21 Best Employee Engagement Strategies To Use [In 2024]

Written by Neelie Verlinden
16 minutes read

Engaging employees is one of the major challenges for human resource departments today. Unhappy and unmotivated employees can drag down the workplace’s productivity, enthusiasm, and energy levels. By implementing effective employee engagement strategies, you can create a work environment that inspires staff to bring their best daily. 

To facilitate this process, we’ve compiled some of the 21 best employee engagement strategies.

What is employee engagement? 
What are employee engagement strategies?
Why is employee engagement important for the organization? 
21 Effective employee engagement strategies 

What is employee engagement? 

Employee engagement is the extent to which employees feel a passionate connection to the organization, are committed to their work, and put in the extra effort, according to AIHR founder Erik van Vulpen.

Naturally, you may wonder how much influence an external party like HR can have on someone’s intrinsic motivation. After all, we can’t read minds or truly understand what makes people tick.

Employee engagement is a two-way street. Employees must reflect on their own strengths and passions before HR can step in to support them. By asking themselves two fundamental questions—What are my talents? What do I genuinely enjoy doing?—employees gain clarity on how their skills align with their everyday work.

As Annette Franz states: “Employee engagement cannot be a strategy because engagement comes from within the employee. It’s the emotional connection or commitment that an employee has to the organization that then causes the employee to want to put forth the additional effort to ensure the organization and the brand succeed.” 

While recognizing the internal nature of employee engagement, this article will focus on the practical steps organizations can take to implement effective employee engagement strategies. 

What are employee engagement strategies?

Employee engagement strategies are the means for an organization to stimulate people’s intrinsic motivation for their work and to strengthen their commitment to the organization. 

Why is employee engagement important for the organization? 

People’s engagement, or lack thereof, significantly impacts every aspect of a business. It affects the quality of products and services, productivity, customer service, employee turnover, and overall wellbeing.

According to Gallup:

  • Global employee engagement in 2022 was at 23%.
  • 18% of the global workforce in 2022 was actively disengaged.
  • In the US, these percentages were respectively 33% and 16%.

In Europe, engagement levels vary per country, but they generally are a lot lower than in the US:

  • In the UK, 10% of the workforce is engaged, and 14% is actively disengaged. 
  • In the Netherlands, these percentages were respectively 14% and 9% 
  • In France, the numbers are even worse, 7% of the workforce is engaged, and 19% is actively disengaged.  
21 Best Employee Engagement Strategies

21 Effective employee engagement strategies 

Now let’s look at the various ways organizations – and HR in particular – can create an environment that fosters engagement. 

1. Start with a survey 

To effectively implement any initiative, assessing the current state of employee engagement within your organization is crucial. Without this understanding, you are essentially operating blindly.

Fortunately, there are reliable and scientifically-backed tools available to assist you in creating an engagement questionnaire. Alternatively, you can develop a simple survey on your own.

Once you have the results from the employee engagement survey, you can identify your priorities. For instance, if the survey indicates that employees feel undervalued and lack recognition for their work, addressing this issue may be a good starting point. On the other hand, if the survey reveals employees are dissatisfied with the available development opportunities, focusing on this area might be more appropriate.

Alternatively, it could be that employees lack the necessary materials and equipment to effectively perform their tasks or feel they are not given enough opportunities to utilize their strengths. As you can see, the insights gathered from the employee survey will guide your course of action.

Now, let’s explore various employee engagement strategies that can address different engagement areas.

2. Foster workplace autonomy 

Autonomy in the workplace comes in various forms. But while employee autonomy may vary from one company to another and even from one team to another, there are a few characteristics of workplace autonomy that we can distinguish:

  • Employees have a certain decision-making power 
  • Managers assign projects, deadlines, and guidelines, but they trust their team members to complete the job. 
  • If possible, employees decide when and where they work. 

What makes this strategy effective?

Employee autonomy is a strategy that is effective because it acknowledges that every employee has unique preferences and work styles that enable them to perform at their best. 

