7 Essential Employee Engagement Best Practices

Key points about using employee engagement best practices in the workplace:

  • Employee engagement assesses employee satisfaction, commitment, and connection to your company and workplace culture.
  • A highly engaged workforce drives productivity, profitability, retention, and other important business factors. 
  • Regular communication, feedback, and other initiatives can help you boost team engagement in your workplace.

Employee engagement influences everything from productivity and profitability to retention and customer loyalty. But only 20% of employees are actually engaged at work. This means that most employees are either indifferent to their job responsibilities or unhappy and unmotivated.

In today’s labor market, employees are switching jobs at record rates. Implementing employee engagement strategies can help you boost retention while improving other business factors in the process. 

What is employee engagement?

There are many different definitions. In general, though, employee engagement indicates your employees’ level of dedication to, and enthusiasm for, your company. Engagement often addresses several aspects of the employee experience, including:

  • Satisfaction – How happy or content your employees are at work
  • Loyalty – How connected your employees feel to your organization, mission, and goals
  • Investment – How willing your employees are to do their work and contribute to company success

Employee engagement vs. employee satisfaction

You may hear the term employee satisfaction used interchangeably with employee engagement. But satisfaction is only one piece of overall engagement. After all, a content employee may not be an actively engaged employee.

How can I tell if an employee is engaged?

When it comes to employee engagement, there are 3 general categories that employees fall into. It’s important to note that employees may move between the employee types throughout their lifecycle. For example, an actively engaged employee may become disengaged if they feel there aren’t opportunities for growth. However, the opposite is also true. A disengaged employee can become engaged with the right strategy and support.

Actively engaged employees

Actively engaged employees are motivated and productive. They understand their role responsibilities and are willing to perform them. They feel intellectually and emotionally connected to your organization’s mission and goals. Actively engaged employees tend to be:

  • Optimistic 
  • Team-oriented
  • Goal and solution-driven
  • Eager to learn

Disengaged Employees

Disengaged workers may be satisfied or content, but they don’t feel connected to their work. They perform their daily tasks but make no extra effort to go above and beyond. Disengaged employees tend to:

  • Do the bare minimum required
  • Only show up for their assigned shift (have a 9 to 5 mentality)
  • Be unwilling to participate in out-of-office social events

Actively Disengaged Employees

Actively disengaged workers are unmotivated and unproductive. They’re unhappy at work and often spread their negativity throughout the company. Actively disengaged employees tend to be:

  • Pessimistic
  • Self-centered 
  • Absent frequently
  • Unreceptive to criticism 
  • Unwilling to learn

Why does employee engagement in the workplace matter?

Put simply, engaged employees perform better. They’re more efficient and productive, plus they tend to stay with a company for longer periods of time. Because of this, companies with highly engaged employees experience higher productivity, increased customer loyalty, improved safety, lower turnover, and more. 

More specifically, highly engaged businesses often see a:

  • 41% decrease in absenteeism 
  • 17% increase in productivity
  • 20% increase in sales 
  • 21% greater profitability
  • 24% decrease in turnover in organizations with high turnover
  • 59% decrease in turnover in organizations with low turnover

How can you improve employee engagement?

To boost employee engagement, you need to develop an employee engagement strategy to address each aspect of the employee experience. Simply improving employee satisfaction, for instance, may not impact engagement long term. As a result, you need to lay some groundwork before you start implementing employee engagement best practices.

First, you need to understand what you want to target. Realistically, you won’t be able to implement every employee engagement initiative. For example, some initiatives may require a financial investment that isn’t feasible right now. Look at your organizational goals, mission, budget, and strategy to pinpoint the initiatives that will work best for your business. After implementing them, track your investments and measure their success.

Employee engagement best practices and strategies

Obtain employee feedback through employee engagement surveys

If you aren’t sure why your employees are disengaged, ask them. Employee feedback will help you pinpoint where to support your employees and how to best connect them to your company. You can use survey or employee engagement software to gather feedback. Some questions that will help you understand your organization’s engagement levels include:

  • How likely are you to recommend your company as a place to work?
  • Do you have the resources and equipment you need to do your job well?
  • How satisfied are you with your role and responsibilities? 
  • If you were offered the same position at a different company, how likely would you be to accept it?
  • Do you feel that your opinions are valued?
  • Are your concerns listened to?
  • Do you feel supported?
  • Can you see the direct results of your work?
  • Do you feel appropriately recognized for your work?
  • Do your organization’s mission and values inspire you?
  • Is your workload manageable?
  • Do you feel like an ambassador for your company?
  • Do you think that you’re paid fairly compared to similar roles in other organizations?
  • Does your manager encourage you to learn and develop new skills?

