10 Employee Engagement Best Practices

By: Tanya Fish
Engaged employee celebrating success at work

Globally, CEOs rank attracting and retaining top talent as their #1 internal concern. Why? They know that if employees are engaged and happy—customers will receive better service—and that leads to bottom line success!

Looking at the same report above, CEOs also agree on the need to address the shifting customer landscape. The customer of the future will place more value on the experience of using a product or service rather than the actual product or service. Without top notch talent, leaders know they won’t be able to provide those amazing experiences that customers of the future demand.

Where Employee Engagement Comes In 

Discretionary effort across the globe has declined four percentage points between 2012 and 2019—an 18% drop, according to Gartner. While that news may be tough to swallow, what’s even more alarming is employees’ intent to stay with an organization has also been steadily declining since measurement started and is currently only at 15%.

Not only is engaging your workforce to tap into their discretionary effort more important than ever, it’s also important to consider the impact of having 85% of people in the workplace that do not intend to stay. Are they hurting your culture while they hang around waiting for the next best thing? The low percentage of engaged employees is a barrier to creating high-performing cultures that more productive and more profitable.

For inspiration on how you can help your organization overcome this challenging trend, check out our top (proven!) strategies:  

1. Define what employee engagement means to your organization. Do your employees understand how the work they do contributes to the organization's success? When people feel that their work is aligned with that of the organization, it boosts their engagement.

2. Align employee engagement programs with corporate priorities. Strategic alignment ensures that employees have clarity of purpose and direction, and that their efforts are focused in the right direction.

3. Create an environment conducive to motivation. Creating a culture of recognition, trust and goodwill is key to moving an organization forward. Providing opportunities for employees to have purpose, mastery and autonomy will earn organizations the loyalty of their employees while helping them be more productive and engaged at work. Not providing these opportunities can crush motivation, as shown in the video below featuring social scientist, Dan Ariely.


4. Get to know what’s important to employees. Engaging and motivating people is not possible without knowing them—what do they value, what are their interests, what does achievement look like to them, how do they like to be recognized and what rewards are meaningful to them. Once you know this, you need to leverage the information to tailor your engagement strategy, tactics and rewards to meaningfully connect with your people. 

5. Help leaders connect with their employees. One out of four people distrusts their employer, according to the 2019 Edelman “Trust Barometer.” This is a critical issue because employees who have trust in their employer are far more likely to engage in beneficial actions on their behalf. To create an environment and culture that supports transparency, change and commitment, give your leaders the training, tools and platforms to communicate a clear vision—clear expectations.

6. Recognize your employees. Just like motivation, recognition isn’t one size fits all. To motivate people ongoing, you have to show them you appreciate the value they are providing. And science backs this up—recognized and reinforced behavior gets repeated, according to subject researcher Saul McLeod. Leverage a strategic mix of intrinsic and extrinsic motivators to get the impact you’re looking for.

7. Develop a support system for employees. Employees that give effort and have a desire to grow need support. While recognition is important, today’s workers are also looking to their workplaces to support their entire experience, including career pathing, skills training, wellbeing resources, equipment, time and people resources. John Maxwell suggests in his Leadership Podcast to remember that everyone has potential—those identified as high potential and those classified as low potential—so watch out for those employees showing initiative for growth.

8. Communicate, communicate, communicate. Getting the word out is critical in enabling employees to reach a common understanding of the engagement initiatives you offer. But don’t stop communicating at launch or your program will fall flat. Highlight important days throughout the year for the company and for individuals or teams, including milestones and successes. 

9. Create connection and celebrate success. Bringing employees together creates connection, while also giving you a platform to share one clear message to everyone at one time. Use employee events to kick-off the fiscal year, unveil strategic priorities, or to just celebrate successes and key contributors.

10. Reward for results. Research leaves little room to dispute the fact that a well-conceived, well-run incentive, recognition or reward program improves productivity and performance. In fact, this study from the Incentive Research Foundation noted that companies using rewards programs realized an average performance gain of 44–48% in productivity after just six months. To drive business success (and engage for the long-term), reward both individuals and teams who demonstrate the behaviors you want to encourage.

Ready to take on employee engagement? Don’t waste another minute. Give the people what they want and need to motivate and engage them—from recognition for a job well done to communication to a strategically designed employee experience. Want to learn more about the value of an employee recognition and engagement? Find out what we did for one client to recognize and celebrate their people that proves the value of a concentrated effort to align and recognize employees.


Tanya Fish
Tanya Fish

Tanya Fish is the Leader of Employee Experience Solutions for ITA Group. She drives the insights, strategy and evolution around employee experience for the organization while offering advisement for client engagement and employee programs. Tanya loves inspiring passion in people, something she believes impacts the individual, the organization and the community. Tanya’s past work and studies on organizational leadership in business, employee health and well-being, culture and health insurance guide her unique perspective on organizational health and success. Tanya is energized by achievement, learning and empowerment and balanced by time with family and friends and being outdoors. Bonus points if it’s by a body of water.