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March 1, 2022 Amelia Wilcox

How to Understand and Increase Employee Engagement

More and more, the relationship between employer and employee is becoming a partnership rather than a hierarchy. When this relationship is treated like a partnership, employers and employees can work together to accomplish their goals better. However, this relationship depends on one key ingredient: engagement.

According to a recent study conducted by the HR Research Institute, employee engagement is defined as “an employee’s willingness to give their best work and emotional commitment to the organization and its goals.”

Measuring Engagement

To improve employee engagement within your organization, you first have to understand what the current state of employee engagement is. Many metrics can be used, but organizations with higher levels of engagement tend to use multiple approaches. The most common approach being surveys. Engagement should also be measured more than just once a year in order to stay current with employee attitudes. 

Something that can be helpful when measuring engagement is to assemble a task force and assign a point person within that task force. Since many of the metrics necessary to measure engagement are not typically found in one place, an assigned task force can ensure that these metrics are not missed. 

Some key points the appointed task force should focus on are:

  1. If and when technology should be used.
  2. How will key data points be collected and compiled so leaders and employees can understand them?
  3. What implementation techniques will be used to encourage people within the organization to take action?

For more on employee engagement statistics, check out the article 5 Employee Engagement Statistics HR Leaders Should Be Tracking.

Evaluate and Assess

Understanding your organization’s work culture is imperative to understanding engagement. It is essential to be aware if the organization’s current culture fosters or hinders engagement. Some questions that will help you understand the current state of your company’s culture are:

  1. How does the company value teamwork and differing perspectives?
  2. Are toxic practices within the managerial team allowed?
  3. Which aspects of the current work culture are aiding in improved engagement?

Once you have a grasp of the current culture, the next thing to evaluate is the company’s benefit plans, wellness programs, and flexible work arrangements. Employees across different locations and positions will have personalized needs. 

Related: The Integral Link Between Employee Engagement and Mental Health

When evaluating the benefits your organization offers, one thing to look for is to see if its offerings encourage overall wellness to avoid absenteeism. Evaluate career opportunities as well. Who are those advancing positions are given to? Do employees feel they have opportunities to grow?

How to Understand and Increase Employee Engagement—two men high fiving while other employees look and smile

Training and Growth

Now that we have discussed various ways to determine the level of engagement within your organization let’s talk about ways to improve engagement. 

One of the first things that can be done is to design a variety of manager training programs to encourage employee development. Train managers in the fundamentals of engagement as well as talent-management best practices. Managers should clearly understand performance management, the fundamentals of conflict resolutions, coaching skills, and whatever other unique needs your employees need. Also, understanding how your managerial team will learn these things best is necessary if you want that information to translate down to employees. 

Some options for training include; individual worksheets, listening to and watching videos, or hands-on learning in small or large group settings. 

Along with training, having excellent communication is another primary key to increasing engagement. Through this study, it was found that many managers do not communicate clear expectations or give employees feedback. This lack of communication resulted in a lack of trust as well as an unbalanced means of evaluating employees, awarding pay, and distributing career opportunities. 

Leaders not only need to be trained in good communication but be held to high communication standards. Consider marketing materials that showcase benefits and changes on the horizon that employees may be unaware of. Consider using “lunch and learns,” company meetings, client events, awards ceremonies, and other events to reinforce the values and behaviors the organization supports. 

Provide employees opportunities for career growth and development. Good leaders who understand their direct reports’ career goals and aspirations can positively impact employee engagement. Consider offering developmental opportunities for employees and giving them some degree of flexibility in their development. Ensure managers are trained to support employees during their career growth journey.

Getting Support

Once you have evaluated current engagement levels, consider what resources you will need to encourage effective change. Meet with senior leaders about what is needed and what experiences you feel employees should have to support their wellbeing and productivity. 

Below are some things to consider and have outlined before you meet with leadership:

  1. What tools and technology would be most helpful?
  2. Does HR need resources for training managers and communicating what is necessary to the organization?
  3. Why raising employee engagement is beneficial to the company.

For more tips on how to get support from your executive team, check out the blog post: 5 Ways HR Leaders Can Get Executive Team Support

After meeting with leadership and receiving the resources needed, consider taking a partnership approach when implementing new strategies to achieve company-wide engagement. According to this study, it is most beneficial when leaders and HR take responsibility for creating a foundation for engagement, establishing values, creating a culture of openness, and measuring engagement. 

Though leadership and HR are laying that foundation, it can only be built upon if the employees feel comfortable asking for what they need to help them engage. Such an environment should exist that employees can ask for help when they need it and have an understanding of the direction they want to take their careers. 


The research is undeniable. Employee engagement is at the top of the list for a company’s success. Implementing and understanding these strategies can set an organization’s employee engagement on an upward trajectory, which lifts the entire company. 

The key to engagement is partnership and communication. However, increasing employee engagement is possible when the aforementioned strategies are implemented in an intentional way with the employees’ best interests in mind. Report: The Future of Employee Engagement

Unsure why employees are disconnected? This 44-page report has dozens of insights on which talent-management strategies are driving employee engagement the most. No email is required!

Amelia Wilcox

Amelia Wilcox is the Founder and CEO of Nivati, a leader in corporate massage and employee mental health support since 2010. Her high-growth B2B company provides employee stress management tools that arm businesses with actionable data and positive employee experiences to improve wellbeing, boost morale, and increase engagement.

Amelia has exponentially grown her company from a solo living-room service business to an international technology brand.

Recently listed as a Forty Under 40, Fast 50, Inc 5000 Twice awarded National Woman-Owned Small Business of the Year

Licenses, Certifications & Memberships
Licensed Massage Therapist since 2002
Member of American Massage Therapy Association
Served on Utah Worksite Wellness Council from 2012-2015

Attended Utah College of Massage Therapy
Educated in Nutrition and Exercise Physiology at the University of Utah

Massage Magazine (AMTA's publication)