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Another year, another list of global studies demonstrating that employees aren’t engaged. It’s a morbid state in the workforce and we need to act.  Through years of working with forward-thinking companies, I’ve spotted several habits of highly effective employers that drive employee engagement.

1. They have an employee-first mentality

Successful companies put employees first, even before customers and shareholders. These companies understand that you can’t control outputs like customer satisfaction and financial success without supporting the inputs – employees’ everyday actions and behaviors.  That’s where you impact results. Ensure each year that people are an integral part of your company strategy.

2. They know what motivates employees

“In the past people wanted to join a company. Today, they want to follow a vision and join a team.” Wade Burgess from LinkedIn has it right.  You need to ensure that your offering goes beyond pay and job security. Catering to individuals’ motivations requires the right strategic narrative. How and what will you communicate about your vision? 

3. They understand employees work in days, not years

HR’s history of reporting to Finance leaders may have caused HR to think in years and quarters. After all, that’s how most financial statements are set up. But people don’t work in ‘years’ and HR practices shouldn’t either. Most companies are weighed down with annual HR processes: performance management, reward and recognition schemes (think years of service awards), and employee engagement surveys. Your people practices need to be more real-time if they’re going to be effective.

4. They treat employees like consumers

The changing workforce requires us to think differently. Consumers have a louder voice, access to more information, and an impressive slate of options – that sound a lot like employees today.  Employees don’t just buy a product (job), they associate with a brand (organization). Think of how much we invest in prospective and current customers trying to find them, understand them better, retain them and communicate specifically to them. Find what your company does well for customers and use that approach with employees. 

5. They don’t just measure, they act

Too often, companies spend four months planning, executing, and looking at results of their engagement survey. Then sit with all departments and leaders to look at the metrics even more.  By that time, the state of people’s minds have shifted. We need to have a pulse on employee engagement on an ongoing basis (even weekly) and deal with smoke before fire. ACT = Action. Changes. Things.

6. They focus

This is a biggie. Too often, when organizations act to improve employee engagement, it’s not strategic. The results are quick programs aimed at quickly fixing poor scores.  If you look at recent data (i.e. Aon Hewitt) you’ll notice that every year – the drivers of engagement vary in terms of priority and by, regions around the world. In HR, you can’t launch several enterprise-wide strategies/programs to each employee all the time.  It’s too much work, and too disruptive. In my opinion, you get one to three a year. If you really want to impact employee engagement, pick the three to five major items you want to fix and focus on them in a long-term year plan.

For example:

  • Year 1 – Career Development Programs
  • Year 2 – Employee Recognition
  • Year 3 – Performance Management
  • Year 4 – Wellness

One last thing about focus. Great companies shift focus from Core HR systems that benefit the HR department to a strategy of being employee-focused. After all, if you increase your employee engagement by 5% you will see more impact on the bottom line than if you save 50% in HR department costs.


At WorkTango, we’re revolutionizing how the world’s most forward-thinking companies engage and inspire their people. We offer the only Employee Experience Platform that enables meaningful recognition and rewards, offers actionable insights through employee surveys, and supports alignment through goal setting and feedback.

WorkTango is built for the workplace we all want to be a part of – where priorities become clear, achievements are celebrated, and employees have a voice. So if you’re ready to make work lives better, schedule a demo today.

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WorkTango is the employee experience platform built for the modern workplace.