in Communication, Leadership, Leading People

9 Simple Ideas for Employee Engagement

My last post emphasized on balancing processes and practices with emotion when leading projects. HR folks know this as “employee engagement”. In simplest terms, people have a choice to do a great job or a mediocre one. They exercise this choice based on the emotional connection with purpose of project/team/organization.

Why all this buzz around employee engagement, you may ask? Consider this: A Gallup study estimated that lower productivity due to disengaged workers costs the U.S. economy about $328 million. It is more than a pronounced fact now that level of employee engagement has a net direct impact on a company’s business bottom lines. On the brighter side, engaged team members delivered 12% higher customer satisfaction scores, 18% higher productivity and about 12% higher profitability. A 2010 study by AON Hewitt also confirms this.

Actively engaged team members are the greatest source of creativity, innovation, quality and improvements within an organization. In a knowledge world, only engaged team members go out of their way to delivery great customer experiences. If you are a leader at any level within the organization, your primary job is to build a culture of consistently high engagement. How do you achieve that?

Clarify the purpose continuously: People need to know the grand purpose to which they are subscribing. Constant reinforcement of purpose and matching that with team member’s individual aspirations is a great way to keep them engaged.

Show how they contribute: Most people working on various initiatives/projects want to know how their work contributes in achieving the purpose. Show them the results, give them a broader perspective, share feedback and let them understand how customer perceives value. Once this important link is established, people are more equipped to deliver better outcomes.

Be a “potential mirror”: I am not sure if there is such a word like “potential mirror”. But whenever you share feedback and communicate, nurture their self-esteem. Criticize constructively and show them their potential. Help them identify their unique strengths and how to put them to use.

Set Them Free: Align values, give them a purpose and then set them free. Autonomy is a great driver of employee engagement. Team members need a space where they can exercise their ideas and be creative. Let them make mistakes, but handhold them so they learn. Setting them free is also a great indicator that you trust them.

Involve Them in Leading Change: People often get into comfort of their work with time. Involving them in meaningful change/improvement initiatives is a great way to keep them alternately engaged. Sometimes, when people get bored with routine, such change initiatives can be reinvigorating.

Foster Communication: Build an eco-system where communication is free. Management methods like SCRUM do this nicely where team members do a daily stand-up meeting. It keeps them aligned and accountable. These daily forums are also a great way to share progress and feedback.

Use External and Internal Feedback: Allow people to share their feedback. Listen intentionally. People want to be heard and understood. Let customers speak about their perception of team and what can be improved. Internal and external feedback can often show you the right path.

Act on it: Show that you care by acting on the feedback. Better yet, involve people in implementing those actions. Taking feedback and not acting on it is a costly mistake that can quickly disengage people.

Celebrate: Team works hard and engaged people always end up walking extra-mile to get things done. Do not forget to celebrate the team, their achievements and their hard work. A team that works together and celebrates together, performs together.

Bonus Resources:

  1. Employee Engagement for Managers: In One Sentence” (free eBook) by David Zinger – a thought leader and authority on the subject of employee engagement.

  2. UpstartHR’s Guide to Employee Engagement (where I contributed a chapter.

  1. I think it was at Toyota that a saying, ‘Only happy emploees can produce better cars’, or something to that effect aptly summed up the importance of employee happiness to the health of the organization.
    It is also recognised well that monetary and physical motivational factors have only hygenical value.
    The Nine Simple Ideas of this article certainly are known to create that spiritual [non-material] happiness among the employees, in turn resulting in highly productive, effective and vibrant employees, and in turn, the organization.

    • Toyota is a fine example of how processes and empathy are balanced to create high performing teams that deliver superior outcomes. Thanks for chiming in.

  2. Employee disengagement is a world wide issue and it is effecting the bottom line for many businesses. Feedback, recognition and better communication from leadership is the best place to start if you want to engage your team. We have developed a system to help companies build a foundation for engagement called Kudos. Everything you have outlined is exactly what we built Kudos to do. Check it out and let us know what you think. (

  3. In addition to the great suggestions you mention in your article, I might add one more item….employee discomfort which leads to lost productivity as well. We provide a web based ergonomic evaluation software platform that within 5 minutes measures an employees discomfort and provides immediate feedback on corrective actions. Take a look at ….. Employers can find out for free if they have substantial issues in these areas by using the free gap analysis offered at the web site.

  4. And, maybe a bit obvious, an important thing as well is to start measuring employee engagement. This can be done in different ways: either by measuring yourself, having a specialized consulting firm measuring for you or by the use of one of the web applications that are specialized in measuring employee engagement.

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