blog / Workforce Development
15 Employee Engagement Ideas and Strategies That Work
According to many metrics, we’re experiencing a crisis of low employee engagement. In its 2021 State of the Global Workplace report, Gallup found that 80% of employees aren’t engaged or are “actively disengaged” at work. And this costs the global economy over $8 trillion in lost productivity each year.
In a competitive talent market, low engagement is likely to drive continued turnover and diminished company outcomes. To thrive in the future, organizations should act quickly to increase and maintain positive engagement among employees.
Why Employee Engagement Matters
Employee engagement not only predicts turnover rates (which can be costly) but also predicts performance. According to Gallup, increasing a company’s engagement rate to just 70% can be transformational and prove a significant driver of increased profit.
On the other hand, stressed-out and disconnected employees are unlikely to perform at their peak. This can have a serious negative impact on the organization’s bottom line.
Ideas for Employee Engagement
Given the importance of increasing engagement, it’s no wonder companies are looking for examples of employee engagement strategies. The following tactics can help organizations build a long-term, sustainable commitment that drives profits and satisfaction.
1. Invest in Employee Training
Investing in upskilling or reskilling employees sends a powerful signal. It demonstrates to employees that their employer values their work, notices their potential, and plans to keep them on board for the long haul.
It’s no surprise that LinkedIn Learning found that 94% of employees will stay longer with their company if it’s willing to invest in their development. Organizations can either build out internal training programs or send their employees through targeted external programs like those Emeritus offers.
2. Recognize Employees’ Work
Showing employees you value and appreciate them (and the work they do) is essential for higher engagement. Research shows that on high-performing teams, employees receive five times more positive recognition than criticism—a ratio that keeps motivation high while encouraging growth.
Public recognition (like a manager praising a direct report’s efforts in a team or all-staff meeting or an internal newsletter) is particularly effective. Companies with especially strong cultures may take it even further. Southwest Airlines, for example, highlights a “Star of the Month” on its website for the world to see.
3. Regularly Reevaluate Compensation
In today’s high-inflation environment, employees are highly conscious of any disconnect between their salaries and the rising cost of living. As the price of everything from housing to gas increases, it’s no surprise that employees are more likely to keep a close eye on their salary in relation to the tight labor marketplace.
Companies that fail to keep their compensation competitive may experience both disengagement and high quit rates. But those that increase salaries and provide bonuses when appropriate are more likely to keep their employees engaged.
4. Provide Benefits That Matter
Employees rely on their company for necessities like health insurance and sick leave. Therefore, it’s not surprising that a strong benefits package can be a major driver of employee loyalty.
According to Paychex, 39% of employees report that more paid time off would increase their company loyalty. Meanwhile, 23% placed a better or more accessible health insurance policy at the top of their wishlist. For many employees, benefits like increased parental leave or access to quality healthcare providers are central to satisfaction.
5. Identify Career Paths
Employees who can envision a future within their organization are far less likely to leave–and are more likely to engage fully with their role. As one of their employee engagement ideas, managers should work closely with their direct reports to identify potential areas of progression. Then they should provide the resources and guidance necessary to help employees advance their careers.
6. Offer Flexible Work Options
After the COVID-19 pandemic proved that we can do many jobs effectively from home (and further blurred the lines between work and personal life), it’s more important than ever for employees to be able to do their jobs without burning out.
Companies that offer options like remote or hybrid work, compressed workweeks, or flexible hours will likely see increased employee engagement and loyalty. These measures also indicate to employees that their company’s leadership trusts them to do their jobs without micromanagement.
7. Help Employees Understand the Bigger Picture
For employees to feel connected to their companies, they need to understand the organizational mission and what part they play in it. Organizations should ensure their mission is clear, reflects the work being done, and aligns with company priorities.
According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), managers also play a central role in effectively conveying the company mission to their employees and helping them connect it to their roles.
