Everything You Need to Know About Employee Engagement

Everything You Need to Know About Employee Engagement

Why does company culture and employee engagement matter? Read this guide to gain strategies for improving employee experience, learn how to motivate your team and managers, and understand what metrics to dive into when evaluating your engagement opportunities.


Diving into Employee Engagement

Since you're here, we see you're ready to dive into tools and resources to level-up the employee experience in your organization

Employee engagement is a huge factor in creating a holistic, people-first approach that fosters strong company culture and helps your organization stand out.

As a whole, engaged teams boost retention and attract quality talent. And highly engaged employees bring their best selves to an organization with better productivity to better job satisfaction.

Cooleaf's here to help you grow that engagement holistically and authentically.

What you’ll learn: 

How to create a human-centric employee experience. Learn about employee engagement in the new workplace, how to motivate your team and managers, and what metrics to dive into when evaluating your engagement opportunities.

Let's get started!

Chapter 1

What is employee engagement?

Employee engagement is a key indicator into your business.

Engaged employees feel seen and heard at work. They put more effort into a challenge with creative ideas. They feel a sense of purpose and belonging. Employee engagement helps companies grow and succeed.

But employee engagement is much more than employee happiness or business wins. Employee engagement is where a company's approach to care for their people meets the employees' sense of fulfillment and support in their employee lifecycle.

Purpose at work

An individual's purpose at work goes beyond quarterly or annual goals, selling units, or tracking stats. Finding a sense of purpose speaks out to each person's desire to feel fulfillment in whatever they do.

And when it comes to work, people want to feel involved at an organization that's making a difference, is aligned to their own intrinsic values, and gives true meaning to what and how they contribute as a person.

When employees feel that sense of purpose, , they take initiative and bring innovative ideas to work, they feel passion in what they do, and they have motivation to upskill to drive towards success. They also tell others about their positive work experience.

And an employees' sense of purpose is a true engagement driver, especially with Millennial and Gen Z employees

Ways to encourage a sense of purpose on your team:

Sense of Belonging

We spend a third of our lives at work, so the connections we make and the culture we inhabit can make an impact on us at individuals.

Over the past year, as teams brought a people-first approach to their organizations, workplace leaders are consciously ensuring that the work environment is a psychologically safe space for everyone.

Psychological safety centers around creating a supportive, trusted space where employees can bring their most authentic selves to work without fear of judgement or censure.

As HR professional, as you dive into employee engagement, you should also consider how you're creating a sense of belonging in your team. A few ways to approach this is through employee programming, company core values, guidelines in hiring or promoting, and additional training.

Employee Appreciation

Creating a culture of appreciation shows that your organization values its people, and the best outlet to express that is through employee recognition. Employee recognition is a powerful tool to publicly acknowledge the hard work and effort from your people from their day-to-day. 

Not only does it motivate team members and reinforce positive behavior, it also boosts employee confidence and morale.

Cooleaf's public recognition tool helps teams like Shipt embrace their core values, feel appreciated at an individual level, and engage managers too.

Employee Experience

The future of work is welcoming changes to how we approach employee experiences. From adapting to remote or hybrid models to bringing a more conscious approach to employee programming, workplace leaders are seeing that the regular work model needs a revolution.

That means bringing a more human-centric approach to the employee experience.

Since the pandemic started in 2020, employers are looking for ways to boost employee engagement not only to help with productivity and output but to support their people battling with burnout, work dissatisfaction, and more.

Focusing on the employee experience means simply Simply put, the employee experience is everything your people encounter during their time at your organization.

Chapter 2

Why is Employee Engagement Important?

Employee engagement is the difference between having an engaged employee, invested in the work and mission, versus a disengaged employee who just shows up.

Engagement is an indicator of your team's overall health. When employees are enthusiastic about where they work, they tend to be higher performing, have better work-life balance, and have their needs met.

Engaged teams perform better and help your bottom line, increasing profitability by 21 percent. They boost productivity and a better experience for your customers.

