The 2020 Updated Guide to Employee Engagement
The 2021 Updated Guide to Employee Engagement

Employee engagement has emerged as one of the highest priorities for human resource managers and corporate leaders. In an economy where qualified workers are difficult to replace, keeping engagement high has become critical for keeping employee turnover low. Engagement also impacts your company’s productivity and your relationships with your customers. All this ultimately affects your bottom line.

In this guide, we’ll walk you through what you need to know to keep your employees engaged. We’ll cover:

  • What employee engagement is
  • Why it’s important
  • Why measuring employee engagement is vital
  • Ways to measure worker engagement levels
  • How your hiring strategies can improve engagement
  • Tips for increasing employee engagement
  • How to deploy an employee engagement program effectively

This guide will provide a complete perspective on employee engagement, or you can skip to the section that most interests you and bookmark this guide as an ongoing reference.

What is employee engagement?

Employee engagement has become a hot topic among business owners and human resource managers because of the importance it bears for corporate success. Engaged workers generate more productivity, stay with their employers longer, and promote positive customer relationships. In contrast, companies with low worker engagement suffer from lowered performance, increased turnover, and decreased customer retention.

Employee engagement measures how connected and committed an employee feels to an organization.
Employee engagement measures how connected and committed an employee feels to an organization.

Recognizing the vital role of employee engagement, researchers have devoted considerable effort to identify the qualities that make for an engaged worker. Different definitions of employee engagement have been proposed, but they all boil down to a few essentials that involve how connected and committed an employee feels to an organization. Here, we’ll identify eight characteristics that mark an engaged employee.

Illustrating Employee Engagement by Example

Alice embodies an engaged worker. She feels positive about her job and looks forward to arriving at work in the morning and seeing her coworkers. She feels like she’s part of a team and knows that her contributions make a difference to her department and her company.

Alice strives to do her best on the job, paying close attention to her work and asking questions when she doesn’t understand something. She’s willing to put in some extra work if that’s what it takes to get the job done right. She feels responsible for doing a good job, and when something doesn’t turn out right, she wants to know how she can fix it and what she can do better next time. When things turn out well, she shares credit with her teammates.

Alice plans on staying with her company for a long time. Customers like her because of the positive attitude she projects.

Contrast with a Disengaged Employee

On the other hand, Bob illustrates the opposite of an engaged worker. He hates his job and dreads coming to work. He doesn’t enjoy interacting with his coworkers, doesn’t feel a sense of connection to them, and doesn’t care much about how his performance impacts his company.

Disengaged employees can be detrimental to your business.
Disengaged employees can be detrimental to your business.

Bob does the bare minimum he needs to get paid, and often does less. He expends more effort daydreaming about distractions than focusing on work. He spends the day watching the clock, waiting for breaks, and anticipating when he can go home. When he makes a mistake, he doesn’t make much of an effort to learn what he did wrong or make corrections. He’s quick to blame others if something goes wrong.

Bob hopes to change jobs as soon as possible. His negative attitude rubs off on customers, who can sense that he doesn’t care about his work or them.

Attributes of an Engaged Employee

These examples illustrate some of the qualities that distinguish an engaged worker from a disengaged one. These characteristics can be analyzed into eight attributes that define engaged employees:

  1. Optimism about going to work
  2. Team spirit
  3. Sense of corporate contribution
  4. Commitment to performance
  5. Focus on detail
  6. Passion for learning
  7. Acceptance of responsibility
  8. Tendency to share credit

Let’s look at each of these attributes in more detail and see how they showcase an engaged employee.

1. Optimistic About Going to Work

Engaged employees look forward to going to work. They enjoy what they do. They feel a sense of accomplishment from doing a good job. They like the people they work with, socializing with them both in the workplace and outside work hours. They say positive things about their work to their family and friends and to customers.

2. Team Spirit

Engaged employees feel connected to their organization as part of a team. They like the people they work with and enjoy interacting with them in the office, at company social events, and on social media. They take pride in the performance of their department and their company, recognizing that their own work contributes to the company’s success. This makes them feel that their contribution is valuable.

3. Contributes to Organizational Goals

As part of a team, an engaged worker shares the goals of the organization. They regard achieving their company’s goals as both a corporate and a personal achievement. They want to do their part to help their department and company achieve their objectives.

4. Committed to Performance

Because an engaged worker is committed to their company’s goals, they are aware that their individual performance impacts their coworkers and their organization as a whole. They take responsibility for their role in the company’s performance, which motivates them to do their best. They are willing to work hard to help the company succeed, even when this means going above and beyond what is required of them.

Engaged employees are more likely to be more detail-oriented.
Engaged employees are more likely to be more detail-oriented.

5. Focused on Detail

An engaged employee’s commitment to their work makes them highly focused. They place their full attention to the task at hand and pay close attention to detail. They avoid distractions, tuning them out so they can focus on doing their job.

6. Passionate About Learning

Because an engaged employee strives to perform well, they devote themselves to learning everything they need to know in order to do their job correctly. They listen closely to instructions and take advantage of learning materials such as employee handbooks. When they don’t understand something, they take the initiative to ask questions and get answers.

7. Accepts Responsibility

An engaged employee accepts responsibility for their own performance as well as that of their department and company. If they make a mistake, they own up to it instead of trying to shift blame. They also see it as their responsibility to help their coworkers do well, and proactively seek to assist others when they see it is needed.

8. Shares Credit

When a worker is engaged with their company, they see their own achievements as part of a group achievement. They appreciate how their coworkers and supervisors contribute to their own performance. They share credit for their own individual wins, and they feel a sense of group achievement when their coworkers and their company succeed.

