How to Create a Successful Employee Engagement Program

13 Jun 2023


As we approach the second half of 2023, workplace culture is in a state of great transition. 

Global events, economic turmoil, and generational value shifts have disrupted the American workplace, dramatically transforming workers’ attitudes about their jobs.

The pandemic-era trends of Quiet Quitting (employees not actually quitting their jobs but being largely disengaged and making minimum effort) and The Great Resignation (employees leaving their jobs en masse) have maintained their momentum.

Although workforce participation has largely returned to pre-pandemic levels, employee disengagement has become an increasingly critical concern for employers.  It’s no wonder that employee engagement has become a buzzword in recent years.

Whether you view it as a more recent challenge for employers or simply a new name for an old problem, the issue of employee disengagement and attrition has reached alarming proportions.  

Employers concerned about the impact of disengaged employees on their bottom line are increasingly taking action to ensure the stability of their workforce.

It’s no surprise, then, that the employee engagement market is predicted to grow nearly 10 percent over the next 10 years, reaching nearly $3.8 billion by 2032, according to recent data from Future Market Insights.

Employee benefit platforms, performance management and survey tools, and engagement software solutions are being widely adopted by companies to ensure a better relationship with their employees.

What is employee engagement?

Employee engagement is the level of enthusiasm and dedication a worker feels toward their role and the goals of the organization. According to Quantum Workplace, employee engagement is the strength of the mental and emotional connection employees feel toward their places of work.  Essentially, it’s a measure of how satisfied and committed workers are to their jobs and employers.

Why is employee engagement important?

Employee engagement impacts nearly every aspect of a business.

Research shows that organizations with highly engaged employees have lower turnover, higher productivity, and higher profitability.

Engaged employees work harder and stay longer.

They also deliver a better customer experience, resulting in increased sales revenue and higher customer retention. 

Engaged employees are an invaluable asset in today’s competitive workplace. They are passionate, inspired, and committed—and they inspire others.  Without them, your business is more likely to suffer from high turnover, low productivity, poor morale, and unsatisfactory sales performance.

According to Anne M. Mulcahy, former Xerox CEO, “Employees who believe that management is concerned about them as a whole person—not just an employee—are more productive, more satisfied, more fulfilled. Satisfied employees mean satisfied customers, which leads to profitability.”

Ensuring that your employees are engaged with their jobs isn’t a luxury—it’s a necessity.

Levels of Employee Engagement

There are three levels of employee engagement:

  • Engaged. Employees who are passionate about what they do in their jobs every day.
  • Not engaged. Employees who are not proactive, complete only the tasks required, and don’t generally show an interest in what is going on within the company.
  • Disengaged. Unhappy employees who underperform, spread negativity, and often actively encourage others to avoid their work.

Even if you don’t have a comprehensive employee engagement program in place, it’s important to take action. By taking steps in even a few key areas, you can begin connecting with and engaging your employees more effectively.

Elements of Employee Engagement

What can you do to foster greater employee engagement and a more fulfilling work environment in your company?

According to, companies need to support the following key elements of employee engagement to have a fully engaged team:

  • Leadership. Good management is consistently named as the most important factor in employee engagement. A positive employee-supervisor relationship is crucial for workers to feel they have direction, support, and feedback.
  • Communication. Keep employees informed with regular communication. This means regularly and promptly sharing company and departmental news, including bad news, so workers are always aware of important events and developments. Being knowledgeable and informed instills a sense of belonging and pride.
  • Culture. defines corporate culture as “a set of beliefs and behaviors that guide how a company’s management and employees interact and handle external business transactions.” Essentially, it’s the “personality” of your organization. A positive corporate culture means employees are treated with respect, dignity, and courtesy. Leaders are responsive, supportive, and consistent, and they model the company’s stated values.
  • Recognition and rewards. Well-defined recognition and reward systems give employees appropriate credit for effort, performance, and results. This can include everything from verbal or written thank you’s to larger companywide recognition in the form of accolades and awards. Meaningful recognition makes employees feel good about their contributions to the organization.
  • Personal and professional development. Giving employees the opportunity to learn new skills and develop their expertise is a vote of confidence that recognizes their potential and demonstrates the company’s commitment to their professional growth. Professional development opportunities might take the form of conference attendance, courses, certifications, or other types of training programs.
  • Feedback. Clear, honest feedback about their performance and results lets employees know how they’re doing and helps them better understand their role. Both positive feedback and constructive criticism help them identify their strengths and areas for improvement.
  • Vision and values. Employees want to work for and contribute to companies whose mission and values resonate with their own ideals. A clearly defined corporate mission and guiding principles inspire employees to feel they’re part of something larger that has a positive impact in the world.
  • Social corporate action. Employees want to work for socially responsible employers who contribute to their communities. Being part of a company that makes a meaningful contribution to society is an important motivator for workers and a key factor in engagement and retention.
  • Sense of accomplishment. Employees who achieve defined goals feel competent and productive. Establishing performance objectives or benchmarks gives them goals to strive for and a sense of accomplishment when those results are achieved. 

