as:

  • The level of trust between leaders and employees
  • How valued employees feel for their contributions 
  • How aligned employees are with a shared mission

As you outline a plan for engagement, make sure you prioritize strategies that foster a positive company culture.


2. Reaffirm areas of strength.

While it’s important to address areas of weakness, don’t be afraid to highlight your strengths as well. Keep your engagement strategy top of mind by reaffirming what is working well. Celebrate wins and advertise successes with current and prospective employees.

For example, if you have a strong employee development program, be sure to highlight that—internally and externally. Make sure your employees know what opportunities are available so they are more likely to take advantage of them.

When employees see what action has been taken and the successful results, they are more likely to be engaged and satisfied at work. Plus, engaging work practices are a great way to attract new and top talent.


3. Understand and address the needs of disengaged employees.

In order to drive engagement, you have to understand why employees are disengaged in the first place. Causes can range from lack of recognition and feedback to poor communication and employee development.

To dial in on disengagement in your own organization, you need to go right to the source: your employees. Solicit feedback through:

  • One-on-ones
  • Surveys
  • Performance reviews
  • Exit interviews

Ask them what they need, what is working, and what isn’t. Once you understand what is driving disengagement for your workforce, you can take action.

Pro Tip: Tell your employees how you plan to act on feedback and communicate results as you go. This demonstrates you are listening to them and value their feedback. Plus, it will build trust and participation in the future (and won’t hurt engagement either).


4. Coach and train great managers.

All your engagement efforts won’t matter much without the support of great managers on the ground. Managers account for 70% of the variance in employee engagement scores. This means that managers are the biggest influence on employee engagement.

However, managers don’t always have the support they need to make a positive impact. Empower your managers to impact engagement by giving them the tools, resources, and training they need to succeed with these tips:

  • Give managers access to survey data and engagement reports
  • Provide guidelines on gathering and acting on feedback
  • Make employee engagement a KPI for leaders so they prioritize and measure it
  • Train managers on leadership best practices that impact engagement, such as employee recognition, employee development, and one-on-one communication

Managers can make or break engagement. So make sure you’re prioritizing and enabling their success every step of the way.


5. Tie engagement efforts to business outcomes.

What is the impact of your engagement strategy? You need everyone on board to make your engagement plan a success. But if people don’t understand how engagement affects their work (or the bottom line), they are less likely to buy-in.

Communicate your engagement efforts to your organization and connect those efforts to tangible results. Identify key business metrics you will use to measure success such as:

  • Turnover rates
  • Sales
  • Customer satisfaction
  • Financial performance
  • Employee health
  • Product quality

When both leaders and employees see the impact of engagement efforts, they are more likely to be invested in the process. The more support and buy-in you get at each level, the more success you will have.


6. Make engagement a strategy, not an activity.

If you want to move the needle on engagement, it has to be a continuous strategy, not just a one-off project you set and forget.

78% of highly engaged companies implement employee engagement initiatives year-round.

When engagement is only addressed infrequently or sporadically, employees don’t feel heard or supported. There is greater disconnect, less trust, and less motivation. Don’t miss opportunities to engage.

Build continuous feedback into your culture so you can:

  • Identify areas for improvement
  • Address concerns before they lead to disengagement, burnout, and turnover
  • Reinforce strategies that are working well

As you listen to your employees and prioritize engagement throughout the year, you will see greater engagement and a better return on your investment.

Employee engagement isn’t a simple undertaking. But when you understand what drives engagement and how your efforts can impact employees on the ground, you can create a workplace that fosters high performance and engagement.



Transform your workplace with The New Era of Employee Engagement.

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Published September 24, 2020 | Written By Jocelyn Stange