Employee engagement is a key part of creating a healthy workplace culture and a thriving workforce. Engaged employees are more proactive, better at serving your customers, and they’re more likely to stick with your company over time.
However, employee engagement isn’t just about sending out the occasional employee engagement survey or planning a yearly team outing. As your team grows and changes, you must carefully consider your employee experience and offer a compelling employee value proposition to your people.
An effective employee engagement strategy is designed to help you sustain culture over time. In this article, we’ll cover where to get started with employee engagement and how a strategic action plan can help your business succeed. After reading, use our free engagement action plan template below to start brainstorming your employee engagement strategy.
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What is Employee Engagement?
Before we dive in, let's start by defining what employee engagement really means. Employee engagement is the extent to which employees are motivated and committed to their work and the organization, as well as how they perceive their relationship with the employer.
Employee engagement has been shown to have a direct impact on performance and productivity. In fact, according to research by Towers Watson, companies with engaged workforces boast an average of 19% higher operating income and 28% higher growth in earnings per share (EPS) than the average employer.
The Importance of Employee Experience
With that in mind, it's clear that employee experience is a key component of an organization's success — but how does that translate into actionable steps for business leaders and human resources? The answer lies in understanding how employees feel about their experiences at work — and making those experiences more positive and human through strategic planning and implementation of new technologies.
Step One: Defining Your Goals for Employee Engagement
The first step in creating an effective employee engagement action plan is setting the right goals. Your engagement strategy goals should align with your overall business goals. For example, if reducing turnover is a key business goal for your company, your engagement goal could be to increase employee retention by improving company culture.
Creating an objective or mission statement for employee experience can also help guide your engagement goals. For example, your objective might be to create an organization where employee wellbeing is top priority, and employees feel supported to do their best work. Or to be nationally recognized a great place to work, where employees are fully engaged and committed to staying.
From there, you can plan an engagement roadmap with this objective in mind. There are three key engagement drivers to consider when mapping out your culture goals:
- Community: What actions are you taking to help employees feel connected to other team members? How are you helping employees to feel supported, seen, and understood by their managers and peers?
- Appreciation: How do you ensure that employees feel valued and recognized for their contributions at work? What systems do you have in place to celebrate team members for their accomplishments?
- Purpose: How are you communicating your organization’s purpose, mission, and values to your team members ? Do your team members have a solid understanding of your core values and why they are important?
It’s also important to decide how you plan to measure employee engagement within your organization. Whether it’s through employee feedback, employee turnover rates, or other metrics, measuring employee engagement is essential.
Cooleaf helps companies to define engagement goals and create action plans to help you meet those goals. Along with pulse surveys, Cooleaf’s engagement metrics and quarterly business reviews make it easy to track your culture goals over time.
Step Two: Collecting Employee Feedback and Analyzing Current Engagement Levels
Collecting employee feedback is a critical step in any employee action plan. Employee surveys can help you understand where your organizational culture is succeeding and identify possible areas of improvement.
When used effectively, employee feedback surveys can help you get the right feedback at the right time. With a platform like Cooleaf, you can select a template to find the best survey questions for your team and schedule incentivized surveys to be sent as often as you’d like. Our engagement experts will also help you analyze survey results and determine the best culture tactics for your business.
After your survey is complete, it’s time to analyze your survey results. Consider your organization’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and possible threats when it comes to employee engagement. During your analysis, remember to focus on the three key engagement drivers mentioned above (community, appreciation, purpose).
In addition to survey results data, you can also include other metrics, such as employee turnover data or participation metrics from your employee experience platform. This analysis will help you create action items for your engagement roadmap.
Step Three: Selecting the Right Engagement Tools
Once you’ve analyzed your current employee engagement levels, the next step is to make sure you have the right tools in place to help you drive engagement and measure the success of your goals.
Cooleaf Tip:💡Keep in mind that a budget for employee engagement is an important part of your strategy. Without allocating funds to employee engagement, driving adoption for your engagement initiatives will be a challenge, and your HR team may end up shouldering the burden of planning and executing your engagement strategy. To get a high ROI on employee engagement, setting aside a budget for engagement — even if it’s just a small amount to start — will make a huge difference. Once you can prove out results from your engagement program, you can increase your budget from there.
Here are some tools that can help you implement your engagement initiatives:
Cooleaf - Cooleaf allows you to consolidate all of your engagement efforts into one platform. From team recognition to pulse surveys, interactive challenges, and engagement scores, Cooleaf has everything you need to empower and celebrate your people. The platform includes assistance from a Customer Success Manager to drive your engagement strategy, help you review survey results, and provide suggestions to improve.
Plus, Cooleaf integrates with thousands of other apps to enhance collaboration and incentivize day-to-day work activities.