How to Create and Support Optimal Employee Engagement

Effective employee engagement drivers like those described above involve a commitment to larger cultural change over time.

In the shorter term, however, you can institute tools and practices to start improving your employees’ engagement levels as you work on developing those larger initiatives.

How can you translate the elements of engagement above into action that will have more immediate impact?

Here are some ways to start:

  • Connect what employees do to what they care about. Show how an employee’s work is related to the organization’s purpose.  One way to do this is through what’s called “job crafting,” a technique that revamps job descriptions to align employees’ work experience more closely with their own values and the company’s mission. For example, an insurance agent might recharacterize their job as helping people bounce back after an accident rather than processing paperwork.
  • Encourage employee resource groups (ERGs) that represent employees’ interests and goals like diversity and inclusion, wellness, or professional development.
  • Make the work less stressful and more enjoyable.  Offer employees flexible hours or the opportunity to try new work tasks to discover their intrinsic interests: for example, a job rotation program.
  • Establish volunteer activities in employees’ areas of interest to provide an opportunity for meaningful service.
  • Encourage passion projects for workers to showcase their creativity and innovation on projects aligned with corporate strategy.
  • Provide enjoyable experiences like company outings or retreats, learning lunches, sporting events, games and competitions, and team-building activities.

Employee Engagement Software

You may want to consider implementing an employee engagement software solution.

Employee engagement software has become an essential human resource management (HRM) tool to improve employee satisfaction, build engagement, and reduce turnover. Depending on your company’s size and needs, employee engagement solutions provide functions like pulse surveys, team analytics, tools for achievement recognition, and employee feedback collection and monitoring for actionable insights.  

Many also include gamification features—the application of gaming elements like teams, competition, point scoring, and rewards to inspire motivation, collaboration, and interaction. This type of software plays a critical role in enhancing the employee experience and identifying opportunities to create a workplace culture of commitment, productivity, and satisfaction.

There are dozens of employee engagement software brands. Research the many available options to determine which features are most important for your organization. A Google search will turn up a wealth of information on this topic and on specific software platforms.

This article gives a good comprehensive overview of employee engagement software types, functions, benefits, and available products.

Measuring Engagement

There’s a commonly used phrase in business: What gets measured gets managed.

Establishing practices and systems to build employee engagement is only one critical component of building a positive workplace culture. The other is measuring engagement levels at regular intervals—not just once a year.

For your efforts to be successful, you need to be able to track progress over time.

Measuring employee engagement identifies strengths and problem areas, generates data for useful insight, and helps you understand trends.

It also builds trust among employees by demonstrating that you care about their experience and opinions.

There are many different “listening methods” for collecting employee feedback.

Engagement surveys are a more formal organizational method designed to get a macro, data-driven understanding of the level of employee engagement in your company. These include:

  • Comprehensive annual or semiannual surveys for understanding how to better foster a motivated and enthusiastic workforce.
  • Frequent, consistent “pulse” surveys to measure and track specific aspects of engagement over time.
  • Short, topic-driven surveys.
  • “Always on” surveys that allow employees to submit feedback at any time.

To be effective, surveys should be designed to measure and track the specific metrics you define as part of your objective for the survey.  These typically track with the elements of engagement described above and might include:

  • Feedback
  • Recognition
  • Happiness at work
  • Work/Life balance
  • Peer and management relationships
  • Professional and personal growth
  • Alignment with values
  • Overall satisfaction

This article provides a good overview of the elements of an effective engagement survey and how to design one.

Non-survey methods can include focus groups, interviews, informal conversations, check-ins, roundtables during staff meetings, town hall meetings, feedback workshops, anonymous comment boxes, and open-door policies.  All of these are ways you can maintain an ongoing dialogue with employees outside of a formal survey process.

Make an ongoing commitment.

Improving employee engagement isn’t a one-and-done proposition or another item on a to-do list. Building engagement requires an ongoing commitment to building a better workplace culture. But with focused effort, communication, and strategy—and the arsenal of expertise and tools available to help—your efforts will pay off with a more dedicated workforce and a better bottom line.

Carey Miller 
Carey Miller wrote her first story when she was six. She is passionate about communicating ideas and has been writing professionally for over 20 years. A former advertising sales executive, she has expertise in business and corporate communication and has worked with B2B and B2C brands in a range of industries. She is a published poet and holds a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from UCLA.

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