9 Employee Engagement Ideas for HR Pros

November 15, 2022

Use these 9 employee engagement ideas to reduce voluntary turnover and boost employee productivity.

Are your employees 'engaged' at work? Chances are, most are just watching the clock tick.

In fact, according to Gallup, only two in 10 employees are engaged at work. And only 4% of business and HR leaders say their organizations are “very good” at engaging a multi-generational workforce.

This is a bleak picture of workforce engagement — but it’s not the whole picture.

Employees want their organizations to engage them in meaningful ways. Fortunately, strategies for how to engage employees are simpler than you may think. It all comes down to prioritizing employee engagement and using intelligent technology.

What is Employee Engagement?

Employee engagement is a measure of how involved and excited your employees feel about their work and your organization. For engaged employees, work is about more than a paycheck — they buy into the company’s mission, vision, and values and actively work to achieve organizational goals.

And employee engagement doesn’t just mean happy workers — it can have a material impact on business results. Years of study have demonstrated the benefits of employee engagement. It has a direct impact on morale, turnover, productivity, and more. That being said, it should come as no surprise that 80% of HR pros report that maintaining employee morale and engagement is a strategic priority.

True employee engagement isn’t built by a quarterly office party or annual bonus. It requires the ongoing practice of making sure your employees feel valued and connected to your organization.

Thankfully, there’s an abundance of employee engagement tactics for HR to leverage, many of which can be woven into existing practices with a bit of intentionality (and the right technology). It’s just a matter of finding the best approach for your organization.

9 Ways to Engage Employees

While every organization's engagement strategy will differ based on its culture and vision for the future, there are common themes that make sense anywhere.

Here's nine ideas to improve employee engagement at your workplace.

1. Set the Stage With Easy, Exciting Onboarding

Engaging employees starts before day one. By eliminating tedious paperwork and shifting to a digital onboarding experience, employees have more time to focus on what matters: becoming part of the team and getting to know the organization.

Introduce new hires to your organization’s culture right away.

Leverage welcome videos from leadership and new teammates so employees can start connecting from day one. Make sure new hires are set up with virtual team groups right away so they can get to know their peers. Make the experience even more engaging with automatic ice-breaker questions.

If the new hire's initial impressions are positive, it'll be much easier for your organization to stay in their good graces. Employees who have an exceptional onboarding experience are 2.6 times more likely to be extremely satisfied with their organizations — and are more likely to stay.

2. Prioritize Learning and Development (L&D)

Your talent development strategy and engagement strategy should work hand in hand. Employees who take advantage of learning and development opportunities are more engaged and are more likely to stay with your organization. A strong L&D program involves using the expertise you already have within your organization and the right technology to make that expertise accessible.

Leverage your internal subject matter experts to educate, upskill, and reskill fellow employees.

Not only does this engage the subject matter expert by showing you value their contributions, but it also fosters employee connection, which keeps everybody engaged.

Take this a step further by developing a structured mentorship program that leverages relationships between employees to help them reach professional goals. Formal mentorship opportunities are just as important as ever because employees want to work for organizations that prioritize their professional development. This has the added benefit of fostering strong individual connections between mentor and mentees.

Technology can make peer teaching and mentoring initiatives even easier. While scheduling lunch and learns can be fun for employees, recording your in-house experts explaining a concept or teaching a skill can enable your organization to distribute core teachings efficiently. Plus, that video can live in your HCM platform and be reused and repurposed over time.

Invest in an engaging and flexible learning management system (LMS)

An LMS can house your peer-driven video education and provide an immersive experience for employees. Effective platforms offer multiple learning modalities, such as interactive eCourses, webinars, and on-demand offerings to appeal to your organization's different types of learners. Make sure your LMS has a mobile option for easier on-the-go learning.

3. Establish and Live Your Company Mission, Vision, and Values

Employees are much more likely to engage when your mission, vision, and values need are evident and can be lived by them daily. And if they're surrounded by peers who are doing the same, they'll be eager to follow the example.

Reward employees when they act in alignment with the organization’s ethos.

If your organization prides itself on its best-in-the-industry customer service, broadcast customer wins via an online social collaboration hub like Paylocity’s Community. Be explicit and showcase examples of behaviors so it’s easier for employees to engage.

Take this a step further and build your peer recognition framework around your company’s values. Encourage employees to recognize each other when these values are exhibited.

4. Create a Sense of Community

A strong workplace community is built on hundreds of moments of workplace connection. But you need the right tools to connect employees in meaningful ways and build an engaging community.

Opt for an online social collaboration tool to connect employees across roles, departments, and locations.

With capabilities like chat, user profiles that showcase interests, and discussion groups, your organization will feel more like a community of people working towards the same goals than hundreds of individuals checking the company intranet once a day.

Elevate the community feel by enriching communication beyond the work wins and project updates.

Create opportunities for employees to bring their whole selves to work and showcase their personalities. Consider non-work related activities that allow employees to engage with each other such as:

  • Create an office playlist for employees to contribute to, and make it themed, like the best songs for commuting to work or favorite songs to sing along to when remote.
  • Encourage employees to show their personalities by sharing their holiday traditions or have a competition to see who has the funniest Halloween costume.

Make sure these efforts are visible to the organization to engage employees across teams and locations.

