Guide To Employee Engagement

The Complete Guide to Employee Engagement

10 min read
Zoe Brankin
Author
Zoe Brankin

Only 20% of employees are engaged in the workplace. Shocking right? 

This means that most of the workforce worldwide is viewing the workplace negatively or doing the bare minimum every day just to get by, with little to no emotional attachment. 

To run a business successfully, you must know how to engage your employees. As a leader, if you can understand how passionate your workforce is about the job they’re doing day in, day out, you’re a step ahead of the competition. 

We all love the idea of happy, productive employees who aren’t stressed out. But when the pandemic hit, the tiny home office began to feel smaller and smaller, colleague connections drifted apart, and some employees were suddenly dreading work every day. Even today, two years since it started, employee engagement is still suffering. 

You need to ask yourself: 

  1. How much do my employees genuinely care about what happens to the company’s future?
  2. Are they dedicated to helping the company become more successful? 

If you’re unsure about the answers, then don’t worry. There are ways to determine how engaged your employees are, and you’re in the right place to find out how to fix it. 

What is employee engagement? 

When you hear the term employee engagement, what comes to mind? Is it busy employees, high-performing employees, happy employees or employees who have a great salary package? 

Googling the definition will bring up many different answers, so let’s simplify it. Employee engagement is employees’ emotional commitment to their job, goals and the company’s mission. It’s not a matter of whether your employees like the workplace; it’s more about how they act. 

Engagement is about creating an environment where employees feel empowered to reach their full potential and give their best whenever they switch their laptops on. Building an authentic culture of engaged employees has always presented a challenge, and the recent shift in working style has amplified it. 

Employee engagement profiles: 

Highly engaged: These employees will have extremely favourable perceptions of their workplace. They will be advocates for your company and intend to stay long-term, showing great loyalty. They tend to be among the most productive employees in your workplace. 

Moderately engaged: These employees will have a favourable view of the workplace, but something is holding them back from falling into the highly engaged category. They typically like their work and have great relationships with their teammates but are willing to leave for a better opportunity. 

Barely engaged: An employee who is barely engaged will have a dispassionate attitude towards the workplace. They will lack the focus or motivation to perform to their best potential and are at high risk of leaving the company. 

Disengaged: Disengaged employees are negative towards the workplace and will be disruptive with their concerns. Their critiques go beyond healthy feedback and are not there to help build a better workplace. These employees tend to harm the productivity of everyone else around them. 

Why is employee engagement important? 

Engaged employees believe in what they’re doing and the company they work for, so they will act in ways that benefit their organisation. And what effect does that have? Huge dividends on employee satisfaction, reduced churn and overall company performance. 

What are the benefits of employee engagement?

Boosts productivity

Studies show that employees invested in their roles are more productive than those who aren’t, and a Gallup poll found that engaged employees are 21% more productive. Engaged employees work hard and are always willing to go the extra mile to fulfil their job. When employees are disengaged with their work, tasks will feel like they’re dragging.  

Higher employee retention

According to a study in 2021, 73% of employees would consider leaving their jobs for the right offer, even if they weren’t actively seeking new opportunities. 

It’s completely normal to crave a sense of purpose and belonging. If we aren’t appreciated for using our strengths and enjoying our work, we will naturally start looking elsewhere for a new opportunity. 

Better customer experience

When employees are engaged and care deeply about their jobs and the customers they deal with, this will positively impact the customer experience. Why? Because passion is infectious, and your customers will take notice. 

Engaged employees are more likely to put in the effort that translates into higher productivity levels, creating a happier sales force and a more credible product pitch. Essentially, customers are treated to a better experience when dealing with these employees. When the pitch lacks passion, customers can tell! 

Enhances company culture

People engaged in what they do are generally easier to work with, and this isn’t just because they have a positive attitude. It’s because they exemplify a culture of employee engagement. 

According to Forbes, it’s a workplace that’s “designed, first and foremost, around its company values.” Creating a culture of employee engagement requires “checking in with employees to ensure that the company mission aligns with the ways that people currently work and the ways that they want to work.”

In an ideal world, your employees will live your values daily and be recognised for it. Recognising, rewarding and celebrating your people is one step towards creating a culture of engagement! 

Engaged vs disengaged employees 

When someone starts a new job, they have great enthusiasm and a can-do attitude. However, over time employees can become unhappy, and there are a few warning signs to look out for. 

1. Work-life balance

Employees must have a good work-life balance and all the tools they need to do their job effectively. Think about your working hours, how heavy the workload is and whether the employees have expressed any concerns that have gone under the radar. Pay attention to and take action on constructive feedback from your engagement surveys. As an employer, you need to set reasonable demands and expectations. 

2. Workload 

That brings us to our next point, are you assigning impossible tasks or deadlines or putting your employees under immense pressure to reach unrealistic targets? On the flip side, when your employees don’t feel challenged, this can be dispiriting. So you need to get the balance right!

As an employer, leader or manager, you want an ideal balance where your employees are challenged every day without the workload seeming impossible. Give them a feeling of accomplishment when it’s done. Appreciation costs nothing. 

3. Positive relationships

Everyone wants to work in a friendly atmosphere where the co-workers are pleasant, bosses are reasonable and not overly demanding, all of which contribute hugely to employee wellbeing and engagement. If relationships are frayed or people dislike their managers, you need to take action before things escalate and people start to leave. 