Employee Happiness

When you focus on employee engagement, you're also looking at employee happiness and finding ways to support your people as they contribute to the organization overall.

Happy employees feel supported by their team and managers, feel seen, while also resonating with the company's mission. 

It shows the importance of employee engagement too, because happy employees increase productivity and innovation. They're unafraid to bring new ideas to the table and to lead.

Employee Retention

Disengaged employees are more likely to look for new opportunities elsewhere, increasing your turnover rate, or they don't show up at all, increasing  absenteeism.

Fostering engagement can create a healthier employee experience that makes your people feel heard and valued. Consider how much it costs to replace talent, not to mention the time for onboarding and getting a new employee up to speed.

Investing in employee engagement is investing in your people and investing into your own business success.

Creating an engaged team is especially important in today's digital-first world with hybrid or remote work. This means workplace leaders need to make consistent effort to help employees feel connected and appreciated.


Strong employee engagement boosts productivity because engaged employees feel motivated and are invested in their work. 

They understand how their work contributes to overall goals and the business' success. They're also the ones innovating, leading projects, and bringing creative solutions to the team.

Teams who utilize employee recognition as part of their engagement strategy can champion these behaviors as examples for other team members. Recognition programs can also be used to routinely award for meeting weekly or monthly benchmarks to push towards larger goals.

Customer Experience

Employee engagement extends beyond employee satisfaction. 

Successful companies with a people-first objective understand that their employees are critical to their success.

Customers are becoming more conscious in their consumption and care about how your organization treats its people. More importantly, putting your people first trickles down to how your team approaches your customers' needs.

Chapter 3

Employee Engagement Ideas and Examples

Driving employee engagement can seem like a large task but remember that it's an organizational effort. You want to find ways to include your people into the conversation, either with annual surveys, employee resource groups (ERGs), or engagement programming.

Read on for a few ideas to get started.

Employee Resource Groups (ERGs)

Employee resource groups are an empowering way to get your people involved and to hear from them what matters most. ERGs can cover topics from wellness or company culture to demographics like Women in Tech or Black and Minority POC groups.

Partnering with your people is a way to include them into the conversation and ensure you're creating programming and initiatives to support their own goals.

Engagement Programming

Engagement programs from health and wellness team activities, diversity and inclusion efforts, and professional development are ways to increase engagement for your organization. You're providing other ways for people to feel connected to one another, to their team, and to the organization's mission.

Engagement initiatives offer a variety of ways to get other people involved like employee resource groups (ERGs), project leads or managers, encouraging individuals to find what they're passionate about and where they can help or grow within your organization.

The variety also ensures that disengaged employees have options of where to get involved. 

These programs are a way to go the extra mile in helping employees find a space where they belong and a space where they can connect with others in different levels of the organization.

Engagement Surveys

From annual engagement surveys to pulse surveys, give your people opportunities to speak their mind honestly. You'll be able to gather valuable insights from anonymous feedback, but you'll also be able to discover new engagement opportunities.

An annual engagement survey is a good way to start to track employee sentiment and establish a base and create some goals. From there, pulse surveys issued routinely to track ongoing sentiment can keep you on track.

Cooleaf's own employee pulse survey tool is a great way to track sentiment and incentivize responses.

Stay Interviews

You might have heard of the Exit Interview but have you heard of a Stay Interview? As the name suggests, Stay Interviews are conducted one-on-one with a manager and an employee in-person or on a call, where you collect feedback as to what factors influence one to stay at your organization.

You can host Stay Interviews at any point during an employee's lifecycle. And it's a great idea to maintain the practice routinely to see what both sides need in order to support an employee's growth and development at the organization.

Stay Interviews are a great way to gather feedback and follow-up on questions too. It's also a way to show employees your appreciation and that you prioritize their needs as well.

If you're wondering how to conduct an Employee Stay Survey, Cooleaf created one to download.

Rethink Onboarding

When you have new hires coming onboard, it's an opportunity to kick-off their employee experience positively and to engage them at the start.

