How to Improve Employee Engagement: 16 Effective Tips

These strategies can help you boost employee engagement across your company.

Written by Kate Heinz
How to Improve Employee Engagement: 16 Effective Tips
Image: Shutterstock / Built In
UPDATED BY
Jessica Powers | Mar 23, 2023

Has employee engagement taken a hit in your office? You’re not alone. Only 32 percent of employees reported feeling engaged in 2022. But don’t panic — every organization is susceptible to changes in their team’s engagement levels, which is usually a result of a shift in their company culture. Plus, there are ways to learn how to improve employee engagement.

Improving employee engagement requires buy-in from your entire leadership team, and a successful engagement strategy warrants thoughtful planning. Don’t let that deter you; highly engaged employees will boost your organization’s profitability and productivity and even reduce employee turnover. 

In this article, we’ll explore 16 employee engagement strategies that you can implement as quick fixes and long-term tactics to boost employee engagement.

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What Is Employee Engagement?

Employee engagement is the degree to which employees are motivated by, passionate about and invested in their work. Engagement also indicates the individual’s commitment to the company and their emotional connection to the people with whom they work. 

High employee engagement levels are often key to a company’s productivity. If employees feel neglected or don’t think their company cares about its people, they may lose the drive to complete tasks and meet goals. Successful businesses support their employees with many benefits and activities, ranging from company outings to flexible work situations.   

It’s also important to note that many factors influence employee engagement, including location, company culture and individual characteristics. These factors are variable and prone to fluctuate over time, which is why measuring employee engagement is crucial to staying up to date with your staff’s needs.

 

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How to Improve Employee Engagement: 16 Ways

If you’ve noticed a change in your team’s engagement or are just getting acquainted with how to improve employee engagement, there are steps you can take to quickly make a positive impact in your office. We’ve put together a list of strategies to improve employee engagement in your workplace.

Employee Engagement Tips

1. Model your core values and mission.
2. Ask for and learn from feedback.
3. Make sure your managers are engaged.
4. Set up volunteer activities.
5. Support employees’ physical and mental health.
6. Recognize and reward top performers.
7. Send frequent employee engagement surveys.
8. Plan company outings.
9. Create employee resource groups.
10. Encourage passion projects.
11. Fine-tune your onboarding process.
12. Provide professional development and career path options.
13. Offer training opportunities and programs.
14. Remove unnecessary tasks from workflows.
15. Give employees flexible work situations.
16. Equip managers with employee engagement training.

 

1. Model your Company values and Mission

Employees are more engaged when there are company goals they can get behind and a purpose to inspire them. Start by creating a mission statement and a concise list of company values, then train each employee in these values. Doing so will guarantee employees understand the importance of the company’s values, how they positively impact the business and what’s expected of each individual. Lead by example and hold every member of your team accountable. Failing to do so will foster a culture of distrust that will disengage employees.

 

2. Prioritize feedback

Employees rate giving feedback as one of the most important skills a manager can have, right behind communication. Employees crave feedback, and it influences their level of engagement. Start by scheduling check-ins for each employee with their manager, then encourage middle management to establish regular review sessions with their team as an ongoing initiative to improve employee engagement. 

While it may be tempting to implement a company-wide schedule for feedback, keep in mind that every team is different and frequent touchpoints may feel unnatural to some. Managers should talk to their direct reports about their preferred methods for receiving feedback in order to engage employees in a way that’s meaningful to them.

 

3. Concentrate on engaging management

Manager engagement has ripple effects on the rest of their team. Let’s take a look at some stats: in the U.S., only 34 percent of employees were engaged at work in 2021, and engagement decreased by 7 percent among managers. Employees report that 75 percent of great managers are passionate about the work they do — that kind of positive attitude is contagious. While your workforce engagement strategy should account for the individual needs of every employee, focusing on middle management is an effective way to improve employee engagement across the board.

 

4. Coordinate volunteer opportunities

Employees want to know they work for a company that cares about making a positive contribution to society. Volunteering unites employees toward a larger purpose, offering an opportunity to connect on a deeper level. Indeed, 70 percent of employees believe volunteer events improve morale more than happy hours and 89 percent believe companies that sponsor charitable activities have a better work environment.

Look for a volunteer opportunity that’s located near your office and plan an event for after work. This is an easy way to create team building activities and give back to your community. Additionally, offer a “Volunteer Day” as an employee benefit. This should be a day outside of your PTO policy that employees can take off to donate their time to a cause they’re passionate about.

 

5. Prioritize physical and mental health

It’s easy for individuals to engage with their work when the organization makes an effort to enhance their overall well-being. A company-wide wellness initiative is a great way to improve employee engagement. Sponsor workout classes as company outings and consider offering fitness subsidies to encourage healthy lifestyles beyond the office.

Offer meditation classes and encourage employees to take mental health days when they need to step away from the office and focus on themselves. Additionally, stock the kitchen with healthy snacks that will fuel employees during the busy work day.

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6. Recognize top performers and reward achievements

Typically, you can spot the most engaged employees because they are the ones with intrinsic motivation and going the extra mile in their jobs. You will want to acknowledge their efforts and let them know you appreciate their hard work. 

Since feedback is a top priority among employees, encourage managers to make positive recognition part of their day-to-day. Utilize your communications channel to share acknowledgments, positive feedback and work anniversaries to the whole company. Additionally, consider engaging your HR department to implement an incentive program.

