5 Employee Engagement Strategies to Try When the Going Gets Tough

According to research by Gallup, only 31.5% of U.S. employees were engaged in 2014. This means that more than half of the workforce was either not engaged or actively disengaged.
Engaged employees are passionate about their work, committed contributors to their company and dedicated to its success. Disengaged employees are, naturally, the opposite.

Signs of disengagement are easy to spot – lack of enthusiasm, less-than-stellar attitude, frequent absences, and apathy– to name a few. Simply put, disengaged employees don’t come to work with that spark and willingness to put in extra effort for the success of their company.

Unfortunately, employees that are not engaged can also negatively impact the morale of other employees (read more about emotional contagion in the workplace) and have a larger affect on the company culture.

Employee Engagement Strategies to Try

As a manager, instead of ignoring the problem or giving up on disengaged employees, consider giving the following employee engagement strategies a shot.


A common source of disengagement is if employees feel they are not connected to the company, their managers, or other team members. This lack of connection might also make them feel isolated and unappreciated at work.In order to show your team members that you value and care for them, make a conscious effort to interact with them frequently and get to know your team members as people, not just employees. A tried and true way to connect employees is to organize regular team-building activities. These events give employees an opportunity to let their guards down and get to know each other in a new context, helping them reconnect with the company and each other.

Talk Less, Ask More

As mentioned above, face time is important, but make sure you aren’t doing all the talking during your interactions. When employees feel as if they don’t have a chance to voice their thoughts and feelings, it can spiral into apathy and disengagement.This is why it is important to regularly ask your team questions, and a variety of them, too! If you’re sensing that employees feel undervalued, ask them what you can do to make them feel appreciated.Pro tip: Ask the “what” (Do you feel appreciated in your role?) in addition to the “why” and “how” (Why do you feel under-appreciated? How would you like to be recognized?) . The feedback you receive will help you get a better picture about the reasons behind your employee’s lack of engagement and create a plan of action moving forward. Moreover, the simple act of listening demonstrates that you care, which can be a morale booster in and of itself.

Show Them the Big Picture

Everyone wants to know what they are working toward. Unfortunately, disengagement often stems from a lack of clarity around the company’s direction or one’s role in the organization.Let your employees know what the company is planning and how they fit into this plan. What are the company’s mission, values, or vision? How do these tie into performance discussions, reporting metrics, and company goals? The 2016 Deloitte Millennial Survey found that millennials are looking for companies with a strong sense of purpose beyond a simple profit motive. Millennials want to feel that they are making an impact — directly in their role, in the company, and also in broader society. Your role as a leader is to tap into what motivates employees and illustrate how their work contributes to the greater organizational goals. Employees must know what they are working toward and why their work is meaningful. Pro tip: Even if you as a manager knows how valuable your team is, your employees can probably benefit from hearing it more often.

Be Flexible

Flextime is gaining traction as an employee engagement strategy. Whether you allow your employees to work flexible hours or to work remotely, granting more flexibility can help tackle the stress that might be the culprit to your employees’ disengagement (read more about the negative effects of workplace stress here).In fact, in the 2017 Deloitte Millennial Study, flexible arrangements are linked to improved employee performance and loyalty. When employees are able to create an environment that best suits their work style, they will show higher productivity and enhanced well-being. Flexible arrangements also build loyalty because your team will feel more valued knowing you trust them to do their work without having to look over their shoulders.

Give Recognition

According to an Aberdeen study, employee recognition is the strategy with the greatest impact on employee engagement amongst best-in-class organizations. Further, 60% of best-in-class organizations say that recognition programming is extremely valuable in driving individual performance. Moral of the story: if your team performs well, let them know they did! It improves their self-esteem, encourages them to replicate successful behaviors, and incentivizes them to go above and beyond. Further, when you publicly acknowledge an employee’s contribution, it spreads throughout the company in a positive way. Others will talk about it, learn what works, and be more likely to step up to the plate.


Employee engagement strategies aren’t one size fits all, but the above techniques are good reminders when you feel energy start to slip. Plus, you won’t regret reconnecting with or recognizing your team!


CultureIQ can help your company better understand how to engage with its workforce. Learn more today!