Applauz Blog

11 Effective Employee Engagement Strategies

Published: May 14, 2024

  10 min read

By: Anouare Abdou

11 Effective Employee Engagement Strategies

Employee engagement is a key to business success--but are you unsure where to start? Here are 11 effective employee engagement strategies to guide you.

In this Article

    Employee engagement is more than an HR buzzword – it’s the lifeline of an organization.

    “Repeated studies over the past 10 years have shown that the business performance of organizations in the highest quartile of employee engagement scores outpaces that of competitors,” according to Gartner. “High employee engagement correlates with higher average revenue growth, net profit margin, customer satisfaction and earnings per share.”

    Do you want a team of motivated, collaborative, performance-oriented individuals? Does attracting and retaining the best talent sound appealing? If so, building effective employee engagement strategies is a no-brainer.

    Employee engagement was on the decline before the pandemic, but trends like “The Great Resignation” and “quiet quitting” only made a pressing need more obvious – redefining the relationship between employer and employee.

    People have different expectations of work, and work also has to meet new demands in an increasingly uncertain and fast-paced business landscape.

    Only a third of employees in the U.S. are engaged, according to recent Gallup data. Gallup also found that in 2024, employee engagement levels reached their lowest point in 11 years. The drop was particularly acute for remote, hybrid and younger workers.

    If you want to counter those trends and become the type of organization that people love to work for, it’s important to understand what exactly employee engagement consists of. While specific definitions of employee engagement vary, they all revolve around the same idea: the degree to which employees feel invested in their jobs and organizations.

    Here’s what you need to know about employee engagement, along with 11 employee engagement strategies to leverage for success. 

    A guide to building an employee engagement strategy Download PDF Now

    group-young-people-high-five-across-meeting-tableUnderstanding Employee Engagement

    Gallup, a leader in employee engagement research, uses 12 factors to measure engagement levels on a regular basis:

    1. Overall satisfaction
    2. Knowing what’s expected
    3. Materials and equipment
    4. Doing what you do best
    5. Receiving recognition
    6. Someone caring at work
    7. Someone encouraging development
    8. Opinions counting at work
    9. Mission/purpose
    10. Commitment to quality work
    11. Best friend at work
    12. Talking about progress
    13. Learning and growing

    As you can see, there are several driving forces that influence how engaged employees are – and most of them are tied to organizational culture and management practices.

    Wrapping your head around each one of the elements of employee engagement can help you evaluate where your team stands and how to best meet the needs of your employees to boost engagement levels. It requires a variety of consistent efforts, but it’s worth it.

    An Eagle Hill Consulting survey revealed that the majority of U.S. workers believe that workplace culture influences much of their job performance, from doing their best work (77%) to their productivity and efficiency (76%) and their ability to best serve customers (74%).

    These statistics are eye-opening: If employees are affected by the climate at work to that extent, imagine what improvements to culture can do for their performance.

    Studies have also shown that businesses with highly engaged workers have lower rates of turnover and absenteeism, which means they save money on both recruiting and training costs, as well as lost productivity. Gallup has estimated that employees who are not engaged or who are actively disengaged cost the world a staggering $8.8 trillion in lost productivity.

    whiteboard-teamwork-plan-business-people-with-strategy-speaking-office-startup-company-training-creative-writing-group-with-communication-vision-with-ideas-seo-reportTop 11 Employee Engagement Strategies

    Most leaders would agree that employee engagement matters – and several of them would likely confirm that they are investing in boosting employee engagement. However, not all engagement strategies are created equal.

    To avoid wasting your time and budget on efforts that don’t have the greatest impact, here are 11 timeless yet highly effective employee engagement strategies to adopt.

    1. Clear Communication Channels

      The bigger your organization, the more challenging it becomes to keep everybody informed and aligned. However, clear communication can go a long way in terms of employee engagement; it breeds transparency and trust. When employees feel informed and in the loop, they experience a greater sense of belonging and commitment to their work.

