How to Improve Employee Engagement

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Engaged employees are more productive, stick around for longer, and have a bigger impact on your organisation’s bottom line.

Get to grips with the key drivers of employee engagement and you’ll be armed with everything you need to make sure your employees are bringing their best selves to work each day.

And in this short guide, we’ll walk you through the seven most important employee engagement drivers and show you exactly how to improve each one.

How to improve employee engagement

The quickest way to improve employee engagement is to focus your efforts on the areas that matter most.

This is where employee engagement surveys come in.

Your employee engagement efforts are doomed to fail until you know how your organisation scores on each of the key engagement metrics.

As soon as your engagement surveys let you know where you’re falling short, you can roll out employee engagement strategies that give you the biggest possible bang for your buck.

It all comes down to measuring employee engagement with employee surveys and then implementing employee engagement ideas to boost each of the seven key drivers of employee engagement you’re falling short in.

Here’s how…

Drivers of employee engagement

Score high in these seven areas on your employee engagement surveys and your engagement score will be through the roof—and your organisation will reap the rewards of a highly engaged workforce:

1. Meaningful work

Whether they work in the C suite or the cafeteria, your people crave a sense of purpose and meaning from their work. And that comes from spending their days doing what they’re best at and putting their unique talents to use.

Of course, making sure your team all find their work meaningful is no easy feat. Junior team members can get purpose from their work if they can see how it makes a difference in people’s lives, while a CEO can feel like their work lacks meaning if they’re not engaged with their organisation’s mission.

To make sure employees at every level of your organisation are getting a sense of purpose from their job, be sure to regularly survey them on how meaningful they find their work. If the scores come back low, it’s crucial to delve deeper and figure out what what work they like to do and what unique talents they feel they bring to the table. Then, you can rethink your teams’ workload and responsibilities in a way that’s better aligned with their talents.

Example employee survey question on meaningful work:

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2. Relationship with management

Want to guarantee an employee is disengaged? Give them a bad manager—one who doesn’t set clear or realistic goals, is quick to criticise and slow to praise, micromanages, and cares more about looking good in front of the higher-ups than looking after their team.

You can find out if you need to improve an employee’s relationship with management by confidentially surveying them on their relationship with their line managers and how supported they feel in their role. A low score is something you need to address quickly—most employees quit managers, not jobs. The best approach is giving your managers the support they need to improve in the specific areas their reports have flagged as them falling short in.

Example employee survey question to measure relationship with management:

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3. Trust in leadership

Great leaders permeate a strong sense of purpose throughout their organisation. They earn their employee’s trust by acting transparently. And they inspire people to bring their best selves to work every day.

But if your employees think the people at the top of your org chart are out of touch, making key business decisions based on whims rather than following a clear vision, or see your organisation as a stepping stone to bigger and better things? You’re in big trouble.

Trust in leadership is one of the hardest employee engagement drivers to improve. Egos are likely to get bruised if an engagement survey reveals your team doesn’t have faith in the people leading them. The worst thing you can do is brush this feedback off. Instead, it’s crucial you dig into exactly why your team is wary of their leaders, then have some difficult conversations about why that is and how you turn the tide.

Example employee survey question to measure trust in leadership:

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4. Learning and development

Give people an opportunity to grow and most will take it and run with it. But even the most engaged employee will have the wind knocked out of their sails as soon as they hit a glass ceiling in your organisation.

If your surveys flag that people feel like they’re not going to be able to achieve their career goals within your organisation, they’re not likely to stick around for very long—or be very engaged while they’re there. 

It’s so important you dig into this. Are people ready to take on more responsibility but there’s none to take on? It might be worth rethinking how you spread responsibility out across your teams. Do people feel like they haven’t been given the training to do their jobs to the best of their abilities? Are managers having good, consistent progression chats with their teams? It might be time to get imaginative with your L&D budget.

Example employee survey question on learning and development:

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5. Health and wellbeing

Any job can have a big impact on your physical and mental health. In fact, a bad job can be worse for your health than being unemployed, with research revealing that adults in poor quality work have higher chronic stress levels than people out of work.

Here’s the thing: why would your employees give their best to an organisation that doesn’t look after them? If your people feel like they’re constantly burdened with unrealistic deadlines, having to navigate a poor company culture, or having to work unpaid overtime, they’re not going to be engaged.

An effective way of pinpointing problems with your employee’s health and wellbeing is with a range of different wellbeing questions in an employee survey. Take work-life balance, for example—if that score comes back low, it could be time to rethink your could rethink your flexible working policy. And if it’s particularly low in a particular department, be sure to address the expectations being put on that team.

Example employee survey question to gauge health and wellbeing:

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6. Reward and recognition

Everyone wants to be recognised for their efforts. And just not once a year at an annual awards ceremony: they want to hear “good job” from their manager when they send them a piece of work they worked hard on and “you’re a valued member of the team” every now and then from the higher-ups.

Fail to reward your employee’s efforts and it’s only natural that they’ll start to think “what’s the point in even trying”.

To make sure your employees all feel recognised, it’s important to ask them how they like to be praised. Some people prefer a bit of fanfare, while others would find that cringey. Some appreciate getting praised in private by someone they respect, while others would think that’s a bit of a damp squib. Ask your people how they like to be recognised and be sure to reward them in the way they most resonate with.

Example employee survey question on reward and recognition:

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7. Inclusion and belonging

If you can’t get a diverse team singing from the same hymn sheet, you’re going to run into some serious problems.

An employee is never going to be engaged if they feel like an outsider, or that their opinion gets drowned out by louder members of their team, or that your organisation’s mission doesn’t sit right with their personal beliefs.

You need to act fast if your inclusion and belonging levels come back low after an employee survey. To make sure each and every one of your employees feels like they belong, ask them what would make them feel like a valued member of the team. Then you can tailor your approach to what truly works for your people. 

It’s also well worth asking managers to get acquainted with each of their team members’ communication styles. Making sure that everyone has their voice heard in a way that best suits them is key to high inclusion and belonging levels across your organisation.

Example employee survey question to measure inclusion and belonging:

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Our seven survey questions proven to track employee engagement have been designed to make it easy for you to track each of the key employee engagement drivers.

Pick up your free copy below to quickly discover where your organisation is falling short—and what levers you can pull to make the biggest difference to engagement levels across the board.

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7 Survey Questions Proven to Track Employee Engagement

Inside this guide, you’ll find 7 scale survey questions that are proven employee engagement trackers; making them awesome core questions for surveying.

7 Survey Questions Proven to Track Employee Engagement