Employee Engagement vs. Job Satisfaction

With a clearer understanding of what employee engagement means, we can draw a distinction between employee engagement and job satisfaction. These terms often get used interchangeably, but they carry a different connotation.

Employee engagement properly refers to how connected a worker feels to their company and how committed they are to their employer. On the other hand, job satisfaction refers to how happy a worker feels about their job and how their job fits into their life outside work.

Engaged employees are connected to their company and committed to the overall success.
Engaged employees are connected to their company and committed to the overall success.

While employee engagement can promote job satisfaction, and vice versa, the two are not the same thing. For example, an employee might feel satisfied in their job because they’re earning a lot of money, but still not care about how their job performance affects their company. Likewise, an employee might feel a close sense of connection to their coworkers and company and display strong commitment to their work, but still feel unsatisfied about their job because their pay is low or the hours are a strain on their family life.

However, even though they are distinct, employee engagement and job satisfaction tend to go together. An employee who feels engaged with their company and their work tends to be more satisfied with their job. An employee who is satisfied with their pay and working environment tends to feel more connected to their company and more loyal to their employer.

Engaged Employees Are Connected and Committed

Engaged employees feel personally connected to their companies and committed to their employers. They are marked by characteristics that reflect these qualities, including optimism about their work, team spirit, a sense of responsibility for the contributions they make to their company, and commitment to performance. Employee engagement is not the same as job satisfaction, but it can promote job satisfaction and be reinforced by it.

Why is employee engagement important?

Human resource managers agree almost unanimously on the importance of employee engagement. An survey found that 96 percent of HR professionals feel that employee engagement is crucial or important for their organizations and should be a top priority.

What makes employee engagement so important? Having engaged employees provides companies with many benefits, promoting:

  1. Productivity
  2. Teamwork
  3. Communication
  4. Morale
  5. Talent retention
  6. Job satisfaction
  7. Talent recruitment
  8. Customer retention
  9. Brand reputation
  10. Profitability

Let’s break down how employee engagement promotes each of these advantages.

1. Employee Engagement Promotes Productivity

When employees are highly engaged, they generate more productivity for their companies. Engaged employees are more committed to performance, less prone to absenteeism, and more willing to put in extra effort and hours to get the job done right on time. When they’re on a task, they stay focused on their work and don’t dawdle with distractions.

All of this translates into increased output for their departments and employers. A Gallup poll found that companies in the top quartile of employee engagement enjoy 17% higher productivity rates than their competitors.

2. Employee Engagement Improves Teamwork

Productivity gains from employee engagement stem partly from the team spirit that engagement instills. When employees feel a stronger sense of connection to their coworkers, it promotes a spirit of cooperation and a commitment to collaboration.

Improved teamwork stems from engaged employees who feel connected to their coworkers.
Improved teamwork stems from engaged employees who feel connected to their coworkers.

Engaged employees feel more invested in seeing that departmental and organizational outcomes are achieved, and they strive to help their fellow employees work together towards common goals. They pay more attention to project deadlines and make more effort to meet them. These employees encourage their coworkers to perform at a higher standard.

3. Employee Engagement Promotes Communication

Effective teamwork depends on good communication, another benefit of employee engagement. Engaged employees have the motivation to communicate proactively with their supervisors and coworkers in order to achieve project goals.

Engaged employees follow up more promptly when replying to phone calls, emails, and texts. They listen better to instructions and aren’t hesitant to ask questions for clarification. When they see that another worker needs help, they take the initiative to speak up and lend a hand.

4. Employee Engagement Boosts Morale

Engagement also promotes productivity by improving morale. Workers who feel connected to their company are more motivated to work. They are less inclined towards burnout, giving them more energy to channel into productive tasks. They are less likely to slack on tasks or call in sick.

While at work, they feel more positive towards their coworkers, projecting a more enthusiastic atmosphere in the workplace. They are less likely to complain and drag down the morale of others. Instead, they offer other workers encouragement, support, and praise for a job well done, inspiring those around them.

5. Employee Engagement Retains Top Talent

Talent retention offers another compelling reason for companies to prioritize employee engagement. Workers who feel connected and committed to their companies have better relationships with their managers and coworkers. They feel a closer alignment with the company’s mission and goals, which they internalize as their own. They derive a sense of purpose from their position, seeing the work they do for their employers as a personal achievement and not just a job.

This sense of personal connection to their companies makes them more loyal to their employers and less likely to seek employment elsewhere. According to Gallup, companies with high employee engagement experience 59% less turnover than those with lower engagement levels.

6. Employee Engagement Enhances Job Satisfaction

While employee enhancement and job satisfaction are not the same thing, they reinforce one another. Employees who feel more connected to their companies and committed to their work are naturally inclined to be happier about their jobs.

Similarly, employees who feel happy about their jobs are more inclined to feel engaged with their work. Workers who feel both engaged with their work and satisfied with their jobs are more likely to stay with their employers for longer periods of time.

7. Employee Engagement Aids Talent Recruitment

Higher employee engagement can aid companies with talent recruitment as well as talent retention. Many job seekers turn to online reviews and social media when researching prospective employers.

Positive reviews from engaged workers can make employers more attractive to job seekers. Companies can actively cultivate online recruitment by encouraging brand ambassadors to share engaged employees’ experiences on company websites and social media channels.

Customers notice the devotion employees have to their work which improves customer retention.
Customers notice the devotion employees have to their work which improves customer retention.

