The Ultimate Guide to Building Successful Employee Engagement Strategies

June 22, 2022

How do you know if your team is happy and engaged in work? And, how do you develop the right employee engagement strategy for YOUR people?

In our last blog, we covered what employee engagement means (if you missed it jump over here) so here we’re talking about - how to do “it” the right way? 

It’s no secret - highly engaged teams increase productivity and profitability for organisations, right?!

But HOW do we increase engagement amongst our teams?

In this blog, we’ll help you understand: why it's important to strategise, how to develop employee engagement strategies and how it will improve engagement and productivity.

We’ll also cover how to strategise employee engagement for remote teams as well as ‘traditional’ office-based workplaces.

So let’s jump in. 

What is employee engagement? 

Employee engagement measures the commitment, investment, enthusiasm and participation of your team to your projects, workplace, and organisation as a whole. In a nutshell - employee engagement is the mindset and approach employees have to achieve the common goals and objectives of the team. 

Employee engagement is not achieved through ad hoc events, gym memberships or tokenistic work perks. Employee engagement is not a momentary feeling of happiness amongst your team, nor is it a superficial bandaid to avoid delving deep into the core of what’s going on within your organisation. 

What is an Employee Engagement Strategy?

I’m going to be honest here because we’re friends… 

Improving employee engagement is no easy feat but the challenge is a lot harder when you approach it with little to no plan. Highly engaged employees and teams are a huge asset to any organisation and need to be treated as such. That’s why having a documented Employee Engagement Strategy is essential if you want to reap the benefits of happy, productive teams. 

This strategy document will detail the organisation's current engagement levels, the goals you’re hoping to achieve, how you’ll get there and if you’re moving the needle or not. 

11 types of employee engagement strategies

Employee Engagement Strategies must be purpose driven with clear benefits to both the individual employees and the overall organisation. 

When talking about “types” of employee engagement strategies, I like to think of the broad theme/purpose/reason why the strategy needs to exist. This is before you get into the specifics of goals, tactics and how to measure your work. 

These strategies can be built with the purpose of:

  • building trust
  • prioritising wellbeing 
  • increasing employee autonomy
  • increasing connection amongst teams
  • providing learning and development opportunities
  • creating a culture of psychological safety 
  • improving communication 
  • improving feedback
  • creating an effective onboarding process
  • increasing transparency across the organisation
  • reducing silos

Your strategy is the overarching action plan that maps out your destination as an organisation. Tactics are the individual activities and actions to get you there.

What should an Employee Engagement Strategy include?

Your Employee Engagement Strategy should cover:

  • The Current Environment - Detailing where your organisation is right now is essential to knowing where you’re aiming to be in the future. This understanding can be gained from employee pulse surveys and measuring things such as turnover, absenteeism and productivity.
  • Goals - Detail 2 or 3 goals of the strategy and ensure they are aligned with the overarching organisation goals. Be specific and realistic here. Keep these at the forefront of your mind when mapping out tactics.
  • Tactics to achieve our goals - This is a list of all the activities that will be undertaken to achieve the goals set out in this strategy. Clearly define the start and end dates as well as who is responsible for executing each tactic. 
  • Resources for success - What internal and external resources will you utilise to increase the success of this strategy? 
  • How you’ll measure your success —Set out specific, quantitative measures to understand what’s working and what’s not. Check out our Ultimate Guide to Measuring Employee Engagement HERE
  • Set a budget - Show me the money honey. Set a specific budget for each tactic and engagement-boosting activity. 
  • Review your work - The part 99% of organisations skip over - review. Reviewing the tactics, activities, success, failures and lessons is one of the most important steps of this entire strategy. It’s essential to know if you’re having success and where to focus your efforts for the next strategy. 

This is a living document within the organisation and communicated to all teams. Your employee engagement strategy builds trust, demonstrates transparency and shows teams they’re cared about. 

So get the conversations flowing, lock in your strategy AND document it because if it’s not written down it’s not real. 

Click the button below to grab your Free PepTalk Employee Engagement Plan Template today

2 examples of effective employee engagement strategies

Engaged employees genuinely care about their work and want to make meaningful contributions and connections. To them, it’s more than a pay cheque. 

Here are 2 examples of successful employee engagement strategies we’ve worked with our PepPartners to achieve.

Example 1 - Payzone 

An effective employee engagement strategy to: 

  • increasing connection amongst teams
  • create/maintain a positive team culture in the new world of work

Gamified, shared experiences contributed to an elevated sense of team spirit for 75% of Payzone employees.