      Strong communication practices also encourage feedback and collaboration, and it cultivates  team dynamics that encourage workers to voice ideas and concerns while actively participating in decision-making. As a result, employees are more empowered, motivated and connected to organizational goals (and to each other!).

      So, don’t leave communication up to chance. Train your leaders to effectively communicate, adopt the right tools to transmit information, and keep all staffers aware of important goals, decisions and changes.

    2. Recognition and Rewards Programs

      Employee recognition is a powerful driver of employee engagement.

      Did you know that, according to Indeed, 30% of workers who quit their job within the first six months would have actually stayed longer if their contributions were recognized more?

      Acknowledging and celebrating employees’ contributions and efforts on a regular basis makes people feel valued and motivates them to do their best work. This not only boosts productivity – it also increases morale and job satisfaction, and creates a positive culture where support and appreciation are the norm. Using an employee recognition platform like Applauz can help you design an employee recognition program that is adapted to your organization and needs.

    3. Opportunities for Growth and Development

      Employees – especially high-performers – desire continuous growth. As an employer, offering opportunities for growth and development so people can take on new challenges can have a massive impact on engagement levels.

      Growth opportunities demonstrate to your employees that you are invested in the success of your people and that you care about their professional advancement and fulfillment. When team members have access to training, mentorship, and career advancement opportunities, they feel empowered and driven to expand their skills and knowledge. They are more likely to remain loyal and engaged – and leverage their newfound wisdom for organizational success. It’s a win-win.

    4. Fostering a Positive Work Environment

      Fostering a positive work environment is paramount for improving employee engagement. Toxic cultures are filled with negativity, mistrust and burnout. Healthy cultures are centered around well-being, respect and inclusion. In such environments, team members feel supported, valued, and inspired to collaborate and perform.

      From investing in DEI to offering flexible work arrangements, there are various ways to create a positive work environment. Most of them boil down to the idea of caring about people and treating them like human beings. If you get that part right, a positive uptick in engagement levels should follow.

    5. Clear Expectations and Roles

      An Effectory study revealed that half of employees lack role clarity. This finding highlights a common gap in terms of employee engagement strategy. According to Effectory, role clarity leads to a 25% increase in work performance, and 84% of workers with high role clarity report their intention to stay with their organization.

      It makes sense: When team members understand what is expected of them and the impact of their roles on organizational objectives, they are more likely to feel motivated and engaged. Clear responsibilities and expectations help avoid confusion and frustration, which are a recipe for disengagement.

      This clarity also helps employees stay focused and make an impact where it matters the most. Additionally, when roles are well-defined, employees can better collaborate with each other, which is motivating in itself.

    6. Encourage Work-Life Balance

      The stats on burnout are dire – Deloitte reports that 77% of professionals have experienced burnout at work. And almost 70% of employees feel that their employers aren’t doing enough to prevent or alleviate burnout.

      Don’t be one of those employers. Encouraging work-life balance is instrumental for increasing engagement. When employees are able to juggle both professional and personal demands effectively, they experience less stress and greater job satisfaction. This allows them to be more engaged and productive at work while feeling valued and supported by their employers.

      Providing benefits such as generous paid time off or wellness perks can help foster work-life balance. But don’t forget that one of the most important things you can do as a leader is model a healthy work-life balance yourself. Saying one thing yet working around the clock and answering emails on weekends sends conflicting messages – your team needs to feel safe prioritizing work-life balance, and leaders set the tone for that.

    7. Empowerment and Autonomy

      Empowerment and autonomy are catalysts for higher levels of employee engagement. When team members feel that they are trusted to make decisions and take ownership of their work, they are more motivated to achieve their goals. They are also more likely to get creative and innovate, which is good for both business and morale.

      To foster a sense of empowerment and autonomy, provide clear guidelines and targets but don’t micromanage – let employees make decisions and manage their work. People need to feel like they have agency over both their deliverables and career path.

    8. Team Building Activities

      Hosting a corporate retreat or an offsite isn’t going to magically solve employee disengagement. However, team-building activities have their place in a well-rounded employee engagement strategy. These activities provide opportunities for team members to connect on a personal level, and build trust and camaraderie.