8. Employee Engagement Improves Customer Retention

Engaged employees can help companies maintain customers as well as workers. Employees who care about their companies also care more about their employer’s customers. Their devotion to their work spills over into concern for delivering a superior product that meets customers’ needs. Employees who are engaged put extra effort into delivering superior customer service, ensuring that customers are satisfied with their experience. In turn, satisfied customers are more likely to return for repeat business. In this way, high employee engagement levels generate high customer retention, as loyal employees create loyal customers.

9. Employee Engagement Builds Brand Reputation

Engaged employees help to build your brand’s reputation with positive online reviews on sites such as Glassdoor. Prospective job seekers are more likely to view your company as a desirable place to work. Prospective customers also become more likely to hear about your brand from satisfied employees among their family and friends.

10. Employee Engagement Drives Corporate Success

The cumulative benefits of employee engagement add up to greater success for companies with highly engaged workers. By improving productivity, reducing employee turnover, increasing customer retention, and encouraging referrals, engagement promotes profitability. Companies with highly engaged employees enjoy 21% higher profitability, according to Gallup.

High Employee Engagement Promotes Superior Business Performance

Human resource managers and executives of successful companies stress employee engagement because they recognize the vital benefits it brings to businesses. These include higher productivity, more effective recruitment, lower turnover, and better customer relations. Companies that prioritize employee engagement and cultivate these benefits command a strong advantage over competitors.

8 Benefits of Measuring Employee Engagement

The benefits of employee engagement make it essential for companies to measure engagement levels. Investing in measuring employee engagement can bring your company many benefits, including:

  1. Clarity about what engagement means for your company
  2. Quantified objectivity about your engagement levels
  3. Tracking of your engagement performance
  4. The ability to set measurable engagement goals
  5. The power to harness business intelligence technology for engagement
  6. Insight into factors affecting your engagement levels
  7. Empowerment to make adjustments to improve your engagement
  8. Transparency about your engagement performance and its causes

Together, these advantages make a strong case for measuring your company’s engagement.

1. Clarify What Engagement Means to Your Company

To measure employee engagement, first you need to define what you’re going to measure. This forces you to think through what employee engagement means for your company and what key performance indicators (KPIs) you’re going to prioritize in your tracking.

Define the KPIs of employee engagement that matters most to your company.
Define the KPIs of employee engagement that matters most to your company.

For instance, you might decide you want to measure how likely your team members are to recommend a job at your company to their friends. You might also choose to measure factors such as absenteeism, turnover, or productivity. Selecting which variables to measure can help you clarify, in concrete terms, what employee engagement means in the specific context of your business model, and how it impacts your company in practical, measurable terms.

2. Quantify Engagement Objectively

If you’re not measuring employee engagement, you’ll have to rely on subjective impressions to judge how engaged your workers are. This can lead to evaluations that are skewed by partial information, limited analysis, incorrect assumptions, unverified guesswork, or personal bias.

Quantifying your engagement provides a more objective basis for making determinations. By assigning numbers to your company’s engagement level, you can measure exactly how engaged your workers are as defined by specific criteria.

3. Track Performance

Using objective measurements allows you to track the performance of your employee engagement strategy more effectively. At any given time you can check exactly how engaged your workers are according to specific criteria. You can also track your performance over time. This allows you to create baseline measurements which tell you whether your engagement levels are increasing or decreasing, both overall and in specific areas.

Create baseline goals for employee engagement to see if engagement levels are increasing over time.
Create baseline goals for employee engagement to see if engagement levels are increasing over time.

Human resource managers, other managers, and executives can view this information in periodic reports or real-time dashboard displays, providing improved monitoring of ongoing engagement levels. This lets you know if your engagement strategies are working, and it provides an early warning if there’s a problem or potential issue.

4. Set Measurable Goals

Just as quantifiable metrics empower you to track your engagement more effectively, they also allow you to set measurable goals. For instance, if you’re monitoring turnover trends at your company, you can set a goal of reducing turnover by a certain percentage by a certain date.

This gives you a highly specific goal to work towards. It also allows you to establish specific benchmarks that define steps towards achieving your goals. By taking a baseline measurement and establishing goals and benchmarks, you can monitor whether you’re steering a course that’s bringing you closer to your engagement objectives or whether you’re moving in the wrong direction.

5. Harness Business Intelligence Tools to Optimize Engagement

Using quantifiable measurements allows you to harness today’s powerful business intelligence technology toward the task of achieving your engagement goals. Business intelligence tools allow you to automate the process of tracking, analyzing, and improving your engagement performance.

You can set your business intelligence software up to track the KPIs you want to monitor, as well as your progress towards your benchmark goals. To automate this, you can use integrations with other business apps to feed data from multiple sources into your business intelligence tool.

You can also set up business intelligence software to display your engagement statistics in user-friendly dashboards and reports. This provides your personnel with at-a-glance access to data on your engagement performance.

6. Identify Factors Affecting Engagement

Using business intelligence tools also empowers you to do statistical analysis of your engagement data. This allows you to identify correlations between different variables that impact your engagement performance. Business intelligence tools can use advanced statistics to automatically uncover correlations you might not have noticed without using a computer.

For instance, you might study your data to see if there is any correlation between worker participation in wellness programs and employee engagement levels. This can let you know whether promoting your wellness program might be a way to boost engagement. You can customize this type of analysis to focus on any types of variables you want to investigate.

7. Make Adjustments

By measuring your engagement performance and identifying the factors underlying it, you can take steps to adjust and improve your results. For example, your analysis may have revealed that your turnover rate is higher among employees who work full-time in your office than employees who spend a portion of their time working remotely. You can further explore whether extending part-time remote work options might reduce turnover rates.

