How to Increase Employee Engagement and Motivation

Megan Thompson · August 16, 2021

Are you wondering how to increase employee engagement and motivation day in, day out?

For most businesses, the ‘keeping staff motivated’ journey can be a bit of a roller coaster. There isn’t a magic wand to keep increase employee engagement and motivation 100% of the time.

Employee engagement is complex. It’s a bit like plate spinning – it takes skill, effort and a watchful eye to keep several plates spinning harmoniously! If you equate each plate with an employee and the wobble of that plate with demotivation, you get the picture – each needs attention at different times. Some wobbles will be worse than others and each plate may require a different spinning technique to get them going again.

That, in a nutshell, is what happens with employee engagement and motivation. It’s not a case of putting policies and practices in place, and letting the engagement process look after itself. You need to look after individual employees.

Stay with us! This analogy becomes clearer as we explore how to increase employee engagement and motivation in your business.

Walk the walk

Bosses who say one thing and do another don’t earn respect from their teams. Telling your employees that they need to stay late to meet a deadline and then slipping away early will only fuel feelings of resentment and create a sense of unfairness – it’s hardly motivating and sends a message that it’s one rule for you and another for them!

Equally, working all hours and expecting your team to do the same isn’t sending the right message (work-life balance is important). If you want your employees to work hard but smartly, be accountable, and act with integrity, then the best thing you can do as their leader is to model these attributes yourself. ‘Walking the walk’ and diving in to help will help to increase team engagement and contribute to building a culture of trust.

Increase employee engagement and motivation by giving regular constructive feedback

Giving critical feedback without demotivating someone is an incredibly delicate balancing act. BUT feedback is important – how can employees improve and grow without it? Giving regular constructive feedback should be a part of an employee’s learning and development journey. It’s not about pointing out mistakes or humiliating people in front of colleagues (which is hugely demotivating!), it’s about empowering and enabling staff to be the best they can be.

The feedback loop should be circular (i.e. employees should also be able to feedback their experience at work to you). Employee engagement surveys are the quickest way to find out what is really happening on the ground in your organisation.

Create a safe working environment

More than ever before, workplaces need to feel safe for employees. As people return to offices after a prolonged period working from home during the pandemic, they will need to know that enough is being done to mitigate virus transmission. To be productive at work, people need to feel safe. For the foreseeable future at least, safety in the office will feature as a key area in improving employee engagement.

How to Increase Employee Engagement and Motivation

Many employees will also continue to work from home either some, or all of the time – a considerable number of organisations are adopting a hybrid work model in some shape or form. It is therefore vital that employers are proactive in ensuring the health and safety of staff, both in the office and at home. Resources to help with stress and time management should also be made available. This particularly important for remote teams. While early surveys on remote workers found productivity to be high, new studies suggest people working remotely work longer, not more efficiently. Keeping tabs on the well-being of remote teams is critical if we are to avoid an epidemic of burn out.

Recognise the signs of low morale

Positivity in teams helps to enhance employee engagement and indicates morale is high. When there’s a positive vibe, people are more likely to be engaged with their work and find it easier to collaborate. Low morale, on the other hand, saps the energy out of teams and has a detrimental impact on motivation and output. It is vital for employers to recognise the signs of negativity and low morale. These include:

  • Higher rates of absenteeism
  • Reduced commitment
  • Increased staff turnover
  • Lack of creativity and initiative

Recognise achievements to increase employee engagement and motivation

To increase employee engagement and motivation it is essential that staff receive recognition for their efforts. Working extra hard on a time-critical project without getting any positive feedback or praise doesn’t exactly provoke a sentiment of enthusiasm and it certainly won’t be boosting employee engagement. It’s likely employees won’t put so much effort in next time if their efforts consistently go unrecognised.

Get to know your employees

Knowing your employees will help you to get the best out of them. It’s simple. The more you understand what makes them tick, the easier it will be to match them with relevant initiatives to improve employee engagement. Building a bond with your staff has an extraordinary impact on commitment and motivation.

Invest in personal development and career growth paths

No one really wants to be stuck in a dead-end job. When individuals feel you want to invest in them, it goes a long way towards improving staff engagement. It’s a great morale and motivational boost when a person feels valued and is supported to grow. Career development opportunities increase employee engagement and motivation.

Have clear expectations

In business, it’s important to hold employees to account. In tandem, it’s equally important to set realistic goals. Employees need to know what is expected of them and feel what they are being asked to do is achievable.

Communicate and listen

If you are serious about promoting employee engagement and increasing employee satisfaction, then you need to understand the importance of good communication and be prepared to listen. The key pillars in understanding how to increase employee engagement are:

  • Hands-on management
  • A positive work environment
  • Growth opportunities
  • Trust in leadership

How to increase employee engagement and motivation by listening and communicating

Employee engagement – how to improve with WeThrive

WeThrive’s employee experience platform gives employees and managers personal surveys for themselves to get instant feedback for improvement. Managers get access to a live overview of their team’s engagement, performance and wellbeing, so they can spot ‘wobbles’ and pick up signs of demotivation before they develop into something more serious, such as serious dips in productivity or staff leaving. If we go back to the spinning plate analogy – WeThrive acts as an extra pair of hands to prevent wobbles and keep every plate spinning smoothly!