10 employee engagement strategies that every manager needs

Engaged employees work the hardest, stay in their jobs the longest, and make the most significant contributions to their company's bottom line

How engaged are your employees? If you don’t know the answer to that question, it’s time to take a look at your employee engagement strategy. Having solutions in place for employees who are disengaged will help you improve retention, increase productivity, and ultimately grow your bottom line.

A good employee engagement strategy includes assessing existing problems, working with employees on solutions, and then implementing changes to help foster employee satisfaction. Companies with a truly engaged workforce don’t just do this once—they make an ongoing commitment to their employees’ happiness by measuring employee engagement on a regular basis. 

What is employee engagement?

Employee engagement measures how enthusiastic and dedicated a worker is to their employer’s success. An engaged employee doesn’t just come to work for a paycheck; they care about their job and want to make a meaningful contribution to the company they work for. 

When employees become disengaged at work, it’s usually because they don’t feel valued. Not feeling as though they are being compensated fairly can be part of the problem, but it’s more likely due to feeling disconnected and unappreciated in the workplace.

How to improve employee engagement

If you want to reduce turnover and boost employee enthusiasm, try one of these tactics for increasing employee engagement. 

1. Conduct an employee engagement survey

Before you can work on improving employee engagement, you need to know where your baseline is. That’s where an employee engagement survey comes in. There are several different ways you can structure the survey, including:

  • Rating statements on a scale (Example: On a scale of 1 to 5, how would you rate this statement? “I receive appropriate recognition when I perform my job well.”)
  • Open-ended questions (Example: What is your biggest day-to-day challenge as an employee at this company?)
  • Multiple-choice questions (Example: In which area do you think the company needs the most improvement? A. Employee development; B. Communication; C. Work-life balance

The questions in an employee engagement survey should address the everyday experiences of employees, how they interact with management, and the overall company mission. It’s important that employees be able to respond anonymously so they provide honest feedback. 

Once you’ve compiled and analyzed the results of your employee engagement survey, you’ll be able to identify the areas where you need the most work. 

WeWork The Center in Shanghai. Photographs courtesy of The We Company
WeWork The Center in Shanghai. Photographs courtesy of The We Company

2. Form an employee engagement committee

Giving your staff a role in fostering employee engagement provides a great opportunity to learn from those who are in the trenches every day. An employee engagement committee that consists of passionate, high-performing staff at every level of your organization can help you define strategies to improve employee satisfaction. 

An employee engagement committee should have no more than eight to 10 members. When choosing who will serve, it’s a good idea to first ask for volunteers—those who are eager to sign up are usually your most engaged employees. If you don’t get enough people to join in the first wave, do some targeted outreach. You want employees who are hardworking, enthusiastic, and well-liked by their peers. 

The committee’s mission is to develop solutions for the issues highlighted in the employee engagement survey by having discussions with their coworkers and each other about what is needed to create a workplace where everyone feels valued. Then the committee shares those solutions with management and ensures that changes are implemented. 

3. Keep remote employees and distributed teams engaged

The scale and distribution of your company have a huge impact on employee engagement. If you have employees at satellite offices or working from home, you will have to work harder to make them feel like they’re a part of the corporate culture. 

Utilizing technology like videoconferencing instead of phone conferencing can help employees in multiple locations feel like part of the team. Ensuring all workspaces have the same amenities and employees have the same perks wherever they are also helps prevent remote teams from feeling left out or less-than.

4. Make work more fun with employee engagement activities

Giving employees a chance to ditch their desks and forge a sense of community with coworkers will keep them engaged and invested. There are countless activities you can plan, but here are a few ideas:

  • Office games: Host a monthly afternoon trivia game or scavenger hunt, or go even further with an annual Office Olympics event
  • Lunch ‘n’ learns: Give employees the opportunity to give a TED-type talk about a topic they are passionate about.
  • Theme days: Have days where employees dress up, bring in food for a potluck, or participate in a themed activity.
  • Celebrate birthdays, babies, and other milestones: Let employees know that you care about them beyond the office by recognizing important events in their lives.

