Employee Engagement Strategies Every HR and Business Owner Should Know

what is employee engagement

Find the new employee engagement tactics for changing workplace culture and demographics. 

Employee engagement starts before you think it does. 

Yes! Most of us don’t realize that it starts way before you hire a new employee. 

Engagement happens back and forth. You should be able to gauge whether the employee is responding to what you have to offer. 

It’s especially true with the current talent pool. 

If you look at your current startup or organization, you might have observed that the workforce is only getting younger. 

A majority of young employees lack a strong sense of connection with their colleagues, supervisors, or employers. They are also the most stressed cohort compared to the previous generations. 

So, be it a startup or a large organization, you should focus on your employee engagement to increase workplace efficiency. 

Here’s a peek into this topic

  1. What is employee engagement, and why should you care?
    • Why employee engagement is important
  2. 3 types of employees you have in your workplace
  3. Who is responsible for employee engagement?
  4. 7 Employee Engagement Strategies for Startups and Enterprises
    • Encourage Autonomy and Empowerment
    • Solicit Employee Feedback and Act on It
    • Recognize Their Work
    • Provide Clear Goals and Expectations
    • Engage Remote Employees
    • Hire Competent Leaders and Managers
    • Consider Team-building Activities
  5. Understanding Gen Z – The youngest of the workforce
  6. What are the 5Cs of Employee Engagement?
  7. Employee engagement models – Learn from the best ones out there!
    • The Zinger Model
    • The Gallup Model
    • The AON-Hewitt Model
    • The Kahn Model
    • The Maslow Model

What is employee engagement, and why should you care?

Employee engagement refers to the commitment of employees toward their workplace. 

You can identify their engagement by understanding their thoughts, enthusiasm, and motivation toward work and the company. It is one of the top-most strategies to run a business effectively. 

Why employee engagement is important

Employees who go the extra mile are rare to find, and they add more value to your business and bring in more customers. 

Whether you’re a small business owner, a C-suite leader of an organization, or an HR, it pays to ensure that your team is motivated and engaged. Otherwise, you’d risk losing your company revenue and productivity or losing your employees to your competition. 

Here are a few benefits of employee engagement that every manager should know about:

  1. Better engagement drives higher productivity
  2. Teams that are highly engaged foster cross-team collaboration
  3. Employees who are engaged enough would feel less stressed compared to the ones who are disengaged
  4. Better employee engagement, the higher the retention
  5. Employees who are actively engaged care more about the company and clients
  6. Avoid absenteeism, which can reduce average costs incurred by a missed workday

The best way to engage your employees is to understand what they seek from their current role. This helps you find ways to retain your top talent. 

You can also find a detailed guide on the right employee management tools and how they can help your organization. 

3 types of employees in your workplace

There’s no doubt that a positive employee experience significantly influences company operations. But you might have observed some people are definitely hard to work with.

Some individuals may possess an inflated sense of their knowledge and abilities, accompanied by traits like aggressiveness, ignorance, irritability, and a tendency to be dishonest or selfish in their pursuit of goals. These characteristics can make them challenging to collaborate with, and others simply don’t enjoy their company. 

Unfortunately, their presence can create a negative atmosphere at work, which inevitably impacts the performance and morale of those around them. It’s essential to be mindful of these personalities and their effects on the team dynamic and overall workplace harmony.

A report by Gallup determined that every organization has employees that come under one of the three engagement levels:

  1. Engaged
  2. Actively engaged
  3. Actively disengaged

Sure! In a workplace, you’ll come across three types of employees: the engaged, the disengaged, and the actively disengaged. Let me break them down for you:

Engaged Employees:

These are the rockstars of the workplace! Engaged employees are fully invested in their jobs. They feel passionate about their work, take pride in what they do, and actively contribute to the success of the team and the company. You’ll find them going above and beyond, taking initiative, and spreading positive vibes around the office. They’re often motivated, enthusiastic, and always striving to improve themselves and the organization.

