Every week, I scan the news for must-know stories about the employee-centric, happier, distributed, and AI-driven future of work.
If you’re here, you have been worrying about how engaged your team is. Or you’re just interested in learning more about remote employee engagement strategies. Or somewhere in between.
No matter whether you’re here out of frustration or curiosity, we’ve got you.
In this comprehensive guide, we will help you be the engagement hero we know you can be.
What is Employee Engagement?
Employee engagement is individuals' profound and emotional connection with their organization. It goes beyond being satisfied with your job, resulting in people who invest in their work, colleagues, team, and the company's goals and values.
Sounds good right?
It does. But it’s easier said than done.
Employee engagement is individuals' profound and emotional connection with their organization.
Employee Engagement involves initiatives to foster a deep connection, including engagement's physical, emotional, and cognitive dimensions.
Benefits of Employee Engagement
Why do we care so much about this employee engagement?
Well, as you can guess from the above, if people are emotionally invested in their jobs, they tend to be more productive, more committed, and stay with the company longer.
The difference between highly engaged team and the ones that dread coming to work are incredible, per Gallup’s recent data:
- 81% in absenteeism
- 43% in turnover
- 28% in theft
- 64% in accidents
- 41% in quality (defects)
- 10% in customer loyalty and engagement
- 18% in productivity
- 23% in profitability
This is exactly why employee engagement is critical in achieving success as a team and company.
Gallup, the leading research agency on this topic, has shown this in their studies for decades.
In its latest survey, which over 160,000 employees globally participated in, there is good and bad news.
The good news: employee engagement rose double-digit, up 11% from 2022 to 2023.
The bad news? Employee engagement is still only at 23%.
That means most people are disengaged at their jobs, costing us $8.8 trillion in lost productivity yearly. Yikes.
But don’t go into depression mode just yet. While the AVERAGE employee isn’t likely to be engaged, people at the best companies in the world are.
These companies have shown that with the right employee engagement strategies, you CAN get people committed to their work, the team they do it with, and the company they do it for: Gallup Exceptional Workplace Award winners average more than 70% of engaged workers.
How to Develop an Employee Engagement Strategy
We know, strategy may sound a tad overwhelming, and you may get the sweats thinking about all the PowerPoint work ahead.
But, while developing an employee engagement strategy is key to ensuring your initiatives will deliver value, it doesn’t have to get too grandiose.
To start, gather insights from your staff through an engagement survey and assess recent data to measure existing engagement levels.
Check out our guide to 20 free Employee Survey Tools here. For large companies, we suggest working with an employee engagement survey providers.
Gallup has a 12-point question that works wonders to uncover where the biggest opportunities are in strengthening engagement.
It’s important to follow industry-standard survey questions, as they help ensure you get the right inputs, said Christie Hoffman, the Workplace Experience Strategist at Pingboard.
"You want to avoid messing around with a survey and guess; you must ask the right questions. Gallup has a twelve-question framework that directly maps to the different parts of the employee experience. These are the little touch points of an employee working at your company every day, from having the right tools and systems to ensuring they have opportunities to learn and grow at work." – Christie Hoffman, Pingboard
If the strategy is for an entire company, delegating responsibilities clearly and being flexible is crucial. Involving HR representatives, middle managers, executives, and long-term employees can significantly increase the strategy's success.
Be intentional, transparent, and people-focused to create an effective engagement strategy.
You can develop a cohesive and proactive plan that benefits employees and the organization by consistently prioritizing these components.
Finally, don’t launch and move on.
Your engagement strategies should be revisited frequently to ensure they remain relevant and effective – which is the whole point of starting in the first place, right?
10 Must-Have Expert Employee Engagement Strategies with Examples
Now that we know how important strong employee engagement is, let’s dive into ten expert strategies to help you reach the top of Gallup’s rankings, leaving not even one team member disengaged.
Below are ten expert strategies to help you master engagement, especially if your team is hybrid or remote.
Expert Strategy 1: Embrace Company Values and Mission
Context: To engage hybrid and remote teams effectively, upholding and communicating the organization's core values and mission is crucial.
Ensure that these values resonate with the unique work arrangements of your remote and hybrid employees.
When team members align with these values, it creates a sense of purpose and belonging, even when physically distant. This can work wonder especially during onboarding in the critical first 30-60-90 days.
Getting Started: Schedule a virtual team meeting to discuss the organization's core values and mission. Encourage team members to share how they connect with these values in remote or hybrid roles. This open dialogue will reinforce the importance of these values in their work.
Expert Strategy 2: Invest in Learning and Growth
Context: Remote employees, in particular, value opportunities for professional development.
Investing in continuous learning and growth helps them acquire new skills and demonstrates your commitment to their career advancement and personal growth.
This can include providing access to online courses, webinars, mentorship programs, and career development plans.
Getting Started: Send an email or message to remote team members offering access to a relevant online course or webinar. Encourage team members to use this opportunity to enhance their skills and knowledge. You can also organize an online or hybrid TED Together icebreaker session to kickstart the L&D journey.
Expert Strategy 3: Promote Transparent Communication
Context: Transparent communication is essential for remote and hybrid teams. It is one of the foundational elements of most remote-first companies that know how important transparency is.
Encourage open and honest channels for communication, including regular team meetings, one-on-one check-ins, and digital platforms for sharing information.
Be proactive in sharing important updates, decisions, and progress to keep everyone informed and engaged.
Getting Started: Create a shared document, employee intranet, or other platform where all important real-time updates and decisions will be posted. Ensure everyone knows where to find this information, fostering transparency and reducing information gaps and miscommunication.
Expert Strategy 4: Recognize and Reward Performance
Context: Remote and hybrid employees may sometimes feel disconnected from the organization.