Payzone is one of Ireland’s largest branded consumer payments networks providing an innovative, efficient and economic service for private and public sector organisations requiring a payment acceptance network.

As a cohesive and tight knit organisation that previously enjoyed a lot of in-person social events and connections, the pandemic presented an urgent need for Payzone to find a digital solution to keep community, connection and relationships where they needed to be. They increased connection amongst teams by participating in the competing in PepTalk’s Workplace Wellbeing Championships, an intercompany competition between PepTalk clients.

The leadership teams at Payzone knew that maintaining their culture and enhancing the human experience for their employees was now essential to maintaining business performance.

Example 2 - AIB 

An effective employee engagement strategy to: 

  • building a culture of trust and connection 
  • maintain the community spirit in the workplace
  • utilise new technologies to gain insights 

82% of AIB PepTalk users say the program has helped increase their connection to their colleagues.

Using PepTalk’s gamified shared experiences AIB was able to initiate a series of culture building challenges to drive really high engagement and connection. With PepTalk making it easy to create leaderboards and track points, the branches and head office teams entered into these friendly challenges with gusto, increasing employee engagement across the organisation.

The primary intention of the AIB leadership was to move to a more proactive, employee centric approach and for the first time leverage technology to reach all of their employees when they needed it. To do this they knew they needed to find a way to really scale wellbeing but also find a way to keep people connected, enjoy themselves and maintain that community spirit within the workplace that was under threat. As a highly data driven organisation, a measure of engagement with the programme and initiatives was also important.

The wellbeing team at AIB, worked closely with PepTalk to establish an action driven, mobile community hub where employees could continue to interact and maintain social cohesion.

Why it’s important to strategise 

Unless it’s written down - it ain’t happening - FACT! 

Other than having a clear strategy that’s planned out and documented, it's important to strategise to:

  • Give a clear indication of where you are now and where you’re going in the future
  • Communicate the journey, goals, objectives, challenges and milestones, company wide, throughout the whole process.
  • Hype your teams up, get buy in and bring everyone along the journey together
  • Build stronger connections amongst teams and across the organisation through shared experiences and a common purpose.

Schedule the meetings, get everyone’s input, communicate regularly and commit the next 3-6 months to creating a winning team experience for people inside and connected to your organisation. Then reassess and go again.

What are the benefits of taking a strategic approach to employee engagement?

According to Gallup, businesses with high employee engagement experienced:

  • 23% higher profitability
  • 81% drop in absenteeism
  • 10% better customer loyalty/engagement, and
  • 18% more sales productivity

These figures are impressive enough to pique every leader/manager’s interest and get them asking ‘Are we doing enough? How can we approach our employee engagement differently?’

Without having a clear understanding and concise strategy, there’s no possible way to truly understand how your teams are feeling and how engaged they are to do their best work. More importantly, there’s no quantitative way to know if your organisation’s engagement activities are working, or if the organisation’s experiencing impressive numbers like the ones mentioned above from Gallup. 

A strategic approach is the only approach when it comes to employee engagement. This means planning, collaborating, committing to the work and openly communicating with our teams - as humans.

If you’re still looking for some ideas from employee engagement strategies. Here’s a few for remote and office-based teams.

Employee engagement strategies for remote teams

  • Remote Meeting Manners - a targeted strategy to reduce meeting duration and frequency, and make the best use of everyone’s time.
  • Social events - a strategy to improve the quality of team connection. Whether it’s in-person or online it’s important to connect with each other as humans. 
  • Celebrate the wins - a strategy to boost camaraderie and overcome the challenge of being dispersed to celebrate the wins, both big and small. 
  • Boost Belonging - a strategy utilising technology to gamify team-based goals, actions and competitions to build a sense of collaboration and connectedness. 

Employee engagement strategies for office based teams

  • Walk n Talk - a strategy to break down operational and team barriers/silos. This brings increased connection to the organisation and promotes a human-centric approach to employee engagement
  • Cross functional shared experiences - a strategy to break down team silos and increase shared experienced across the organisation 
  • Casual feedback loops - a strategy to provide frequent quality feedback and communication in a casual non-work environment such as a cafe, restaurant or on a Walk n Talk.
  • Utilise technology - a strategy to support physical working environment and culture with an expert-led, employee engagement platform that has credibility and a proven track record of helping teams connect. 

Your employee engagement strategy has to revolve around your people - on a human level.

Driving these strategies with a human-centric focus is the key to bringing teams together, businesses into the future, and connection back into the workplace.

Still need a few more ideas???

Jump over here for 23 examples of employee engagement activities  or click the button below for a free download

Haelee Reis
Digital Marketer, Dancer and human dynamo.
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