4. Opportunities

No one wants to stay in the same job forever. Employees want to know they have opportunities to grow and develop. Don’t feel as though hard work can only be rewarded with a promotion though, recognition and rewards work too!

Who is responsible for employee engagement

You can’t let the blame fall on just one group for poor employee engagement. Engagement tends to be cultural and company-wide and is usually a result of the company’s combined efforts. 

Management

Culture comes from the top – if a senior manager is demanding, unreasonable or volatile, this will foster a culture of fear, leaving everyone feeling uneasy and like they’re walking on eggshells. It may filter down to middle-managers, who put extra pressure on their teams in order to please leadership. But when a manager is approachable, fair, and personable, and fights their team’s corner, employees will feel more comfortable, happy and, as a result – more engaged! 

HR

The HR team are an essential piece of the puzzle. They are the ones who spend time putting systems in place to prevent high levels of disengagement, whether it be through a rewards and recognition program, engagement surveys or an open-door policy to discuss any worries employees may have. It’s crucial that rather than just running regular engagement surveys, the HR team take action on employee feedback.

Leaders

Simon Sinek once said in a TikTok, “Be the leader you wish you had”. 

Be approachable, vulnerable, and know how to delegate the workload. Recognise your team’s hard work in both official and unofficial capacities. Take the time to set out a career path for each team member and put an action plan in place to support getting to that point. When employees trust their leaders, there will be 74% less stress, 50% higher productivity and 76% more engagement

Employees

Everyone in the team should be working together, recognising their peers and making themselves available to lend a helping hand to someone who might need it. This should be a cultural endeavour, not something dependent on employees to initiate!

How to engage employees

There are a few ways to engage your employees, but you need to plan before you start trying to implement a strategy. 

Start with a survey

An engagement survey sent out to all staff is an essential step before you dive into advancing morale, motivation and engagement in the workplace. 

It’s essential to start with the survey because often, there will be a disconnect between how a manager perceives the workforce and what actually goes on. The survey responses will highlight what exactly motivates your employees, whether they feel they could find a better opportunity elsewhere and whether or not they’re happy. 

Engagement surveys also allow you to gain insight into your employees’ ideas to improve the workplace. The survey shouldn’t happen once and then be forgotten about. It should be a continuous exercise you do throughout the year, perhaps once every quarter. 

Best practices for employee engagement surveys

What do you want to get from your survey? You need to establish what you want to achieve, and there should be long-term objectives to guide the survey. Decide how you will implement the findings and whether or not a budget is needed. 

Tailor the survey to the company’s current situation, size, goals, and potential issues (should you be aware of them at this stage). 

Anonymity is crucial. Staff should feel safe answering the questions and not fear receiving any repercussions for their answers. Here at Mo, we like the approach of statements that can then rank from ‘strongly disagree’ to ‘strongly agree’. 

You could include engagement survey statements like: ‘ I feel I can talk to management openly about anything’, ‘The leaders at [company] have communicated a vision that motivates me’, and ‘I have confidence in the leaders at [company]’.  Also, leave an open-ended suggestion box at the end of the survey for any other concerns employees wish to express. 

Implementing the engagement survey ideas

A few quick fixes might come from the staff survey results, such as the kitchen being cleaner or better equipment in the office. Others are more complex, such as not having a clear progression path in the company or not feeling valued. 

Share the results with the team, what you intend to do about the issues raised and a calendar to show the timeframe to implement the changes. 

Employee engagement strategies

Engagement roadmaps

A long-term, clearly defined future helps employees feel valued and visualise staying at the company long-term. By working with each employee, you can outline where they will be over the next five years and how you plan on helping them get to that point. 

It’s good to consider regular one-to-one meetings to get updates on how they’re doing, whether they are carrying out any training exercises to help them achieve their goals and what future projects they have coming up. 

Staff training and development

From the roadmap, work with the employee to find out if there are any training sessions, seminars or workshops they would like to attend. It can be as simple as an informal session to provide thoughts and discussion on a particular project. It might even be setting aside a training budget and allowing staff to take time out of work to attend courses. 

Employees that have the opportunity to learn and develop their skills are going to be happier and more engaged. 

Employee wellbeing

No, we aren’t talking about free fruit. We are talking about nurturing employee wellbeing with a good attitude from management. 

Be flexible with your employees to promote a better work-life balance, or offer free mental health resources or mental health first aid training. Free gym membership or subsidising membership is a great way to promote good mental health as part of employee wellbeing initiatives! 

Recognition programs 

There is a powerful link between employee recognition and engagement. By recognising and acknowledging good work, companies can generate a strong emotional commitment to the organisation. Recognition can make staff feel valued and as a result, contribute to a great employee experience! 

Make your recognition program open and inclusive to all, provide on the spot praise, reward with relevance, and link it to the company values! 

Mo is an employee engagement platform that helps leaders improve collaboration and morale, prevent people from leaving and drive change.

Our platform creates a recognition-rich culture by developing team habits, encouraging people to celebrate successes, recognise results and appreciate colleagues.

Great for any team. An absolute must-have for distributed teams. Your complete toolkit for connecting and motivating teams in the new world of work

Book a Mo demo today and see how our platform can help nurture your world-class team.

Join our Community

Sign up to our monthly newsletter for industry insights, employee recognition tips, and news from the world of workplace digital transformation ⚡️