Implement a robust recognition program with financial and non-financial incentives to acknowledge their contributions.
Recognizing outstanding performance with rewards, praise, or special privileges can boost morale and engagement.
Read: We collected 101 Employee Recognition Ideas so you won’t lack ideas ever again.
Getting Started: Send personalized recognition messages to (remote) employees who have recently achieved outstanding results.
Consider offering a small, unexpected reward or recognition item as a token of appreciation.
Expert Strategy 5: Prioritize Work-Life Balance
Context: Remote work can blur the lines between work and personal life.
Encourage a healthy work-life balance by respecting employees' time off and promoting flexible scheduling. Encourage remote team members to set boundaries, take regular breaks, and disconnect after work hours to prevent burnout and enhance overall well-being.
Getting Started: Remind all team members about the importance of setting boundaries and taking regular breaks. Encourage them to schedule time for themselves during the workday, emphasizing the organization's commitment to their well-being.
Expert Strategy 6: Build a Diverse and Inclusive Culture
Context: Remote and hybrid work arrangements should not hinder diversity and inclusion efforts.
Prioritize diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives to create an environment where all employees feel valued and heard regardless of location. Foster a culture of belonging where diverse perspectives are celebrated and respected.
Getting Started: Host a virtual diversity and inclusion workshop or discussion session. Encourage team members to share their thoughts on how to make remote and hybrid work more inclusive. This demonstrates a commitment to creating an inclusive environment.
Expert Strategy 7: Facilitate Virtual Team Building
Context: Building a sense of camaraderie among remote and hybrid teams is essential for engagement and strong team dynamics.
Organize virtual social events, team-building activities, and online gatherings to foster team cohesion.
Provide opportunities for casual interactions to strengthen interpersonal connections, as these can be more challenging to develop in a remote setting.
Getting Started: Tomorrow, plan a fun and interactive virtual team-building activity, such as a trivia quiz or an online game. Invite all remote and hybrid team members to participate to strengthen their connections.
Check out our infinite, AI-powered Would You Rather Questions, Icebreaker Questions, ideas for fun virtual meetings, and other virtual ice breakers.
Expert Strategy 8: Empower Autonomy and Trust
Context: Remote and hybrid employees often thrive when given autonomy at work. Trust your employees to manage their responsibilities independently.
Encourage them to take ownership of their tasks and projects, captured in an action plan and tracked through task trackers, and allow them to make meaningful contributions to the organization. This autonomy promotes a sense of ownership and accountability.
Getting Started: Have a one-on-one conversation with a remote team member and discuss how they can take more ownership of their current projects. Give them more autonomy to make decisions related to their tasks.
Expert Strategy 9: Ensure Employee Well-Being
Context: Remote work can sometimes lead to feelings of isolation and stress.
Prioritize overall well-being by offering wellness programs and mental health support and acknowledging personal milestones and events.
Providing resources and support for physical and mental health can lead to more engaged and satisfied employees.
Getting Started: share mental health and well-being resources with the entire team. Encourage them to prioritize self-care and let them know that the organization supports their well-being. Offer to fund professional time management tools that encourage work-life balance.
Expert Strategy 10: Stay Adaptable and Responsive
Context: Employee engagement strategies should remain flexible and responsive to changing needs.
Continuously gather feedback from your remote and hybrid teams to understand their concerns and preferences.
Be willing to adapt and refine your engagement initiatives to ensure they effectively support your managers and their teams.
Getting Started: Send a brief survey to all team members asking for their feedback on current remote or hybrid work arrangements. Use this feedback to make immediate adjustments and improvements based on their responses.
Employee engagement is more than just a buzzword; it's a critical factor in productivity and overall success.
Gallup's data speaks volumes about the impact of engagement on absenteeism, turnover, quality, and profitability.
While the average engagement rate remains at 23%, exceptional companies have shown that with the right strategies, you can achieve much higher levels of engagement.
Our expert strategies, tailored for hybrid and remote teams, cover everything from embracing company values to promoting work-life balance and fostering a diverse and inclusive culture.
Remember, staying adaptable and responsive is continuously seeking feedback to refine your engagement initiatives.
By following these expert strategies, you can become the engagement hero your team deserves.
What’s the difference between Employee Engagement and Employee Experience?
There is an important distinction between Employee Engagement and Employee Experience.
We learned that from Christie Hoffman, whom we interviewed about employee engagement best practices.
According to Christie, employee experience is an input, while employee engagement is an output. In other words, you increase employee engagement by optimizing the employee experience, a practice called employee experience management. Christie also shared that employee engagement is a spectrum that's constantly in flux – meaning the work never ends. Yay.
“Employee experience is an input. Employee engagement is an output. Yes, you drive engagement, but how you do it is by optimizing and finding the broken and missing moments of your employee experience so that your employees will be more engaged.” Christie Hoffman – Workplace Experience Strategist
Who owns Employee Engagement?
The traditional wisdom is that we can relegate employee engagement to HR.
But given the benefits of engaged employees, we can’t sit on the sideline any longer: employee engagement is a job for everyone, not just HR.
This starts by understanding the intrinsic motivation of each team member in their work and how it can improve engagement and retention.
Managers and even individual employees can all foster a sense of belonging and work community.
What are some good employee engagement strategies for remote and hybrid teams?
Good news: according to Gallup’s 2023 data, exclusively remote employees (30%) are more engaged than fully on-site (21%) and hybrid (24%) employees.
But those numbers are still nothing to write home about.
Do you want to improve them? Then the strategies above will help you improve your engagement quickly. For more tips, see our answer to how to engage remote employees.
Every week, I scan the news for must-know stories about the employee-centric, happier, distributed, and AI-driven future of work.