7 Employee Engagement Ideas that Drive Business Results

by Katie Sawyer, 9 minutes read
HOME blog 7 employee engagement ideas that drive business results

Several employee surveys have shown that an engaged employee is more productive and efficient. 

According to Gallup, an engaged workforce is more involved at work and enthusiastic about their jobs, while actively disengaged employees are disgruntled and disloyal because of unmet needs.

HR leaders are constantly seeking ‌the best practices that will have the biggest impact on their employees' satisfaction — both in the short term and long term.

On average, highly engaged teams are 14% to 18% more productive than low-engaged teams, who also tend to be low performers.

Improving employee engagement can be difficult for any business. For hourly paid employees, the task can be even more challenging. 

So, how do you get hourly employees to feel personally responsible for contributing to your company’s growth and success? And how can you motivate teams when they are already working in a high-stress environment?

Read below for seven surefire employee engagement ideas that will keep your team happy and improve your bottom line.

1. Provide Flexibility, Work-Life Balance, and Regular Feedback 

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In decades past, annual reviews were the most effective way to improve performance and ensure managers and employers were on the same page. 

Today, employees don’t want to wait six months to find out that they’ve done something wrong. They want to hear what they’re doing right — and wrong — in real time. Some employers are replacing the standard annual review with more frequent, real-time feedback.

As the workforce gets younger and younger, Millennial employees expect work-life balance and flexibility, especially in the era of remote work. They prioritize employers that care about their wellbeing and will quickly bail on those that don’t meet their definition of a well-lived life.

Recent studies, like Citrix's Work 2035 project study, have found that workers prioritize complete flexibility in their hours and location when searching for a new job.

They also want to know if they’re on the right track and how their managers feel about their performance. Daily meaningful feedback produces 3.5 times higher engagement among employees and can be as simple as saying a few words every day to your workers or scheduling monthly check-ins.

It might seem like hard work, but Bill Gates puts it this way: “We all need people who will give us feedback. That’s how we improve.” 

Your people are valuable assets and your competitive advantage, so take the time to increase the level of motivation in your team, coach, and provide training programs for them.

Deputy’s journaling feature helps you facilitate these conversations. You can quickly make notes on each employee’s performance in real time and create reports to see how the productivity varies. This not only promotes better decision-making but also leads to high levels of employee engagement.

2. Create a Strong Company Culture

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We spend about a third of our time at our job, and it’s not enough to receive a paycheck for it. Employees, especially millennials and Gen Zs, expect employers and governments to do more to help them accomplish their vision of a better future.

Workplace culture includes giving your workers the chance to learn new skills or apply for higher positions, giving them flexibility, and understanding that this job is only one facet of their lives. In fact, a strong corporate culture of engagement contributes more to business success than other primary factors.

Not sure how to start? Employee engagement surveys, pulse surveys, and virtual focus groups are some of the best ways to help you find out what they want more of. 

For example, they may want career advancement or professional development opportunities, or more flexible holiday time. You can offer these and other employee morale boosters to help them be their best selves at work. 

There are several examples of brands with strong cultures ingrained in their employees’ everyday work. 

Successful organizations like Zappos, which are often praised for their dedication to the best customer service, embrace diversity in opinions, thoughts, and backgrounds. 

One of the company's core values, which you might find useful for your business, is to “build open and honest relationships through communication.” 

Everyone on the team is encouraged to have open, honest, and effective communication, which makes it easier to understand how they’re connected to the big picture of what the organization is trying to accomplish. 

Some behaviors the company encourages for this value include:

  • Asking for input or ideas from others

  • Being transparent about information (positive and negative)

  • Connecting people to resolve their differences

3. Be Clear About Expectations

Setting clear expectations is one of the key drivers of engagement and success. Yet this basic need often goes unmet for employees.

If employees don’t know the company's goals, they won’t know if they’ve reached them. 

Feeling satisfied with your contributions and job importance is vital to overall job fulfillment. It doesn’t matter how you feel about your performance, if you don’t understand how you’re meeting company and individual benchmarks, it’s discouraging, downright confusing, and impacts employee happiness.

Engagement is a critical part of the benefits and perks discussion. A good salary and perks are the bare minimum, but employees mostly want: 

  • Great managers

  • Clarity on job expectations

  • Sufficient information

  • Roles that match their talents

Without these things, even the longest possible list of benefits won’t be a cure-all. 

Those who are already hesitant about engagement may regard free meals and ping-pong tables as empty gestures — a Band-Aid fix for a much bigger problem.

Your goals should always follow the SMART formula: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-based. 

It’s not enough to say, “You should increase your hourly sales.” Instead, include how to increase them, what benchmarks you’re looking for, and why. 

Employees who feel like they can never meet your company's goals won’t feel engaged.

4. Turn Your Employees’ Talents into High Performance

Do you know each of your employees' greatest strengths? 

