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Employee Engagement Strategies To Improve Your Workplace

Oct 26, 2023

Implementing effective employee engagement strategies is critical to mitigating the negative impact disengaged employees can have on an organisation, its employees and its customers.

Organisations with highly engaged workforces enjoy a competitive advantage in their markets: high employee retention, attracting top talent, employee loyalty and referrals. But what's it all about?

In this article, we explore proven tactics employers can deploy to positively influence and improve the employee engagement of their workforce.

What is employee engagement?

It's important to define what it isn't as well as what it is. Employee engagement isn’t a survey score, not a satisfaction level nor a happiness meter – all things that can be numerically measured, which is what makes them so attractive.

Instead, employee engagement is typically described as the amount of discretionary effort an employee is willing to give an employer.

You might also call it commitment – which is naturally more of an emotional state than a rational one. It's that emotional commitment that drives your employees' decisions and, ultimately, your business outcomes.


What is an employee engagement strategy?

Simply put, an employee engagement strategy is the ‘things’ an organisation does to try and create a positive connection between itself and its employees.

The essential point to note is that an effective employee engagement strategy isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution and will depend on a number of factors, including the size and geography of your organisation, the business values and goals, employee preferences, and budget.

So, how do you create an engaged workforce? It comes back to commitment – what emotions are at play that drives people to decide what to do, whether that be giving more effort, meeting the minimum requirements or opting to disengage.

Why is building an employee engagement strategy important?

While most leaders agree that employee engagement is desirable and there’s undeniably a strong business case for increasing employee engagement, not many have a strategic approach to maximising it.

Some of the benefits of developing an employee engagement strategy include:

Increased employee satisfaction 

Effective employee engagement strategies can increase employee wellbeing and satisfaction. According to Ranstad, 34 per cent of UK employees would rather be unemployed than unhappy in their job. With more focus and understanding than ever on the impact of work on employee health and wellbeing, employers should be considering what strategies they can introduce that support and promote a positive work environment.

Improved retention

In the latest Gallup State of the Workplace report, they revealed that employee engagement reduced intent to leave by 18 per cent points from 61 per cent for those actively disengaged to 43 per cent when engaged. With recruitment costing on average £3,000 per employee, investment in employee engagement programmes as a way to retain your employees makes good economic sense.

 Increased productivity  

ADPRI Research found an 11.2 per cent difference between the performance of most engaged and least engaged employees. With many studies on the topic reporting the number of disengaged employees ranging from 50 per cent to 87 per cent, if even half of your workforce is disengaged, focusing on employee engagement strategies increases the opportunity to become more productive, profitable, safer, and innovative.

These benefits are in addition to savings due to decreasing employee turnover, absenteeism, and customer attrition.

What can impact employee engagement?




There are many elements to the work experience and environment that can impact employee engagement. At BI WORLDWIDE we conduct annual research into this precise topic. Our global study, called the New Rules of Engagement, has identified 12 consistent rules that influence inspiration, commitment and effort. Some of the key drivers include:

Manager effectiveness

One of the biggest factors influencing employee engagement is the manager. Gallup emphasises that the manager is the linchpin of engagement with as much as 70 per cent of team engagement being attributable to manager effectiveness. Through our research, we continually see higher scores across all 12 rules when employees say they feel supported by their manager.

Purpose and Meaning

Gartner states that whilst up to 82 per cent of employees say it’s important for their organisation to see them as a person, not just an employee, only 45 per cent of employees believe their organisation sees them this way.  

The cultural shift that’s taken place since 2020 has seen an acceleration in employees looking to align their work with their personal sense of purpose and values. Being employed isn’t just about having a job; it’s a part of a person’s value system.

Our research shows that where employees feel connected to their organisation’s vision and have clear understanding of how their role and work is contributing towards the overall mission, they are more likely to speak up, engage and further fuel the culture.

This is supported in the Qualtrics research that states they’re 27 per cent more likely to have higher engagement scores, and 23 per cent more likely to stay working for more than 3 years.

Examples of employee engagement strategies

A successful employee engagement strategy is one that has been built around the needs of the organisation in question. However, these are just some things you can consider.

1. Incorporate employee feedback into the development of the strategy

Critically, an employee engagement strategy needs to involve the employees. Where workforces are more disparate than ever, both physically (in person, hybrid and remote) and geographically across multiple regions, a blended approach to feedback is key.

Using both in-person tactics, such as townhalls, and digital methods, such as online surveys, ensures all employees have an opportunity to express their thoughts. This can in turn influence your employee engagement strategy. It can also provide an effective way to quickly identify and quantify opportunities and gaps in your approaches.

An employee engagement committee provides an opportunity to get "boots on the ground" and ensure there’s a constant flow of communication between the front line and those in leadership positions.

2. Recognise and celebrate achievements

A recognition-rich culture that celebrates the moments that matter throughout the employee lifecycle has a huge impact on employee morale, productivity, performance, customer satisfaction, and employee retention.

Recognition programmes can take many forms but best-in-class programmes include a blend of reward and non-reward-based peer to peer recognition, manager recognition, long-service awards, and milestone celebrations, as well as ensuring employees are recognised regularly for their contributions and achievements.

3. Create a culture of feedback

Not only does feedback provide opportunities for organisations to act on disengagement, but it can also be used to continue improving existing employee engagement strategies.

Whilst you may have engaged employees when developing strategies, sustaining effective programmes isn’t possible without developing a culture of feedback.