Disengaged Employees:

We all have those days when we’re not feeling as pumped about work. Disengaged employees experience this more often. They might show up, do the bare minimum, and lack enthusiasm or interest in their tasks. They may feel disconnected from the company’s goals or not see how their efforts contribute to the bigger picture. While they’re not causing major disruptions, their lack of engagement can impact team morale and overall productivity.

Actively Disengaged Employees:

These are the troublemakers. Actively disengaged employees are the ones who are not just unenthusiastic about their work but might actively spread negativity. They may openly express their discontent, complain frequently, and show little regard for teamwork or company values. Their attitude can be toxic, affecting team dynamics and even leading to a decline in productivity and employee satisfaction.

You should recognize and address these different levels of engagement in the workplace. 

Who is responsible for employee engagement?

Often, HRs are made responsible for “figuring out” how to engage the employees. But the truth is from the senior leadership team to HR to the employee himself, everyone plays a role in employee engagement. 

Here’s a table to help you understand the roles and responsibilities of leaders in employee engagement.

A table showing the key people who are responsible for employee engagement within the organization.

Who is responsible for employee engagement?

7 Employee Engagement Strategies for Startups and Enterprises

Choosing the right and effective employment strategies is crucial to long-term success. Here are some ways to engage your employees at work.

Senior Leaders or Founding team (in the case of the startup)HRManagerIndividual employee
Responsible for coaching, one-on-ones, feedback, action planning

Set vision and strategy - address the “why”

Invest and support engagement activities and action plans through resources, budget, and communication
Help senior leaders define “why”

Connect employee engagement to business KPIs

Set systems, choose easy-to-use employee management software

Build a communication strategy among leaders, managers, and employees

Coach teams and be a go-to source when an obstacle arises
Create a safe space for feedback and discussions

Review, discuss, and act on the results

Stay accountable for action planning and progress

Should have a clear understanding of organizational needs and support these efforts through team management
Share feedback through communication with managers, HR, and leaders

Contribute to tangible ideas and solutions

Support team through their actions

Encourage Autonomy and Empowerment

Give employees the autonomy to make decisions and have control over their work. Empowering employees to take ownership of their responsibilities promotes a sense of accountability and engagement in them.

Solicit Employee Feedback and Act on It

Regularly seek feedback from employees through surveys, suggestion boxes, or one-on-one conversations. Act on the feedback and communicate any changes or improvements based on their input. When employees see that their opinions are valued, it enhances their sense of belonging and commitment to the organization.

Recognize Their Work

Many employees feel they lack recognition for their efforts, leading to reduced productivity and potentially undesirable behavior. If you continue doing that, skilled employees will seek better opportunities elsewhere.

To address this, create a recognition-rich environment in your workplace or organization. Rewarding good work with perks, incentives, and appreciation can make employees feel valued.

Also, you should aim to align the recognition with the organization’s mission and goals to guide the workforce effectively.

Provide Clear Goals and Expectations

Employees need to know what is expected of them and how their contributions align with the company’s objectives. Set clear goals and provide regular feedback on their progress. When employees understand how their work contributes to the bigger picture, they feel a sense of purpose and are more engaged.

Engage Remote Employees

It’s clear that remote working is here to stay, so keep them engaged and connected through communication. 

You can increase employee engagement among remote teams by:

  1. Hosting virtual events
  2. Ensure the team feels heard and appreciated
  3. Encourage personal connections
  4. Gamify your work
  5. Trust building initiatives

When your remote team is not engaged, they also lack passion for the company’s vision or goals and feel unhappy and unappreciated.

Hire Competent Leaders and Managers

This is a no-brainer if you have followed the previous table. Your secret to employee engagement is your leaders and competent managers. Prioritize hiring a capable manager who can effectively engage employees. Before making a decision, take the time to review their professional background and assess if they are well-suited for the challenging role ahead. Remember, the right manager can greatly impact employee engagement and team performance.