When planning employment engagement activities, it’s important to schedule them during the workday rather than after-hours. Otherwise, employees may feel as though work events are infringing on their personal lives.

WeWork Pride March in 2019.
Pride Month at WeWork in 2019.

5. Focus on diversity and inclusion for better engagement

The more diverse your team is in regards to age, gender, race, and ethnicity, the better they perform. Gartner Research found a 12 percent boost in performance among diverse teams, with a similar improvement in intent to stay at a job. Plus, having a team with different backgrounds and experiences discourages groupthink and is likely a more accurate representation of your customer base.

It’s not enough just to have diversity in hiring, though; every employee needs to feel as though their contributions are valued equally. That means prioritizing equitable compensation, being transparent about decisions related to raises and promotions, and ensuring that all ideas and feedback are evaluated equally. 

6. Provide incentives and perks to keep employees engaged

You don’t want employees to come to work every day and do the bare minimum—you want them to go above and beyond. That means you should, too. Offering employee perks like wellness checks, education programs, and gym discounts will make them feel as though you’re invested in both their professional and personal successes. 

Consider your office amenities as well, and what your employees need and want during their workdays. Good coffee, plentiful snacks, and even allowing pets on the premises will make their 9-to-5 more comfortable.

Rise by We in New York City.
Rise by We in New York City.

7. Boost engagement with better work-life balance

Maintaining work-life balance helps employees reduce stress and prevent burnout, two major factors in disengagement at work. The best way to help employees maintain a balance between the personal and professional is to promote flexibility. 

Allowing employees to work from home, having a generous PTO policy, and providing paid parental and caregiver leave are all ways to help employees manage the demands of work and life without stress. Flexibility may come at a cost to employers but so does replacing dissatisfied employees.  

8. Recognize employees for a job well done

An employee’s yearly review shouldn’t be the only time they hear about their positive contributions to the company. In order to feel as though the work they do every day matters, employees need to be recognized in real-time for their efforts.

Directly communicating praise to an employee is a powerful motivator but so is public recognition. Highlighting an employee’s success in a company newsletter or team email, or establishing a rewards system, will help them feel valued and encourage others to work hard for the same credit. 

9. Be a good corporate citizen

By 2025, millennials will make up 75 percent of the workforce. And the majority of them want the companies they work for to be socially responsible. This age group wants to work for organizations that share their values, and they want to be active participants in the company’s mission to do good. 

If your business doesn’t have a strong social purpose, enlist the help of employees to help create one. In addition to helping with recruitment and retention, you’ll be making the world a better place. 

WeWork Riverpark Tower in San Jose.
WeWork Riverpark Tower in San Jose.

10. Rethink the design of your office space

There are several design factors that can make or break engagement in an office setting. Modern, bright workplaces with ample space for open collaboration, closed-door meetings, and private communications give employees the opportunity to choose the environment that best suits the task they’re trying to accomplish. 

If your office space is drab and unconducive to productivity, consider a redesign or office move. Giving your workspace a makeover, or finding a space that better fosters collaboration and inspiration, will help you keep your employees satisfied. For many companies around the globe, WeWork has been a partner in building workplace community; with offices worldwide that are designed for maximum engagement, employees will have the optimal environment to brainstorm, collaborate, and celebrate. 

Keeping employees engaged means making them feel as though they are a valued member not just of a company but of a community. The more opportunity your staff has to engage in meaningful interactions and tasks in an environment that fosters creativity, inspiration, and collaboration, the more dedicated they’ll be to your company’s mission and ongoing success. 

For more tips on developing engaged and productive teams, check out all of our articles on Ideas by We.

Jessica Hulett is a freelance writer, editor, and content marketing specialist based in Ossining, NY. She has previously written for Cosmopolitan, Real Simple, DealNews, and more.

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