8. Carve Out Dedicated Time for Employee Learning
Most employees value the opportunity to learn new skills and build their career toolbox. But it can be difficult to make the most of upskilling and reskilling initiatives while performing a demanding job. Companies can boost employees’ participation in learning and development programs while reducing stress by carving out dedicated time during the workday or week for training programs. They should reduce employees’ workloads to ensure participants have adequate bandwidth.
9. Build Learning Communities
Organizations can magnify the benefits of upskilling and reskilling by allowing employees to learn and grow together. Forums (whether as in-person meetings or online) for employees going through similar training courses or programs both provide a space to share ideas and ask questions. They’re also an opportunity to deepen connections with colleagues.
For maximum impact, companies should consider recruiting a current or past participant in the training program to lead the discussion sessions.
Organizations can magnify the benefits of upskilling and reskilling by allowing employees to learn and grow together.
10. Prioritize Transparency and Trust
Employees want to feel that their leadership trusts them. Similarly, they want to understand their company’s standing and prospects.
Open corporate cultures that share key metrics like earnings as well as less positive information, like growth concerns, are more likely to breed engagement. Buffer, a social media scheduling platform, publicly posts all salaries and how it calculates them as part of its efforts to build a culture of openness. While not all companies will want to go that far, most can benefit from some measure of increased transparency.
11. Understand Employees’ Values and Preferences
While approaches like increasing compensation and providing flexibility are likely to offer benefits across the board, it’s also important to consider individual employee preferences. Some employees, for example, may enjoy more public recognition for their work. Others may prefer a quieter approach.
Similarly, some employees are more sensitive to critical feedback, while others prefer that their managers be upfront in their opinions. As the SHRM explains, some companies use personality inventories to assess employees’ preferred communication methods, but just asking is both simpler and comes with no cost.
12. Provide Opportunities for Feedback
When employees feel that they lack a voice at their company, engagement is likely to decrease. Providing formal and informal opportunities for them to share ideas and even critique the organization’s operations helps build a sense of ownership within the company, raising both engagement and productivity. Combining tools like pulse surveys and in-person, one-to-one conversations can help provide feedback opportunities at scale.
13. Supply the Right Tools
For employees to do their best work, they need to have the right tools. This includes not only hardware like computers and phones but also modern and functional software to perform key job functions and better collaborate with colleagues.
To reduce frustration among employees, companies should identify the most streamlined options to track project progress, meet virtually, and more. No one wants to spend their time on duplicate data entry. So getting different departments and teams on the same page is essential.
14. Provide Opportunities to Build Meaningful Connections
When employees feel connected to their colleagues and peers, engagement will rise. Companies should prioritize opportunities for staff to build real relationships—not just the icebreakers of the past.
Ernst and Young, for example, has had impressive success in building resource groups for employees who share identities ranging from ethnic background to gender to parental status. This approach can help companies build a sense of community within the organization. Lower-lift tactics like creating channels in Slack for employees to share pictures of their pets or discuss their favorite sports teams can also go a long way.
15. Model Work-Life Boundaries
Work-life balance is more than just a buzzword; it’s a key to employee satisfaction and performance. However, most employees will struggle to maintain a healthy balance if it’s not modeled and encouraged throughout the organization.
Managers should feel encouraged to limit communications with direct reports to work hours whenever they can and encourage as much flexibility as possible. Organizational leaders can model this behavior by being mindful of how they communicate with their colleagues and by demonstrating a commitment to life outside of work (for instance, by taking their allotted vacation and actually using it to disconnect).
Employee engagement can’t be built overnight. But companies that take note of their peers’ employee engagement ideas and strategies and develop their own unique approaches to building a sustainable culture will be richly rewarded.
Upskilling and Reskilling as Employee Engagement Ideas
Interested in leveraging upskilling and reskilling as one of your strategies for employee engagement? Schedule a meeting to learn about partnering with Emeritus to develop online programs taught by leading experts in their fields.