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How to Engage Employees in the Workplace (starting from the top)

Written by

Jamie Yan


March 22, 2019


There are literally thousands of resources on how to engage employees in the workplace. Seemingly, the only unifying thread is how most resources recite Gallup’s annual engagement surveys saying: “70% of employees are disengaged”. Otherwise, this is a messy and confusing topic with different software classes claiming to be the secret and various approaches focusing on everything from spot bonuses to training managers.

Clearly, managers have a significant impact on how to get employees engaged. And there is a lot of discussion about what successful leaders can do to engage their employees, strengthen the capabilities of individuals, etc. For example in this Forbes article, the author discusses various tips on how leaders should focus on ways to empower employees, develop trust, and find ways to exploit employees’ strengths. All are great tips and can lead to creating better leaders and managers, but it’s really hard to scale and conform an employee engagement strategy across all of your different managers without grounding a company-wide engagement strategy. Like most things in business, culture eats everything else.

So how do you engage employees in the workplace starting from the top?

Simpplr Research wanted to test what culture and employee engagement have to do with retention, and why employee engagement is so important to organizations. To get there, rather than depend on secondary data, we decided to scour through Glassdoor™ data and tied the sample to a supplementary employee engagement survey. The focus of the survey was to identify the key drivers of employee engagement and stress test common assumptions.

Based on the results, here are the three important focus areas (at the company level) to engage employees in the workplace:

Underscore the Employee Brand

The top two drivers of employee engagement outcomes were:

  1. Being proud to work at the company and
  2. The company values align with personal values

This isn’t just a millennial thing. We see the companies we work at as an extension of our personal brand. It’s important for our identity. So to engage employees in the workplace, it’s important that organizations are conscious of this brand and work to align employees on the positive impact the company is making.

Reiterate strategy and affirm why employees matter:

According to research MIT Sloan Management Review, organizations are terrible at goal alignment, with the majority of employees unable to recite strategic priorities. When we ran regressions against an engagement outcome (i.e. I’m usually excited to go to work in the morning) in our employee engagement study, we found the usual key drivers such as being proud to work at the company, having personal values align with the company, and feeling their work is valued. One attribute that had little significance was how well they can recite their company goals. But when looked at the data between cohorts who could confidently recite goals and those who could not, we saw employee engagement levels twice as high for the former. The same held true for employees with a “high understanding of how their contribution matters to the broader organization.”

 how to engage employees chart

Net-net: Your employees don’t naturally know that this alignment matters, but strategic alignment and reaffirming employees contributions is a tremendous driver on how to get employees engaged in the workplace.

Foster employee connections across the workplace

To get employees engaged, create an environment where employees feel safe, connected, and supported. But also companies should do whatever they can to improve employee networks. The stronger the network, the stronger the employee. We all have basic survival needs to be met. Without a trusted network of others who have our back, compounded by the friction involved with not being able to efficiently maneuver around the organization, it’s really hard for employees to give their best.

Employee engagement can be a very dense topic, we know. But to make it easy, we’ve published an infographic on the research. You can download the research’s infographic here.

About Simpplr

Simpplr is today’s modern employee intranet. Our software helps companies engage their workforce by streamlining internal communication and forging employee connections.

About Simpplr Research

Simpplr Research was created in 2018 to provide customers and Intranet practitioners insights and benchmarks to get the most out of their internal communications programs. With a rigid, analytical approach we hope to use data and insights to guide the corporate intranet industry and Simpplr’s solution strategy. To learn more or to suggest research topics contact us at [email protected].

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