How to improve employee engagement

attentive staffEngaging employees in your organisation is about developing a business culture that ensures that your employees are committed to your organisation’s values and goals, dedicated to the success of the organisation, and at the same time are happy and have a sense of well-being.

Engaged staff offer your organisation a number of benefits such as:

  • Higher employee motivation
  • High levels of productivity
  • High levels of employee loyalty
  • Better quality products or services
  • People will want to work for you
  • Employees become natural ambassadors for your organisation

Organisations with strong employee engagement often demonstrate a number of characteristics, such as strong authentic values, mutual respect between employees and management, and clear two-way communication.

If your organisation is suffering from low employee engagement, then here are 10 ways you can improve it:


1. Start at the beginning

If you want to improve your employee engagement, then you need a baseline of where you are now. Undertake a survey to find out how engaged your employees are, analyse the results and then take positive action to implement changes that will improve engagement. And remember to regularly repeat your survey to track your progress.


2. Be positive

Review your current HR policies, and where necessary change them to improve positivity. When reviewing your policies, think about how they help improve employee engagement, if they decrease engagement or make no impact on it. Make changes and communicate the reasons why to your employees.


3. Show the connection

By showing your employees how their role is linked to the success of the organisation, you give them a sense of purpose and help increase engagement levels. This could involve putting your organisation’s vision at the top of every meeting agenda, having a Corporate Social Responsibility policy, so employees can get involved in the local community, or showing employees how their work impacts on others in the organisation.


4. Use your employees’ natural talents

Doing things that use our natural talents, whether it’s problem solving, or organising company social events, increases our happiness at work and makes us more productive. Get to know what your employees’ strengths are – perhaps ask them what they think their strengths are – and then use them.


5. motivation brainstormKeep learning

Learning and development can have one of the biggest impacts on employee engagement, and there are plenty of ways to get creative with your training budget. Perhaps employees could go on a secondment, listen to audio material, watch DVDs, write a review of a business book, be mentored, do a job swap or attend breakfast meetings to improve skills such as presentation skills.


6. Share problems

A problem shared is a problem halved. Share problems and decisions about your team and their work (not related to individuals), and ask for their feedback and ideas. It’s even better for engagement if your team can help implement the solution.


7. Share good news

Ensure that any positive feedback you receive from customers, suppliers, other managers or leaders is communicated to everyone involved in that piece of work. You could create a celebration wall where you put up all the positive feedback your team has received.


8. Show appreciation and recognition

It’s well known that receiving recognition from a manager or a colleague increases employee engagement, but surveys have found that giving recognition to others also has a positive impact on employees. Encourage all your team to write thank you notes to each other when they’ve gone the extra mile, or demonstrated the organisation’s values.


9. Don’t be afraid to copy

Most of us have heard of Google’s ‘20% time’, where they allow their employees to spend 20% of their time developing or creating something new. Long before we’d heard of Google doing this, William McKnight, President and Chairman of 3M, implemented something similar for his technical staff. If he hadn’t have done this we might never have had the Post-it note.


10. Get caught reading

Understand how other organisations have improved their employee engagement by reading books on the subject. A different perspective might just give you the inspiration you need.


John Sylvester

John is responsible for the motivation division of p&mm ltd and a Director on the board of the IPM. Specialising in developing, implementing and directing many large scale staff motivation, recognition and employee communications programmes.
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  1. Jenny Moreno says:

    I read elsewhere that despite the research there is no indication that anyone has succeed in making significant improvements in employee engagement. There is not a single principle or action that has emerged from the employee engagement movement that most people did not know before. In other words it has not resulted in any new actions to improve the effort employees expend in doing their jobs and that there is little if no evidence that increased employee engagement can cause bottom line improvement.

    Moreover, companies can not improve employee engagement as most determinants of an employee’s engagement level are beyond the company’s control but under the control of each individual employee which is a main reason research shows that employee engagement has not improved despite billions of dollars invested around the world.

    • Adrian Duncan says:

      Jenny, Yes, I’ve also seen information that states that employee engagement is not new and that engagement does not impact on bottom line improvement. I agree that finding independent evidence based research that proves the impact is difficult. Most of the evidence relies on evidence from companies that have used some key indicators such as absence, employee turnover, productivity, Health & safety incidents to assess financial impact. Whilst any gains may not necessarily be attributed to an increase in engagement, research shows that highly engaged business units or teams have greater performance. Of course the issue of causality is unproven, but this can only be understood with a rigorous long-term study.

      I agree that there are a raft of psychological reasons why an individual may or may not be pre-disposed to engagement. However, understanding them, including them within recruitment processes and providing managers with tools to manage on a day-to-day basis does produce dividends.

      Regardless of the name we attach to it, a specific drive to connect with employees, communicate with integrity and reinforce behaviours has produced results. We have worked with companies that have seen improvement in key indicators; for example absence & employee turnover reduce, commitment to the mission/values increase, a feeling of being valued increase, alongside a substantial improvement in customer service levels. Ultimately, if the spend on the initiatives provides a measureable return then it is positive for the business.

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