How to Increase Employee Engagement

In today’s competitive market to attract and retain talent, boosting employee engagement is a priority for organization success. It centers on creating a workplace environment that inspires and empowers employees, giving them a strong sense of purpose. Though each organization is unique, there are universal, incontrovertible ways to increase employee engagement.


Exceptional Leadership:

Leadership is the bedrock of employee engagement. Leaders must serve as role models, communicate transparently, and foster trust. Organizations not only need to hire great leaders but develop leaders within their ranks.

1. Use internship and mentorship programs to identify and cultivate leaders.
2. Identify key behaviors that leaders in your organization need.
3. Invest in leadership development.
4. Rethink “promotion.” Not everyone is meant to lead teams. Consider lateral promotion possibilities or other ways to grow within the organization that doesn’t always end someone in a manager or leadership role.

Transparent Communication:

Communicate communicate communicate. Leaving employees guessing what’s next is a way for engagement to take a nose-dive. Clear and honest communication is paramount.


1. Regularly share the organization's vision, mission, and goals (on the website, bulletin boards, in meetings).
2. Use different communication formats (see #1). Not everyone communicates or receives communication the same way. Keep in mind demographic differences to share your message.
3. Be transparent about what’s happening within the organization, especially if things are a bit rocky. This improves trust toward company leadership.
4. Foster an environment where employees feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and ideas. Remember the importance of upward communication, soliciting feedback, and active listening.

Recognition and Appreciation:

Recognizing and valuing employee contributions is pretty basic. Yet, it’s remarkable how recognition, appreciation, and gratitude get put on the back burner.

1. Implement a recognition system that highlights outstanding performance. This can include peer-to-peer recognition, certificates, or tangible rewards like bonuses.
2. Celebrate achievements openly, making employees feel appreciated.
3. Say, “Thank you,” and be specific about how an employee improved processes, the work environment, handled a tricky situation, and more.

Growth Opportunities:

Fostering a culture that prioritizes personal and professional development will ultimately lead to improved employee performance and increased long-term profitability.

1. Take a skills assessment of your team.
2. Offer training programs, mentorship initiatives, and well-defined career progression paths.
3. Encourage employees to set and pursue their development goals.
4. Work to develop a way to fund continued education with staff (whether it’s through loans or scholarships).
5. Provide cross-department training options.
6. Provide time for employees to meet with the senior leaders of the company.

Work-Life Balance:

Prioritize work-life balance to prevent burnout.

1. Extend flexible work arrangements, such as remote work options or adaptable working hours, to accommodate personal needs.
2. Establish wellness programs focusing on both physical and mental well-being. Partner with a local sporting shop to provide low-cost equipment rentals (skiing, kayaking, paddleboarding etc.). Set up a hiking club. Revamp the cafeteria and snack room to include quality, delicious, healthy options.
3. Partner with a local after-school program to help alleviate working parents’ stress.
4. Establish clear communication boundaries and respect them.

Positive Workplace Culture:

Cultivate a positive workplace culture centered on trust, inclusivity, and fairness.

1. Take a DEI survey to get a pulse on your organization’s workplace climate and identify opportunities for improvement.
2. Prioritize positive, effective onboarding experiences.
Develop your talent.
3. Take a salary audit to make sure there isn’t a problem with pay compression.
4. Celebrate collaboration, not the lone “team star.” Collaborative leadership gives employees a voice.

Meaningful Work:

"It is impossible to have a great life unless it is a meaningful life. And it is very difficult to have a meaningful life without meaningful work.” – Jim Collins.
Increase engagement in your staff by giving them a sense of meaning.

1. Establish and share core organization values. This should be everywhere – on the website, brochures, employee intake forms and more.
2. Share how employees’ daily contributions impact the organization's purpose.
3. Coach managers so they become masters of communication, offering frequent, actionable feedback.
4. Understand personal and professional goals of each person, and provide meaningful stretch tasks, education and skills-development opportunities for them.
5. Build critical thinking skills with complex tasks (let your teams feel challenged without being too frustrated).