It may be tempting to ask as many questions as possible. However, try to keep the survey length reasonable. You might request a more in-depth survey once or twice a year, but send out short “pulse” surveys each week.

Use employee feedback to drive decisions

Once you’ve obtained employee feedback, use it to drive your engagement programs. Discuss the survey results with other leaders and come up with action plans to address concerns and improve staff engagement. Communicate your plan to your employees and be sure to update them along the way.

If you’ve already implemented employee engagement initiatives, you should still obtain employee feedback on a regular basis. This will help you measure the success of your initiatives and make any necessary changes. Surveys help you drive decisions, but they also ensure employees’ voices are heard. If employees don’t feel comfortable voicing concerns, sharing their ideas, or asking questions, your engagement may suffer.

Involve leaders and management

Successfully engaging employees requires cooperation and enthusiasm from people at all levels of your organization, starting with your company leaders. If they show that they’re invested in their employees, that mindset will influence the rest of your company. 

However, your HR department and mid-level managers also play important roles. Your managers are the ones interacting with your employees on a daily basis. They’re the ones who communicate company core values and expectations, offer support, and provide feedback.

This makes managers ideal candidates for tracking engagement and recommending areas of improvement. But if managers aren’t engaged themselves, they won’t make efforts to engage other employees. In fact, managers are responsible for 70% of the difference in employee engagement levels from one company to another. Making sure managers are engaged first will make it easier to engage everyone else. To engage managers, make sure they have:

  • Leadership development opportunities
  • Tools necessary to do their job correctly
  • New challenges and responsibilities 

Engage new employees

Employee engagement is especially important for new hires who may need more time to adjust and connect to your company. A strong onboarding program is key to engaging new hires. Some activities you can use to boost new hire engagement during onboarding include:

  • Team lunches
  • Virtual games
  • Coffee or tea breaks
  • Interactive and hands-on training 
  • Dedicated time to ask questions and discuss challenges

Communicate regularly

Regular communication is a key component of keeping employees engaged. Communicating with your employees on a regular basis gives you and your managers multiple opportunities to clarify expectations, get immediate feedback, and address employee concerns before they grow. In-person meetings or online discussions can all help you keep a pulse on your current engagement levels. Consider using a combination of:

  • Company-wide or group meetings 
  • One-on-one check-ins 
  • Online forums
  • Coaching or mentoring sessions
  • Networking or company social events
  • Employee engagement and feedback surveys
  • Performance reviews
  • Social media tools
  • Emails and newsletters

Recognize and reward employees

Recognition can help your employees feel connected to their work. Whether you recognize your employees with shout outs, rewards, or established employee recognition programs, you’ll show them that you understand how critical they are to the success of your business. They’ll appreciate you taking the time to acknowledge their efforts. With your employees’ permission, you can also recognize birthdays, employment anniversaries, engagement announcements, and other personal milestones to bring your team closer together.

Conduct exit interviews

No matter how strong your retention efforts are, you’ll always have some employees who leave to seek opportunities elsewhere. During their exit interviews, ask questions that will help you understand their reasons for leaving. Their answers will help you identify areas to focus your engagement efforts on. Try asking questions like:

  • Why did you start looking for a new job?
  • What led you to accept the new position?
  • How could our company have improved? What could we have done better?
  • If you could change one thing about our company or your role, what would you change?
  • Did your manager support you effectively? 
  • Did you have clear goals and objectives?
  • What was the best part of your job? What was the worst?
  • Did leaders give you constructive criticism to help you improve?
  • Would you consider returning to work here in the future? Under what circumstances?

When you’re ready to hire their replacement, look for someone who already displays the traits of an actively engaged employee. Skills and qualifications are important, but a positive attitude and willingness to learn can be just as meaningful when it comes to company culture and employee engagement.

How to Improve Employee Engagement with HRIS Software

Employee engagement is a never-ending effort that starts with recruiting and continues even after an employee leaves your organization. If you only address employee engagement a few times a year, you can miss out on a lot of important information, like your employees’ day-to-day concerns or their reactions to a recent policy change. Your employees are also left feeling disconnected from your company and uncertain about their future. 

Employee engagement software can help you communicate with your employees, post shout outs, and track performance and engagement year-round. Get started with SentricHR’s all-in-one HRIS!


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