To test if your adjustments are effective, use business intelligence software to track and measure the results of the changes you implemented. Measuring your engagement allows you to perform this type of verification instead of guessing whether your actions are achieving the results you want.

8. Promote Transparency

Measuring your engagement promotes greater transparency in your organization. When you quantify your engagement levels, you gain a transparent perspective on how engaged your workers are. When you can identify the variables that drive your engagement levels, you can see exactly what’s responsible for your performance.

Encouraging transparency into your employee engagement program allows all employees to be on the same page.
Encouraging transparency into your employee engagement program allows all employees to be on the same page.

This allows everyone in your organization to see what’s going on with your company engagement and why. This provides accountability, making individuals less likely to make excuses or shift blame because everyone can see the numbers. Measurement promotes transparent insight into the factors affecting your engagement and an honest discussion of how to make improvements.

Measuring Engagement Empowers More Effective HR Management

When your company measures employee engagement, it provides you with valuable business intelligence that translates into practical benefits. You can harness the full power of technology to quantify exactly how engaged your employees are, set measurable goals for improvement, and make fine-tuned adjustments in order to achieve your goals. This empowers you to manage your engagement levels more effectively, promoting better overall human resource management.

10 Ways to Measure Employee Engagement

How you measure employee engagement depends on which KPIs you select to monitor your performance. It also depends on what resources you use to collect data. Here are 10 of the top KPIs you can use, along with 10 sources of information you can draw from.

Employee Engagement KPIs

An array of KPIs are available for measuring employee engagement. Different KPIs measure various aspects of engagement. Some of the top KPIs used for evaluating engagement include:

  1. Employee net promoter score
  2. rating
  3. Absenteeism rate
  4. Average vacation days used
  5. Turnover rate
  6. New hire failure rate
  7. Overwhelmed employees
  8. Productivity
  9. Profitability
  10. Customer satisfaction

Here’s what each of these KPIs means and how they are measured.

1. Employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS)

eNPS has gained popularity as a loyalty metric. An NPS measures customer loyalty, but an eNPS is used to measure employee loyalty, telling you how likely your workers are to recommend a job at your company to a friend or colleague.

eNPS scores help companies measure overall employee engagement quickly and easily.
eNPS scores help companies measure overall employee engagement quickly and easily.

The eNPS system uses a scale of 0 to 10 to measure how likely someone would be to recommend your brand. Scores from 9 to 10 get classified as promoters, who are loyal, enthusiastic fans likely to recommend you to others. Scores from 7 to 8 represent passively satisfied customers, who are half as likely as promoters to make repeat purchases or referrals. Scores from 0 to 6 represent detractors, who account for 80 percent of negative word of mouth. Your employee net promoter score is calculated by taking your percentage of promoters and subtracting your detractors.

2. Rating

Glassdoor is a review site where employees can anonymously post reviews of their employers. The site uses a proprietary algorithm to rate companies on a 5-point scale, with scores representing ratings ranging from very dissatisfied to very satisfied. Employees can share how likely they are to recommend a company to a friend as well as how they rate the company’s CEO.

3. Absenteeism Rate

How often your employees show up for work can reflect their engagement. Employers use several methods of measuring absenteeism. Incidence rate measures how many employees per 100 workers are absent during a given work period. Inactivity rate measures how much work time is lost due to absences compared to how many total work hours are scheduled. Severity rate measures the average time lost per absent worker over a given time period.

4. Average Vacation Days Used

If your workers aren’t using their paid vacation days, there may be a reason. For instance, employees may fear that work will pile up if they’re gone. This can lead to a work-life imbalance, stress, poor health, and burnout. Checking how many average vacation days employees are using can help you monitor and evaluate this.

High turnover at your company is an indicator of disengaged employees.
High turnover at your company is an indicator of disengaged employees.

5. Turnover Rate

High turnover can be one of the most glaring signs of employee disengagement. You can calculate your turnover rate by taking the number of employees who left during a given time period and dividing it by the average number of workers you employed during that time period.

6. New Hire Failure Rate

New hire failure rate is a more specific type of turnover rate that focuses on how many new workers leave shortly after being hired. This can be measured for different intervals, such as 30, 60, or 90 days.

7. Overwhelmed Employees

Workers who feel overloaded are less likely to feel engaged. You can measure how overwhelmed your employees feel by setting up a scale system. For instance, a score of 1 can indicate overwhelmed, while 2 represents a full plate, 3 is neutral, 4 indicates balance, and 5 indicates readiness to take on additional work.

8. Productivity

Since engagement promotes productivity, measuring how productive your workers are can reflect how engaged they are. Productivity can be measured in different ways, varying by industry. A simple way is to measure how many units are produced by your staff per hour of labor.

9. Profitability

Like productivity, profitability can be measured in different ways. A method, similar to that used for measuring productivity, is to measure how much profit is produced per hour of labor. You can also use standard accounting metrics such as gross profit margin and net profit margin.

10. Customer Satisfaction

Since employee engagement correlates with customer satisfaction, measuring how happy your customers are can be another way to evaluate engagement. You can measure customer satisfaction in different ways. A common method is to use your NPS, discussed above.

Sources for Gathering Employee Data

To collect data for measuring KPIs, you can use a number of different resources. These include:

  1. Annual surveys
  2. Exit interviews
  3. Turnover rate monitoring
  4. One-on-one interviews with managers
  5. Performance management systems
  6. Pulse surveys
  7. Productivity monitoring
  8. Tracking of work done outside normal hours
  9. Customer satisfaction rating surveys
  10. Product and service quality rating surveys

Which tool you select depends partly on which KPIs you want to emphasize. Here’s a little more about each of these resources.

