Business Growth & Strategy

3 Ways to Improve Employee Engagement

3 Ways to Improve Employee Engagement

One of the biggest headlines from 2013 was that 70% of American workers are not fully engaged in their jobs. That means that less than one third of employees are actively engaged in their work. These figures were revealed in Gallup’s State of the American Workplace report, which added a new dynamic to the dialogue around employee engagement.

3 Ways to Improve Employee EngagementThe report detailed a deeper analysis of Gallup’s work in surveying more than 25 million employees, and described the impact of having a more engaged workforce: higher productivity, increased profits, and lower employee turnover.

A survey conducted by Deloitte confirms that “sustaining employee engagement / morale” was among the top three most pressing talent concerns of senior executives at large U.S. companies.

With companies placing such a huge emphasis and importance on employee engagement, one may wonder why engagement levels remain so low. While there are several ways to improve engagement, including higher pay, better working conditions, increasing benefits, more vacation, and the like; recent studies indicate that influencing employee engagement may be linked to intangible factors such as:

• More meaningful individual work assignments
• Opportunity to use strengths on a daily basis
• A sense belonging at work; being part of a team
• A higher purpose

If your organizational culture does not encourage these factors, it will be difficult to “fix” in the short term. The good news is that with focused effort, a solid plan, and senior level buy-in you can certainly help your organization move towards a more engaged workforce. Here are three ideas that might help:

Better Managers
Vistage speaker Don Rheem argues that, “managers are the weakest link in the chain of improving employee engagement.” Indeed, improving the skills of your mid-level managers will certainly do more than just improve engagement of the rank and file; it will also make the managers themselves feel more connected to the organization and its mission. This single step of providing development opportunities for leaders will resonate at each level of the company.

Right People, Right Places
Nothing is more frustrating to a talented employee than a role that doesn’t allow them to use their best strengths on a regular basis. Ensuring you have the right talent in the right jobs is essential to maintaining an engaged workforce. While you can a tool like Strengths Finder to identify areas where people can make the biggest impact, don’t forget to simply ask your people what they love doing most – and then find a way to let them do it.

Reconnecting People to Purpose
I led a recent Human Resources Executives Virtual roundtable discussion and learned of a new concept from one of the participants from a Fortune Global 100 company: stay interviews. While most employers these days conduct exit interviews to find out why people are leaving, many miss an incredible opportunity to talk to those who choose to stay. Stay interviews provide insight into what tasks employees find most rewarding, help managers understand what motivates valued employees, and remind the employee of all the reasons they joined the organization in the first place.

Improving employee engagement is a journey that can be rewarding in so many ways for an organization and its people. How are you improving engagement in your own areas of influence in 2014?

Authors Note: email me at for a document with sample stay interview questions or to join the interest list for our next Human Resources Executives Virtual Roundtable.

Category: Business Growth & Strategy Leadership


Avatar About the Author: John Ruzicka

John Ruzicka is the Manager of Senior Executive Programs for Vistage Inside.  Prior to joining Vistage, John was with the University of San Diego, where he spent five years mar…

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  1. Great article. So wonderful that engagement has moved beyond discussions of salaries and vacations! More meaningful assignments, daily use of strengths, sense of belonging, higher purpose… what a great way to kickstart a discussion of engagement. The intangibles are where it’s at.

    Thanks for pointing towards Strengths Finder and “stay interviews”, John 🙂

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