6 Practical Employee Engagement Strategies with High Returns

10 min read

When it comes to measuring the success and growth of your business, what metrics do you consider?

Is employee engagement one of them? If it isn’t, then you need to know that high employee engagement can make a business 22 percent more profitable

To add to that, a study from Gallup reveals how disengagement can lead to a 15 percent downfall in profits. Which is why improving employee engagement should be at the heart of your business strategy discussions.

A lot of companies have begun to notice the correlation between employee engagement and the success of their business. So much so, they’re willing to allocate a large part of their operating costs to worthwhile measures for boosting employee engagement and retention.

In fact, active employee engagement within an organization is viewed as a competitive advantage in the contemporary business world. Having said that, businesses are now also competing with each other in terms of innovation in driving higher employee engagement.

It may seem strange but it’s becoming the new reality given the high priority placed on employee engagement. However, investing large amounts of money for engagement ideas and activities may not be feasible for startups and small businesses. 

As the owner of a small business, you have to be frugal and cautious with your expenses. Does that mean small businesses stand no chance to drive high engagement? 

Of course not! 

Achieving high engagement has less to do with the cost and more with how smart and creative your engagement strategies are.

In this blog, we look at some of the most practical and impactful employee engagement strategies that won’t cost you a dime and guide your business to success.

 Without further ado, let’s get started!

1. Promote a Sense Of Belonging

Winning over your employees through loyalty and trust is key to attracting high levels of engagement in them. 

However, that isn’t going to happen unless employees feel that they are a vital and valuable part of your team. How can you achieve this? By fostering a sense of belonging among your employees. When they have a strong feeling of belongingness, they’ll want to play an active role in your company’s growth.

A study conducted by  Harvard Business Review confirms this by revealing how a sense of belonging among employees can enhance their job performance by 56 percent. 

Isn’t it amazing how feeling belonged can significantly increase efficiency? 

It goes without saying that promoting a sense of belonging in the workforce should be a high-priority business strategy. Valuing your employees’ sense of well-being can increase their performance. 

However, the real question is, “What does it take to promote a sense of belonging among employees?”

Well, you can inspire belongingness in your team in the following ways :

  • Be approachable to your employees at all times by having an open-door policy
  • Seek your employees’ opinions and ideas when deliberating on decisions 
  • Value and celebrate workplace diversity 
  • Acknowledge their effort, persistence, and initiatives 
  • Build positive relationships with your team members 
  • Deliver on employee expectations of a safe and positive working environment 
  • Play a mentor’s role in the workplace to guide your employees 
  • Have a better understanding of your employees’ capabilities and backing them up when necessary
  • Exhibit a macro-management style of business leadership 
  • Care for the well-being of your employees by offering wellness initiatives or health insurance
  • As you can see, there are many ways to cultivate a sense of belonging in the workplace. The list above is just the tipping point but you can keep looking for unique ideas to foster the relationship between your employees and organization.

 Friendly reminder: Communication is key. In order to cultivate an employee’s sense of belonging, you have to let them know that they are valuable to your business and show you have complete faith in their abilities. The stronger the sense of belonging the greater their loyalty and commitment will be.

2. Cultivate Workplace Empathy

As humans, we have the tendency to feel happy and comfortable around people who understand our emotions. 

To manage our focus, productivity, and state of mind, we seek emotional support from the people around us who we trust the most. This is why empathy is such a desirable trait in the workplace to have especially during COVID times.

As workplace stress is on the rise and the pandemic has triggered uncertainty on a global scale, empathy in the workplace has become more desirable than ever.

The State of Workplace Empathy Report, reveals how 72 percent of employees feel that empathy from managers is vital to their motivation. In fact, 84 percent of CEOs also believe that empathy is key to achieving better business results. 

As you can see, a large majority of employees and employers hold workplace empathy in high regard. Making genuine efforts to understand the emotions of your employees and offer them the necessary support goes a long way in building engagement. A culture built on empathy helps employees overcome negative emotions, leave behind insecurities, and stay engaged in their work.

In fact, most remote workers report that the lack of emotional support and socialization is a big struggle for them. By showing more empathy and concern, you can help them overcome their emotional vulnerabilities. 

Looking beyond business benefits, as a manager or business leader, you have a responsibility to care for your workforce.  By doing so, your workforce will respond by having greater loyalty, team spirit and diligence. Caring for your employees and spreading happiness in the workplace is still tax-free after all!