 

7. Conduct Frequent employee engagement surveys 

Not only will regular employee engagement surveys help you understand what’s working in your organization, but they will make your employees feel valued. Giving each individual the opportunity to voice their opinions encourages honest, open communication. Employee feedback is essential to successfully engaging your workforce. You can look to notable corporations for inspiration, but at the end of the day, your team is unique and will respond best to certain employee engagement strategies. Quick pulse employee engagement surveys give you the data to do just that.

 

8. Plan company outings

Chemistry and trust between employees helps to improve employee engagement overall. To foster these bonds, set up opportunities for them to connect on things outside of work and establish personal relationships. This can be as easy as a virtual game night or a lunch outing. Make sure to provide some variety in your events to promote inclusivity.

 

9. Form Employee Resource Groups and Create an ERG Program

Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) are highly valuable tools for helping employees feel visible in the workplace and are an excellent way to highlight cultural uniquenesses and diversity throughout the workplace. ERGs typically represent marginalized or underrepresented groups, are employee-led and are voluntary to join. These groups can have a profound effect across your entire organization and allow employees to take the lead in creating a sense of community, amplifying voices and driving the change that they want to see in order to form a more equitable workplace. Organizations will also feel the impact of their employees creating ERGs, which may lead to increased productivity and a positive impact on the ROI of the hiring process.

 

10. Foster innovation Through Passion Projects

Employees who feel like they can contribute meaningfully to company goals and mission use their own personal skills and expertise to do so will not only feel more engaged while working, they will feel more passionate about their jobs as well. And with GoRemotely reporting that only 20 percent of Americans are passionate about their jobs, helping bring passion into the workplace is a key area of improvement when it comes to employee motivation.

Bonusly combats lack of passion by allowing employees to innovate within the workplace, reserving a week out of every quarter to allow teams to work on something outside of their day-to-day projects. This allows teams from across the organization to work together and support each other — even leading to new products and streamlined processes being developed.

 

11. Beef up your onboarding process

You’ll never disengage an employee faster than in their first few weeks on the job. By providing new employees with effective onboarding, you let them know they have a place in your company and its culture. Take the time to explain the nuances of the team, the goals and values of the company as well as their position’s purpose. This not only sets them up for success in the role but also conveys their value to the organization’s mission.

 

12. Offer professional development opportunities and career paths

Over 60 percent of employees who left their jobs in 2021 listed a lack of opportunities for career advancement as a reason for their decision. Outlining a path for growth will create engaged employees and help you retain top talent. Not only that, but contributing — financially or otherwise — to your employees’ individual growth shows that you value them, in addition to their work. Knowing that their talents are appreciated by the company is a motivating factor for employees. Moreover, regardless of which industry you serve, the market will constantly evolve and professional development is key to staying relevant.

 

13.  Encourage and Provide Training Opportunities

Career growth has become a priority for many workers, with 49 percent of employees wanting to develop new skills but not knowing how to get started. Incorporating opportunities for employees to bolster their skill set, learn from their peers and undergo structured training programs will not only make them more productive and engaged in the workplace, it might even stop them from pursuing a new role elsewhere.

Building structure around an employee training program can be as simple as providing all employees with a stipend for them to use toward job-related training courses or scheduling meeting times for senior team members to teach junior employees new skills that will help them along their career paths

Sometimes, bringing in outside consultants to host workshops or present new insights can be the most effective way to provide training to entire teams. 

Regardless of how an organization structures its training programs, they can be sure that the more engaged they are in providing direct opportunities for employees to develop new skills, the more likely it will be that their employees will remain consistently engaged in their daily work.

Further ReadingWhy Is Organizational Culture Important: 4 Key Benefits

 

14. Evaluate processes and address inefficiencies 

Unnecessary tasks slow down processes and can cost your business revenue. More than that, though, it’s frustrating for employees. Tedious extra steps prompt employees to switch on cruise control, which essentially means they’re not engaging with their work.

For example, if a writer has to individually log every minor change that’s made to a piece of sales collateral, they’ll probably spend twice as long on the project while being half as invested. Automating the process — in this case, a simple switch to Google Docs to utilize the Track Changes functionality — allows the writer to focus on writing. While certain tasks can’t be eliminated, you should operate with the mindset of optimizing processes and implementing resources that enable employees to be successful in their roles. 

The impact goes beyond the employee experience in an office setting as well — contractors must provide their employees with tools that will allow them to complete a job safely and on schedule, while service employees need to be able to use specific tools in order to provide the level of service expected of both them and their employers. From hardware to software to things as simple as a comfortable desk chair, corporate employees must be provided with top-tier tools in order to meet the needs of their employers, and those tools must be evaluated regularly.

 

15. Provide employees with flexibility

Flexible work schedules and remote work opportunities are almost guaranteed to increase employee engagement. This kind of flexibility caters to the elusive work-life balance employees crave. Almost 70 percent of employees would prefer to switch careers for better work-life balance at the expense of higher pay. Provide employees with the opportunity to be remote workers and the ability to adjust their work hours to accommodate for after-school pick-up schedules, a fitness class they enjoy or passion projects in order to show that you value your team members on a personal level. That kind of respect and consideration is sure to improve employee engagement. 

 

16. Train your managers in employee engagement best practices 

Two of the biggest factors in driving employee engagement are training managers and holding them to high standards. In addition to ensuring that management is engaged, give your senior and middle managers the tools they need to connect with and empower their direct reports. 

Offer training programs and leadership development seminars to better equip managers for their roles. In addition to their individual responsibilities, a manager should act as a coach for their reports, offering encouragement, constructive criticism and paths for growth. Proper training ensures that managers know how to effectively engage their team, but it doesn’t replace the vital step of talking to employees. Having a conversation about how they enjoy receiving feedback and being recognized will help managers improve the employee experience. 

 

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