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  • Jessika Noda Ofiyai

7 Ways to Engage Employees

Updated: Aug 15, 2023

2 female and 1 male employee sitting on a couch talking

When employees are actively engaged, their motivation, productivity, and collaboration naturally increase. Managers that want to create a positive workspace need to consider how employees feel at work, and find ways to continually nurture a deep connection to their organization.

Research shows that 80% of the global workforce is not actively engaged in their positions (2021). This lack of attachment to positions causes the whole company to suffer. Identifying employee needs is the first step toward creating a happier, healthier company.

These 7 employee engagement strategies can help you promote a culture of gratitude and connection at every level of your organization.

1. Ask for Feedback to Make Improvements

Employee surveys are a phenomenal way to show people you care about their experiences. By using surveys to collect feedback, your HR department can discover exactly what people love about their jobs, and what they need to make them better.

Rather than guess which improvements would be beneficial, ask people what they are currently struggling with. Requesting feedback to make positive changes is an act of kindness in and of itself.

The quick response nature of surveys also encourages more communication, which boosts engagement right off the bat.

2. Clarify Your Company’s Culture

Employees need a clear mission statement to feel aligned with their work. Understanding why their work matters inspires people to work more. A good mission statement creates a sense of purpose and unity that brings people closer together, and strengthens their connection to their jobs, too.

While many companies are backed by excellent values and attributes, they often struggle with the execution of those in daily work. As a result, people feel uninspired and unfulfilled with their roles.

Disconnection leads to disinterest, which lowers engagement and productivity.

If you want to improve employee engagement, one of the best things to do is assess your organization on a cultural level. The aforementioned surveys can come in wonderfully here as you assess how well employees understand the company’s vision and their role within it.

Once you’ve collected the data you need, start looking for ways to improve the examples of the mission within the organization. This can include newsletters, emails, and team-building meetings that fortify people’s connection to where they work.

3. Create Professional Development Opportunities

Not seeing potential for growth is one of the top reasons people leave their jobs. For those who don’t have other opportunities, feeling stunted in their careers can lead to disengagement, which fuels the phenomena of “quiet quitting.”

If you want to increase employee engagement over time, it’s important to consider their happiness in the long-term.

While there are many short-term initiatives that can temporarily increase engagement, they often peak and plunge rapidly. Then, you are left confused, and workers may feel even more disenchanted by the return to their uninspiring “normal routine.”

Small efforts still count, and employees appreciate them. However, HR and leadership should continually collaborate to ensure that each worker is given their own opportunity to grow and thrive within the company.

Ensure that every role within the organization has a roadmap, and that each career plan has different skill sets it can build upon. Include employees in this planning as well. People will feel happy that their company is taking interest in their desires for their career growth.

Companies can consider professional development a type of “career capital,” a psychological concept that helps people feel more rewarded by their investments in an organization.

In order to be successful, HR must consider what skills and learning opportunities employees value the most. Implementing strategies based on a prioritized hierarchy can lead to higher satisfaction, greater participation, and increased engagement in every facet of their jobs.

4. Express Gratitude Through Rewards and Recognition

Everyone wants to feel as though their contributions matter. While senior management often has tangible elements of this, entry-level and mid-level employees can often feel as though they’re less important to a company’s objectives.

In order to boost engagement, it’s important to routinely show people that what they do matters. Corporate gifting is one of the best ways to show employees that your company cares. Thoughtful, meaningful gifts express appreciation and gratitude, which can boost recognition and engagement throughout the workplace.

For remote and hybrid teams, gifts can create a physical connection to the workplace by ensuring they feel supported and recognized regardless of location.

In addition to increasing engagement, employee gifting can also help increase affiliation with an organization. Because they have been gifted a physical token of appreciation from their company, employees are more likely to feel as though they can identify with their employer. Gifts help express far more than thankfulness — they help illustrate the connection between company and employee, and the value of that relationship.

Rewards can also include shoutout emails, celebratory events, and expressions of gratitude. For many employees, hearing “thank you” from their boss could be a major motivational force. It happens far less often than it should; HR can benefit from reminding leadership that while strong guidance is important, gratitude has a major impact on employee engagement.

5. Increase Flexibility With Hybrid Work

Hybrid work can undoubtedly be seen as the “new normal.” Remote work empowers employees; rather than being confined to a company’s timetable, they get to work in an environment that makes them feel comfortable and relaxed.

People who feel relaxed in their environment are naturally more engaged and productive in whatever they do.

Remote work opportunity is one of the most prized job benefits by job seekers today. People value working from home so much that they are even willing to leave their current position at a great company to find it elsewhere.

While some companies fear that hybridization weakens the organization, research shows the opposite. PwC, the world’s second-largest professional services network and one of the Big Four accounting firms, explored the impact of many factors on the future of work in a recent study. In their study, 57% of companies reported hybrid and remote work helped them surpass their goals over the last 12 months. Only 4% found the increased flexibility to negatively impact performance.

When companies offer more flexibility through hybrid work and remote options, people feel as though their time and energy are more respected. They are given the space they need to tend to other important parts of their lives without interrupting their careers. A remote schedule gifts people small moments they may otherwise miss, like the privilege of being home with their small children, or getting to spend more time with their relatives.

Companies can adopt features that help them measure productivity from afar as well. Doing so can help abate any concerns that increased remote work would decrease worker engagement and accountability.

6. Engage Employees Through Meaningful Moments

While team-building exercises can feel routine, employee experiences are designed to be the exact opposite. These dedicated events give people a break from their usual work to do something wonderful together. They could go on a weekend getaway, or spend the afternoon volunteering with a nonprofit they support.

Company trips are becoming popular, and they help foster deeper connections within a group in a fun, low-pressure environment. Whether it’s a cooking class, team yoga session, or field trip to a local art museum, these events are low-cost but high-value. They restore employees’ energy, make them feel appreciated, and help them get to know one another beyond their job titles.

Budget does not have to limit a company’s potential to grant these memorable occasions, either. There are simple ways of engaging employees that don’t cost a lot. Hosting a trivia night, or offering a catered breakfast or lunch, can be cost-effective ways to express appreciation and strengthen bonds between team members.

7. Explore Job Rotation

One of the reasons people become disengaged at work is that they feel their job is monotonous. The same tasks grow repetitive, even if they have a strong purpose. Job rotation provides mental stimulation by allowing people to take on new responsibilities that still align with their skill sets.

Moving employees between jobs is not the same as promoting or reassigning them. Their fundamental role remains the same, but they get to experience the rewards and recognition from applying their knowledge in new ways.

Job rotation is a form of enrichment that can increase satisfaction and engagement levels at any level. Companies with rigid hierarchies may struggle with this idea at first, but it can be introduced on a team-based level within departments.

By creating new opportunities within the existing company framework, job rotation is a great way to help employees learn without paying hefty training expenses. Rotating allows them to cross-skill and collaborate more effectively, and feel more motivated thanks to new challenges to overcome and problems to solve.

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