One of the greatest things you can do to improve employee engagement is to show every person how their efforts contribute to the bottom line.

How To Improve Employee Engagement: 6 Ways To Go Beyond Lip Service And Plaques On The Wall


When you walk into your workplace, what’s the vibe? Is it buzzing with people who can’t wait to dig in? Or are there a bunch of daytime zombies going through the motions?

Strong employee engagement sets exceptional organizations apart from good organizations.

Here's a list of six ways you can help your team improve employee engagement:

Go Beyond Lip Service

I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve walked into a workplace to see a plaque on the wall that highlights the employee of the month, or the mass, usually non-personalized email that spotlights someone on the team’s performance. Most of the time, point-in-time and non-personalized recognition feels like lip service. If you truly wish to improve employee engagement, go beyond town hall meetings and email announcements. Make recognition a daily priority for the organization and for leadership.

A woman recognizes her team for a job well done and improves employee engagment.

Connect The Dots

Show each person how their efforts contribute to the bottom line. I once saw a leader list one action that each of his team took that led to the implementation of a new idea. He mentioned everyone from the receptionist to the lead salesperson to the janitor. Not only was it impressive, it was meaningful. The team walked away feeling acknowledged and valued. Connect the dots for your team and watch employee engagement shoot up.

Invest Back

In today’s marketplace, people will hold seven different jobs by the time they turn 35. Why invest in your people if they’re going to walk? Because, employees who get training, stay longer. Every time I’ve met an employee who’s been with a company for 5 years or more, I ask them why they’ve stuck around. The answer always includes something about how the company invested in their development. When you invest back in the people who invest their energy in you, everybody wins.

Ask Your Employees

As management guru, Peter Drucker once said, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.” And, while I believe that to be true, the first question you must ask is, “What do we measure?” This then leads to another question, “What do your teams care about?” As leaders, we often measure what we care about, but perhaps that’s not what adds value to your employees. One company increased the number of drinks available in the cafeteria because they thought it mattered. But, you know what that company’s employees really cared about? Being able to personalize their workspaces. So, before you go making changes, find out what you employees care about. Then innovate and improve around that.

Enable the Right Infrastructure

Do you know what’s more frustrating than having a tough task to accomplish? Not having the tools to tackle it to the best of your ability. If you want to improve employee engagement make sure your team has the right tools. Deloitte’s Global Human Capital Trends 2016 report called this “enabling Infrastructure.” Think of it as providing the tools and resources to allow people to perform at their peak. If employees don’t have the right tools frustration will be high and engagement will plummet. Take stock of your “enabling infrastructure” and get your team the right tools.

Reward Behaviors, Not Outcomes

Rewards improve employee engagement. That’s a fact. Of course, it then only seems logical to hand out rewards for successes, so we do. We lose sight of the fact that not everything’s a success and don’t offer rewards to those who deserve them.

So, instead of focusing only on successes, take the time to define the behaviors you want to see. Then, share that list with your team and when you see those behaviors in action, reward them. After all, if the appropriate behaviors are in place, success will follow.

Through the years, the organizations we’ve worked with to develop a culture of innovation, recognize that you must reward behaviors, not outcomes. Reward that junior staffer for speaking up. Or thank the manager who went out of her way to solve a customer challenge. If you want people to be fully present at work, reward the behaviors you want to see.

Whether you work in an office with a toxic environment or in a super cool downtown warehouse, improving employee engagement is about leadership supporting and fostering employee growth. When employees have the permission and the tools to bring their best selves to work, everyone benefits.

Looking for more employee engagement ideas? Visit these two pages for additional activities and strategies