Your onboarding process has the power to hint at what's to come in terms of employee support and work culture. And consciously creating a plan that anticipates their needs as new team members will go a long way.

Along with the admin and set up that goes along with starting a new role, a big component in the new employee's experience is how they're making those connections with their new team members.

Welcome Buddy or Welcome Mentor Programs are a great way to pair up new people with tenured employees who can be their guide as they familiarize themselves with the role and organization. As a rule of thumb, these partners shouldn't be overseeing managers so your new hire feels comfortable to come forward with questions.

Also keep in mind your work set-up. For instance, virtual onboarding can be a little difficult for those on hybrid or remote teams, but it's still doable with the conscious action plan. Find opportunities for people to chat outside of work or projects. Introduce new hires to existing employees. And be sure to shoutout wins publicly so your new employee feels appreciated and seen right off the bat.

Through the Cooleaf platform, organizations also welcome new employees with an item from the company store or a full Onboarding Welcome Kit, which includes swag items like branded shirts or mugs but also small tech gadgets for when they start.

Engage Managers

It sounds simple but engaged managers can make a huge difference in creating highly engaged employees. These managers can help boost participation and connection between employees.

You want to empower your managers in the same way you would empower your employees. Collect feedback through surveys or one-on-one meetings, create development programs to support their own goals, and be sure to offer recognition.

So when you're thinking employee engagement, don't forget to consider your manager engagement too.

Employee Recognition

Showing your appreciation for an individual's hard work can make a tremendous impact.

Recognition resonates with employees, and over half report they'd leave a role if they weren't praised or thanked regularly. Recognition shows that a person's contribution matters to the company. It establishes connection. And it shows that the manager or peer are impacted by their work.

Regular recognition is impactful, but it takes a dedicated recognition strategy to create a culture of appreciation. That's where employee recognition platforms can be helpful. If you're curious about the cost of employee recognition software, keep in mind that frequent, meaningful recognition leads to more productivity and better business results. The right program can help you attract top talent and retain your best employees.

Cooleaf's all-in-one recognition platform makes manager and peer-to-peer recognition seamless and encouraging for everyone to participate. The public channel entices others to celebrate a win or recognize a coworker for a job-well-done. And a dedicated outlet empowers employees to share and celebrate their peers.

Chat with Cooleaf today if you have questions!

Chapter 4

Measure Employee Engagement

It's important to measure employee engagement so you can identify what changes need to be done and prospect opportunities for improvement. 

Measuring employee engagement sounds like a daunting task but you can measure and show progress as you continue to work with your organization. A data-driven approach will help you create a more conscious plan when it comes to programs, ERGs, and perks.

There is no one way to measure employee engagement for your team. Different teams use different surveys to track feedback and sentiment over time. You might also track participation for events or programs too.

Below are a few ways to track engagement.

Employee Sentiment Survey

Many teams utilize an annual sentiment survey to compare year-to-year and plan for the year to come. This is a great practice and cadence that gives you room to ask a variety of questions, from how they feel about certain changes to open feedback about further ideas over a new project. 

Systems like Culture Amp or Survey Monkey are useful for gathering data like this and listing out the variety of question types easily for your employees. 

Employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS)

In the same way that a net promoter score tracks the consumers' happiness with a brand, an eNPS tracks an employees relationship with their organization. A list of questions is used with a likert scale to determine how an employee feels about anything from recommending the company to their feelings day-to-day.

Through Cooleaf, you can issue an eNPS using our survey tool. Responses are anonymously collected and HR leaders will have access to a dashboard to show trends in responses.

How to Measure Employee Engagement Yourself

To do it yourself, you create your own employee sentiment survey using services like SurveyMonkey or Typeform to anonymously capture data. You'd have to organize the timing and send reminders out to employees to ensure they answer before you look through metrics.

More importantly, you want to share the results with your team and share your action plan against it. You want employees to see and feel that their feedback is being taken seriously and is impacting change.

Cooleaf lists out the steps to track sentiment yourself but if you need help, let us know!

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