7 Practical Employee Engagement Strategies

Whether you’re working in human resources, in management roles or in a senior management position at an organisation, if you’re in charge of managing people in some capacity, employee engagement is sure to be something that you’ll need to tackle at some point in your career.

Engagement refers to the emotional and mental connection that your employees feel towards their work and the workplace they’re based in. It has an effect on everything from productivity and profit through to retention and recruitment, so getting your employee engagement strategies right at your company is really important.

Here are 7 of the most practical employee engagement strategies that you can use to use engagement in your own organisation.

1.  Get to know the skills and personality of your employees

Making the effort to get to know your employees is one of the most practical engagement strategies that you can use to improve a whole host of things related to your workplace.

Everyone has those things that they are good at and those things that they find particularly challenging. By taking the time to get to know the unique skills and personality of each of your employees you’ll be able to assign work and tasks that better suit them. This in turn, can help you to foster a workplace that’s more satisfying, respectful and productive than ones where the management make no effort to get to know the individual attributes of their employees.

Getting to know these things can be as easy or as difficult as you want to make it. The easiest way to go about this is to just have small chats with your employees! Ask them questions about their personality and lives and listen to the answers. You will usually be able to gain an idea of the type of skills, personality and strengths that someone has by interacting with them and by looking at the work that they produce over a short period of time. You can then delegate work accordingly, matching employee strengths to particular tasks. When employees are suited to tasks that they feel they’re good at, they’re more likely to be satisfied with their role and more likely to stay engaged at work as a result.

If you want to get more scientific about this process and make it more formalised, you can ask your employees to carry out a short personality test. There’s a variety available. The one that most people have heard about is probably the ubiquitous Myers Briggs personality test though.

Another type of popular personality test is the DiSC test. This measures employee attributes like Dominance, Influence, Steadiness and Compliance. Other personality tests like the ennegoram can also a great overview of the types of common personality archetypes that your employees possess, helping you to work out how they work together in your team.

Do a simple Google search for free personality tests and you’ll be returned a whole host of free tests that you can share with your team.

A woman with her hands held up smiling in front of a laptop

2.  Hold yourself accountable for your actions

One of the key things that can influence employee engagement is whether or not employees consider their workplace as being one where ordinary workers are treated with the same equality as managers and those in authority positions. A workplace that applies rules differently to people based on their position in the office hierarchy is one that’s certain to eventually breed resentment, dissatisfaction and ultimately, disengagement amongst employees.

Ultimately, one of the best ways that you can contribute to a workplace culture of equality (and thus improve employee engagement) is by holding yourself accountable for your actions.

If you make a mistake, be honest about it with your team. If you have a success at work that you’re particularly proud about, be honest about it too. Being accountable helps to build a culture of trust at your own company that can in turn improve motivation and engagement rates amongst your employees.

How can you be accountable? Try using some of these strategies:

  • Set clear expectations for yourself and others that are SMART (specific, measurable, actionable, results-driven and time-limited)
  • Have clear and open communication channels with your employees
  • Acknowledge responsibility for outcomes – positive and negative

3.  Reward successes

Rewards are a powerful motivator when it comes to engagement. Science has shown us that motivation at work rests in a large part on the promise of rewards, with this recent whitepaper from the CIPD outlining the behavioural science behind different rewards and the process generally.

To summarise the paper, by offering a reward, you’re showing that you both value and appreciate employees and their efforts. Rewards can help to motivate, engage and retain employees at your company, and increase job satisfaction. In the ‘Receiving Incentives and Rewards from Your Employer’ report by Black Hawk Network, researchers found that 84% of employees would feel more loyal to their employer if they received a reward from them.

There are a variety of different ways you can recognise successes at work: from monetary through to non-monetary rewards. This blog by Achievers.com asserts that there are six different types of rewards that you can give employees.  Some effective types of rewards for success can be:

  • Pay rises
  • Bonus payments
  • Verbal praise
  • Written praise
  • Additional holidays

Two professionals having a cup of tea

4.  Encourage honest communication and build trust

Communication is absolutely essential to the success of your overall employee engagement strategy. A culture of clear, open communication will help your employees to develop a sense of connection and belonging to your workplace, which in turn can help to build a better practice of employee engagement.

Communication is fundamental to every aspect of the way we interact and relate to each other as human beings. Ultimately, communication allows us to build meaningful relationships with other people.

The CIPD highlights that encouraging honest communication with your employees can help them to better understand their organisation’s purpose, values and strategy, and build better employee engagement with these crucial areas.

5.  Encourage autonomy

Autonomy is about letting employees have the freedom to decide how they want to work.

It’s not about relinquishing responsibility as a manager: it’s about allowing employees to take responsibility for their own working processes, practices and schedule. Ultimately, it’s about trusting employees to do their job in the ways that suit them.

One of the key learnings that we seem to have gained from the COVID-19 and the widespread upheaval this caused to our working practices is that autonomy at work isn’t something to be feared. In fact, it can actually enhance productivity and performance.

person at a desk typing

6.  Listen!

The ability to listen is one of the most important skills you’ll need when it comes to directing HR activities at an organisation, or managing staff. It’s also one of the most misunderstood professional skills.

Active listening is not just staying quiet when someone else is talking. It’s about giving your undivided attention to someone else and trying to understand and interpret what they mean. It’s about encouraging them in their self-expression, taking measures to enhance their communication and develop it.

You can improve your active listening skills by taking measures like these:

  • Keep eye contact with the person you’re listening to
  • Ask questions about what you hear
  • Don’t interrupt when someone’s speaking
  • Don’t offer your advice on how to solve problems without being asked
  • Match body language with the person that you’re communicating with

7.  Give your employees a meaningful voice

Allowing your employees a meaningful voice means not assuming that your organisation knows what’s best for them when it comes to deciding issues that directly affect them in the workplace.

At the end of the day, the balance of power in most workplaces is ultimately skewed towards the employer. This can mean that your employees are often not involved in the key decision making processes of the organisation and that their voices, opinions and needs are often not listened to.

Situations like this can often lead to resentment, high turnover, drops in productivity and employee unrest. After all, no one likes to feel like they don’t have the power to change anything and that they’re not listened to.

In many workplaces, trade unions can help to readdress this power imbalance, with workers having a collective voice in the form of an independent union that represents their interests.  Whilst many employers are scared of the prospect of allowing an independent body like a union into their organisation, research has shown that workplaces where recognised unions are present have much better job satisfaction, are more productive and have fewer days lost due to work-related injuries.

Some other practical ways that you can give employees a meaningful voice in your workplace include:

  • Setting up an employee council, with elected representatives
  • Putting an elected employee on your board of directors
  • Regularly asking for feedback through surveys

Employee engagement: essential to the success of your organisation

Employee engagement is crucial to the overall success of your business. It’s something that all professionals who are responsible for managing employees will need to engage with if they’re serious about keeping their organisation competitive. We hope these 7 practical employee engagement strategies have given you some tips that you can add to your own engagement policy.


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