3. Extend Appreciation

Appreciating employees for their efforts doesn’t always mean that you have to offer them fancy rewards or monetary incentives. 

Appreciation is a feeling that can simply be expressed by kind words. As a business leader, you probably already know the correlation between recognition and motivation. When you appreciate your employees for their excellence and persistent hard work, they respond with greater motivation. 

To confirm this, Deloitte reveals how recognition and appreciation from employers and managers can enhance productivity and engagement in employees by 14 percent!

To add to that, a report from the SHRM Foundation reveals how recognition can upscale retention rates by 63 percent. Guess how much it’s going to cost to drive these positive changes? Answer: Absolutely nothing! 

To show appreciation, you can congratulate your employees on their achievements and commitment in person or via video. It’ll make a world of difference to their confidence. If you want to be more creative you can also leave a small handwritten note on their desk or write them a recommendation on LinkedIn.

Additionally, expressing appreciation through social media shoutouts or internal newsletters can work as well. 

As you can see, there are a lot of creative ways to show appreciation to your employees that cost nothing!

4. Encourage Mental Health Breaks

Did you know that Nike recently offered a week-long mental health break to its staff at its corporate headquarters in Oregon? 

Offering employees the perfect opportunity to rejuvenate, reboot, and realign with the company’s objectives. Workplace mental health issues are real and it’s great that the corporate world is finally addressing them. 

We all can take inspiration from Nike and offer mental health breaks. 

When it comes to mental health, it’s less about the length of the break and more about the culture that holds greater significance. It doesn’t matter if the break is one day or a week long. What matters is that companies need to show employees that they care for their mental health by offering them in the first place.

In today’s business world, an organization’s sensitivity to its employees’ mental wellness is a key determinant of engagement and retention. 

A recent article by Forbes states how 51 percent of employees have witnessed burnout situations this year.

Needless to say, business organizations need to do something about these alarming burnout rates before disengagement and turnover rates climb to new records. Having said that, mental health breaks along with other mental wellness programs can be a perfect response.

5. Offer workplace flexibility to employees

In this innovative virtual era we live in, employees look forward to workplace flexibility from their employers.

 They want to leverage the ongoing technological advances and remote job culture to enjoy a better work-life balance. Having said that, employees seek flexibility in terms of working hours, working styles and optimal tools to bring their A-game to the company. Needless to say, engagement and retention go hand in hand.

In fact, speaking of millennials and Gen Y workers, flexibility is among the most appealing inclusions in company culture for attracting the highest engagement. 

As per Flex Jobs65 percent of employees desire permanent remote work. Besides, 51 percent of employees state that flexibility and remote work have optimized their work efficiency. 

There are various credible surveys and reports that hint at the fact that flexible working arrangements are becoming crucial for driving engagement and retention. Having said that, you should add more flexibility to your work culture. Otherwise, you may end up losing out on the competitive advantage that other businesses may offer. For example, make it easy for new employees to pick up shifts, using the Shift Map & Job Board by Evolia. 

Recommended Reading: How to Successfully Implement 24/7 Schedules in Your Workplace

6. Initiate a tradition of gratitude in the workplace 

Gratitude is such an underrated emotion in the workplace, isn’t it? 

Most employers and managers feel that whatever employees do for the organization is a part of their jobs. As a result, they don’t see a need to thank their employees for their contributions. However, the truth is that a simple act of thankfulness can do wonders in terms of inspiring active engagement in employees. 

According to Cicero Group, more than 50 percent of workers suggest that gratitude from managers builds a strong foundation of trust in workplace relationships.

To add to that, PCMA reveals how 81 percent of employees assert that they would work much harder for a boss who expresses gratitude. As you can see, gratitude is not a mere obligation but a worthwhile driving force for increasing employee engagement. 

When bosses are grateful, employees are more than willing to go the extra mile. They are happy to take additional responsibilities, prioritize organizational goals and stay loyal. The best part is that saying thank you or expressing gratitude is free of cost!

All you have to do is thank your employees with a genuine smile for all that they do for your business. It will fill their hearts with happiness and give new wings to their spirits. 


Now that you know that driving high employee engagement doesn’t have to be an expensive ordeal, it leaves room for change to come your way.

The practical and result-oriented strategies listed above won’t require any major overhauls. As a result, you can ditch the high operating costs for engagement strategies to other essential areas in the workplace that matter most. 

Start your free trial today with Evolia to recruit and manage your workforce.

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