In essence, nobody understands what works for an individual better than themselves. As a result, employees are entrusted with the responsibility of completing tasks in a timely manner and meeting the expected quality standards.

What the stats say 

  • People are 12% more likely to report being happy with their job when they have freedom and autonomy in their work environment. 
  • One study showed that a lack of autonomy in the form of a micro-manager led to a decrease in employee morale for 68% of the respondents.  

3. Set up mentorship programs

Mentorship programs are available in various forms and sizes, but they usually share some common elements. Typically, a mentorship program involves:

  • A relationship between two (or more) individuals within an organization.
  • The objective of transferring knowledge, skills, experience, or a combination of these.
  • A duration that extends over a longer period of time.
  • Built on the foundation of trust.

These programs facilitate the transmission of valuable expertise and foster growth and development among participants.

What makes this strategy effective?

The effectiveness of this strategy stems from multiple factors. Firstly, mentors and mentees mutually benefit from their interactions and diverse experiences. 

Secondly, trust is crucial in cultivating a successful mentor-mentee relationship, fostering a stronger bond and a sense of camaraderie among colleagues. Also, establishing trust makes it easier for individuals to confide in their mentors during personal struggles or well-being issues.

What the stats say 

  • Research by the Association of Talent Development found that organizations with mentoring programs in the workplace saw 57% higher employee engagement and retention.
  • Another study found that 87% of mentors and mentees felt empowered by their mentoring relationship and developed more confidence. 

4. Involve employees in company decisions 

As Annette Franz mentioned, employee engagement is about employees’ emotional connection to the organization and their commitment. One effective way to foster this connection is involving employees in company decisions, particularly when directly impacted. Here are some methods for achieving this:

  1. Empower employees to define their goals and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).
  2. Encourage and train managers to include their teams in decision-making.

By implementing these practices, companies can enhance employee engagement and strengthen the bond between employees and the organization.

What makes this strategy effective? 

This strategy is effective because it actively involves employees in company decisions, fostering employee empowerment. Employee empowerment refers to actions, initiatives, processes, or acts that enable employees to take ownership, trust their own judgment, and make decisions. It’s no surprise that empowered employees are more engaged than those who are not.

What the stats say 

  • Gartner research shows that when employee goals align their personal needs with those of the organization their performance increases by up to 22%.  
  • Employees who feel their voices are heard are almost 5 times more likely to give their best effort. 

5. Encourage internal mobility 

Next on our list of employee engagement strategies is internal mobility

Internal mobility allows employees to explore new career paths and developmental prospects within the organization. This can include vertical and lateral moves, such as promotions, new positions, cross-team collaborations, additional projects, job shadowing, and job swaps.

What makes this strategy effective?

Internal mobility has two main benefits for organizations: 

  • It leads to considerable time- and cost-savings since you leverage the talent you already have and avoid going through an external recruitment process.
  • It increases employee retention and thus, by extension, employee engagement. 

What the stats say 

  • According to a Deloitte report, an organization experienced a 30% increase in employee engagement after introducing an internal career program to help employees learn new skills and seek alternative roles. 
  • LinkedIn’s 2020 Global Talent Trends report found that 41% of employees will likely stay longer with an organization that regularly hires from within. 

6. Make employee recognition part of your company’s DNA

Intrinsic motivation and passion are the foundation for employee engagement, as emphasized earlier in this article. However, recognition is vital to sustaining engagement. 

Employee recognition programs typically encompass three main types: peer-to-peer, leader-to-team-member, and employer-to-employee. These programs are often a combination of these different types.

What makes this strategy effective? 

The effectiveness of this strategy lies in its inclusivity. Employee recognition can be as straightforward as expressing gratitude for a job well done on a project. It allows everyone in the organization to participate and serve as role models for recognition. The best part is that it doesn’t require significant budgets or extravagant gestures.

What the stats say 

  • A Gallup/Workhuman survey found that when employees feel recognized and valued for their work, they are 56% less likely to look for a new job. 
  • The same survey found that employees who feel recognized at work are 4 times more likely to be actively engaged.