Lattice - With Lattice, you can streamline your company’s performance review process by setting and tracking goals, performing check-ins, and conducting reviews. With built-in pulse surveys and performance management analytics, Lattice is a helpful tool for connecting feedback and career growth.
Greenhouse Software -Greenhouse is a hiring platform to help you find the right candidates for your team. If attracting more diverse candidates is one of your goals, Greenhouse offers a range of diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) tools to help you mitigate bias and create a fairer hiring process. Greenhouse also features automated workflows, recruitment analytics, CRM, and employee onboarding.
Slack - Slack makes it easy to collaborate with team members through instant chats and channels focused on specific topics. While Slack doesn’t include engagement initiatives or pulse surveys, you can improve your experience with Slack by integrating other apps, like Donut or Cooleaf, which bring recognition and team connection directly into Slack.
Step Four: Planning Engagement Initiatives
Engagement isn’t a one-time activity — you need an effective strategy to keep your team engaged over time. The best way to do that is with ongoing engagement programming designed to support your culture goals. From quick virtual activities to year-long initiatives, offering a variety of engagement activities can keep your workforce energized and excited.
Here are some key areas to consider when developing your employee engagement strategy:
1. Employee Recognition
Frequent employee recognition keeps employees feeling valued for the work they do, which is key to building engagement. This can be done in many ways: by praising them in front of their peers, giving them public recognition for a job well done, or just saying thank you when they do something out of the ordinary.
An employee recognition program helps make it easier to sustain employee appreciation ever time. Cooleaf’s recognition and rewards software includes built-in challenges and fun events to inspire team members to celebrate wins with their peers.
2. Team Connection
One of the most powerful engagement drivers is a strong sense of team connection. Without a strong connection to their company culture and the people they work with, employees will be less inclined to put in their best effort at work. In fact, a best friend at work is one of the best ways to ensure engagement. Gallup research found that “Those who [have a best friend at work] are seven times as likely to be engaged in their jobs.”
3. Manager Empowerment
Your team leaders and managers are a critical part of your employee experience, and empowering them to lead successfully is a critical component of any successful culture strategy. From enabling managers to communicate your company’s core values to empowering them to reward team members for great work, a manager engagement strategy is sure to benefit your overall engagement.
4. Learning and Development
Creating a company culture that prioritizes learning and growth is a key ingredient in employee engagement and retention. In fact, employees who see opportunities for growth at their organization are almost 3 times more likely to stay with their company for 2 years.
Consider ways to foster learning and development within your organization, whether by implementing a LMS or incentivizing training.
5. Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
75% of U.S. workers think their workplace needs more diversity. A diverse, inclusive work environment is more attractive to top talent, and it also drives a more productive work place, benefiting your organization’s bottom line. Your engagement strategy should support and empower your diverse team members, through employee resource groups, diverse hiring strategies, and DEI training initiatives.
Examples of Successful Engagement Initiatives
1. Georgia’s Own
Manager Engagement Resources
Georgia’s Own Credit Union, one of Georgia's largest Credit Unions, empowered their managers to communicate organizational core competencies through training materials and Cooleaf challenges. Their core values huddle guide was instrumental in helping eaders and managers continue to instill your organization's mission and updates with their people. By making an effort to train managers effectively, they highlighted their organization's values and drove a stronger, more unified team.
Watch the Webinar → Bringing Core Values to Life (Featuring Georgia's Own)
2. Navvis Healthcare
Career Development Incentives
Navvis Healthcare, a healthcare company, partnered with Cooleaf to encourage professional development through their LMS. In a series of career development challenges, employees were able to earn reward points for taking LMS courses and sharing what they learned.
With learning and development being a top priority for today's employees, offering creative ways to encourage professional development is a powerful engagement strategy. Navvis' employees were inspired, engaged, and excited to learn.
Virtual Team Connection
Shipt, an online grocery delivery service, used online challenges and events to keep their organization excited and engaged while working remotely. To prompt employees to get to know one another one-on-one, Shipt used the Donut and Cooleaf to meet someone new in their regular Monthly Donut Pairing Challenge. Employees earned points for having a video call with a new team member and sharing a screenshot on Cooleaf. The challenge helped to improve company morale and develop stronger relationships between distributed team members.
Watch the Webinar → Employee Retention Strategies for the New Workplace (Featuring Shipt)
What to Expect After Your Engagement Action Plan Goes Live
After your engagement strategy launches, give yourself a pat on the back — taking action on employee experience is an important step in the right direction! Keep in mind that employee engagement doesn’t happen overnight, and it will likely take time and effort to build a company culture that reflects your goals. But if you prioritize employee engagement, gather employee feedback, and follow up with actionable steps to improve your workplace, your business will be stronger than ever before!
Need more help creating an effective employee engagement action plan for your team? Let’s chat!