Autonomy and Empowerment:

Extend a degree of autonomy within employees' roles. There are few things more diminishing and exasperating than the ever-present micromanager. Also, it’s a waste of valuable time and resources for an organization. Autonomy will increase trust, loyalty, and the quality of work.

1. Identify leaders with micro-manager tendencies and understand WHY. Then help them develop into better, empowering leaders.
2. Provide flexibility. This could include flexibility of hours (some people are better in the morning, others at night). Flexibility in spaces (not everybody is built for the communal office space), among other things.
3. Together, communicate clear pictures of “done” and “success”. Have metrics for what these things mean. Set up check-in points. Then step back.
4. Provide employees with the resources to get the job done.

Fair Compensation and Benefits:

Nobody can buy groceries with passion. Fair compensation is a baseline requirement for employee engagement. It’s a fundamental need for employees to not only live well but feel valued at work.

1. Pay your people fair wages.
2. Ensure competitive compensation packages and benefits tailored to employee needs, including healthcare, retirement plans, and childcare assistance.
3. Conduct periodic salary reviews to maintain equity.
4. Remove gap-year biases (that disproportionately affect women). Develop a return-ship program to recruit employees returning to work after taking time off for childcare, elderly care, illnesses, and more.

Alignment with Company Values:

Consistently reinforce the organization's mission and values. Ensure employees not only comprehend but also identify with these values.

1. You can only align teams with values if their baseline needs are met (see above).
2. When you establish company values, include short sentences with actions you’d like to see that reflect this value. (EG Integrity – we trust that we will follow through on commitments, speak honestly, and hold ourselves accountable.)
3. Managers need to walk the talk – and be examples of organization values.
4. Make organization values part of performance reviews and recognition programs. (If you treasure it, measure it.)


Belongingness and community are tenets of employee engagement. This doesn’t mean everybody needs to be best friends, but creating a workplace culture where robust relationships among employees flourish is healthy and necessary.

1. Have a no-phone policy at meetings so employees actually speak to one another in those in-between times.
2. Create spaces that encourage connection – a little library, a community eating space, an outdoor garden.
3. Encourage teamwork through collaborative projects and activities.
4. Establish mentorship programs.
5. Encourage volunteerism through a Corporte Responsibility 6. Program. Offer employees paid volunteer days during the year.
7. Celebrate life – birthdays, baby showers, weddings, holidays. Make these low-cost, low-key events, focusing on what matters and not burdening people to buy expensive gifts.

Feedback and Growth:

Cultivate an environment rich in feedback. Beware of the dreaded feedback famine.

1. Begin by asking for feedback. Conduct an employee engagement survey. Gather input and gauge engagement levels. Use survey results to identify areas for improvement, taking action based on employee feedback.
2. Make 360 degree feedback an integral part of development for organization leaders.
3. Coach managers on how to provide feedback.
4. Give frequent feedback on performance and career advancement. Allow time for this.
5. Develop personalized development plans grounded in employees' strengths and areas for improvement.
6. Don’t fall into the feedback sandwich trap (the bad wrapped in “good”). Ugh. Just be candid and discuss actions to improve.
7. Recognition is an exceptional feedback tool. Use it … loudly. Create a culture of recognition (see above).

Adapting to Change:

“Every success story is a tale of constant adaption, revision and change.” – Richard Branson
Skillfully navigate organizational change.

1. Recognize change can be uncomfortable, even scary, for many.
2. Foster transparent communication about changes.
3. Actively involve employees in decision-making when feasible.
4. Offer requisite support during transitions.
5. Promote resilience and adaptability.

Continuous Improvement:

Acknowledge that employee engagement is an ongoing process.

1. Evaluate and refine engagement strategies based on employee feedback, pulse surveys, and evolving organizational requirements.
2. Communicate actions, changes, and processes. If you don’t communicate it, it didn’t happen.

Employee engagement is a series of actions based on values and strategies that foster a workplace culture where employees feel valued, motivated, and committed. It is not a one-size-fits-all solution. Tailor your approach to suit your organization's culture and the unique needs of your workforce. Commitment to these principles, along with continuous effort, will lead to success.

To receive periodic articles & research updates, sign up for our newsletter mailing list.
Email address