How To Increase Employee Engagement: 5 Challenges and 5 Solutions


Part 1
Challenges to Employee Engagement

Bad News First: The Problem of Employee Engagement in Today’s Workplace

The United States has an engagement problem, but they are not in this company alone. Globally, workplaces are failing to keep employees in tune with the organization. In 2017, over 60 percent of workers were disengaged worldwide. In 2018, the number has significantly increased to 85 percent. Gallup had a compelling reason for why this could be happening. Most economies have transitioned to knowledge-based industries. Therefore, many jobs can now be automated making for positions that are routinized. The problem with this is that skills and talents of the workers are not being developed, causing them to feel more like a cog in the wheel than a person who can make a difference in their company.

Why is employee engagement so crucial for workplace success? Engagement has a significant impact on company performance and revenue. This reinforces the idea that the essential resource that companies have is human capital. Therefore, workers should be of high priority to senior leaders. Below are statistics that reveal how important employee engagement is to business progress.

  • Revenues are 2.5 times higher for companies with engaged employees versus competitors with low engagement levels.
  • Highly engaged employees are 87 percent less likely to leave their companies than their disengaged counterparts.
  • Organizations with highly engaged employees achieve twice the annual net income of corporations whose employees lag behind on engagement.

Turnover and revenue almost rest on employee engagement. Therefore, leaders should make an increase in workplace participation a top priority. For companies who are struggling with employee commitment, there is some hope. Employee engagement can be increased if senior leadership is committed to seeing it grow.

So the challenges to employee engagement are:

  1. A Lack of an Employee Engagement Strategy

    Data shows that 90 percent of business leaders think an engagement strategy has an impact on business success, but barely 25 percent of them have a plan. Managers are not taking the time to assess the factors contributing to disengagement so they can establish ways to address it.

  2. Failing to Share Company Goals

    As with any relationship, humans need to feel like they know who they are working with. Relationships are strengthened when both see where the other is coming from. The same can be said for companies. Many are not sharing the goals, vision, and objectives of the company on a regular basis. This not only makes it difficult for employees to know where they stand on progress, but it also prevents workers from getting to know the company they are working for. According to data, only 40 percent of the workforce knows about their company’s goals, strategies, and tactics.

  3. Lack of Feedback

    Contrary to popular belief, workers like to receive feedback. According to data by Globoforce, feedback, recognition, and growth are contributors to a positive employee experience. Also, 43 percent of highly engaged employees receive feedback once a week. Workers like to hear from their managers about what they are doing well, and what they can improve on.

  4. Showing Empathy

    Workers like to feel they are not just a number. They do not want to be seen as a means to an end, but a person. Therefore, companies have to do their best to show compassion and empathy to workers. The data reveals the importance of expressing feeling. According to Buisnesssolver,, 60 percent of employees would take slightly less pay for an empathetic employer, and 77 percent would even work more extended hours. Want to increase engagement? Show more empathy for workers.

  5. Hiring the Right People

    Sometimes, workers are not the best fit for an organization. Personalities or skills may not match up, and employers need to recognize this. An employee who is not a fit for the team can become disengaged. According to CareerBuilder, two-thirds of workers said they accepted a job offer only to realize the company was a bad fit.

Part 2
How To Increase Employee Engagement

Good News: How Leaders Can Engage Employees

While the outlook may be bleak, there is always an upside. Leaders can improve their numbers, but they have to become dedicated to seeing what employees need to succeed. Some managers may think they have to spend a lot of money to increase engagement among workers, but this is not always the case. Any leader who is committed to creating a better work environment can decrease disengagement.

  1. Start by Figuring out What Employees Want

    Every person is different. Some workers need weekly check-ins while others would prefer to meet with managers once a month. Some companies use personality tests to see the tendencies and preferences of those working at the company. This can even be used to weed out those who might not be a fit for the company. This does not take a lot of resources, but it can make a significant impact on engagement.

  2. Invest in Their Future

    Companies can provide more than a paycheck to their workers. In today’s society, this is not enough to let employees know that companies care about their well-being and development. Leaders should develop training and professional development programs to show workers they are dedicated to investing in their future (whether it is with this company or another). Employees are more apt to engage if they know the company is committed to them.

  3. Don’t Underestimate the Impact of Social Interactions

    Are your workers interacting with each other at work? Are they friends? Research shows that this can increase engagement and performance. Gallup’s research has shown a substantial link between improved performance and workers who say they have a best friend at work. 63 percent of women were likely to be engaged if they felt they had a friend at work, compared with 29 percent who did not. Leaders should work with human resources to develop opportunities for social interactions that could include dinners, lunches, volunteer projects, or game nights.

  4. Be Strategic

    While many of the above points are high-level ideas, leaders need also to take a look at practical methods for increasing engagement. Are people regularly calling out or showing up late? Is there theft? Is customer service satisfaction lacking? Developing a strategy to handle these issues can take care of issues management may not have been aware of.

  5. Give Managers the Tools to Increase Engagement

    According to data, 75 percent of people who are voluntarily leaving their jobs are not quitting because of the position, but they are leaving because of their bosses. Managers play a crucial role in keeping employees engaged. Senior leadership should hold them accountable for increasing engagement and performance. Training, mandated employee feedback sessions, and employee surveys can help develop managers into individuals that can drive engagement.

Part 3
Employee Engagement Best Practices

  1. Trust Needs to Be Front and Center

    Trust has a high correlation with engagement. Employees will not be as committed to an organization if they feel they cannot trust the leadership. According to the same study by Dale Carnegie Training, 70 percent of employees who lacked trust in senior leadership were not engaged. Senior leadership should realize that employees are always watching. They should strive always to be transparent and listen to the voice of employees when possible.

  2. Track and Assess

    Leaders need to develop benchmarks for evaluating the progress of engagement. Has absenteeism decreased? Are more employees coming to social events? Has a department’s performance improved after establishing new engagement initiatives? Setting metrics will help leaders understand if they are making progress or if there are particular metrics they still need to address.

  3. Recognize Those Who Have Figured It Out

    Managers play such a key role in employee engagement. If someone has figured out the formula and has now turned their employee engagement numbers around, this person should be recognized and encouraged to share their tips. While the organization may have initiatives, managers should be given the freedom to figure out what works with their employees. This increases the probability that someone will find out what works.

Employee engagement is paramount to increasing performance, revenue, and morale. Companies that do not realize the importance of cultivating engagement among employees will not be competitive in the market. Workers are looking for socially responsible companies that care about their workers. Unfortunately, most companies have not figured out how to turn these numbers around since only 15 percent of the global workforce is engaged. Leaders have to realize that employee satisfaction has to come before all other factors.


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