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There’s a great quote by Campbell’s Soup CEO Doug Conant that sums up the importance of employee engagement: “to win in the marketplace, you must first win in the workplace”.

Employee engagement measures how committed employees are to your company, and how invested they are in your goals and principles. It goes beyond just being enthusiastic and passionate about work to actively taking positive action to further your organization’s reputation and interests. 

Engaged employees are key to fostering a connected workforce and creating a sense of unity among your people–improving work culture, reducing turnover, increasing productivity, and building better work and customer relationships. Ultimately, it turns your employees into your best advocates, positively impacting your bottom line and achieving common goals.

So how do you go about building a culture of engagement to keep your employees invested, motivated, and eager to contribute their best? Here are some tactics to consistently boost engagement on your team.


Build Trust and Create a Safe Space

Do your employees feel comfortable enough to admit their mistakes to you? As a leader, it’s your responsibility to create an environment of trust and psychological safety–a safe place where they can give regular feedback or speak up with their ideas, questions, and even mistakes, without embarrassment or judgment. This makes your team members feel valued, that their opinion counts for something, and they have a real and impactful role to play in the team. It also encourages a culture of curiosity because asking questions and challenging each other’s opinions or ideas is standard practice, as opposed to being looked down upon.

Cultivate a psychologically safe environment by:

  • Being vulnerable and welcoming curiosity: By the nature of your position, an expectation of leaders is to take control and provide direction. But what if you showed your team that you don’t necessarily have all the answers, and allowed them to contribute to decision-making instead? The trust fostered when leaders are curious rather than judgmental provides an anchor for psychological safety, as team members feel all opinions matter, whether they’re right or wrong.
  • Learning from challenges and mistakes: We all slip up–it’s part of everyday life. Be the leader who embraces mistakes as an opportunity for growth, in turn encouraging honesty, openness, and a culture of learning in the workplace.
  • Rewarding achievement: As humans, we naturally thrive on compliments and praise. Celebrating the wins, and even creating a recognition program, with your team is a one of the drivers of employee engagement, no matter how small they may be. It’s a great feeling for team members to know they’ve done something right, and this will help motivate your team members to work even harder and do even better in future.


So the next time conflict arises between two of your team members, take a step back. Instead of diving in with your own solution, allow them to open up and express their own opinions and ideas about the best way forward. Treat it as an opportunity to learn, and let your team take accountability for their beliefs and actions cultivating a workplace culture that allows for honest employee feedback. 

Stepping out of their comfort zone (and yours), will not only help resolve the conflict, but it’ll also reinforce that culture of mutual trust, empathy, and respect that you’re trying to instill. They’re essential ingredients for unlocking the full potential of your team and driving long-term success.


Cultivate a Sense of Purpose and Meaning

Your team’s purpose is the reason they exist, how they contribute to your organization, and their role in how they make a difference to stakeholders and customers. As their North Star, it provides a shared goal to work towards. No matter how different people may be, purpose is the tie that binds them–encouraging better team dynamics and a higher sense of belonging. When a team doesn’t understand its purpose, employee engagement is put at risk.

Create your team’s North Star with these practical steps:

  • Unite team members together to create a purpose statement: Sit down with your team to help them understand exactly what they are tasked with doing, who they’re doing it for, and how it contributes to the overall vision and goals of the organization. Then put these all down in an official team purpose statement.
  • Use your team’s purpose statement continuously: Don’t put your team's purpose statement on a shelf. Let it guide everything that you do going forward, and serve as a filter for priorities.
  • Revise your team’s purpose statement as necessary: Organizational goals can change from time to time, and how your team contributes to those goals might change as well. Make sure your purpose statement is revisited occasionally to reflect this.


Align Tasks with Interests if Possible

Our interests are a great source of energy and motivation–they make us happy, inspire us, and keep us going when times are tough. The opposite is true, too–when employees consistently do work that poorly aligns with what they enjoy, they’ll typically experience anxiety, mental fatigue, and rapidly become disengaged.

Today, employees are making a real effort to find a job they love and in which they can showcase their unique strengths for professional growth. Although it’s not always possible since interests don’t necessarily equal skill, it’s better to align your employees’ natural interests with their roles and responsibilities when you can. 

You can do this by:

  • Evaluating departmental workload and task distribution: Spend some time seeing what needs to be done and who the best person for the job is, based on interests as well as skills. If they’re both applicable, include these activities on some scale in that person’s responsibilities to improve job satisfaction.
  • Ensure assignments spark enthusiasm: Creativity and innovation are the trademarks of a successful organization. Inspire your people and encourage imaginative thinking and resourcefulness by giving them tasks best suited to their interests whenever possible. 
  • Consider interests on an individual level: Use the interests of your employees to build a better and stronger team. At Birkman, we help you uncover your own interests, as well as those of your team members. If you know someone has a low artistic interest, for example, giving them the task of creating a visually enticing presentation for an important pitch isn’t the best idea. However, if their numerical interest is high and they’re suitably qualified, involve them in the budget analysis–it’ll benefit the entire team when you hear you’ve won the client over while also allowing your employee an important professional development opportunity.


Keep a Handle on Your Employee Engagement

Through intentional effort and focus, leaders can create a team & company culture that results in a connected workforce. To ensure you’re on track, measure and monitor your employee engagement efforts at the start of your journey, and regularly along the way, too. Some methods you can try include tracking your employee productivity and retention rates, initiating coaching conversations with employees to understand exactly where they’re at, and ensuring they participate in official employee engagement surveys or assessments, such as the Amy Edmondson psychological safety survey.


However, assessing employee engagement isn’t just about data–it’s about grasping the heartbeat of your organization. And that’s where we come in. 

Get the most out of your people with our top tips above. For further insights, take a look at our eBook “The Engaged Workplace: How to Create a Winning Team Culture.”

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