Employee engagement strategies that won’t break the bank

So you have spent a fortune attracting and securing the very best talent. Now that you have this talent, you need to focus on retention and engagement of someone that has been added to your team, along with engaging your existing team.

Now employee engagement is not about employee happiness (e.g. beer o’clock every Friday arvo). Engagement is ensuring that employees want to learn and perform at work, as they are personally involved in the success of the business.

‘Employee engagement is when employees are personally involved in the success of the business’

Now if you read up on employee engagement, there are multiple options out there and many of them are quite expensive and extravagant efforts. These include everything from comprehensive health initiatives, refurbishing the offices, complex communication plans, through to expensive retreats so staff members can bond. Now, not all businesses have the time or resources to refurbish the office space, pay for gym memberships, health cafes, or even a yoga instructor.

However, all businesses, regardless of their size, can have a huge impact on employee engagement with four simple steps.

Values and purpose

A purpose driven company can galvanize employees around a common cause and create an emotional bond between employees and their company.

Employees are driven by a sense of purpose and how well you communicate your company’s purpose is directly correlated with how engaged your employees are.  

Most companies don’t have a vision and purpose and if they do, it is not successfully communicated to employees, or is clichéd.

What is your vision?

What are your core values?

If employees believe in your values and vision, their mindset changes. More than 70% of Millennials for example, want their employers to focus on mission-driven problems and desire meaning at work. Having a vision that you want to make lots of money is not compelling. People want to join something that is bigger than their daily lives and is bigger than just getting a pay slip.

Nail your vision and your core values and communicate this vision to employees.  The CEO needs to make sure employees understand the strategic vision and that this vision is compelling and regularly communicated to employees.

Ask for their opinions and suggestions

Ask for your employee’s opinions more often and make sure you listen to what they have to say and act on the great ideas. Even if you only make small changes based on their input, they are going to feel WAY more engaged.

Next, give them more choices in things that don’t impact on your business, or impact their performance. For example, if they prefer English breakfast – stock English breakfast, rather than plain tea. If they prefer to start later and finish later and this is not impacting on your business, why not give them this flexibility? Allow for more options, rather than strict and regimented rules that must be conformed to (or else).


As humans, we have a ‘hierarchy of needs’ that includes esteem and our need to belong. Recognition does an awesome job of satisfying these needs.

As humans we all need to feel like our contributions matter and are recognised.

Recognition needs to be part of a larger culture of appreciation. It is not something dished out once a year at the Christmas lunch, but a routine, ingrained peer-to-peer and superiors to subordinates.

Recognition can be both formal and informal. It can be a weekly affirmation at a meeting, or a monthly program, where the winner is voted based on their contribution. Recognition has to be embedded into the culture from day one. As humans, we need recognition and recognition has to be dished out across all levels of an organisation (from the office cleaner to the executive).

Hire the right manager

Without the right manager your engagement strategies will fail. First, you need a manager to guide and successfully execute engagement strategies and secondly, if you have a poor manager, you will have poor employee engagement, in spite of your best efforts.

So hire the right manager and fire managers that don’t have the skills to ensure others below them succeed and are supported.  Nothing impacts on employee engagement more than a poor manager.

So there we have it.

  • Give employees a meaning for their work with a compelling vision.
  • Ask for and value their opinions
  • Give them more choices
  • Recognise their contributions
  • Hire great managers
  • Fire poor managers

None of the above steps will break the bank, but will have a significant impact on employee engagement and productivity.

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