How To Improve Employee Engagement: A Handy Guide

Nearly everyone works to earn a living. It’s a simple fact about modern society. Yet how a worker views a job and performs are different things altogether. Many aspects factor into how a team member feels about their job, but employee engagement is the key to unlocking a person’s full potential and job enjoyment.

Employee engagement is the transformative feature that turns a job into something more. Their emotional connections to others, dedication to a shared vision, and enthusiasm all contribute to their job satisfaction, productivity, and positivity in their position.

From a business perspective, an engaged employee is an organization's happy, committed, and stalwart asset. They’re more than willing to help and go beyond the outline of their job description.

So why do so many employers struggle with it? They’re unsure how to improve upon their current initiatives and practices. Over time, a lack of employee engagement strategies can lead to stagnation and disengagement, further hindering managers and leaders from employee engagement goals.

If you’re struggling to find ideas and strategies on how to improve employee engagement, you’re certainly not alone. Use this handy guide to learn more about the importance of employee engagement, why you should prioritize it, and applicable methods to ensure employee well-being, excitement, and satisfaction.

Why You Need To Learn How To Improve Employee Engagement

Members of a team high-fiving

Despite the many benefits of employee engagement, many employers fall short of worker expectations. According to a 2023 Gallup poll, research shows that only 32% of American workers and 23% of global workers feel engaged in their current positions. These staggeringly low employee engagement levels can easily explain downticks in productivity, increases in burnout and absenteeism, and a higher potential of disengaged employees searching for new jobs.

Simply put, employees are less willing to work hard without a sense of purpose. Without a sense of purpose or a connection to the company and coworkers, the detriment to an organization becomes evident quickly.

Learning how to improve employee engagement can solve many of the issues with low morale, and understanding its importance can provide several advantages:

  • Increase employee retention/lower employee turnover
  • Align company culture with a company’s mission and core values
  • Empower employees to do their best work, speak up, and complete tasks autonomously when possible
  • Improve teamwork
  • Foster a supportive work environment with open communication and discussion
  • Enhance the onboarding process
  • Discover development opportunities and better business practices through employee feedback
  • Increase a company’s profitability and bottom line
  • Lower absenteeism by up to 41% and reduce burnout

Through deliberate and thoughtful action by leaders and management, employee engagement becomes ingrained in company culture as a whole.

How To Improve Employee Engagement: 9 Powerful and Proven Ideas

Engaged employees at a meeting

One of the most interesting aspects of how to improve employee engagement is that it’s affordable and somewhat easy to implement to scale. You don’t have to allocate money from elsewhere to make an effective employee engagement campaign, and you can create an engaged workforce just by putting a few ideas into effect.

If you want to improve your current practices and programs, use some of these drivers of employee engagement to enhance them even further. They’re proven, effective, and powerful methods that can make the difference between detached and enthusiastic teams while fostering an impressive company culture.

1. Create Employee Recognition Programs and Incentives

A straightforward yet low-cost way that’s a proven method of how to improve employee engagement is an employee recognition and incentive program. Standalone software or integrations for collaboration software such as Asana or Slack are ideal, offering low maintenance that’s ideal for leaders with time constraints.

If you want to identify, recognize, and praise your team for their hard work, an incentive program takes employee engagement one step further. Using virtual gift cards or rewards systems, you can give a small token of appreciation that will keep your employees motivated and engaged.

2. Bolster or Improve Professional Development Programs

Employee engagement often lags due to a sense of stagnation. In certain positions, employees feel they have no chance for vertical achievement within a company, hence a lack of motivation and morale.

That’s what makes employee development so crucial. Growth is a decisive factor in engagement and motivation. If you offer programs and chances for career advancement for both seasoned and new employees, you provide opportunity as an incentive. It’s an investment in your team that will pay dividends in the form of productivity and increased employee engagement.

3. Plan Company Retreats and Outings

Much of employee engagement centers around being part of something bigger. So if you want to foster the idea of growth and help your employees buy into your vision, regular company retreats and outings are paramount.

During these retreats, your team engages in team-building activities, seminars, and breakout sessions that build skills relevant to their job and career. Moreover, outings serve as a way to boost camaraderie between team members and increase the realization of common goals.

4. Ask Your Employees for Ideas and Feedback

If you already have an employee recognition program or other initiatives to promote employee engagement but they seem to fall short, go straight to the source. Send your employees a pulse survey or an in-house employee engagement survey to gauge their interest in particular programs, get feedback on current employee engagement, or gather fresh employee engagement ideas.

Even if you find that learning how to improve employee engagement has been successful, get regular feedback from your employees to grow and expand your initiatives.

5. Create a Company Mission and Values

A company's mission and values may seem like antiquated, business-school documents that don’t add much value to your idea or vision. However, writing these down can shed light on what’s important to you and your business while giving employees a purpose and identity within your company.

If you create a meaningful vision and mission and train your employees and new hires to embrace them, you build trust and foster a culture of accountability. It’s a win-win for both sides.

6. Conduct Regular Check-Ins

Two people at a one-on-one business meeting

Regular meetings, check-ins, and follow-ups all have their place within a functioning and successful business — but don’t go through the motions. Have an agenda, a reason for the meeting or one-on-one, and use your communication skills and active listening to have a meaningful get-together.

Use these check-ins as a safe space for feedback and interaction, which helps you gain insight into any issues your employees may have. The more you can pare away discomfort, build trust, and help employees, the better your chance of improving employee engagement.

7. Emphasize and Encourage Work-Life Balance

Work-life balance has become a buzzphrase in the past few years, but it’s become an integral way of how to improve employee engagement. When you allow employees to use a flexible work schedule, you enable them to handle professional pursuits and personal commitments all in one.

If flexible work schedules aren’t conducive to your business model, consider other alternatives, such as:

  • Unlimited PTO policies
  • Extra vacation days as part of your employee recognition and incentive program
  • Hybrid or part-time remote work arrangements

8. Do Team-Building Activities

Team-building activities are a tried-and-true method of improving employee engagement. These exciting activities allow your team to collaborate outside the office, learn more about each other, and have fun simultaneously.

It’s therapeutic to many workers and increases engagement, subsequently leading to more productivity. According to statistics, engaged teams are 21% more profitable, adding even more importance to team-building in all of its forms.

Team building also offers other benefits beyond employee engagement, such as:

  • Better bonding
  • Improved collaboration, teamwork, and innovation
  • Streamlined decision-making and critical thinking
  • Emphasis on shared goals
  • Boosted morale

9. Focus on the Physical Health, Mental Health, and Wellness of Your Team

Learning how to improve employee engagement is more than retreats, rewards, and incentives. It’s about a holistic approach to each team member as both a worker and an individual.

A concerted effort to ensure the physical health, mental health, and wellness of your is an integral part of employee engagement. When you show that you care about each employee on a personal level, they’re more likely to stay engaged in their work or go the extra mile for the business.

To focus on the health and wellness of your team and avoid burnout, you have numerous options:

  • Offer a free or discounted gym membership
  • Include mental health check-ups as part of your insurance plan
  • Replace sugary snacks with healthier ones around the office
  • Encourage the use of mental health days
  • Initiate a wellness class in the office, such as yoga, pilates, or meditation

Take the Employee Experience One Step Further

The best employee is a happy employee, but workplace culture and employee engagement are only part of the solution. You must create an entire employee experience that permeates every aspect of workers’ professional lives.

Professional and career development are the missing pieces of the puzzle. With the right leadership program, coaching, mentoring, and growth opportunities, you create a holistic approach to engagement and satisfaction.

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