While setting SMART goals for your team is an important thing, you need to make sure they’re the right ones for the specific roles in your business. 

One efficient way to be sure is to have your team take the StrengthFinders assessment and meet as a team to discuss the top strengths each employee can bring to the table. 

At Deputy, this exercise was both a cultural and a team-building activity that helped us understand who was strong in a particular skill so we could place them in the right role for the best business result. We tied our team’s greatest strengths to our overall passion, which drove higher employee engagement.

This idea is directly explained in a book highly recommended for all managers — “First: Break All Rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers do Differently.” The book details how successful managers go against the grain to translate the best talent into the best performance that will have the greatest impact on business results and engage the employee — a win-win!

5. Encourage Ideas and Contributions

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Even the most successful leadership teams can’t do it alone. It's not easy or effective to sit alone in an office, racking your brain for new ways to engage employees or increase job satisfaction. 

Ask your employees for ideas. If you encourage them to contribute to the company's employee engagement strategy, they’ll feel more engaged and tied to its success. 

Some quick tips you can try that can have a positive impact and boost employee satisfaction include:

  • Allow them to deliver their message, and double back to make sure you heard them correctly.

  • Show them you respect and trust them, and let them share their ideas, thoughts, and criticism freely and openly.

  • Let them know ‌you’ll always find time for them in your day to listen to their thoughts, ideas, and challenges.

  • Encourage them to know that whether they have a good idea or a bad one, they're all worth sharing. You don’t want to dampen anyone’s enthusiasm, especially if it might pay off at some point. 

  • Offer rewards or incentives like gift cards for having different opinions and bringing different ideas to the table.

  • Prove that you value employee feedback by showing how you incorporate their input into your leadership strategy.

  • Provide various pathways, such as social media tools, where they can share their thoughts so you can listen to everyone.

Recent research shows that ideas generate even more ideas. So, it’s important to make this a long-term strategy, not a one-off. 

Nancy Brown, CEO of the American Heart Association, wrote an op-ed about her attempts to encourage new ideas in the office, as this creates a culture where creativity is admired. “Creative thinking serves as a catalyst; it inspires us to engage in conversation and analysis, and to assess all that might be possible. The end goal is to develop better, or completely new, ways of doing things.”

6. Engage with Them Personally and Professionally

Just as you connect with your customers on a personal level, do the same with your own employees.

If you know your shift supervisor loves new movies, ask what they thought about the Oscars. If your latest hire had a family vacation recently, ask them how it went. 

These casual conversations create an emotional connection that enhances your relationships, makes employees more loyal, and reduces employee turnover.

Team-building activities offer several benefits beyond just bringing teams together and having a good time with coworkers. Instead of creating your own action plan, ask your coworkers to provide their ideas. That way, they’ll feel like they contributed and won’t feel like they’re forced to participate.

When you engage with your employees, they too will engage with you, your business, and ‌your customer base.

7. Empower Your Employees with Technology

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With 34.5% of hourly employees under 35 years old, millennials and Gen Zs drive the hourly workforce. 

A recent survey by the University of South Florida found that digital media is one of the most significant influencers of this generation. And companies are now implementing mobile technologies to accommodate non-desk, hourly workers with 80% planning to increase investment in workforce management applications by 2025.

Providing intuitive, mobile ways and useful tools for employees to accomplish simple tasks, such as clocking in, recording inventory, communicating with team members, or making lists for the next shift, empowers them to easily and effectively do their jobs well.

For example, most people use a smartphone today, as these devices have become a "catch-all" solution to accomplish basic tasks like phone calls, email, recording finances, listening to music, signing documents, getting directions, etc. 

Successful companies empower their employees to complete work tasks like clocking in or managing their schedules with mobile apps like Deputy, which make their team’s lives easier and help them do their best work.

A Better Way to Manage Employees

Improving employee engagement is an ongoing process. But it can be harder than it sounds. 

From building a strong culture to creating more frequent ways to provide feedback and set expectations, business owners and managers with large teams or many responsibilities struggle to find the right time and processes to accomplish this effectively.

Enter Deputy, a powerful mobile app that helps you do your job better — all from the power of your smartphone.

Deputy offers easy employee scheduling, time and attendance, and communication features. 

With the Deputy app, you can:

  • Keep employees in the know about business news, new jobs, policies, and processes. 

  • Add attachments with read confirmation requirements for compliance. 

  • Allow managers and employees to assign tasks to be completed within a certain timeframe.

  • Instantly send SMS or push notifications once employees complete their tasks.

  • Provide employee performance reviews and feedback in real time.

We believe that high-performing organizations win in the workplace by meeting employees’ needs and creating a better culture where teams believe in the business and support each other. 

Simple, intuitive tools can easily set you on the path toward employee engagement success.

Ready to find out how Deputy can improve employee engagement at your business? Get started today by signing up for a free trial.