It's essential to ensure employees feel safe and free to express their opinions. Providing avenues for anonymous feedback such as pulse surveys or utilising an external partner can be good options.

77 per cent of employees want employers to ask them for feedback more regularly than once a year.

4. Be transparent with your ideas

Research by Slack shows that over 80 per cent of workers want a better understanding of how decisions are made, and 87 per cent of job seekers say they look for transparency in a future workplace.

To improve these results, organisations must focus on more effective and transparent communication strategies to attract, engage and retain employees.

Too often, leadership may seek to limit or restrict communication as a way of protecting employees, but this approach can lead to speculation and misinterpretation of the facts.

Frequent and transparent communication increases engagement by building trust, improving understanding and sense of value, and belonging in an organisation.

5. Hold employee engagement activities

Businesses have increasingly embraced hybrid working and digitalisation. This has led to many employees now only having virtual connections with some or all of their colleagues.

However, connections between employees are essential in the workplace. They help with everything from collaboration and productivity to improving well-being and morale.

In 2018, a Gallup poll found that those who have a best friend at work are:

  • Twice as likely to be engaged in their jobs
  • Are better at engaging customers
  • Produce higher-quality work
  • Have a greater sense of wellbeing
  • Are less likely to get injured on the job

With the growing awareness of social health in the workplace, employers should provide a calendar of social events that promote connection building between colleagues.

6. Hire the right people

The importance of having quality people managers within your business cannot be understated.

Gallup estimates that managers account for at least 70 per cent of variance in employee engagement scores across business units. Even so, the same research also reveals that only one in 10 people possess the talent to manage.

With coaching and development plans, another two in ten people exhibit some characteristics of basic managerial talent and can function at a high level.

By investing in training for managers, organisations can help them feel more empowered and have the confidence to support and encourage their teams.

In addition, providing them with the supportive tools, such as a reward points pot to appreciate individuals or nudge communications to encourage recognition, allows them to keep their team connected, valued, full of purpose, and at their best.

7. Provide incentives

Incentives are a great way to build focus and motivation around specific business challenges, new processes, training needs and more.

However, it’s important to take into account when designing incentive structures that not all people are motivated in the same way.

To get the best engagement and impact from your incentive programme look to include ways for individuals to personalise the experience. This can be in the communication format, the reward choice or even the goal.

8. Encourage diversity and inclusion

Creating a diverse and inclusive environment can enhance employee engagement, and research shows this connection is statistically significant.

Diverse and inclusive workplaces increase the sense of belonging employees can feel which, as we’ve outlined earlier in this article, is critical to engagement and employee retention.

To build an inclusive team there are multiple strategies to be taken from affinity groups and employee-led initiatives through to business-led programmes such as recruitment practices, employee training and measurement.

Things to consider when developing an employee engagement strategy




Before building an employee engagement strategy, it's essential to have a well-thought-out plan.

1. Be realistic with your strategies

The phrase ‘eating an elephant in bite-sized chunks’ comes to mind here.

Hopefully, thorough research has provided a good overview of what is and isn’t working in your organisation which should give you a good starting point.

Identify low-performing areas and score these based on scale, resources required and, importantly, employee feedback.

This will uncover priorities and indicate where a positive impact can be made quickly, as well as those that need a more long-term plan.

2. Set clear objectives

Being clear on objectives will ensure the effectiveness of the strategies can be monitored.

Understanding baseline performance in key business metrics such as retention and productivity, and comparing it to industry or sector trends, can help establish targets and track progress.

At a more local level, looking at the performance of any existing programmes, for example, engagement in recognition programmes, can help provide more immediate feedback strategy effectiveness.

3. Develop a plan

One of the most important aspects of a plan is actionability. Who, when, what, where and how?

Clearly document what streams of activity are going to be needed to drive your strategies forward. Project owners and contributors also need to be defined, as processes for decision-making and sign-off.

You should also build a framework for milestones and checkpoint meetings. These are good practices to ensure plans stay on track and necessary amendments can be made throughout the process.

4. Make sure everyone understands the strategy

Hopefully, multi-level stakeholders from around the organisation have been included as part of the process of developing employee engagement strategies.

As plans progress from development to implementation, it’s important to circle back with all contributors to ensure buy-in.

From the board to the front-line employees, ensuring everyone understands the purpose and aim of the strategies is essential. They also need to know how they can contribute towards the success of the plan. This helps to build a sense of belonging and demonstrates the unique value that everyone can bring.

5. Ensure long-term commitment to sustain success

For an employee engagement strategy to become part of company culture, it must be approached with the same level of focus as any other integral business function.

This means long-term commitment in the form of resources to ensure effort can be sustained over time. An effective way of achieving this is by aligning engagement with business results.

Not only does this help to demonstrate the value from a resources perspective, but also helps to prove the authenticity of the plan's objectives to the wider business.

For example, are key business measures such as retention or productivity increasing over time in line with your strategies?

Finally, regular two-way communication opportunities with employees through forums, roundtable discussions, surveys and town halls ensure strategies continue to meet objectives and evolve effectively alongside the changing business and employee needs.

Create an effective employee engagement strategy with BI Worldwide

Focusing on employee engagement in your organisation is an effective way to improve employee retention, drive productivity, and increase employee and customer satisfaction.

If you’re looking for support to improve your existing strategies to accommodate your hybrid and global workforce, get in touch to speak with BI WORLDWIDE’S employee programmes team which has wide-reaching experience delivering global, employee engagement solutions.

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