7. Create an impactful onboarding 

Onboarding might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of employee engagement strategies, yet it is an important element of your freshly hired employees’ engagement.

Welcome to the team” is a phrase that carries a lot of weight for new employees. Their pre- and onboarding experience will set the tone for the rest of their experience – and engagement – at your organization. 

The good news is that a meaningful and well-organized onboarding period can significantly impact how new hires feel about their decision to join the organization.  

What makes this strategy effective?

The effectiveness of this strategy lies in the employee onboarding process. A well-executed onboarding program sets the stage for a strong employee-employer relationship and yields positive outcomes such as improved performance, job satisfaction, retention, and engagement.

What the stats say 

  • Employees who have a positive onboarding experience are almost 3 times more likely to feel supported in their roles and improve their ability to perform their roles well.
  • According to findings from BambooHR, employees with a positive onboarding experience are 18 times more committed to their employer. 

8. Ensure fair compensation

Fair compensation is crucial in the workplace. Though there are differing opinions on whether salaries directly drive employee engagement, it is evident that providing fair compensation greatly contributes to overall satisfaction.

What makes this strategy effective?

In simple terms, this strategy is effective because it addresses the fundamental need for financial security. For most individuals, the ability to provide for oneself and one’s family is the top priority when considering employment. Having a stable income ensures that basic necessities, such as shelter and food, are met.

What the stats say

  • Research shows that employees who measure their compensation as fair tend to have higher levels of job satisfaction, motivation, and engagement.
  • Fair compensation also helps employees feel valued and respected by their employers. 

9. Offer employee incentives

Employee incentives encompass a variety of rewards, benefits, or services that employees receive in addition to their salary. They are typically used to recognize outstanding performance and enhance engagement. 

For inspiration, you can refer to our article featuring 20 employee incentive ideas.

Why is this strategy effective?

Employee incentives are often used to acknowledge individuals for their exceptional performance. Although this approach may not resonate with everyone, it can be highly fulfilling for your employees to realize that their diligent efforts are rewarded through incentives.

What the stats say

  • Well-structured incentive programs can increase employee performance by up to 44%.
  • The presence of a corporate incentive program motivated 66% of employees to remain in their job. 

10. Prioritize total wellbeing

To foster employee engagement, both employees and employers need to contribute. Employees should strive for intrinsic motivation, while employers should genuinely care for their workforce. 

One effective approach is to prioritize employees’ total wellbeing, which encompasses physical, mental, social, career, and financial aspects, as well as resilience building.

Why this strategy is effective

The effectiveness of this strategy is rooted in the fact that when individuals experience a strong sense of wellbeing, their performance improves significantly. They are more likely to excel in their work, are more resilient when faced with stress, and lead happier lives at work and in their personal lives.

What the stats say

  • A 2022 survey by the American Psychological Association found that 81% of respondents said that employers’ support for mental health will be an important consideration when they look for work in the future. 
  • 54% of employees indicated feeling tense or stressed at work due to inflation worries.

11. Provide suitable materials and equipment

To ensure optimal productivity, it is essential to provide fully functioning materials and equipment. Nothing is more frustrating than dealing with a slow or malfunctioning laptop, an unreliable internet connection, or outdated expense declaration systems. 

Even the most motivated individuals can experience a significant decrease in energy levels after fighting with their equipment for an extended period. In other words, whether working on-site or remotely, it is crucial to equip employees with decent tools and technology to facilitate seamless job performance.

What makes this strategy effective?

Providing employees with appropriate tools enhances their productivity and performance and contributes to job satisfaction and engagement. Additionally, improper or unsafe equipment in blue-collar roles can pose significant health, safety, and security risks.

What the stats say 

  • According to Gallup, only 37% of US employees say they have the materials and equipment to do their work right.
  • According to the same survey, one of the engagement elements that declined the most from 2021 to 2022 among US workers was their level of agreement that they have the right materials and equipment. 

12. Promote transparency across the organization

Transparency is crucial in an organization. People have a strong desire to understand their position, whether in relation to their individual key performance indicators (KPIs), opportunities for career growth, compensation, potential bonuses, the financial wellbeing of the company, or even the news of a team member’s departure.

