Companies with highly engaged workforces understand that employees are the essence of products and services. They develop, deliver and support what customers experience every day.

Employee engagement plays an integral role in the success of a business. From bottom-line performance to giving the company a competitive edge, employee engagement drives business outcomes.

Therefore, it makes sense to have employee engagement as part of an entire business strategy. Instead of treating employee engagement as an annual HR measure, making leaders present, getting to know the whole person, and allowing employees to grow are just a few ways companies can improve employee engagement.

1. Make Leaders Present

Since employees know how valuable a leader’s time is, when a leader spends meaningful time with them, it shows them that they are valued, that they mean something to the organization.

Leaders can be present by:

  • Recognizing employees by name in the office.
  • Catching employees doing something right and providing feedback.
  • Demonstrating genuine care for employees.
  • Caring for employees beyond standard benefits and incentive programs creates a sense of community, which leads to a positive and highly productive work environment.
  • Sending personalized emails of congratulations, recognition, acknowledgment of personal growth, etc.
  • Creating monthly videos on topics such as company initiatives, business success and publicly recognizing employees.
  • Frequently visiting all office locations in person or by virtual session.

2. Get to Know the Whole Person

When companies move beyond an engagement survey and take a holistic approach to employee engagement, they are often amazed at the results. The best managers, knowing their employees as people first, accommodate their employees’ uniqueness while managing toward high performance.

Getting to know the whole person - their skills and hobbies, what drives their decisions, their values, their relationships, and their communication style - not only helps managers manage, but demonstrates to employees that they are indeed valuable members of the team.

The key to getting to know the whole person is having conversation. Get to know what drives each person. Regarding work, get to know what preferences and patterns employees exhibit in performance, engagement and job satisfaction. When it comes to relationships, get to know which people and relationships most influence employees both inside and outside of work. Uncover the values that govern the lives and decisions of employees, and learn where employees expend their energy outside of work. These are findings that cannot be uncovered with a survey.

  • How can managers and leaders learn more about their team members?
  • Have team lunches or dinners. Perhaps invite significant others.
  • Host team-building events or get-togethers, like trivia night or a barbecue. If having an event with teams, choosing teams randomly maximizes the opportunity for employees to learn more about each other, and teams such as department v. department inherently places managers with their employees.
  • Place weekly questions in the lunch room, such as, “What did you want to be when you grew up?” Managers can use these questions to spark conversations.

3. Allow Employees to Grow

“The long term success of any organization depends upon the continued growth of its
people,” says Steven Glaser, CEO of ICC. “When they see opportunities for advancement and recognition, they become dedicated to their employer and enthusiastic about their work.”

Thus, the most powerful thing a manager can do for employees is to place them in jobs that allow them to use the best of their natural talents, and give them opportunities to add skills and knowledge to develop and apply their strengths.

When employees see their managers taking time to create opportunities for them to learn and hone their skills, the message becomes that of investment - employees see that the company wants to advance the careers of people on its teams. As a result, employees will re-engage, cultivating their ambition to help the company achieve its goals. Ambition is a strong driver of achievement for both the employee and employer.

Moreover, according to a Deloitte study, when a company invests heavily in training, career development, and mobility, they outperform their competition in almost every industry. Organizations that focus on learning outperform their peers by two to three times in customer service, innovation and financial results.

Mike Rickheim, Vice President of Talent Management at Newell Rubbermaid, explained that engagement “is not just a warm, fuzzy thing. It’s about giving people the tools they need to succeed in their careers, which in turn drives the outcomes that we’re
seeking in the marketplace. When you look at it through that lens, when people have the tools they need to succeed, feel good about their personal growth opportunities, and receive the appropriate rewards and recognition for their contributions, it’s a win-win proposition.”

Along with placing employees in jobs that allow them to use their natural talents, managers and leaders can help employees flourish by:

  • Creating a lunch-and-learn program where employees can showcase and teach their skills to fellow employees.
  • Asking for input and ideas on a project. Doing so gives employees an opportunity to get their opinions heard, and for managers to learn more about employees’ talents.
  • Recognizing an employee’s strengths and offering to have them attend seminars geared toward honing these skills. Seminars can spark excitement about learning, and employees may return to work with fresh, innovative ideas for the company.

If employees love their work and the environment in which they work, they will treat customers better, innovate and continuously improve business. When you give employees the opportunity to grow and you invest in their growth, they will stay excited, the business will become more innovative, and high performers will want to stay.