Consider Team-building Activities

Enhance employee engagement and foster a positive work culture with team-building activities. You can consider these ideas:

Trust building exercises: “Human Knot” or “Trust Fall” to strengthen bonds.

Communication challenges: Activities to boost effective communication and collaboration.

Problem-solving tasks: “Escape the Room” or “Mars Mission” for teamwork.

Outdoor bonding: Hiking, camping, or adventure activities outside the office.

Creative fun: Painting competitions, singing events, or other creative challenges.

Don’t forget to choose activities that interest your team and align with your engagement goals.

Understanding Gen Z – The youngest of the workforce

You might be wondering why we are emphasizing getting to know the Gen Z workforce. Remember, we kicked off this article by acknowledging that the workplace is becoming younger. Well, the youngest workforce is the dynamic Gen Z. So, if we want to boost employee engagement, understanding them is the key!

Gen Z has its own unique set of values like frugality, equality, and creativity. This means they might question you about the importance of certain tasks or ask you some unexpected questions during your training sessions, which could be new to you in the first place. 

Unlike older generations who were content with sitting through training sessions, taking notes, and absorbing information, Gen Z tends to start by asking why they need to go through it all. Now, don’t let that throw you off. It’s just a reflection of their core values and how they make decisions.

In such cases, try taking a broader perspective. Explain the goals and requirements to your team and how it aligns with your organization’s mission, values, and future vision. Show them how their specific role fits into the company’s bigger picture.

The good news is that when you provide solid reasoning, Gen Z employees are more likely to actively embrace them and strive for excellence.

What are the 5Cs of Employee Engagement?

If you’re an HR, or a manager, or an entrepreneur, you should know these 5Cs to foster employee engagement. 

The 5 Cs of employee engagement are a set of principles that contribute to fostering a highly engaged workforce. These Cs are:


Building strong connections and relationships between employees and the organization is essential for engagement. It involves creating a sense of belonging and community within the workplace, where employees feel valued and supported by their colleagues and leaders.


Employee commitment refers to employees’ dedication and loyalty toward the organization. When employees feel committed, they are more likely to go the extra mile and invest their time and efforts in contributing to the company’s success.


Effective communication is crucial for engagement. Open and transparent communication ensures that employees are well-informed about the company’s goals, values, and changes that may impact their work. It also allows for feedback and two-way dialogue, making employees feel heard and valued.


Employees need to feel that their contributions are meaningful and recognized. When they see the impact of their work on the organization’s success and receive acknowledgment for their efforts, it fosters a sense of purpose and motivation.


Providing employees with a sense of control over their work and the ability to make decisions empowers them to take ownership of their responsibilities. Autonomy and empowerment lead to higher levels of engagement and job satisfaction.

These 5 Cs help your organization create an environment where employees feel connected, committed, and motivated to give their best effort, resulting in improved productivity, satisfaction, and overall success.

Employee engagement models – Learn from the best ones out there!

There are many to choose from. Let me explain each of these employee engagement models. 

Employee engagement models

The Zinger Model

The Zinger model emphasizes the importance of energy and enthusiasm in employee engagement. It revolves around creating an environment where they feel valued, recognized, and empowered to give their best performance. 

Here are the 12 key guiding principles of Zinger’s model that drive high employee engagement.

Meaningful Work: Ensure that employees find their work meaningful and aligned with the organization’s purpose and values.

Strengths-Based Approach: Focus on leveraging employees’ strengths and talents to maximize their potential and job satisfaction.

Standout Leadership: Cultivate strong leadership that inspires, supports, and empowers employees to excel.

High-Quality Connections: Encourage positive relationships and teamwork, fostering a collaborative and supportive work environment.

Growth and Development: Provide opportunities for professional growth and development to enhance employees’ skills and career prospects.

Employee Well-Being: Prioritize employee well-being, both physical and mental, to create a healthy and positive workplace.

Play and Creativity: Encourage a playful and creative work atmosphere that fosters innovation and problem-solving.

Fairness and Trust: Establish a culture of fairness, transparency, and trust, building strong relationships between employees and leaders.