Business leaders and managers are critically responsible for fostering transparency throughout the organization.

What makes this strategy effective?

Transparency creates trust, and trust helps employees to emotionally connect to the organization. High levels of trust also encourage people to feel more confident in raising issues, asking for help, or highlighting their success, all of which contribute to building engagement. 

What the stats say 

  • 96% of engaged employees trust management. 
  • According to the Edelman Trust Barometer (a survey among 33 000 people in 28 countries), 1 in 3 people don’t trust their employer. 

13. Ensure that all voices are heard 

To promote an inclusive environment where all voices are valued, it is crucial to ensure everyone’s opinions and perspectives are heard. Research indicates that feeling overlooked or ignored is a leading cause of employee attrition, as reported by Forbes

While discussing comprehensive employee engagement strategies is beyond the scope of this text, there are a few key points to consider:

  1. Encourage managers to actively engage employees, emphasizing their participation in meetings.
  2. Responsively address any concerns or issues raised by the team members.
  3. Foster emotional intelligence among management to better understand and support the needs of employees.
  4. Offer multiple communication channels to facilitate effective and open dialogue.

Organizations can create a more inclusive and engaging workplace environment by implementing these practices.

What makes this strategy effective?

Put simply, employees who feel heard are more likely to be committed to their employer, less likely to leave, and more engaged. 

What the stats say

  • According to Gallup, only 3 in 10 US employees believe their opinions count at work. 
  • A global employee survey of over 4000 employees called The Heard and the Heard-Nots found that 74% of employees claim to be more productive at work when they feel heard. 

14. Manage and set clear expectations

Managing and setting clear expectations is crucial for creating a positive work environment. It is important to communicate openly and clearly about what is expected of employees. 

A helpful tool in achieving this is a 30-60-90-day plan, which provides structure and direction for new hires and internally promoted employees. This plan covers various aspects, including company culture, processes, and expectations, ensuring everyone is on the same page.

What makes this strategy effective?

Benefits of a 30-60-90-day plan for new hires include:

  • It clarifies their role and ensures that they understand their responsibilities and deliverables.
  • It helps new employees manage their time effectively by providing focus and direction for their tasks during the first 90 days.

For internally promoted employees benefits include: 

  • The plan sets clear expectations aligned with high-level objectives.
  • It serves as a clear reminder of priorities, empowering employees to self-manage their work and supporting goal setting.

What the stats say

  • In the US, 48% of employees know what is expected of them at work, according to Gallup.
  • A LinkedIn Learning survey found that managers with unclear or frequently changing expectations were the most frustrating for employees.

15. Conduct stay interviews

Although underutilized in employee engagement strategies, stay interviews can yield valuable insights regarding employee retention. Conducting these interviews allows organizations to gather feedback, enabling them to enhance both employee satisfaction and engagement.

What makes this strategy effective?

According to this insightful Forbes article, rather than relying on guesswork to determine what influences employee retention, it is more effective to directly gather feedback from the employees themselves.

What the stats say 

  • A 2021 Gallup survey found that 52% of voluntarily departing employees said their manager or organization could have done something to prevent them from leaving their job.
  • Stay interviews can improve turnover by 20% or more. 

16. Adopt a career lattice approach 

The career lattice approach is gaining popularity as an alternative to traditional vertical career progression. Moving up the corporate ladder was the only option available to employees in the past, but now the landscape is evolving.

In the career lattice framework, employees can pursue vertical, horizontal, and diagonal moves within and outside their organization. 

This approach offers various career opportunities that individuals can explore based on their ambitions, life stage, and organizational requirements. It provides a more adaptable and dynamic approach to career progression.

What makes this strategy effective?

A career lattice reflects the contemporary workplace, where opportunities are not necessarily tied to a specific job, family, or role.

What the stats say

  • A 2018 Deloitte survey found that 47% of higher-educated workers said a limited career parth could get them to leave for a better opportunity.
  • 75% of Gen Z would be interested in a situation in which they could have multiple roles within one place of employment.

