What Employee Engagement Looks Like (And How to Grow It)

Discover 7 simple (and low cost) ways to kick off employee engagement activities at your company. Understanding signs of an engaged worker will help your team, your business, and your bottom line.

7 simple activities to engage your employees

As summer quickly approaches, employees have a ton on their mind (both in and out of work). As a manager, it can be challenging to keep your teams productively humming among all the distractions. Understanding the ins and outs of employee engagement activities can make all the difference for driving a successful next few months.

Step one? Getting ahold of what exactly an engaged employee looks like, followed by implementing effective measures to build an engaged workforce. 

What does it mean to be an engaged employee?

Simply put, an engaged employee is one that possesses an emotional commitment to their employer and individual motivation to deliver upon her/his goals. Engaged employees are focused and committed.

Employee engagement does not necessarily mean how happy an employee is at work. Rather, an engaged employee is one that feels connected to the company’s mission, is committed to shared company goals, and is motivated by delivering their individual metrics. An engaged employee is one who gets the job done — they’re not just doing completing a 9-5 for a regular paycheck. Below are a few signs of actual employee engagement.

Telltale signs of an engaged employee:

  • Follows up on project deadlines even if the deliverable is out of her/his court
  • Enjoys helping colleagues when input or support is needed
  • Speaks positively of their employer and is eager to recruit friends to the company, would recommend your company as a great place to work
  • Stays late when needed to complete a task, even if it’s not urgent

What is the importance of employee engagement?

Study after study reveals that when a company possesses a workforce of engaged employees, sales skyrocket (think repeated business and referrals) and that employee retention remains high. Moreover, Gallup reports that subtle differences in employee engagement can result in 21% greater profitability. When people feel challenged and passionate about their work and their employer, the positive ripple effect is tremendous.

If you’re unsure about where you employee base stands in terms of engagement, a simple way to collect a pulse is by offering an employee engagement survey. By collecting tailored feedback around multiple areas of your business, you’ll be able to zero in on where your team is doing well and where to focus attention. When you offer your team a survey, your company leadership demonstrates genuine care in how the team is doing. From an employee perspective, having the opportunity to deliver feedback goes a long way in creating a lasting employee-employer relationship.

What is an employee engagement score?

Leaders often debate that collecting metrics around something so “nebulous” as employee engagement is next to impossible. Think again!

When you collect quantifiable feedback through a survey, you’ll be able to slice and dice data according to many different variables. An employee engagement score reports on where your team lands in categories as they relate to teams, managers, leaders, communication, culture and more. To start building your employee engagement survey, get started with this completely customizable employee engagement survey template.

7 simple and low-cost ideas employee engagement activities

Even once you’ve captured an engagement score for your employees, the job doesn’t end there. You’ll want to pursue activities that can drive engagement, especially during lulls in the calendar. These activities don’t need to break the bank.

Here are 7 employee engagement activities you can implement that will help keep employees connected and committed.

  1. Create a culture of collaboration. Buy a bucket of whiteboard paint and cover one of your office walls with it. Allocate this space as a creative area for collective brainstorm, employee art, or a “Values Winner of the Week” to a nominated employee who’s done a great job.
  2. Acknowledge milestones. Take a moment to collect your team’s start dates and log them on your team calendar. Everyone loves the chance to celebrate and reflect on a milestone such as 1 month complete, 6 months, or a year!
  3. Celebrate your peers. Purchase a small item that relates to your company logo, team mascot and pass it around your department. Make it a weekly rotation that suggests the previous week’s nominee pass it on for the next. Spread good feelings for good work!
  4. Express gratitude. Take a moment to say thank you. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the day to day and assume everyone delivers great work and on time. Reflect on today; who gave you great work that helped you do your own job? A handwritten sticky note goes way further than you might think.
  5. Get moving. Routine 1;1s can get stale and boring. In your next 1:1, suggest getting outside for a stroll around the block. Stepping away from screens, pings and other distractions signifies your priority in connecting with your colleague without interruption.
  6. Contribute to a cause. Create a fun environment in your office by hosting a bake sale! Decide as a team which local cause you’d like to sponsor, and donate all proceeds. Rallying behind a charitable cause gives employees the chance to build bonds with their employer outside of deadlines, dates and meetings.
  7. Encourage learning. In just a few minutes, connect with your company via email and ask if anyone has special skills, experience, or subject matter expertise in areas often correlated to hobbies outside of work. Ask if they’d be game to host an in-office lunch and learn to share with fellow teammates their knowledge on the subject. By encouraging your team to bring their whole selves to work, employees look forward to getting to know their colleagues at a deeper level than ever before. Moreover, who doesn’t love the opportunity to build a new skill!
    1. For example, is your deskmate an expert knitter?
    2. Is your CEO an avid ultra-marathoner?
    3. Is the lead on client support fluent in Japanese?

If any similar hobbiest come to mind, go ahead and reach out to get the ball rolling – after all, there’s no time like the present.

By choosing just one or two of the engagement activities above, you’ll be well on your way toward supporting a more engaged workforce. Employee engagement is all about the journey, not the destination. It’s a constant work in progress, so keep your engagement surveys, scores and activities rolling. 

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