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How to increase employee engagement in 7 simple steps

Posted by Hannah Price | 5 min read

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So, your employee engagement rates could use some attention? That’s ok. You’re not alone.

We all know the Gallup statistic: 85% of employees are not engaged at work. Which means 8 in 10 employees aren’t as productive, happy, or efficient as they could be.

The good news is that we can turn that around.

Here’s how.

7 steps to increase employee engagement

1. Do the survey

A good starting point is to get an accurate reading of the engagement levels at your company. And the best way to do this is to ask your employees.

(After all, they’re the “employee” in “employee engagement”.)

To do this, make sure you choose the right employee engagement survey for your needs. The information it gives you should be both relevant and valuable.

And, make sure you have an action plan of what you intend to do with that information.

"With an accurate measure of employee engagement, HR teams can take meaningful action on what matters to people at work. Many organizations want to improve employee engagement because it has positive flow-on effects on things like performance, retention, and innovation." - Culture Amp


2. Take action

Now that you’ve gathered all of the feedback, it’s time to take action. One of the worst things a company can do is ask all of the right questions, imply they’re going to take action, and then never follow-up.

It makes employees feel like they’re not being listened to. They took the time to fill out your survey, but you totally disregarded what they said. Often it’s worse than if you never conducted the survey, because it feels like the whole thing was a charade.

So, be clear about what your next steps will be moving forward. And make sure those steps come to life.

Note! When you do act on your findings, be wary of how you proceed. Locking your senior leadership team in a room and having them cook up ideas to improve engagement may not give the answers you need. Remember, your employees are the ones who aren’t engaged. Tap into them. They may be able to tell you why.


3. Pulse poll

Keep checking in. It’s great that you asked people for their insights in an employee engagement survey, but you need to keep listening throughout the year.

Managers can (and should) hold regular and casual check-ins through one-to-one meetings. But, it’s not the most robust way to gather collective information or data. Feedback can easily get missed or forgotten.

A supplementary way to gather feedback and data is through pulse surveys. These are very short, frequent surveys that you give to your team at regular intervals, such as every month.

They help you stay informed of what’s happening across your team and allow you to spot any changes as they’re happening.

Here’s an example of pulse survey questions:

  • How was your workload this month?
  • Are you more confident in our company prospects this year than last?
  • Are you clear on your work priorities?


If you’re interested in finding out more, here’s a list of pulse survey software.

4. Be communicative

Employee engagement often suffers when people don’t know what’s happening at their company. This relates to everything from new hires, to growth plans, to project updates.

If people aren’t given clear information, doubt starts to breed. The rumour mill churns. And engagement drops.

The more transparent and communicative you are, the less room there is for speculation. To achieve this transparency, leaders especially should be visible and communicating; both in-person and online.

In person, this means simple things like opening the door to your office (and getting out of it sometimes). A good communications platform can take this to the next level; your leaders will be more visible across the company and better able to work out loud.

Ultimately, this will help employees stay on the same page as you and have faith that they’re involved.

5. Empower managers

Gallup’s chairman, Jim Clifton, wrote a great article that clearly explains why managers play such a significant role in the workplace, and more specifically, in employee engagement.

“Employees—especially the stars—join a company and then quit their manager. It may not be the manager's fault so much as these managers have not been prepared to coach the new workforce.”


Managers, more than anyone else, have the biggest impact on the experiences of their team. This means they’re key to your employee engagement strategy

To leverage this, the leadership team should make sure they’re training and empowering the middle managers so they can do their very best.

If you want to dig into the details on how to do this, check out this article.

6. Establish trust

If you want to increase employee engagement, you need to get to the bottom of what’s preventing it from happening. Which means, people need to trust you enough to tell you what’s honestly going on.

“Upward communication can be a vital force in helping contemporary organizations learn and succeed; by speaking up to those who occupy positions to authorize actions, employees can help challenge the status quo, identify problems or opportunities for improvement, and offer ideas to improve their organizations’ well-being.” [Source]


People aren’t going to tell you what they think—what’s bothering them, what they think needs to change, how engagement levels could improve—if they don’t trust you. They’re going to keep their heads down and stay out of your way. Which will negatively impact employee engagement even more.

So, management and leadership teams should be as approachable as possible. Check out these articles on building trust and creating psychological safety in the workplace if you want to take this further.

7. Celebrate

It can’t be all work and no play. After all, we’re all human. Celebrating together allows us to take a moment and recognize ourselves and the people around us for their remarkable work.

This recognition and reward makes us feels valued, and triggers a desire to want more of it. After completing research on celebration in the workplace, author Judith E. Glaser wrote:

“Those companies practicing celebrations as part of their conversational rituals open up their employees to make them feel part of the company’s common success, enable them to have the confidence to challenge the status quo, take ambitious initiatives, and share their creative ideas with others.” [Source]


Finally, don’t forget about your employee experience

“Employee experience” refers to everything your employees experience at work; the workspace, interactions with their boss, work/life balance, company culture, support they have in their career paths, and more.

And all of this will have a huge impact on how well you’re able to increase employee engagement.

You can have the best of intentions, but if your employee experience is poor then you’re fighting an uphill battle. Check out this article on employee experience if you want to find out more.

Conclusion

Employee engagement is a hard nut to crack, but it’s a worthwhile endeavour. It’ll lead to higher productivity and less turnover. So, take the time to really listen to your employees, and take action based on what you hear. Only then will you start to increase employee engagement.

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