Amelia Herring

Employee engagement: how to improve it

Employee engagement: how to improve it
Amelia Herring
Ramping up employee engagement allows your business to thrive, and retain your best people.

One of the most effective ways to boost your business is to improve your employee engagement.

The Business Dictionary defines employee engagement as the “emotional connection an employee feels toward his or her employment organization, which tends to influence his or her behaviors and level of effort in work related activities.” The Society for Human Resource Management defines it as “the means of creating a work environment that empowers employees to make decisions that affect their jobs.”

Simply put, employee engagement is the level of personal investment an employee has in his or her work.

Why is employee engagement important?

There are endless advantages to high employee engagement, with plenty of statistics to back them up. When employees are engaged, your company can benefit from:

Higher levels of productivity

  • One study shows organizations with the highest levels of employee engagement had 15% greater employee productivity and up to 30% greater customer satisfaction levels.

A boost to your bottom line

  • Gallup employee engagement statistics indicate that an engaged organization can lead to up to 18% higher revenue per employee.
  • The Workplace Research Foundation has found that a 10% increase in investment in employee engagement can increase profits by $2,400 per employee, per year.

Better retention rates of your top talent

  • Retaining employees is more cost effective than hiring new ones.
  • Companies with lower levels of engagement experience significantly higher costs associated with absenteeism and turnover.

An increased sense of health and well-being and decreased healthcare costs

  • According to one study, 91% of employees participating in wellness programs have improved their fitness while 89 percent said participation has improved their overall happiness and well-being.

Build company culture

  • Happy employees are 12% more productive than unhappy employees. It is important to incorporate playful elements into the company culture.

In addition to the benefits listed above, organizations with high employee engagement tend to withstand economic downturns and when the economy picks up, they are able to run circles around their competitors.

One Gallup study regarding employee engagement revealed that 62% of Americans who consider themselves engaged in the workplace say they are thriving. That is almost halved for the actively disengaged. Similarly, 36% of the engaged employees consider themselves to be struggling, while that number jumps to 61% for the disengaged.

So clearly, when employees are disengaged, your company can suffer. Disengaged employees:

  • Are less motivated and do not reinforce a high performance work culture.
  • Are emotionally disconnected from their workplaces, much of the time being the last to arrive and the first to leave.
  • Only meet the bare minimum requirements of the job, rarely exceeding performance expectations.
  • Do not share the same values of the organization and may break rules.
  • Do not see their jobs, careers, or professions as being a core aspect of their-selves.

Unfortunately, 70% of Americans are disengaged at their jobs, harboring negative attitudes towards their work and organization.

How can you improve your employee engagement?

Communicate often

Employees whose managers hold regular meetings are almost three times as likely to be engaged as employees whose managers do not hold regular meetings.

  • Use a combination of face-to-face, phone, and electronic communication when engaging employees. Returns their calls or messages within 24 hours.
  • Make an effort to get to know your employees and help them feel comfortable talking about any subject, whether it is work related or not.

Set clear goals

Gallup finds that employees whose managers excel at performance management activities are more engaged than employees whose managers struggle with these same tasks.

  • Frequently talk with employees about their responsibilities and progress. Don’t save critical conversations for yearly performance reviews.
  • Help set work priorities and performance goals and hold employees accountable for their performance.

Focus on strengths

Studies show that 67% of employees who strongly agree that their manager focuses on their strengths or positive characteristics are engaged, compared with just 31% of employees who indicate strongly that their manager focuses on their weaknesses.

When managers help employees grow and develop through their strengths, they are more than twice as likely to engage their team members.

Amp up recognition

58% of employees say that their leadership could give recognition first, to improve engagement.

  • Make recognition contribution-based, rather than seniority-based.
  • Choose a reward with the recipient in mind, make it personal.
  • Don’t demoralize anyone by stacking employees against each other in competition.
  • Offer peer-to-peer opportunities for recognition to help them feel connected and recognized, without requiring a costly reward.
  • 41% of companies that have peer-to-peer recognition in place have seen positive increases in customer satisfaction.

Collect and utilize feedback

Exercise good employee survey practices to learn what matters to employees and determine the results of relevant organizational initiatives.

  • Conduct regular, short surveys to gain actionable information on how to improve employee engagement.
  • Share data from the surveys to demonstrate transparency and start engaging employees. This helps to ensure each member of your team has a vested interest in fostering a positive, collaborative culture.
  • Use the results to create a comprehensive plan for improvement – data is useful only to the extent to which it is acted upon.
    • BlessingWhite, an employee engagement consulting firm, found that nearly a third of employees become disengaged when employers ask for feedback, but do nothing about it.


The value of employee engagement is clear. Study after study shows that highly-engaged employees work harder, are absent less, have better relationships with clients, and stay with the company longer. Making changes to improve your employee engagement level can only benefit your bottom line.


What Great Managers Do to Engage Employees

The Ultimate Guide to Employee Engagement

The 2018 Ultimate Guide to Employee Engagement

The Difference Between Employee Engagement and Satisfaction

What is Employee Engagement and Why Does it Matter?

The Cost of Employee Disengagement

6 Execs Discuss How They Use Company Culture to Increase Employee Engagement

Workplace culture of wellness leads to increased employee engagement, productivity and happiness: 5 findings

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