Improve worker engagement in your small business

How to measure and build worker engagement.

Shape

Overview

How this helps your business

Truly engaged employees perform better because:

  • they are happy and enthusiastic
  • they pass on their enthusiasm to others through the way they talk and act with their co-workers and customers
  • they have better health
  • they are personally resourceful and resilient

On the other hand, disengaged employees cost their workplaces through higher absenteeism, lower performance and lower commitment to providing a good service.

Key stats and facts


A positive workplace culture increases employee engagement and motivation.

Albrecht, S. et al, 2015, Employee engagement, human resource management practices and competitive advantage, Journal of organizational effectiveness


Businesses with a highly engaged workforce outperform businesses with low levels of employee engagement by 20% in productivity.

Kent, K. et al, 2016, Promoting healthy workplaces by building cultures of health and applying strategic communications, Journal of occupational and environmental medicine


Workplaces with high employee engagement have better performance and increased wellbeing.

Truss, C. et al, 2013, Employee engagement, organisational performance and individual well-being: exploring the evidence, developing the theory, International journal of human resource management

Step 1

Learn more on this topic

Look at the dot points below to see what 'engagement' means in the workplace. Think about how much these points sound like your workplace.

Employer guidelines

To create engaged, healthy and productive employees, leaders need to:

  • provide a clear vision of where the organisation is going and what it stands for
  • inspire and motivate people to higher goals
  • show real interest in individual team members
  • build trust through their genuine interest and concern for others.

National Standard of Canada for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace, 2013

Step 2

Consult your staff

Since employee engagement contributes so much to business success, it makes sense to keep checking it every now and then. Surveying is one way to collect solid data on how your employees view their workplace.

Below we have some tips on things to consider when surveying staff. We've also attached some example questions and put them in a survey format that you may want to use.

Note: these questions are only examples and you can choose the questions you use depending on your workplace needs.

Tips on getting staff feedback on engagement

  • Firstly check that a survey is the best way for you to get staff feedback on engagement. Other methods like one-on-one feedback sessions or in team meetings might work better for you, depending on your organisation.
  • Surveys can be simple, as you will see in the example template we've provided below.
  • Your human resources person or team should be able to help with this process.

Step 3

Identify opportunities

From the survey (or other feedback) results you've collected, you should have a better idea of how engaged your employees are. Now you need to act on that information. Choose one of the areas that needs the most improvement.

Remember, if it seems too much, get experts involved to look at trends in the information and come up with strategies specific to the feedback and your workplace.

Step 4

Share with staff

Your employees took the time to complete the survey, so now it's important to share the results with them, whatever they might be, and let them know what you're going to do next – that is, the area you've chosen to work on and why.

Your employees can be a great source of ideas on how to improve things, so take this opportunity to ask for people to get involved in Step 5, too.

Step 5

Make a plan

Now you're ready to plan and make a start on some strategies to get people more engaged. Below are some suggestions. Think about how these might help address the area you identified in Step 3. Don't forget to ask for ideas from your employees.

TIP: choose strategies that you can implement in the next 3 months. This shows everyone you are committed to creating a more positive workplace.

Strategies for engaging employees

  1. Design jobs so that they match employees’ talents, skills and strengths.
  2. Give employees plenty of say in how they do their job.
  3. Provide as much support for your employees as you can to help them do their job better and train them.
  4. Take employee requests, suggestions and issues seriously.
  5. Create positive team culture through, for example, expressing appreciation, working on problems together and encouraging innovative solutions.
  6. Make sure employees have the right equipment to do their job efficiently and safely.
  7. Provide a safe and pleasant physical space to work in.
  8. Help people connect socially and make at least a few friends at work.
  9. Foster professional and personal growth and development for each employee by helping them progress in their careers and training them in work-related skills as well personal skills like resilience.
  10. Continually build skills of managers and/or supervisors.

Step 6

Review and keep improving

Again, with any new initiative, you should look at how you went, how you can improve and what things need to change.

It's important to ask your employee/s their opinion when implementing a new strategy. It also gets your workplace involved and onboard, passes on a sense of personal responsibility and collaboration, and allows for continued improvement.

  • Ask employees the right questions: are we doing things right, or are there better ways it can be done?
  • Have regular conversations with all employees and keep them engaged. If something didn't work, tell them that and get them involved in ways to improve things.
  • Review regularly – set a date and stick to it.
  • Look to see if your goal has been achieved. If not, why? Was it a lack of understanding?

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Disclaimer: The WorkWell Toolkit provides general information only. Please consider your specific circumstances, needs and seek appropriate professional advice.