      By participating in engaging shared experiences that involve problem-solving exercises, employees also gain a better understanding of each other’s strengths, weaknesses and working styles. They may also come up with innovative solutions. This is all good news for teamwork and morale – and engagement levels, of course.

    9. Regular Feedback and Performance Reviews

      You can’t have a highly engaged team without regular feedback. Conducting performance reviews once a year isn’t enough, but combining effective, more formal performance appraisals with continuous opportunities for feedback is key. When employees receive constructive insights about their strengths, areas of improvement and progress, they feel more supported and know where to invest their energy.

      Moreover, these conversations are important for team and organizational alignment while also promoting trust and transparency. Make it your mission to build a culture where sharing helpful feedback isn’t scary – it’s the norm.

    10. Encourage Innovation and Creativity

      Encouraging innovation and creativity significantly boosts engagement levels by empowering people to think outside the box, contribute new ideas, and take ownership of their work. When employees feel encouraged to take chances, they will be more inspired to find creative ways to solve problems. This is exciting and fuels a sense of purpose at work, especially in a fast-paced business landscape that requires continuous adaptation.

      Wondering how to get those creative juices flowing in your team? Cultivate psychological safety – people won’t take risks if they are afraid of the consequences. Make sure that people feel heard when they share new ideas. Hire people with diversity in mind – combining different perspectives and strengths can lead to magic.

    11. Leadership Support and Involvement

      You’ve heard the saying: People leave managers, not companies. If you want to keep workers engaged, adequate leadership support and involvement is crucial. According to McKinsey, four types of behavior account for 89 percent of leadership effectiveness: solving problems effectively, operating with strong results orientation; seeking different perspectives; and being supportive.

      Make sure that leaders in your organization are equipped to demonstrate these behaviors. Additionally, it’s important for leaders to be supportive of employee engagement initiatives as well, as they play a big role in implementing them and set the tone for what matters the most.

    african-businessman-talking-young-businesswoman-table-during-meeting-officeBest Practices for Implementing Employee Engagement Strategies

    Now that you are equipped with employee engagement strategies that actually work, your next challenge is effective implementation. Here are some important best practices to embrace for best results.

    • Customization According to Organizational Culture: Adapting employee engagement strategies so that they are aligned with your unique values and goals as an organization makes them more impactful. Use the list above as inspiration, but don’t be afraid to make the strategies your own so that they reflect your company’s ethos and resonate with your team.  
    • Leveraging the Right Technology: Leveraging technology platforms like Applauz can streamline your employee engagement efforts and help new habits stick. With features such as custom rewards and feedback channels, tools like Applauz help you bake engagement strategies such as employee recognition into your culture. 
    • Involvement of Employees in Decision-Making: Actively involving team members in the process of implementing new engagement strategies is key. Gather their feedback about what matters the most to them. Actively listen, and use those insights as inspiration to create impactful initiatives. 
    • Consistent Evaluation and Optimization: Employee engagement isn’t a one-and-done effort. It requires constant evaluation and optimization. Use employee surveys to gather data about the effectiveness of your strategies and identify areas of improvement. Then, make tweaks as needed. This iterative approach keeps your efforts relevant, impactful, and aligned with evolving employee needs and preferences.
    • Integration with Performance Management Systems: Your employee engagement efforts should be tied to your performance management systems. Use feedback touchpoints as opportunities to continuously improve the employee experience within your organization. 
    • Training and Development for Managers and Leaders: Provide training and development to managers and leaders so they can be equipped to foster employee engagement. From fostering strong leadership skills to providing leaders with the tools and resources they need to support their teams, you'll create an environment where people can thrive. 

    success-applause-thank-you-achievement-woman-office-startup-business-with-proud-team-congratulations-cheering-support-winner-target-goal-employees-clapping-hands-desk-2Benefits of Effective Employee Engagement Strategies

    Still skeptical? Yes, building out effective employee engagement strategies is a significant investment. But the benefits outweigh the costs. Here are a few of the most powerful ones. 

