Combating Employee Disengagement
Andrii Spy_k/

5 Tips To Improve Employee Engagement

According to Gallup’s State of the American Workplace survey, which used data collected from more than 195,600 U.S. employees, only 33% of employees are engaged at work. This means more than half of your employees are disengaged! Disengaged employees are less likely to go the extra mile to achieve success. They're unlikely to recommend the company's product and/or services. Their performance is likely to have a negative impact on your business's success as they aren't invested in your organizational goals. So what can you do to combat disengagement and ensure that employees are engaged?

Check out the following 5 tips that are based on psychological, neuroscience, and behavioral research to help engage your employees.

1. Recognize Accomplishments

Reward and recognize employees for their accomplishments on a weekly or monthly basis. People want to know they’re being appreciated for their efforts and feel good about what they’re doing.

This goes back to evolutionary psychology—people run toward pleasure or rewards. They run away from threats (i.e., the caveman running away from the mountain lion). People run toward things that give them pleasure, such as social acceptance, love, and even food.

Studies have also shown that recognition, more than monetary rewards, engage and motivate people. In fact, the Harvard Business Review published a survey showing recognition for high performers has a bigger impact than linking pay to corporate goal achievement.

  • 72% of respondents said that recognition given to high performers was important to employee engagement.
  • 70% said individuals need to have a clear understanding of how a job contributes to strategy.

So the top two most impactful employee engagement drivers had nothing to do with extrinsic or monetary rewards.

2. Make Goals Concrete

Each month tie the projects that employees are working on to your company goals. Make it clear that the work your employees are doing has a real impact on business operations and the ability to help the company reach future benchmarks. This way people see that what they are doing is tied to the strategy of the company, which is consistent with the research from Harvard Business Review.

When individuals have a clear understanding of how their jobs make a real contribution to company strategy, they become more engaged and connected to the company. This goes back to research done on intrinsic motivation, which has proven to last longer than extrinsic motivation.

In self-determination theory, people are more likely to engage in and sustain behavior change when they see that their behavior is consistent with their goals, the behavior is part of their identity and the behavior feels good.

Career Coach Emily Eliza states in the following article (on employee training and development) [1]:

If managers can guide employees to connect their individual purpose back to the work they do every day, and even better, back to the company mission, they’ll be drawing from the deepest source of motivation. Purpose is the greatest driver for both impact and fulfillment.

3. Invest In Employee Training And Development

Speaking of training and development, millions of employees never reach their full potential due to missing skills and a lack of knowledge. It's up to a company to assess the issues and provide meaningful training and development programs to their employees.

Training and developing employees can lead to a higher retention rate, deeper employee engagement, less oversight needed by managers, more information sharing and, best of all, showing positive bottom-line changes to the business after training [2].

In fact, LinkedIn’s Workplace Learning Report found that 94% of employees would be willing to stay longer with a company that invested in their careers. You can make use of Learning Management Systems [3] to help with the training and developing of employees.

4. Host Employee Check-Ins

Host monthly or quarterly lunches with your team where people can connect and enjoy the company of their team.

These breaks help to foster a sense of community and strengthen the identity of the team. Going back to the self-determination theory, these lunches make working together a part of the team’s identity. They also make the behavior feel good, again increasing engagement and sustaining behavior change.

5. Collect Feedback

Each week in a team discussion have each member of the team talk about one thing that worked well the past week and one thing that could be improved. The discussion encourages feedback between your team and you—so you continue to see progress. This way the team keeps doing things that worked while improving other areas [4]. Additionally, you can make use of questionnaires [5], such as pulse surveys or employee feedback surveys, to help collect additional insight from your employees. The regular feedback becomes the prompt or trigger for continued behavior change.

BJ Fogg, a Stanford professor who founded Persuasive Tech Lab, describes the importance of a prompt in the Fogg Behavior Model. This model shows that three elements must converge at the same time for a behavior to occur: motivation, ability, and prompts.

When a behavior does not occur, at least one of those three elements is missing. Creating a regular feedback loop provides the prompt. Talking about what worked and still needs to be improved in a social setting provides the motivation. Most people want to feel valued by their peers and will work toward the goal of being socially valued in their communities.


[1] Employee Training And Development (From A To Z)

[2] Why Job Management Software Training is Good for Your Business

[3] The 20 Best Learning Management Systems (2019 Update)

[4] The 19 Most Popular Design Feedback Tools for Creative Projects

[5] Questionnaire: Types, Definition, Examples & How To Design Your Own