Human Resources

How to Create an Employee Engagement Strategy in 7 Steps

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Employee engagement is one of those issues that seems simple on paper but is a lot more complex when you examine it in detail.

Proven to have a positive impact across wide areas of a business, from employee retention and productivity, through to workplace mental health and improved diversity and inclusion, employee engagement is crucial to the success of organisations big and small. To put it simply, the more engaged your employees are, the better your business will perform.

If you care about the performance of your organisation, encouraging employee engagement is a no-brainer. One of the most effective ways to do that is through creating a dedicated employee engagement strategy.

Here’s our guide on how to create an employee engagement strategy in just 7 steps.


What is employee engagement?

First, we should probably address what seems like a simple question with a simple answer – what is employee engagement?

Well…

One of the niggling issues that complicates creating an employee engagement strategy is the fact that there’s no singular definition of what employee engagement actually is – the concept means different things to different organisations.

To quote this fascinating article by Oak Engage, an employee engagement strategy will examine how emotionally connected employees feel to their work and the company that they’re working for. For Oak Engage, employee engagement is primarily about how an employee works towards achieving company goals.

According to US HR membership body the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), employee engagement can be distilled down into three aspects:

Physical engagement

Employees invest a lot of physical energy into completing tasks.

Emotional engagement

Employees invest a lot of emotional energy into their job, feeling inspired, motivated and part of something bigger.

Cognitive engagement

Employees invest a lot of cognitive energy into working on a task, becoming engrossed in a subject.

Any type of employee engagement strategy will need to address aspects like these. It’s a bit like building an intricate wall with lots of bricks, where one piece is reliant on another to work: if just one brick is missing from the structure, the overall strength of the entire wall will be compromised. 

One thing that most organisations can agree on though, regardless of their definition of employee engagement, is the need to have a dedicated strategy to address it.

Here are the steps you should follow to create your employee engagement strategy and to put it into action.


1.   Create an employee engagement survey

As we’ve outlined above, an employee engagement strategy is essentially a detailed report about levels of engagement in your workplace at the moment, combined with a plan for how to improve it.

It’s something that’s built through gathering information. If you’re coming at the process of creating a strategy from scratch, one of the most efficient ways to gather the often quite disparate data that you need to make accurate assessments and recommendations is to create a workplace-wide survey.

The aim of this survey is to ask employees questions about their experience of working at the company: their likes, dislikes, thoughts and other factors that might influence engagement in your workplace.

Popular tools for creating an employee engagement survey include SurveyMonkey, Google Forms and Typeform. If you use HR software already, check if it has an inbuilt survey option!

 

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2.   Identify engagement metrics to track in the survey

With a rough idea in your head of what an employee engagement survey should look like and what it should do, you should turn your attention to thinking about the specific measurements that you would like to track in it.

In the whitepaper, ‘Employee Engagement Measurement and Analytics: Implementing Insights to Drive Business Results’, workforce intelligence company Visier suggests there are three overall categories that metrics used to measure employee engagement generally fit into. They are:

  • Physical engagement: suggested by job satisfaction, loyalty, effort, pride in workplace and work etc.
  • Factors such as time at company, hours worked, workplace relationships etc.
  • Organisational performance: revenue, productivity, profit margins, customer satisfaction, etc.

Metrics are basically a fancy word for analytics, or the things that you measure to find out your performance in a particular area.

Identifying which metrics you want to use to evaluate employee engagement in your workplace will be crucial to the overall success of your engagement survey. After all, if you don’t know what type of engagement you’re tracking, you’ll probably find that the overall effectiveness of your survey will suffer as a result.

There are lots of different ideas out there about what type of metrics you should be tracking. The exact type that you use will depend on your own priorities as an organisation, so there isn’t necessarily a one-size-fits-all approach to the exact metrics that you should use.


3.   Create questions that help you track those metrics

When you’ve identified the type of employee engagement metrics that you would like to track, it’s time to build out your survey.

This means thinking about what questions you’re going to ask to find out the information you’re looking for.

A quick Google search should give you a lot of options to choose from. If you’re struggling, or pressed for time, this article by Vantage Circle goes through 50 of the best employee engagement survey questions to ask.

Employee engagement surveys usually call for both open and closed questions to ensure the most accurate responses. Open questions provoke a broad response when asked, like ‘What is the thing you like most about working here?’ or ‘Tell me more about your cat’. Closed questions are the opposite and tend to elicit basic yes/no answers, for example, ‘Do you enjoy working here?’ or ‘Your cat is called Truffles-Snuggle-Wuffle the Third, aren’t they?’

To get more nuanced qualitative answers, you could also ask employees to rate how much they agree with a set of statements from 1 to 5. Example statements include:

  • I would recommend [organisation] as a good place to work
  • I know what I need to do to be successful in my role
  • I understand the company mission and values
  • My manager motivates our team
  • My manager provides feedback and recognition regularly
  • I have access to the systems/tools that I need to do my job well
  • I have access to the training/education that I need to do my job well
  • I believe I can progress my career at [organisation]
  • I'm proud to work for [organisation]

A mix of statements, yes/no questions, and free-form questions can be a great way to get a broad range of qualitative and quantitative feedback for your report.

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4.   Get management buy-in and release the survey

Once you’ve gathered your list of questions and had it signed off by senior management, you’re ready to release the survey.

At this stage, it’s important to think carefully about how you’re going to tell other people about why this survey is important, what you aim to find out from it and how it will benefit the business, too.

Everyone in the workplace will have a part to play in making sure that your engagement survey is a success, from the senior management who’ll be overseeing the strategic implementation, to the line managers who’ll be trying to get their teams to complete the survey on the ground, and to the employees themselves, who’ll be filling it in.

This means that it’s essential you get as much buy-in from workplace stakeholders as possible. Doing so now will help you massively in the long run.


5.   Address findings of the survey

The next step is one of the most critical to building your strategy: analysing your employee engagement findings.

With the survey sent out, and the results in, it’s time to sift through the data and try to get an accurate picture of findings that you can use to form the foundation of your overall strategy.

Look for patterns, things in common and similarities in responses, as well as reading between the lines to think about what’s implied by what isn’t said. Examining your data critically like this will help you to build an awareness of the current health of employee engagement in your workplace.


6.   Use this knowledge to build your strategy

Next is the most difficult part – condensing your findings and solutions into a readable, practical document that you can share with others in the organisation to inform their approach to employee engagement and to work towards.

PepTalk has a great free employee engagement strategy template that you can use to inform your own efforts.

That said, the exact way that you build it, and the form of the strategy itself, will depend on the internal policies, templates and conventions of your organisation.

It bears repeating that an employee engagement strategy shouldn’t be a fossilised museum piece that’s never touched. It should be a working document that you use regularly and update periodically so that it’s always relevant to the current needs of your organisation. Don’t be afraid of revisiting it every once in a while and tweaking aspects of it.


There you have it: a 7-step plan to create your own employment engagement strategy. Keep all of the above steps in mind and you should find that creating an engagement strategy is less daunting than it first appears.

Good luck with implementing it in your workplace!


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