17. Promote from within 

Promoting from within is a straightforward but impactful employee engagement strategy. It serves as a means to openly acknowledge dedication and performance while supporting career progression.

What makes this strategy effective?

A high promotion rate usually indicates that employees are being promoted based on their performance and that the business provides ample opportunities for development and growth. This, in turn, boosts engagement.  

What the stats say 

  • Employees at companies that hire and promote more internal candidates stay 41% longer than those at companies with lower internal hiring rates.
  • A Joblist survey among 1000 US employees found that 66% preferred being managed by someone promoted internally. 

18. Consider a 360-degree feedback approach

A 360-degree feedback approach can be beneficial in gathering input from various sources to assess an individual’s work style. Rather than relying solely on a direct supervisor’s perspective, this method offers a more comprehensive and unbiased viewpoint, resulting in a more balanced assessment.

What makes this strategy effective?

The 360-degree feedback strategy is a highly effective employee engagement approach. It offers a comprehensive perspective and focuses on employee development. By gathering feedback from supervisors, peers, subordinates, and external stakeholders, it provides a complete view of employee performance. 

This helps employees gain insights into their impact on others and identify areas for improvement. Additionally, it encourages self-awareness by comparing an employee’s self-perception with others’ perceptions, fostering personal accountability and growth.

Furthermore, the 360-degree feedback process improves communication and collaboration within teams and organizations. It promotes trust and transparency as employees receive feedback from various sources. This leads to enhanced teamwork and engagement. 

What the stats say 

19. Shift to agile performance management 

Agile performance management is a continuous and collaborative way of evaluating employees and supporting their growth. It has four key pillars: 

  • Continuous learning 
  • Frequent check-ins
  • Building trust 
  • A sense of connection to the work community. 

What makes this strategy effective?

Agile performance management focuses on employee development as well as the development of the organization as a whole. Thanks to this, employees are more engaged and tend to stay with the company for longer. 

What the stats say 

  • 9 out of 10 managers are unhappy with how their company conducts (traditional) performance reviews.
  • 55% of employees say that the yearly reviews in the current shape don’t improve their performance.  

20. Provide resilience training 

Resilience training in the workplace refers to equipping employees with the ability to effectively respond to pressure, overcome challenges, identify viable solutions, and convert obstacles or mistakes into valuable learning experiences. 

By offering resilience training, organizations empower their employees to maintain optimism, confidence, and energy when facing adversity and occupational stress.

What makes this strategy effective?

Building resilience through various methods helps individuals feel more in control and confident in their roles. It also encourages them to seek support from colleagues during challenging situations, fostering a more supportive work environment.

What the stats say

  • One report found that 94% of employees who participated in resilience training had a more positive perception of and commitment to their employer.
  • 85% of participants in Siemens’ resilience training said they would recommend the program to others.

21. Create a well-structured offboarding process

Having a well-designed and effective offboarding process plays a vital role in employee engagement strategies. It is often underestimated, but the treatment of departing employees is of utmost importance.

Imagine this situation: A dedicated employee, who has been with your company for two years, witnesses a fellow colleague resign and immediately gets escorted out without any exit interviews or expressions of gratitude. How would this impact their perception of the organization and their engagement levels?

What makes this strategy effective?

A thoughtful and well-structured offboarding process demonstrates to both the departing employee and those who remain that you value them as individuals and appreciate the time and effort they have invested in your organization.

What the stats say 

  • Almost 40% of employees would consider working for their former employer. A positive offboarding experience plays a key role in this. 
  • 71% of organizations have no formal offboarding process

Key takeaway

Organizations and HR can take actions to enhance people’s intrinsic motivation and foster their commitment to the organization. This article presents 21 effective strategies for employee engagement, which provide guidance on how organizations can achieve this goal.

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Neelie Verlinden

Neelie Verlinden is a digital content creator at AIHR. She’s an expert on all things digital in HR and has written hundreds of articles on innovative HR practices. In addition to her writing, Neelie is also a speaker and an instructor on several popular HR certificate programs.

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