Autonomy: Allow employees to have autonomy in their work, empowering them to make decisions and take ownership of their responsibilities.

Recognition and Appreciation: Acknowledge and appreciate employees’ efforts and achievements to boost morale and motivation.

Growth Mindset: Cultivate a growth mindset where challenges are seen as opportunities for learning and improvement.

Meaningful Employee Voice: Encourage and value employees’ feedback and input, involving them in decision-making and organizational improvements.

By implementing these 12 keys, organizations can create an engaged and motivated workforce, resulting in increased productivity, employee satisfaction, and overall success.

The Gallup Model

The Gallup model is all about measuring engagement by assessing employees’ emotional connection to their work and the organization. In this model, engagement is closely tied to a sense of purpose and the opportunity for personal growth. Besides, employee engagement plays a key role in driving profits.

Using this model, you assess an employee’s engagement in four common areas:

  • A strategic top-down approach to ensure that engagement is passed on from senior leaders to employees.
  • Managers would be accountable for the team’s engagement. It will also be a part of their scorecards too.
  • Leaders seize every opportunity, touchpoint, and communication channel to strengthen engagement. 
  • Comprehensive development and learning opportunities are always a part of individual and team engagement activities.

The AON-Hewitt Model

The AON-Hewitt model centers on four dimensions: Say, Stay, Strive, and Share. 

  • “Say” represents employees’ willingness to speak positively about their workplace. 
  • “Stay” reflects their commitment to staying with the company. 
  • “Strive” measures their enthusiasm to go the extra mile and give their best effort. 
  • “Share” captures their willingness to recommend the organization as an employer. 

In this model, engagement is seen as a puzzle where each dimension complements the other, leading to a holistic and impactful employee experience.

The Kahn Model

Kahn’s employee engagement model is a comprehensive framework that delves into the different dimensions of engagement experienced by employees within the workplace. It identifies three key forms of engagement: Physical, Cognitive, and Emotional engagement.

Physical Engagement: This aspect of engagement focuses on the physical presence and involvement of employees in their work. When physically engaged, employees actively participate in their tasks, show high levels of energy, and commit their efforts to achieve desired outcomes. 

Cognitive Engagement: It delves into the psychological and mental aspects of engagement. Employees who are cognitively engaged demonstrate a high level of concentration, focus, and absorption in their work. Cognitive engagement is often associated with problem-solving, creativity, and a proactive approach to tasks.

Emotional Engagement: It is all about the emotional connection that employees feel towards their work and the organization. When emotionally engaged, employees experience a strong sense of belonging, loyalty, and commitment to their team and the company. 

Kahn’s model highlights that true employee engagement encompasses these three dimensions, and organizations need to address all aspects to create a thriving and motivated workforce. 

The Maslow Model:

The Maslow model for employee engagement is based on Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, which is a psychological theory of human motivation. Maslow proposed that individuals have a hierarchy of needs that must be fulfilled in a specific order to reach self-actualization, the highest level of human potential.

The JD-R Model:

The JD-R (Job Demands-Resources) model looks at the balance between job demands and job resources. Job demands are the ones that create physical or emotional stress, while job resources are the social, physical, or psychological factors that help the employee overcome obstacles and achieve targets.  

Using this model, you need to manage demands, provide ample resources, and steer your team toward high engagement levels. 

This model emphasizes the importance of creating a supportive work environment that enables employees to handle challenges and flourish in their roles.

Each of these employee engagement models offers unique perspectives on how to foster a motivated and committed workforce. Understand these approaches to design strategies that bring out the best in your employees.

The bottom line

Now that you understand how to boost your employee engagement, strategies, and models, it’s time to get started. Since remote work isn’t going anywhere, it’s more important to reevaluate your employee’s engagement. Use the tips we mentioned to maximize the advantages of your workforce while ensuring your team remains happy, motivated, and highly productive throughout the year.

Would you like to add a few more tips to this topic? We’d love to hear from you!

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