Employee engagement is more than a theory or tick-box exercise discussed only within HR teams, it’s a concept that when managed and reviewed correctly can increase business performance and productivity, staff retention, and improve the wellbeing of your team – factors I’m sure you’ll agree can bring huge benefits to any company!

The concepts that form employee engagement, such as motivation and productivity, can be traced back to the 1920’s but the term gained its name in the mid-1990’s and has been developed and used in management theory ever since. So, it’s fair to say that the models have been tried and tested! With the cost-of-living crisis faced across the country, it’s important now more than ever to ensure that your team are engaged, supported and motivated to help with the challenges we’re all due to face over the coming months and so we’ve pulled together some guidance and tips on how you can introduce and maintain this within your business.

When it comes to assessing your employee engagement, a good place to start is to identify whether you have any current issues that can be addressed. Signs of this can include attendance issues within your teams, drops in performance from usually high-performing individuals (that can’t be attributed to any other reasons that you’re already aware of) and missed deadlines, amongst others. This isn’t an exhaustive list, but hopefully gives you a good idea of some early indications that your engagement may need to be addressed, or due a refresh if it’s already something that’s been on the radar!

If you’ve assessed your engagement and feel that you’re already at a good level, that’s great and keep it up! It doesn’t mean the work stops there though, as employees and the landscape are ever-changing, so keep reading to see our tips on how not to just implement, but how to maintain high engagement levels!

If you want to measure your engagement levels and begin taking action, a great first step is to roll-out an employee survey. This doesn’t have to be anything complicated or complex but doing so will help you obtain feedback that may not be on the surface and gives you an indication towards how your employees are feeling at that point in time. Simple online survey generators that are free to use can be utilised for this, or even some in-person surveys and focus groups can be a great way to obtain feedback and answers to the questions you have. Top questions that we have seen being used in employee engagement surveys include “Do you feel valued for the work you do?”, “Do you know what is expected of you as part of your role?”, “Do you feel supported and encouraged at work, and if so, who by?” – but there’s plenty of examples online you can choose from that best suit your business.

One key point before you roll out your survey – make sure you’re ready to communicate with your team and implement some changes after the survey is completed. The last thing you want is for your team to feel that they have voiced their concerns but have not been listened to! This is likely to do more harm than good which is certainly not what you want!

Once you’ve issued your survey and you’ve got your feedback, it’s time to review the responses to identify any action that needs to be taken. Identify those that are feasible to implement that will increase your employee’s experiences at work so that you can start to see some increased levels of engagement. This certainly doesn’t mean that you have to agree and implement everything that has been requested and remember, not everything has to be costly. For example, you could consider giving employees a ‘wellbeing hour’ during the working week during which they can choose to do an activity that improves their wellbeing such as taking a walk or exercising. Maybe schedule in some mini wellbeing check-ins with your team which focus solely on the employee as a person and not on their workload or work-related matters – these are great, cost-effective ways to increase engagement by showing that you place importance on the employee as an individual.

To help with managing employee engagement in the early stages as well as on an ongoing basis, we’ve pulled together a list of our Top 10 Tips on how you can introduce, maintain and increase the levels of employee engagement within your teams:

  1. This one will be solely dependent on your business, but if you can, try to consider offering benefits and adjustments that go beyond the law and legal minimum requirements. This isn’t always possible, but when done right can go a long way to increasing employee engagement.
  2. Communicate with your teams as much as possible and be transparent with your communications too. That doesn’t mean telling everyone everything – there will always be confidential business information, but keep your teams updated on what is happening within the company, what steps the company is taking to further its performance and also how employee performance and actions contribute to this to clearly establish their value.
  3. In the same vein as Tip 2 – review your vision, mission and values and make sure that these are communicated to everyone in your business. Explain the vision to your team and how they should be working to remain in line with this. Establishing consistency and identifying what employees can do to further the business will motivate and engage your team.
  4. Establish methods of recognition within your team and business. These don’t have to carry a monetary value, but make sure that your managers and colleagues are recognising when others are doing well, when they have shown resilience, gone the extra mile, or just been an all-round great person! Consider how the recognition is given too – this should become part of the culture, so make sure that teams are seeing recognition being given to one another. A small ‘thank you’ will go a long way towards motivating your team.
  5. Development – one word that covers so many elements of a person’s skillset and performance within their role. Make sure your team feel that they have received adequate training to perform their duties. If someone does not feel well trained or confident in their position, you’ll start to see engagement drop as their motivation will have taken a hit due to this. Offering opportunities for further development will show your team members how much you value them.
  6. If you directly manage a team of people, identify and understand the motivational factors of each of your team and put plans in place to support these. Everyone is motivated by different things – check out the Incentive Theory or McClelland’s Need Theory for some examples on what can motivate different individuals. Once you understand the motivational factors for an individual, you can implement ways of working and environments that support and encourage this.
  7. Review your benefits and make sure that they’re useful – and liked – by your team. Does your team use the gym that you’re providing a membership to? Or would they prefer access to private health care instead? Consider a survey solely on benefits to find out your employee’s thoughts and review your benefits off of the back of this. This will be an ongoing task as priorities are ever-changing, so consider introducing an annual benefits review, for example.
  8. Make sure to obtain Leadership/Senior Management buy-in to your employee engagement strategies and ensure that they are leading by example and displaying the traits that you want to see. Are your managers taking breaks when in the office that your team can see so that they feel comfortable doing the same? Or are they setting a dangerous precedent of not doing so?
  9. It’s so important we’ve listed it twice – but keep communicating! Remind your team of what the business is doing, what benefits are available to them, and reiterate the aspects that contribute to motivating factors.
  10. Once your plan is in place, keep reviewing and developing this as the business, economy and the team evolves. Consider scheduling an employee engagement audit at a certain point within the year so that you can maintain those high levels!

Of course, the above list isn’t exhaustive and there’s a huge number of ideas that you can obtain from other businesses and through reading material on management theory – but we hope that you’ve now got the foundations to make a start, or to continue improving, your employee engagement.

Finally, it would be remiss of me not to mention at this point that we do have an amazing team of Performance Coaches who are on-hand if you would like to speak to us about any training or coaching that you feel may benefit you in this area, so feel free to get in touch if you want to know more!

About the Author: Sarah McGillick

Sarah McGillick
Sarah is one of our amazing HR Advisors and is currently completing her CIPD Level 5 Diploma. In her spare time enjoys raising money for charity in fun and interesting ways, including running Race for Life (several times) to organising acoustic nights.