How to Create Employee Engagement: 9 Best Practices

How to Create Employee Engagement: 9 Best Practices

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Especially in times of crisis, employee engagement is the fuel that keeps the company fire burning. But when your employees are dispersed or remote, how can you fan those flames? It’s a challenge, but don’t worry. We’ll go over the key drivers of employee engagement, then discuss how to create employee engagement.

What is employee engagement?

The definition of employee engagement is: The quality of an employee’s feelings and their connection to your company, as well as the energy and effort they bring to the job day-to-day.

(If you want to learn more, we’ve got you covered with our article What Is Employee Engagement? Feel caught up? Then let’s look at those key drivers of employee engagement.)

What are the key drivers of employee engagement?

Let’s be frank. Employee engagement programs and workshops won’t work if five key drivers are missing. As a leader in your organization, focus on the five key drivers of employee engagement to keep your workforce engaged;

  1. Make work meaningful

  2. Challenge employees to grow

  3. Ensure work is mutually beneficial

  4. Create an inspiring environment
  5. Build a culture of recognition

Hungry for more? Learn about employee motivators and drivers here — then join us for quotes and examples of how to create employee engagement below.

How to create employee engagement: Best practices

1. Make company goals transparent

Tip: “For goals to be meaningful and effective in motivating employees, they must be tied to larger organizational ambitions. Employees who don’t understand the roles they play in company success are more likely to become disengaged.” – Amy Gallo, author and cohost of Women at Work podcast. 

What you can do: Formalize your goal-setting process, starting at the top. If a business doesn’t have clearly defined objectives, how can its employees? Investing in tools like goal management software can help your employees tie their role to the greater business mission with accountability and clarity. 

Resource: How to create a company goals program.

2. Train managers in coaching

Tip: “Organizations interested in success are developing robust talent development programs that interweave both coaching and mentoring within an overall talent management strategy.” – Lis Merrick, Managing director of Coach Mentoring Ltd. 

What you can do: Standardize employee-manager meetings. If your company isn’t harnessing the power of 1-on-1s (Sync-Ups), this is the easiest way to provide regular coaching opportunities between managers, teams, and direct reports. Start with a weekly cadence, and adjust the frequency as needed. 

Resource: Take the stress out of your 1-on-1s with these downloadable Sync-Up framework templates.

3. Embrace multi-directional feedback

Tip: “Company leaders should never assume they have all the answers. The best employee engagement strategy is one where the organization surveys the employees at least annually, the results are shared with every manager, and in turn, each manager creates an action plan with her team members.” – Kevin Kruse, author of Employee Engagement 2.0

What you can do: Flip the script during the performance review process. Allow employees to give candid feedback about their manager, the company leadership team, and overall company culture through regular pulse and employee engagement surveys. 

Resource: Need to give feedback? Our article Employee Feedback 101 offers tips, tricks, and best practices.

4. Build a feedback culture

Tip: “When we withhold feedback, we’re depriving the employee of the chance to jump in and fix it. 39% of employees respond to constructive criticism by jumping in and correcting underlying problems. But how can they do that when they don’t even know that there is, in fact, a problem?” – Mark Murphy, author of Hiring For Attitude. 

What you can do: Coach managers on giving specific, actionable feedback in the moment and during formal performance reviews. Feedback akin to “keep doing what you’re doing” must be elevated if employees are to truly understand what about their work or behavior is helping them excel. The same logic applies to constructive feedback — be specific, be clear, and help reset expectations. 

Resource: Check out our guide, How to Create a Feedback Culture.

5. Foster professional growth opportunities

Tip: “Your own boss may not tell what need to advance your career, and you won’t find the best strategies listed in the corporate employee handbook, either.” – Jo Miller, creator of Women’s Leadership Coaching System. 

What you can do: Standardize your employee levelling schedule. Whether you choose to budget for promotions and raises every quarter or every year, setting time-bound expectations for employees and managers can add a level of clarity to the sometimes-nebulous process of employee advancement. 

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6. Celebrate what’s working

Tip: “Giving great feedback starts with one single important question, one that I have all of my clients ask on a regular basis: “What is going well?” By doing this, [businesses] start to notice improved work performance, motivation, enthusiasm and team collaboration.” – Justin Follin, Head of Leadership Development at BLUECASE. 

What you can do: Consider a public recognition feed. When organizations invest in company-wide recognition programs, feedback becomes more positive, more frequent, and more visible to the business at large. And don’t forget, feedback should be used to recognize and encourage good behaviors and performance just as often as it’s used for constructive criticism and disciplinary measures. 

Resource: Learn more about what recognition can do for you: Why Your Company Needs a Recognition & Rewards Program. Or, learn more about the power of celebrating daily wins:


7. Equip managers with all the tools to succeed

Tip: “I can’t emphasize this enough. Many programs have a very siloed approach for leadership improvement and don’t bring together the best elements of building trust, enlisting feedback, managing culture, and communicating clear expectations.” – Brent Gleeson, founder and CEO of TakingPoint Leadership. 

What you can do: Invest in holistic management training for your leadership team. Whether they shadow a seasoned leader at your company or take an online course vetted by your HR team, make sure new and existing leaders have the tools and internal support to grow their emotional intelligence and management skills. 

Resource: Up-level your managers with our free online Manager Master Class.

8. Re-examine your performance evaluation practices

Tip: “In some cases, systems can take an inordinate amount of time. They end up detracting from performance instead of elevating it. The program must be more than a “box checking “ process or a flurry of paperwork. Bottom line, it should improve the way that people perform.” – Jack Zenger, Author of The Extraordinary Leader. 

What you can do: Check in with employees and managers. Whether your performance evaluation process is too time-consuming, confusing, or biased, you won’t know until you ask. Just like we recommended with bottom-up feedback, use surveys to review your process and how it can be improved at least once a year. 

Resource: Check what your performance management is actually doing for you: How to Assess the Success of Your Performance Management Strategy.

9. Take advantage of technology

When asked what will most transform the way people work over the next 5-10 years, one in two respondents in a recent PwC study said “technology breakthroughs.” Which makes sense. None of these best practices are easy — but with technology to automate, streamline, and provide insights, the process is much simpler.

What you can do: Invest in HR technology. Tools like WorkTango’s employee experience platform act as a framework for better employee development and engagement, all while helping teams grow and collaborate in ways that move the business forward. Here’s what WorkTango can offer: 

  • An employee development process that facilitates continuous coaching, weekly Sync-Ups, quarterly Check-Ins, and employee-driven goals. 
  • A modern Recognition & Rewards approach that is real-time, social, and tied to your company’s unique mission. 
  • A broader listening strategy that uses polling, pulse surveys, and benchmark surveys to uncover issues big and small. 

Create employee engagement with WorkTango

We hope these key drivers of employee engagement and tips on how to create employee engagement have planted the seeds. Now, let’s grow.

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