5. Put Relationships Front and Center

Social connections at work play a critical role in combating employee disengagement. Those who have a close friend at work are seven times as likely to be engaged with their job, positively interact with customers, produce higher quality work, report better well-being, and are less likely to sustain workplace injuries.

Schedule in-person and virtual events, so employees have time to connect and build relationships.

Virtual or in-person happy hours are a great place to start. But it can be equally, if not more effective, to tap into company culture to guide events.

For example, organizations that value sustainability might be able to engage employees via a group foraging session in the nearby natural area. Not only do employees get to enjoy some time away from their desks but these types of activities can help employees bond with one another.

For organizations that prioritize diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility (DEIA), a monthly book club to learn about and discuss relevant themes can connect employees to organizations that value DEIA. It’s also an opportunity to talk about issues that matter to them and understand each other on a deeper level, all of which can serve as the building blocks of relationships.

6. Position Leaders to Drive Engagement

There’s a close relationship between leadership and employee engagement. Paylocity’s research found that engagement scores increase when executives actively participate in organization-wide communication, leading to 15-25% lower voluntary turnover.

Encourage your leadership to actively engage employees through dynamic communication.

The good news is that executives can show employees they’re listening by sharing a thumbs up or emoji on a post, if you have a social collaboration hub. Executives can also create a post or comment on an employee’s post to start or continue conversations.

But if you really want to engage employees, have leadership create video messages to discuss new developments or share wins. Being able to see a face and hear tone of voice can help employees connect with the message — and the organization. Employees that see executives engaging with others at the organization are more likely to engage because they feel seen, heard, and cared about.

7. Ask for and Act on Employee Feedback

When employees feel isolated and siloed, they’re less likely to engage, so be sure to open a two-way dialogue about their experience. Ultimately, employee-provided feedback needs to be a regular touchpoint that becomes part of the culture, not just a box to check during annual reviews.

Bring employees into the fold by providing structured opportunities to give feedback.

Send out employee surveys at crucial moments during the employee journey to capture their perspectives and sentiment. That includes during onboarding, at regular intervals as a new hire integrates into the organization, during stay interviews, and when an employee chooses to leave.

Some survey tools have sentiment analysis capabilities to give HR valuable insights into employee engagement-related metrics. It’s up to you whether you make surveys anonymous or link them to specific contributors (there are benefits to both). Anonymous surveys make it easier for employees to speak candidly, and the latter allows you to follow up with specific employees to keep the dialogue open.

8. Create a Culture of Celebration

Pizza parties are great. But we need to go one level deeper to create a genuine culture of celebration that employees embrace.

Consistently recognizing and valuing employees is how you engage them for the long haul.

Start celebration efforts from the top down. Schedule an annual awards ceremony to recognize the contributions of your workforce and have leadership give out the awards. Make celebration part of the day-to-day by calling out successes through communication channels. By encouraging peer-to-peer recognition, using a tool like Paylocity’s Impressions, celebration can be visible and impactful.

Carve out time to recognize the cultural celebrations of a diverse workforce. For example, employees who celebrate Diwali may appreciate the opportunity to share about their culture by posting a video showing decorations, artwork, or special attire, which coworkers can react to as part of the organization’s community.

9. Embed Transparency Across the Organization

Eight in 10 employees want to know more about how decisions are made at their organizations. Workers are watching for transparency to guide their employment decisions.

Use transparency to plant the seeds of engagement.

Nearly 70% of employees would switch from one organization to another, even if the pay was the same. Posting a salary range during the recruiting process can establish transparency immediately.

Additionally, discussing your methodology for compensation management can give employees the transparency they want. If you use compensation management software, HR can discuss with employees how your organization ensures equitable, competitive pay.

It’s up to your organization what information you share but consider compiling quarterly or annual performance reports that are employee-friendly and accessible. If there are any significant changes in the organization’s direction, schedule a town hall meeting or send a video update to employees to fill them in.

Virtual Employee Engagement Ideas

As more workplaces shift to hybrid or fully remote setups, there’s a concern that employees could become disengaged without the benefit of in-person interactions.

Thankfully, many of the aforementioned engagement ideas can seamlessly integrate to virtual environments with the right technology. For example:

  • Give your team-building events a digital spin. Make your annual Halloween costume contest or talent show a virtual event. Use a communication platform with survey capabilities so your employees can easily vote on their favorite.
  • Allow remote employees to share their expertise with the wider teams. Have them lead a virtual training session or pre-record a video of themselves providing instruction. Save these to an LMS so you can integrate this valuable content into your broader professional development strategy.
  • Tackle proximity bias by proactively checking in with remote workers and asking for their feedback. Schedule regular virtual one-one-ones and make use of digital employee surveys to capture this information. For hybrid workforces, compare the types of responses you get from remote employees and in-person employees to see where there may be gaps.

Remote and hybrid employee engagement requires consistency and intentionality but can be straightforward with the modern tools available to organizations today. A modern HRIS will be your greatest asset as it provides a consistent experience no matter where an employee works. Especially with the power of video at your fingertips, engaging employees is easier than ever.

Smart Technology for Engaged Employees

Ultimately employee engagement comes down to the human connection that you cultivate within your organization. The right HR technology can be a valuable partner in building those meaningful employee connections, inspiring top performance and loyalty.

Are you ready to show your employees why working for your organization is worth it? Request a demo of Paylocity’s HR & payroll suite.


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