Improve culture with these 10 employee engagement ideas and strategies

By Jamie Yan
Employee engagement is on every organization’s mind, but how do you go about improving employee engagement? Buying more snacks won’t improve employee engagement. Neither will adding one more happy hour events.

Organizations need to be careful to avoid falling into that trap of what they think employees want. Simpplr Research conducted a study to answer the question “what drives culture and engagement?” using data from Glassdoor and running regressions across a survey we deployed to the same audience. Based on the report, we found the top 3 drivers of improving employee engagement:

Purpose: Showing employees how their work (and the work of the company has a positive impact). Employees need to feel that their work is meaningful and makes a difference.

Alignment: Making sure that employees and executives are on the same page and that everyone understands how their work is impactful.

Community: Creating an environment where employees feel safe, connected, and supported. The more an employee feels like a part of the community, the more engaged they are with what they do.

When forming employee engagement strategies, make sure they align with these top three key drivers.

employee engagement key drivers internal communications chart

10 Ideas toward improving employee engagement

Based on Simpplr Research’s employee engagement data, here are 10 employee engagement ideas to implement today:

Employee Engagement Idea #1: Focus and engage your organization in a broader purpose

Recall the most statistically significant key driver of engagement is an employee’s resonance with the company’s greater purpose and cultural norms. In short, what the company stands for matters. We associate our jobs as an extension of our own personal brands. With this knowledge, companies can appreciate the need for more internal marketing to reaffirm and crystalize how the organization is making a positive dent in the world.

Employee Engagement Idea #2: Actively promote company mission and goals

Actively promoting what your organization is about is important because our workplace shapes who we are and becomes part of our identity. When leaders regularly remind employees and beat the drum on company priorities and values, employees are reminded of why they come to work every day. Purpose isn’t important for millennials; it’s important to everyone.

Employee Engagement Idea #3: Implement a continuous feedback loop

Employees want to know how they’re doing and where to improve. Monthly one-on-ones aren’t enough. Giving constructive feedback helps them grow and reassures them of their purpose. It’s important that continuous feedback is implemented from the top because it introduces a culture of feedback to your entire organization where employees are invited to provide direct feedback to their managers and the leadership team. A continuous feedback loop should incorporate an action plan to follow up on feedback received from both employees and employers. Just as you can help employees grow into their roles, they can provide constructive feedback to help you grow in yours as well.

Employee Engagement Idea #4: Create a culture of recognition

Employee recognition is an important component of improving engagement within a workforce. Recognition doesn’t need to happen in a scaled program. Recognizing your employees can happen on a daily basis as a part of the company culture. This fosters an environment of appreciation and closeness within your organization. The idea is to get your employees to feel valued and emotionally connected with their peers and leadership. These are two important components of feeling engaged in any organization. To take a step further, create recognition and incentive programs that reward employees for their hard work and dedication. When creating a program, make sure that it embodies your company’s core values so that it has purpose. Although we know that financial compensation isn’t the sole factor for employee engagement, it has the potential to motivate your workforce and unite performance. 

employee engagement ideas personal growth

Employee Engagement Idea #5: Invest in your employee’s personal growth

Your employees crave personal growth. Employees want to be constantly growing and improving their skills. When employees stop growing and stop challenging themselves, they become bored and complacent in their roles. They eventually become uninspired and lack the motivation to creatively solve problems. When this happens, your organization misses out on opportunities that could really boost or improve the bottom line. Your employees are the best source for new ideas and opportunities. To invest in your employee’s personal growth, help them build new skills, provide mentorship, and offer courses or industry conferences that will help them further develop their skills.

Employee Engagement Idea #6: Train and align your managers

Managers can make or break employees’ experience at a company. In fact, middle management has the greatest direct impact on your employees because they are in between your employees and your leadership team. It’s important to train and teach your managers the foundation of employee engagement so they can understand the factors that affect their employees’ well-being. It also helps align managers on what to focus on, getting everyone to row the boat in the same direction. This ultimately creates a bigger impact on the organization and creates a culture of unity. Because managers are primarily responsible for their employees’ engagement level, the most effective way is to hold them accountable for their employees’ engagement. Companies should provide training and coach managers to take a more active role in building engagement with their employees by tracking and surveying their employees frequently so that they continuously focus on engagement as one of their metrics.

When building your management team, don’t just promote your stellar performers to become managers. Starting from the top is the best way to improve employee engagement because choosing the right managers who care gets woven into the workplace’s DNA. Remember, not everyone is suited to be a people manager. Look for characteristics that indicate a high-performing employee could be a great manager such as empathy, self-awareness, emotional intelligence, accountability, and a team-building attitude.

Employee Engagement Idea #7: Get your leaders to lead by example

Fact: the leading driver of culture and engagement is NOT salary-based. Based on Simpplr Research’s Glassdoor research, both company culture and senior management were closely tied to employee engagement. 

culture and management employee engagement

Culture is top-down and employees look up to senior management for direction. It’s critical that your leaders acknowledge and accept that enforcing culture and inspiring employees is a part of their job. Without this accountability, company culture is misaligned and often defined by whoever is the loudest. To build an engaging culture, leaders need to be transparent about vision, goals, and plans. Transparency is the key to making employees feel included and feel like they are a part of the company. Leaders also need to communicate effectively. Effective communication is critical to define company values, mission, goals, and other pillars that make up your company culture. What often overlooked is the emotional impact of communication. When employees receive proper communication that speaks to their human needs, they feel valued and accepted. Last but not least, leaders need to listen and act on employee feedback. When feedback is not taken seriously, employees end up feeling more distrust with management.

If you’re looking for tips on how to help your leaders become better communicators, see our blog post here.

Employee Engagement Idea #8: Care about employees outside of their role

We already know that community is a key driver in employee engagement. In order to improve employee engagement, companies need to go out of their way to build community for all employees. This includes promoting health and wellness to your employees, helping them avoid burnout. Employee burnout leads to loss of productivity and in many cases, leads to employee turnover. Making sure your employees manage their stress levels is not only important to their work life but their personal life. Employees function at optimal capacity when they feel that they’re happy and healthier. 

In addition to employee wellness, employees need to feel a sense of community with their colleagues. Simpplr Research found that employees who do not feel a sense of community are 2x more likely to leave in the next 12 months than those who feel a strong sense of community. Creating a safe and friendly environment will encourage people to come together and develop friendships. To spur new connections, organize off-site events, retreats, and bonding employee engagement activities that bring different teams and people together.  

Employee Engagement Idea #9: Respect your employees

This may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised to how many organizations overstep their boundaries. The foundation of every relationship is founded upon respect, and the most effective way to build trust with your employees is by treating them just how you’d like to be treated. Employees want to respected, valued, and appreciated. You hired them because you believe in their potential and skills, so it’s necessary that you show this through your actions. Respecting your employees means respecting their time, personal life, and how they want to be treated as an employee. When it comes to respecting your employees, be flexible and give them the autonomy to excel in their job and personal lives – and never micromanage! 

employee engagement ideas design office culture

Employee Engagement Idea #10: Create an office environment fit for your culture

The idea is simple: you want your employees to feel comfortable in their workspace. In addition, you want to create an environment that embodies your company values. For example, if you want to create a workspace that encourages collaboration and transparency, avoid having tall cubicles that block employees from engaging with one another. Having an open floor space is conducive to open communication and fostering creativity. Make it inspiring so that employees are excited to come into work every day. Most spend eight hours a day in the office so it’s important to design the space that is welcoming, comfortable, and conducive to your company values.

If you want more employee engagement ideas, check out our blog on Improving Employee Engagement in 10 Steps.

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