Employee engagement has experienced a downward trend since 2020, and as of 2022, only 32% of employees report being engaged in the workplace. In 2020, COVID-19 disrupted workforces and left many industries forever changed. Companies that address that change by focusing on culture and employee well-being also have a roadmap for how to improve employee engagement.
Of course, the idea that company culture and employee well-being drive business results is nothing new. Many enterprises are trying to tackle these issues, but fall short due to limited resources, lack of leadership buy-in, or low team member participation. Employee incentive programs can be a viable option, as they are relatively easy to implement and drive small changes that reach the entire workforce.
The Levels of Employee Engagement
Often, employee engagement is treated as an absolute. Either employees are successfully engaged, or they’re actively disengaged. But that overlooks the largest segment of the workforce—individuals who are simply not engaged.
These employees are active, enthusiastic participants in their workplace. They enjoy their work and understand how to do it effectively. Gallup reports that only 32% of employees fall into this group.
Disengaged employees do the bare minimum. They have no genuine connection to their work and will have low productivity as a result. These individuals will not participate in company initiatives or get to know their peers. About 17% of employees fall into this group, according to Gallup.
Employees who aren’t engaged are not synonymous with employees who are actively disengaged. They’re simply average performers who show no significant workplace problems, but they’re also unlikely to go above and beyond. This category comprises about 51% of the workforce.
The category with the most potential for improvement is employees who are not engaged. Companies should focus on these individuals rather than targeting their relatively small pool of disengaged team members who would be very difficult to convert. An employee who is not engaged has not chosen one extreme or another—yet. The small things a company does will affect whether they eventually become engaged or actively disengaged employees.
How to Improve Employee Engagement: Examples to Emulate
The best way to gather ideas on how to address employee engagement is to look at the companies that excel in it. Gallup’s 2022 Exceptional Workplace Awards provide a great list of companies to emulate. On average, these businesses report 70% of their workforce as engaged. They also provide great examples of how any company can improve overall culture and employee happiness.
Connecting business and purpose
Engaged employees, by definition, are ones that feel connected to their work. Modern employees are concerned with issues outside of their day to day tasks. They want to see how their work connects to a larger purpose.
Verizon, which made Gallup’s Exceptional Workplace list for the second time, makes a point of tying its offering to a greater overall purpose; “We deliver the promise of the digital world by enhancing the ability of humans, businesses, and society to do more new and do more good.”
That statement resonates with team members because it connects the work they do every single day with the goal of the company. That kind of connection sets the foundation for engagement.
Giving back to the community
Sixteen-time Gallup award winner Hendrick Health has an extensive community involvement program that allows its employees to get involved with causes like Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, The United Way, Meals on Wheels, and others. Such a program is particularly powerful for a nonprofit that typically draws in employees who want to give back.
Charitable campaigns are great for driving engagement because they instill a sense of community and purpose in the company. Enterprises who aim these efforts at the local community, through food drives, outreach projects, or donation campaigns tie their companies to the community where their employees live.
Recognizing and supporting employees
The companies that topped Gallup’s list all had strong employee recognition programs in place. This is not a surprise, as recognition ties closely to performance. In fact, Gallup-Workhuman reports that employees who receive recognition are 4x as likely to be engaged at work than those who don’t.
This is something we’ve seen firsthand at Tango Card, by companies that adopt our recommendations for developing an employee appreciation strategy. When working with a small wellness program, our gift card API allowed the company to provide fast, visible, and thoughtful incentives. Overall, it reported a 20% increase in engagement following the adoption of our solution.
Improving engagement means taking measured, meaningful steps that address the culture and the employees’ connection to their purpose. With Reward Link®, you can do just that by offering team members thoughtful digital gift cards and letting them choose from over 100 of the most popular brands in the world.
If you’re ready to tackle employee engagement, request a demo to see how our program supports a thoughtful, employee-focused strategy.
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Cindy is passionate about the incentive industry. In addition to her role as Director of Channel Marketing here at Tango Card, she is a Certified Professional of Incentive Management who proudly serves on two industry boards. When she’s not working, Cindy enjoys spending time with her family—including three cats, two dogs, and a horse—and sharing her love of nature as a Nebraska Master Naturalist.