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Part of Western Governors University

August 28, 2019


How to engage employees.

Manger and employee meeting in room

70% of US employees say they’re miserable at work.

A new study by Gallup shows that only 29% of employees report being engaged at work, and the majority of those are executives, managers, or officers. Basically, employee engagement is more likely when people are in positions of power.

Managers have the responsibility to help improve these levels of employee engagement. Being a manager is about more than just organizing teams and taking charge of products. Effective managers know that employee engagement is a crucial part of their job to drive success for their team. Those studying to become managers, or those who are already managers, should recognize that employee engagement stay on task to do their jobs, and do it well. If employees aren’t engaged, productivity falls, safety can be impacted, and profitability can go down. High employee engagement is what every manager should strive for.

So what does healthy employee engagement look like? 

Employees with high engagement are involved in, enthusiastic about, and committed to their workplace. They are pleasant to work with, they have good relationships and friendships with other employees, they do good work and are excited to come into the office. These kinds of employees are a vital asset to an organization; they are far more likely to be productive and effective in their workday because they have a great attitude about their job.

So we’ve established that employee engagement is important for an organization’s success, but the question remains; what can managers do to help employees feel that engagement in their offices?

Here are just a few employee engagement ideas that can help employers improve satisfaction and productivity in their workplace.

Meet with your employees.

Managers who don’t regularly meet with their employees are more likely to see a less engaged workforce. Regular meetings are a great employee engagement idea that give you as a manager a chance to check in on the workplace, see how everyone is doing, and ask if anyone needs help. It also helps remove intimidation or fear that employees may have about managers who seem unapproachable. Regular meetings with employees help you as a manager seem like someone who is invested in them personally and professionally, and means they’re more likely to discuss an issue with you, helping solve problems faster. 

Engaging in a regular one-on-one with employees will help them know to expect regular encounters with management, and won’t feel stressed when they’re called into the office to meet with you. You’ll also have a regular cadence that lets employees know there will be time appointed for them to bring up concerns or questions.

Get to know them.

Employees aren’t just cogs in a machine. They have a life outside of work, just like managers. When managers engage their time in getting to know employees, the more likely they’ll be to find excitement and engagement at the office. Learn about their hobbies, their families, where they went to school, and what they hope for their career. This employee engagement idea can go a long way in helping your work environment and team members. When you invest time in getting to know employees, you help create relationships that make employees feel appreciated and understood, and increase employee engagement. Employees are looking for reasons that their office is a great place to go everyday, and when they have friends who share their interests and coworkers who care about their personal lives, they will feel excited to connect with these people every day.

Be clear with goals.

Regular meetings with employees can give managers a chance to reiterate their goals. When employees know they have a meeting coming up, they’ll want to have progress to share with their manager and it gives them incentive to work to have things to discuss and brag about. Regular meetings give managers a chance to make sure employees feel that engagement, and have all the tools they need to meet these goals, whether they are long or short term. When managers have a regular pulse on projects and goals for employees they can feel confident about how everything is going and not seem out-of-touch. They can also suggest ways to improve the project and their engagement helps employees feel more engaged as well. This employee engagement idea can be a great way for managers to check in with employees, without it seeming overbearing or stressful. 

Three women meeting, one looking bored

Empower employees and foster growth.

Managers need to work to empower their employees and help foster their growth. This means giving them tools to better themselves both professionally, and personally. There are a variety of ways that managers can help employees get the tools they need to grow and improve. Perks like gym memberships and volunteer time off encourages employees to spend time on themselves and others, not just time at the office. This shows employees that you care about them and their well-being, as well as their opportunities for growth as individuals.

A similar employee engagement idea is giving employees professional tools to help them grow makes them better employees, and increase their job satisfaction. Things like book clubs, conferences, and trainings help employees expand their knowledge and become better at their job. A workforce that is educated is a workforce that is engaged and willing to improve to impress their employer.

These kinds of tools show employees that you’re invested in them and their success. It shows that you want them to continue to learn more so they can better give to the organization, and be happier individuals. When employees feel that they are cared about and empowered to grow, both professionally and personally, they’re more likely to feel that engagement and get excited about work.

Give them influence.

Giving your employees a voice and influence within the organization is a great way to increase engagement. When they feel like their opinions and thoughts matter, they’re more excited about what happens within their organization and want to be involved. This can be a wide variety of things, from the snacks that are in the breakroom, to a marketing strategy. 

There are many ways you can give an employee the chance to voice their opinion; you can have a suggestion box or email enlisting help on a problem. It can be an email specifically asking an employee for their opinion on a design or process. It can even be creating committees to allow employees to work together, face-to-face, and discuss their thoughts and make suggestions while collaboration. When employees understand that their opinion matters, they feel connected to the company. Increased employee engagement is usually the result.

Two people looking at computer, seeming excited

Listen to feedback.

Giving employees influence is one thing, but the other side of that coin is listening to their feedback. It doesn’t do a lot of good to give employees a place to say what they feel or think, and then do nothing about it. Acting on reasonable feedback from employees will demonstrate to them that you are willing to listen to their needs and wants. If you're truly interested in employee engagement, you will need to actually take advice and suggestions from them.

Even when you don’t take employee feedback, talk to your employees and help them understand the reasoning behind decisions. This will make it clear to them that you listen and consider their input. You can also help employees develop ideas so that it will work for your organization. Whatever you can do to help your employees understand that their insights don’t fall on deaf ears will help increase overall employee engagement, and give you a better company culture.

Share success.

You can help employees feel an increase of engagement by sharing their successes with the rest of the organization. Emails highlighting team successes, rewards and shout-outs for employees who have gone above and beyond, and callouts in team meetings will help employees feel excited about what they’re doing at work. When they know that others will see and recognize their hard work, they will feel more inclined to do whatever they can to get that recognition. 

When one person in your organization wins, the whole department and company win. Managers should work to help employees see that their efforts are valuable and that they are an integral part of the organization. When managers do this, it creates engagement for employees and helps them find happiness in work. 


If you want to be a great manager, learn how to help create engagement opportunities for your employees so they are excited and happy about coming to work every day, and are ready to give their best effort in your office.

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