14 Employee Engagement Best Practices that are Simple and Effective

employee engagement best practices

The importance of improving employee engagement and morale cannot be emphasized enough. Engaged employees will always be more productive and efficient than those who are unhappy in their roles. The benefits of having an engaged workforce impacts key areas—workplace culture, employee retention, team productivity, and stronger customer support, company reputation and innovation.

If you don’t know where to start, the thought of creating or revamping a plan to increase employee engagement can sound overwhelming. And if employee engagement is a struggle for your organization, always remember there are employee engagement best practices you can do to make a positive change.

Let’s get to it. Here are top employee engagement best practices that are simple and proactive so you can reach your engagement goals.

1. Build trust, be human, and default to open.

In any relationship, people favor a human connection. So it’s not surprising that employees put greater trust in their bosses when they feel uplifted, supported, and connected on a personal level. By showing your human side and instilling an employee-centric workplace, you can influence stronger employee engagement. Open and easy access to information is another way to build trust and be human. By leveraging various communication tools to maintain a consistent presence from leadership and making information easily accessible, everyone is on the same page.

2. Start at the top, with executives and management.

An important point to remember to when trying to improve your employee engagement strategy is that management should exhibit model behavior. One of the most important employee engagement best practices is to take a page out of your own book: be the change you want to see.

You could preach engagement to your employees everyday, but it will be less impactful if you are not showing that you are also engaged.

By giving every project 110% and being a consistent, powerful force is the best way to embody the level of engagement you’re looking to see. Your employees will follow suit and embrace these tactics as well.

3. Articulate goals and responsibilities.

employee engagement best practices

If employees don’t know what to do in their day-to-day, employee engagement will suffer. Being engaged means being on top of the situation. This is next to impossible when employees are confused about their objectives and responsibilities.

Here enters the third employee engagement best practice: communicate goals. Articulating goals and responsibilities in a clear manner is essential to improve employee engagement. This requires more than just verbal articulation, too. For example, you can add internal documentation focused on objectives in your company intranet for employees to reference.

employee engagement best practices - business blogging

This can be done with file managers, wiki pages, forums, blog posts, videos, etc. And it can be especially helpful during the onboarding process.

4. Offer help to those who aren’t performing well.

employee engagement best practices

You can’t expect every employee to perform at an exceptional level all the time. You are going to have individuals who need a helping hand—especially if they’re new to the organization or have roadblocks with a project.

You will not only resolve issues quicker by giving special attention to these employees, but it shows that you care enough to help. Every manager is pressed for time … don’t use this as an excuse to neglect employees when they run into issues.

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5. Spot and encourage “power employees.”

It’s important to look for employees who are accomplishing great achievements within your organization. These are often referred to as “power employees,” and they can make a huge difference for the state of your company.

Spot these individuals, reward them, and promote them. By highlighting your power employees, you influence how other people work by celebrating model behavior that everyone can aspire to.

employee engagement best practices - profiles

If you have a company intranet in place, you will notice these individuals posting, commenting, rating, and liking content on a regular basis. These are the people providing great insight to move your business forward and embody the employee engagement best practices you want to see. (And with gamification features, you can easily showcase wins and personal achievements in an engaging way.)

6. Create a forward-thinking work environment.

No employee wants to work in an environment that relies on outdated technology, strategies, or doesn’t have room for professional growth. Your work environment is important, and it has to embody the philosophies of your organization. You can create a forward-thinking work environment by shifting your culture to focus more on the employee. Here’s a perfect example how an Axero customer made improvements to reduce turnover and increase engagement.

employee engagement best practices


7. Be careful who you hire.

employee engagement best practices

Anyone who hires employees knows how long the process can be. But it’s incredibly important. Aside from professional experience, you want to hire the right person who fits into your company culture and has the drive to contribute to your employee engagement efforts. A person’s traits and behaviors is just as important.

When considering new candidates, it’s important to keep in mind how the person you hire will affect employee engagement in your office. If he or she has a great attitude, this could prove more beneficial than a list of past awards and achievements.