    • Increased Employee Satisfaction and Morale: If you notice that people are smiling more and missing work less, your employee engagement strategies have probably started to work. Increased job satisfaction and morale are natural side effects of feeling motivated and valued at work. 
    • Higher Retention Rates: Engaged employees are more loyal and less likely to seek opportunities elsewhere. By investing in employee engagement strategies, you can reduce turnover rates – and their associated costs – while attracting and retaining top talent. 
    • Enhanced Productivity and Performance: From taking initiative more often to consistently delivering high-quality work, engaged employees are inherently more productive. Strong employee engagement breeds a high-performance culture where people go above and beyond – and it can have a huge impact on your bottom line. 
    • Improved Collaboration and Teamwork: Employee engagement encourages open communication, trust and collaboration. When you feel connected to your work and colleagues, you’re naturally more inclined to seek out opportunities to collaborate with others and offer support. In other words, employee engagement strategies are good for teamwork. 
    • Better Customer Satisfaction and Loyalty: Engaged employees are more likely to take care of your customers with dedication and positivity. There is a direct relationship between high engagement levels and an exceptional customer experience. 

    TAS-United_Success-Story-FeatureEmployee Engagement Case Study: TAS

    If you’re wondering what an effective employee engagement looks like in action, Applauz recently helped its client, TAS United, overcome challenges related to disengagement.

    TAS United is a contact center solutions provider. The organization offers a “concierge service” for companies looking to provide their customers with guaranteed access to essential services 24/7. However, this negatively impacted productivity and quality of service.

    A 24/7 work environment certainly requires high levels of employee engagement, but the company found itself struggling with high turnover and morale issues following the pandemic. This is where Applauz stepped in with its comprehensive employee recognition platform.

    Through the platform, TAS United employees were empowered to recognize and celebrate each other’s achievements, contributions, and exceptional performance in real-time. This focus on peer-to-peer recognition increased visibility and appreciation for employees' efforts. It also fostered a much-needed sense of camaraderie and teamwork within the organization.

    Thanks to Applauz’s accessibility and ease of use, employees were able to easily give and receive recognition across different channels, including a mobile app. This created a culture of gratitude that transcended departmental silos and physical distance.

    The implementation of Applauz also enabled a more structured and systematic approach to employee appreciation. TAS United leveraged different recognition categories and badges to align appreciation efforts with organizational values and priorities. This not only reinforced desired behaviors and standards, but also provided team members with clear guidelines for expressing recognition.

    As a result of those combined efforts and the use of Applauz, TAS United witnessed a significant improvement in morale, satisfaction, and retention rates. The workplace culture improvements had a ripple effect on business results, too. The company saw improvements in productivity and customer satisfaction following this uptick in employee engagement.

    The case study of TAS United and Applauz is only one example of the ways in which you can drive positive change when you combine employee engagement strategies with the right technology. By prioritizing employee recognition and appreciation as a pillar of employee engagement, TAS United was able to address its challenges and create a much healthier – and more productive – workplace culture.  

    “Since using Applauz we’ve had fewer complaints from our clients about hold times. We’ve had less stress among our employees because there were more people there to help. It was worth every single penny,”
    Dan Kilday, Director of Employee Engagement at TAS United.

    Research has consistently shown that high employee engagement correlates with better business performance metrics. If you want your organization to thrive, investing in employee engagement strategies isn’t a luxury – it’s a necessity.

    While there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution to boosting engagement levels, you can implement several research-backed tactics to see positive results. The strategies suggested above are a great starting point, especially when you adapt them to your culture and use the right tools to enable effective implementation. Remember that you’ll need to measure engagement levels and revisit your strategies on a regular basis to keep them fresh and effective.

    Finally, keep in mind that employee engagement requires a continuous commitment and holistic approach, but the rewards are worth it. Think higher retention rates, enhanced productivity and performance, improved collaboration, and better customer satisfaction.

    Ready to supercharge your employee engagement strategy?
    Schedule a free demo.

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