1. Annual Surveys

Taking annual employee engagement surveys allows you to monitor engagement KPIs on a regular, ongoing basis. For best results, consult a survey provider to help you design a customized survey and identify which KPIs to track. Alternatively, you can use a do-it-yourself survey app. If you go the do-it-yourself route, consult a specialist in psychological measurement (psychometrician) for input.

Exit interviews provide employers with a great opportunity to learn how to improve their company.
Exit interviews provide employers with a great opportunity to learn how to improve their company.

2. Exit Interviews

Exit interviews provide you with an opportunity to ask employees exactly why they left your organization. Standardize exit interviews as part of your employee separation procedure in order to promote efficient data collection.

3. Turnover Rate Monitoring

You can easily automate the process of monitoring your turnover rate. A simple way to do this is to sync the software you use for payroll with your business intelligence tool. Doing this allows you to track changes in your employees per month and generate automated reports.

4. One-on-One Interviews With Managers

Like exit interviews, one-on-one interviews can be incorporated into your standard operating procedure. They can be conducted periodically or under predefined circumstances, such as if an employee is frequently absent or underperforming.

5. Performance Management Systems

A performance management system is a systematic procedure for monitoring how well your employees achieve their goals. It can be implemented through periodic setting of expectations, monitoring of performance, and a review of the results.

6. Pulse Surveys

Pulse surveys are simple and can be administered quickly and frequently, typically monthly or quarterly. As the name suggests, they provide a “pulse” on your employee engagement health focusing on a single KPI, such as NPS.

7. Productivity Monitoring

To monitor productivity automatically, you can use project management software. To get the most out of your data, sync your project management app with your business intelligence tool.

Employees working outside regular business hours is an indicator of high employee engagement.
Employees working outside regular business hours is an indicator of high employee engagement.

8. Tracking Work Done Outside of Normal Hours

A special type of productivity monitoring is tracking work done outside normal hours, which reflects high engagement. You can track this through your project management tool. If you’re tracking remote workers, you can use an app designed for this purpose.

9. Customer Satisfaction Surveys

Periodic customer satisfaction surveys can be a way to gather data on KPIs such as customer NPS. One way to collect customer satisfaction surveys is to set up your email autoresponder to periodically send them out after a customer has made a purchase.

10. Product and Service Quality Ratings

While collecting customer satisfaction data, you can also take the opportunity to gather ratings for your products and services. This can also be done through email autoresponder messages.

Choose the Right Metrics and Tools to Measure Engagement

To measure employee engagement effectively, you need to use the right KPIs and the right tools for gathering data. Useful KPIs include net promoter score, absenteeism rates, turnover rates, and productivity. You can gather information about engagement through a range of tools including annual surveys, exit interviews, and turnover monitoring. Choosing the right mix of KPIs and data-gathering tools will provide you with better insight into your engagement rates and the factors influencing them, helping you make better business decisions.

10 Hiring and Onboarding Strategies for Maximized Employee Engagement

For the best results, encouraging employee engagement should start during the hiring and onboarding process. The expectations you set for employees before they are hired shape the direction of their relationship with you. An employee’s first few days on the job also set the tone for whether or not they become engaged with your company.

Some ways to promote employee engagement during the hiring and onboarding process include:

  1. Emphasizing engagement qualities in want ads
  2. Discussing engagement during interviews
  3. Scoring applicants on engagement
  4. Setting engagement goals for new hires
  5. Inviting feedback
  6. Making management approachable
  7. Making an employee’s first day engaging
  8. Assigning mentors to new hires
  9. Introducing new hires to team members
  10. Monitoring engagement from the first day a worker is hired

Here’s more about each of these strategies and how to use them.

Having the proper wording in job postings can attract the qualities conducive of an engaged employee.
Having the proper wording in job postings can attract the qualities conducive of an engaged employee.

1. Emphasize Engagement Qualities in Job Descriptions

The wording of your job opening can help you attract workers with the characteristics of engaged employees. Emphasizing qualities conducive of employee engagement within your ads can increase your odds of attracting workers who possess these dispositions. Qualities to emphasize can include:

  • Enthusiasm
  • Team spirit
  • Supportive
  • Encouraging
  • Commitment
  • Sense of responsibility
  • Reliability
  • Diligence
  • Attention to detail
  • Resilience
  • Communication skills
  • Collaboration skills

You don’t need to include all these qualities. Include the qualities that are most important to your organization, listing the highest priorities first.

2. Discuss Engagement During Interviews

Many job applicants may not be familiar with the concept of employee engagement, or they may have a fuzzy idea of what it means. Explicitly discussing the importance of engagement to your organization can motivate new hires to act more engaged. Let them know what you expect from employees, and ask if they share your commitment to these expectations.

3. Score Applicants on Engagement

While reviewing resumes and interviews, you can evaluate the engagement qualifications of applicants more objectively by utilizing an interview scoring system. You can create a list similar to that you used for your want ads and use a numerical scale for each quality to rate each applicant. You can then sum up totals and compare scores for each prospective hire.

4. Set Engagement Goals for New Hires

Setting goals for engagement during the onboarding process can help point new hires in the right direction. For best results, goals should be measurable. To make goals realistic, track engagement levels of new hires on an ongoing basis to determine an average baseline performance. You can then use this baseline to gauge expectations for new employees. You can adjust your goals as your engagement program matures and improves.