8. Be supportive of career planning and advancement.

employee engagement best practices

It comes with the territory of leading a company or team: many employees will eventually leave for a different position. No one wants to view their business as a stepping stone, but careers are fluid. With that said, your employees want to know that you support them and their futures, regardless if it’s with your company or not.

If you invest in your employee’s careers, they will invest in your company and their jobs. When it comes to career development, here are some best practices for employee engagement:

  • Hire within your organization.
  • Provide ongoing training to sharpen skills and learn new ones.
  • Prioritize productivity and business communication tools that employees use to do their jobs.

9. Give people freedom to make their own choices.

employee engagement best practices

There’s nothing worse than working for a company and feeling like you’re a cog in the wheel. Those who aren’t given the chance to be themselves and work at their own pace will end up feeling unfulfilled. This will obviously have a negative impact on employee engagement. Allowing for elements of freedom in your organization is essential.

There are many ways to give more control to your employees without losing any yourself. You can devise a plan for helping employees to work from home, or implement a hybrid work enviornment … as long as they’re getting their work done.

10. Promote open and direct communication.

employee engagement best practices

As with every relationship in life, communication is key. Still, it’s one of the biggest barriers in the professional world, and when this happens, it hurts employee engagement levels.

When employees feel unheard and neglected, it has a direct effect on how engaged they are. By nature, employees will disassociate because leadership is disconnected from them.

Improving workplace communication between your management and employees is essential to increase employee engagement. A huge best practice for employee engagement is to promote open communication. All you need to do is be transparent and show your employees that you’re here to listen. In the end, you may come across great ideas that would never have discovered otherwise.

11. Don’t confuse “engagement” with “happiness.”

Every manager wants their staff to be happy in their roles. Happy employees put you in a more promising spot to have an engaged workforce. It’s important, though, to not confuse happiness with engagement.

Just because an employee exhibits signs of happiness doesn’t mean he or she is actually engaged in their job. The two are similar and can be connected, yet different.

Engagement is directly linked to productivity and efficiency, whereas happiness is an emotion. A happy employee may be all smiles, but an engaged employee is an active power player in the company culture and with their tasks. When you combine the two, happiness will boost morale while empowering proactive teams.

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12. Keep things interesting, add some fun.

The core of all employee engagement best practices is interest.

If employees aren’t interested in their work and are just going through the motions, there’s no way they’ll be engaged in any task you give them.

Sometimes enhancing interest is easier said than done, as some work is dry by nature. With that said, anything you can do to make an employee’s job fun and enjoyable will benefit your organization … especially if you’re dealing with monotonous, repetitive work. (You can try implementing gamification features to add friendly competition!)

13. Encourage team-based working methods.

While you shouldn’t demand employees work together if the project doesn’t call for it, encouraging teamwork and project collaboration will increase levels of engagement. An easy employee engagement best practice is to assign a group of employees to complete a task instead of a single person.

employee engagement best practices - project collaboration

You can also encourage an employee who is spearheading a project to ask for feedback on your company intranet. This is an effective way to help “solo-minded” employees interact with other employees and encourage teamwork. It also gives other teams deeper insight into projects outside of their department.

14. Make it a daily focus.

It’s common for management to discuss employee engagement and obsess over making major changes to improve it. While their hearts are in the right place, this “all or nothing” approach makes it difficult to make meaningful changes because it is too much to take on at once.

To improve employee engagement levels in your organization, you have to make it a daily focus. One of the best employee engagement best practices is to be consistent with your approach and take small steps, rather than reinventing the wheel. Breaking down your goals in a reasonable manner makes your entire employee engagement strategy more attainable and helps employees get on board with changes.

In conclusion.

And there you go, a list of employee engagement best practices. Improving employee engagement in your company can be a lengthy process, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do it. Pay attention to your progress, devise a plan, and remember to stay positive. If you put in the right amount of effort, you’re sure to see the results you’re looking for.

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Tim Eisenhauer is a co-founder of Axero Solutions, a leading intranet software vendor. He's also a bestselling author of Who the Hell Wants to Work for You? Mastering Employee Engagement. Tim’s been featured in Fortune, Forbes, TIME, Inc Magazine, Entrepreneur, CNBC, Today, and other leading publications.

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