You’ve heard it before. Your organization will grow more if you have committed and engaged employees. And it’s true. But moving from knowing that to understanding why can vastly improve your engagement We’re going to break through the confusion around employee engagement and identify some simple ways you can improve it.
Research on this topic can define and measure engagement in different ways, which leads to a lack of clarity as to how to improve your own team’s engagement. If you look up employee engagement, you’ll find numerous ways to measure and increase it. But it’s unclear which methods are effective.
Global analytics firm Gallup’s definition of engagement is “the involvement and enthusiasm of employees in their work and workplace.” It’s simple and to the point. When employees feel excited about their work, they are more committed to being involved and proactive, which in turn grows your organization.
However, you need to know what factors determine your employees’ levels of engagement in their jobs. The good news is there are three straightforward ways to support your people and drive their excitement about work. There are more, but we’ve identified these as the three strategies that will quickly make the most impact on your team’s performance.
How to Drive Employee Engagement
You have more control over your employees’ engagement than you might think. Most of employee satisfaction and excitement comes down to the way you lead them. As the leader, you have a strong influence on how they show up for work. There are three strategies to start focus on.
1. Connect the work to your vision and mission.
You have a vision for your organization, which is tied to your overall mission and how you serve your clients and customers. If you’re a nonprofit leader, it might be your community. But having your mission on your website isn’t enough. As the leader it is your responsibility to communicate that vision and mission over and over to your team. You want to feel like you’re saying it too much.
Your team will never be as close to the vision of the organization as you are. So, intentionally connecting their work to the outcomes of your business is key to keeping them be interested and driven by your purpose. Review it at the beginning of team meetings. Celebrate the completion of projects that contribute to your specific goals. Train your managers to tie it into their one-on-one and team meetings.
You can also tie the daily work back to your vision by connecting your company goals to the individual projects your team members are working on. The best way to do this is to use the Full Focus System. Check out our Full Focus System Training page here.
2. Invest in their professional development.
Increasing compensation and allowing for flexible work are good but will only get you so far in employee engagement. According to LinkedIn’s Global Talent Trends report, employees believe that professional development is the best way improve company culture—which directly affects employees’ excitement to show up for work, in person or remotely.
Most people like to feel challenged because as humans we crave novelty. And research shows that novelty is linked to motivation. Our brains even have a system that rewards us with Endomorphins—neurotransmitters central to motivation and pleasure—when we learn something new.
You’ve likely heard the adage where the CFO asks, “What if we pay to train our people and they leave? And the CEO responds, “What if we don’t train them and they stay?” That’s a scary thought! Developing your employees’ professional skills has the benefit of adding competence and skills to your team. As your people grow, so will your organization.
3. Care about their personal wellbeing.
People aren’t robots who can show up to work and get the job done regardless of whatever else might be going on in our lives. Productivity research shows that working anywhere over 50 hours a week leads to sharp drop in getting anything done. Not to mention it can lead to increased risk of a stroke or heart attack.
When your team members can unplug and truly rejuvenate, they show up to work with the focus and energy they need to be their most productive selves. As the leader, you can’t just talk about setting boundaries—you have the exemplify them. If you’re sending emails after hours, your team will think they need to be on too—no matter how much you tell them you don’t expect a response. If you don’t unplug during your vacation, neither will your people. Begin by setting these boundaries to recharge yourself, and your team will follow suit. Hold your team accountable to taking their vacation days. And enforce unplugging during evenings, weekends, and vacations.
By implementing these three strategies, you can drastically improve your employee engagement and decrease your organization’s turnover rate. You’ll increase the skills and resources of their team and their productivity. In other words, it’s a win-win-win-win.
What step will you take first?
- Cover your vision and mission in the next team meeting.
- Discuss potential professional development opportunities with your fellow leaders.
- Begin unplugging on nights and weekends.
Don’t underestimate the influence you have on the way your employees show up for your organization.
If you don’t have a defined mission and vision or you haven’t revisited them in a while, check out our Create a Mission and Vision Statement tool.
Gallup Workplace, “What Is Employee Engagement and How Do You Improve It?,” Accessed September 19, 2023, https://www.gallup.com/workplace/285674/improve-employee-engagement-workplace.aspx
LinkedIn Talent Solutions, “Global Talent Trends,” May 2023, https://business.linkedin.com/talent-solutions/global-talent-trends.
Irving Biederman, Edward Vessel, “Perceptual Pleasure and the Brain,” American Scientist, May–June 2006, https://www.americanscientist.org/article/perceptual-pleasure-and-the-brain.
John Pencavel, Stanford University, and IZA, “The Productivity of Working Hours” Discussion Paper Series, Discussion Paper No. 8129, April 2014, https://docs.iza.org/dp8129.pdf.