Encouraging employee feedback helps them feel more valued within your organization.
Encouraging employee feedback helps them feel more valued within your organization.

5. Encourage Feedback

Employees feel more engaged when they have input and they feel like their employers are listening to them. Letting new hires know that their feedback is welcome can help them feel more like they’re part of a team that cares about them and their opinions. A way to start cultivating employee feedback right away is to take a survey during the onboarding process.

6. Make Management Approachable

To provide open feedback and feel like part of a team, employees need to feel comfortable approaching their supervisors and other management personnel. One way to do this is to get managers involved in the interviewing and onboarding process. Having a manager conduct one round of interviews or even simply introducing them to new hires can help break the ice and open the door to better communication.

7. Make the First Day Engaging

Naturally, new workers arrive nervous on their first day of work. This increases stress, which can discourage engagement. Making the first day go smoothly can help set a positive tone for new hires’ engagement with your brand.

To help new hires feel more comfortable, an important step is making sure their manager is available to provide instructions and answer questions. Be prepared to set up employees with the equipment and technology they will need for their work, such as laptops and logins. This will streamline the onboarding process and help to alleviate first day nerves. You can further simplify employees’ first-day experience by using an onboarding software tool to help automate essential administrative tasks such as setting up payroll, benefits, and perks.

To cap the first day off, schedule a debriefing between the new employee and their manager. This gives new hires an opportunity to ask questions and provide feedback.

8. Assign Mentors to New Hires

New workers may feel isolated. They also need someone to answer their questions and provide guidance. Assigning them a mentor can help them feel like they have someone to turn to when they need support. A mentor can be a manager or an experienced coworker who has sufficient availability.

Help new employees feel more connected with the team by assigning them a mentor.
Help new employees feel more connected with the team by assigning them a mentor.

Mentors can both provide support to new workers and monitor worker engagement. On an ongoing basis, they can help promote the professional development of new workers in order to keep them engaged. Periodically, mentors can have career development discussions with workers to check how their current career goals align with opportunities at your company. This can help you assess the risk of turnover and let you know if professional development opportunities might encourage retention.

9. Introduce New Hires to Team Members

Mentors can also help introduce new employees to other team members. On the first day of work, mentors can take a few minutes to introduce new hires to office personnel. As workers settle in, mentors can help them get accustomed to collaborating with the coworkers most involved in their job duties. Mentors can also help smooth communication between new hires and experienced workers, reducing conflict and promoting better teamwork.

10. Measure Engagement from Day One

To make sure your strategy for engaging new hires is working, it’s important to start measuring engagement as soon as possible. If you score new hires during the application process, you already have a baseline to build on going into the first day on the job. At the end of an employee’s first day, measuring engagement can help you determine how well expectations going into the job stacked up against actual experience. This can help you start making adjustments immediately if you spot any warning signs of impending disengagement.

Getting Proactive Early Promotes Higher Engagement

You don't need to wait until employees start work to begin promoting engagement. Steps you can take during the hiring and onboarding process include emphasizing engagement in want ads and interviews, planning new hires' first day for an engaging experience, and introducing new workers immediately to mentors and team members. Taking these types of early steps can help set the stage for long-term engaging relationships with workers.

Top 8 Tips for Increasing Employee Engagement

Engaging employees on their first day is just a start. Effective worker engagement requires an ongoing strategy. Some leading methods to promote engagement include:

  1. Cultivate a culture of engagement
  2. Promote team spirit
  3. Encourage communication
  4. Offer perks
  5. Promote wellness
  6. Recognize employee achievements
  7. Support professional development
  8. Monitor engagement

These methods can be deployed separately, or they can be welded together to form a cohesive, powerful engagement strategy.

A strong company culture helps improve employee engagement.
A strong company culture helps improve employee engagement.

1. Create a Culture of Engagement

Your company culture plays a foundational role in your employees’ engagement levels. If your organization prioritizes engagement, your workers will as well. You can communicate the importance of engagement to your employees by emphasizing it at strategic times. Company meetings, newsletters, and performance reviews provide ongoing opportunities to reinforce engagement.

2. Promote Team Spirit

Sustained engagement depends on employees feeling a sense of connection to your team. You can promote this connectivity by taking steps to build team spirit. Introducing new hires to their supervisors and coworkers is a first step in the right direction. Everyday interactions between team members play a vital role in reinforcing this initial connection.

For instance, socializing during lunch and breaks represents one of the most frequent opportunities to build engagement. Simply positioning a water cooler or coffee pot in a place that encourages socializing can make it easier for employees to get to know each other.

Another way to promote socialization is to set up a social media forum for employees where they can chat about hobby topics such as their favorite movies or sports. Periodic social events such as company picnics and dinners can also help promote team spirit.

3. Encourage Communication

Listening promotes employee engagement by encouraging more open communication. When employees feel free to ask questions and express their opinions, they feel more comfortable with their working environment and more connected to their team. Employees also need an efficient way to receive instructions and corrections from supervisors.

Smart policies and appropriate technology can help ensure good communication that supports engagement. Having standard operating procedures on how employees should handle routine communications can streamline conversations and avoid many potential issues. For instance, you can establish a standard procedure for using your project management portal to transmit assignment instructions and carry on discussions about projects.

In a similar way, you can develop standard procedures for other communications technology such as email and smartphone use. When everyone knows your standard communications procedures, it reduces the likelihood of missed messages, misfiled communications, and misunderstandings.

An engaging communications policy also solicits employee input. Providing a suggestions box and inviting workers to periodically submit feedback to supervisors can help encourage open communication.

4. Offer Perks

Offering a competitive perks program increases employee engagement.
Offering a competitive perks program increases employee engagement.

Your perks package provides another tool for eliciting increased engagement. Offering perks delivers your employees extra value above and beyond their normal wages in a way that shows you appreciate their efforts.

You can make your perks package more engaging by selecting perks your workers really want. Some popular perks include:

  • Work from home opportunities
  • Employee discounts
  • Flexible working hours
  • Volunteer time off
  • Wellness discounts
  • Student loan assistance
  • Career development support
  • Financial management training

To make your perks more engaging, solicit employee feedback on which perks your workers want most.

5. Promote Wellness

Wellness programs represent another popular perk and offer another important employee engagement tool. In addition to increasing the value of your perks package, wellness programs help promote engagement by reducing workers’ stress. Feeling physically or emotionally stressed at work can distract employees and instill negative feelings about their jobs. Wellness programs counter this tendency by promoting physical relaxation and psychological balance.

Programs to promote wellness can include opportunities for exercise, massage, meditation, or stress management. They can also include preventative medical programs such as screenings for high blood pressure. Another way to incorporate wellness and reduce stress is to provide employees with ergonomic work stations and equipment that reduce strain from long periods of sitting and repetitive motions.

6. Recognize Employee Achievements

Employees feel more connected to your company when they know you appreciate their hard work. One highly effective way to show workers you value their contribution to your business is to recognize employee achievements. A Society for Human Resource Management survey found a strong correlation between employee recognition and engagement, with 84 percent of HR managers reporting that their recognition programs boost engagement.

You can recognize achievements in different categories such as employee of the month for superior service, performance, or wellness. Using automated social recognition technology can make it easier to issue awards and distribute rewards.

7. Support Professional Development

Employees feel more engaged when their companies offer them opportunities for career advancement aligned with their professional goals. If a worker feels like they’ve advanced as far as they can at their present position and there’s nowhere left for them to go at their current company, they’re likely to start looking elsewhere. A study by market research firm Gartner found that 40 percent of departing employees cite a lack of future career development opportunities as a reason for changing jobs.

Providing professional development opportunities will make employees feel more engaged.
Providing professional development opportunities will make employees feel more engaged.

Companies can support workers’ professional development through several methods. Internships help attract and retain recent college graduates. Mentorships can help prepare new employees for supervisory positions. Continuing education programs such as seminars, workshops, and certification training keep employees engaged by equipping them with new skill sets to advance to more challenging positions within your company.

8. Monitor Engagement

To ensure that your employee engagement strategies are getting the results you want, it’s important to monitor engagement on an ongoing basis. Use your KPIs to establish a baseline for individuals, departments, and your companies. Set engagement goals, and monitor results through periodic reports.

Strategic use of automated data analytics software can assist you with this process. You can set up your analytics tool to import the data you need to track your KPIs. You can then generate real-time dashboards and automated reports for efficient engagement monitoring.

For best results, establish a standard operating procedure that defines how often you will review your engagement performance. For instance, you may have monthly or quarterly reviews to help you assess how your engagement program is doing and what adjustments need to be made.

Combine Multiple Methods into a Unified Engagement Strategy

Employers have many methods available for promoting engagement. These include emphasizing engagement in your employee culture, promoting team spirit, encouraging communication, choosing attractive perks, and other methods. Each of these methods can contribute toward improving employee engagement. But to maximize engagement, combine multiple methods into a cohesive strategy that takes advantage of every opportunity to boost employee engagement.

10 Steps for Deploying an Employee Engagement Plan

Putting an effective employee engagement strategy into practice requires a well-executed deployment. Basic steps involved in getting workers engaged include:

  1. Assigning an employee engagement project leader
  2. Setting engagement goals
  3. Developing your engagement strategy
  4. Establishing a budget
  5. Choosing your perks package
  6. Selecting software tools
  7. Implementing engagement procedures
  8. Promoting employee awareness of engagement
  9. Tracking results
  10. Making adjustments

Each of these steps has its own best practices and potential pitfalls. Implementing each step carefully will yield optimal results.

1. Assign an Employee Engagement Project Leader

Putting a capable leader in charge of your employee engagement program can greatly improve the odds of a successful deployment. The project leader will be responsible for working with decision-makers at your company to set your program’s goals, develop a strategy, and supervise the rollout. They will also be responsible for coordinating efforts to educate your employees about engagement.

Assign an engagement project leader who will spearhead your employee engagement program.
Assign an engagement project leader who will spearhead your employee engagement program.

The right person for the job should be highly committed to your company’s engagement agenda. They should also be a good project manager and have good rapport with both management and staff. Depending on the size of your organization, you may wish to appoint a team of people to assist your project leader.

2. Set Engagement Goals

Having clear goals lays a foundation for effective engagement management, giving you a target to steer towards. To provide objective benchmarks for measuring the performance of your engagement program, goals should be measurable in terms of your selected KPIs. Possible goals can include improving:

  • Productivity rates
  • Absenteeism rates
  • Employee net promoter score
  • Turnover rates

Your organization may identify a number of areas you wish to improve in. In this case, prioritizing your goals can help you focus resources on one area at a time. As you improve in one area, you can turn towards other priorities, progressively improving your overall engagement.

3. Develop Your Engagement Strategy

After setting some goals, you can begin developing a strategy to achieve your objectives. The specific strategy you use will vary with your goals. For instance, if your goal is to reduce turnover, you might first begin conducting exit interviews and surveying employees to identify the areas causing the greatest dissatisfaction. This will help you determine which steps might help increase engagement.

Examples of possible strategies include:

  • Increasing employee socialization opportunities and activities
  • Implementing mentorship programs
  • Supporting career development opportunities
  • Adjusting your perks package
  • Initiating an employee achievements recognition program
  • Improving your communications policies

Your team may identify other possible strategies appropriate to your selected goals.

4. Establish a Budget

Implementing your engagement strategy will cost money. How much it costs will depend on what strategies you use. For instance, if you want to start giving financial rewards or gifts for employee recognition awards, you will need to decide how much to spend.

Employee engagement programs will likely cost money. It's important to create and stick to a budget.
Employee engagement programs will likely cost money. It's important to create and stick to a budget.

Depending on your available budget, you may need to adjust your initial goals to bring them in line with what is currently feasible. You can allocate your budget based on which goals are your highest priorities. Doing a cost-benefit analysis for each item can also help you determine which makes the most sense to prioritize, and check out our blog post detailing three best practices for budgeting for your program.

5. Choosing Your Perks Package

In most cases, a perks package will play a role in your engagement strategy. When this is the case, selecting which perks to offer plays an important role in deploying your employee engagement plan.

To optimize your perks, you can get a better sense of what your current employees want by soliciting feedback. You can also use market research to gather information about what perks are currently popular with job candidates in your target talent pool. For instance, if you’re trying to attract workers in a certain age group, you can look for polls and surveys that break down perks preferences by age. Another way to find out what candidates want is to include questions about perks expectations and preferences during the interview process.

6. Select Software Tools

Leveraging automation can improve the efficiency of your engagement management. Depending on what apps you’re already using and what strategies you decide to implement, your engagement program technology may involve a number of different components, including:

  • Human resources management software
  • Survey software for soliciting employee feedback
  • Smartphones and mobile apps
  • Texting services
  • Video chat
  • Email and autoresponder services
  • Social media
  • Project management portals
  • Perks administration software
  • Business intelligence analytics software

Your engagement program project leader should work with your IT team to map out the information flow required by your engagement strategy and to select corresponding software. Depending on what software you select, your team may need to develop a customized app integration.

7. Implement Your Engagement Procedures

Once you begin rolling out your engagement program, your company’s management will take the lead in introducing your engagement program to employees. This means that your key personnel in your human resources department and other relevant departments will need to be trained in your engagement program’s standard operating procedures. They may also need software training.

For a smooth rollout, you may wish to test your procedures and software on a small scale or trial basis before doing a full, company-wide implementation. For example, if you’re starting a mentorship program, you may wish to test it out with a small sample group before adopting it universally. Similarly, if you’re adopting a new software tool to administer your perks, you may wish to test it on a single element of your perks program before doing a full migration.

8. Promote Employee Awareness of Engagement

The success of your employee engagement program depends on worker participation. For instance, if you have a new perks program offering employee discounts, but your workers aren’t taking advantage of it, it won’t improve engagement. This makes it important to take steps to raise employee awareness of your engagement program.

You can approach this as an internal marketing campaign. Use communication channels such as department and company meetings, performance reviews, emails, and social media to educate employees about your engagement goals and programs. Integrate engagement awareness into your onboarding process by emphasizing the importance of engagement in your want ads, during interviews, and during employee orientation.

9. Track Results

Companies often fail to increase employee engagement rates because of mistakes with performance monitoring. The most basic mistake is simply failing to measure engagement on a continual basis. Even when engagement is measured, companies often fail to capitalize on the results by analyzing and applying them.

Make sure your company is getting maximum benefits from your employee engagement program by tracking results.
Make sure your company is getting maximum benefits from your employee engagement program by tracking results.

To make sure you’re getting the most out of your engagement program, your project leader or someone assigned by them should take charge of tracking results and analyzing their implications. An efficient way to do this is to schedule the automatic creation of periodic reports which provide an update on your engagement KPIs.

Your team should also use your business intelligence tool to study correlations between your KPIs and look for patterns that reveal which factors are driving changes in your engagement levels. For instance, after implementing a new perks program, you might periodically check whether participating in the program correlates with any changes in productivity or turnover rates.

10. Make Adjustments

Tracking your engagement program’s performance empowers you to make adjustments and improvements. Based on the results of your tracking, you can evaluate which of your new engagement strategies are yielding the best return on investment and which ones may need to be changed or eliminated.

For the best results, you can use your business intelligence software to test the effectiveness of any adjustments you make. For example, you may see if substituting one perk for another has any effect on your engagement KPIs or employee participation in your engagement programs. By testing individual components of your engagement strategy on an ongoing basis, you can gradually make continuous adjustments and improvements.

Roll Out Your Engagement Program One Step at a Time

A well-executed deployment of an employee engagement plan should proceed step-by-step. The process begins with preliminary steps such as selecting a project leader, setting goals, and developing a strategy. Fleshing out your strategy requires additional planning steps such as establishing a budget, selecting a perks package, and selecting software tools. Once these steps have been completed, you can proceed to actual implementation, promotion of your program, and follow-up tracking and adjustments. Following these steps one at a time will maximize the odds of your engagement program achieving its desired results.

Put Engagement Into Action

This guide has laid out what employee engagement is, why it's important, how to measure it, and how to promote it within your organization. To put this information into action, the next step is to begin implementing the step-by-step plan laid out in the last chapter, starting with appointing a team leader for your engagement project. As your leader and team members start setting goals and developing your strategy, you can begin shaping your engagement program into concrete form by allocating a budget and choosing a perk package and software that will support your endeavor. By putting these steps into action, your company can lay a foundation to begin enjoying the benefits that come from increased employee engagement.

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