3 Powerful Strategies To Unlock Employee Engagement

February 19, 2020

According to a recent Gallup study on workplace engagement, unrealized potential among employees is an epidemic plaguing 67% of U.S. workplaces. 

“American workers are not showing up to work committed to delivering their best performance, and this has serious implications for the bottom line of individual companies and the U.S. economy as a whole,” write the report’s authors.

Among these employees, 51% are disengaged (psychologically unattached from their work) and 16% are actively disengaged (resentful and unhappy about their jobs and organizations). This is terrible news for businesses since organizations with engaged employees do better in all measures of success. Most notably, these companies reap the following benefits:

  • 17% higher productivity
  • 20% higher sales
  • 21% higher profitability
  • 10% higher customer satisfaction
  • 41% lower absenteeism
  • 24% lower turnover

In short, employees who are committed to delivering their best performance are worth their weight in gold. The reality, however, is that even the brightest employees will lose their lustre if not provided the right environment to reach their full potential. So, what can you do to help your employees maintain engagement and peak performance?

Create A Learning Culture With Room for Mistakes And Experimentation

Some companies frown upon employees who make mistakes. Sometimes, even the smallest and most innocent errors, such as a minor typo in an email, are met with unwarranted criticisms. This can cause embarrassment and anxiety among employees while creating a workplace that feels unsafe and unsupportive.

However, here’s what all great leaders know: to win, you must first embrace failure.

While being able to prevent mistakes allows businesses to maintain a certain level of output and service quality, too much rigidity is also counterproductive.

Good leaders who are invested in helping their employees reach their full potential understand that allowing a healthy amount of room for employees to make mistakes is essential.

For one thing, many of the best business success stories are born out of experimentation. Great things can come out of employees taking risks and working outside their comfort zones. In other words, mistakes and progress go hand in hand. They allow your employees to become master problem-solvers, better innovators, and active collaborators.

Of course, this doesn’t mean experimentation should be unstructured. As workforce development expert Glenn Llopis explains: “With the right guidance from leadership – encouraging employees to take risks, test their ideas and ideals, and challenge the status quo to make things better – the potential is something that will develop organically over time.”

Free Employees From The Cage Of Their Job Descriptions

Did you know that the British oil and gas company Shell implements a compulsory job rotation for its employees? Every four years, employees are moved to a different role. As a result, employees feel they are empowered and accountable to dictate the course of their careers.

While a mandatory job rotation may not be a good idea for all companies, the gist of what Shell is doing can be applied to all businesses. Leaders should consider creating opportunities for employees to do things outside of their primary scope of work.

Not all employees will reach their peak performance in the role that they were initially hired for. Exposing them to different areas of expertise, disciplines, and practices will enable you to discover untapped potential. If they do stay in their current role, exposing them to different areas will allow them to evolve and expand the scope of their work. 

For example, members of a company’s IT department are often stereotyped as lacking in communication and presentation skills. Giving them stretch assignments such as marketing and internal communications projects will allow them to hone any perceived or actual weaknesses. Now, imagine an IT department that cannot only troubleshoot their colleagues’ computers but can also put together an engaging presentation on your company’s tech protocols.

Use Technology To Help Employees Work More Efficiently

Here’s how PricewaterhouseCoopers describes the relationship between employees and the tools they use in their day-to-day job. 

According to their research, there’s a disconnect between how leaders and employees perceive the technology they use at work. 90% of leaders say they’re “choosing tech with their people in mind.” However, only 53% of their staff members agree.


The report goes on to say that when leaders “don’t have a clear and accurate understanding of how your people use technology in their jobs, and what they need and want from those tools, their overall experience at work can suffer. Subpar employee experience can have a ripple effect across the organization, shaping everything from how engaged people are to their enthusiasm for delivering superior customer experience.”

This is not surprising at all. Faced with one of the youngest workforce compositions in history and operating amid a massive digital transformation, companies need to get their technology stacks right. 

Every company will have different tech needs, but one universally important thing is having technology that empowers employees to do their jobs more efficiently. This could mean setting up a productivity tracking system, automating tasks, or having self-service portals for administrative tasks. While many employees still appreciate the “human touch” where they work, they don’t mind having specific tasks digitized if it means having more time to do more engaging and impactful work.

Turning Your Company Into A Talent Incubator

Helping employees reach their full potential may sound altruistic, but it’s one of the most practical and economical things you can do for your company. With a direct correlation between effective talent management and business performance, helping employees grow and prosper in the workplace is not just good business leadership; these days, it’s a non-negotiable aspect of a competitive company.


READ ALSO: 3 TED Talks That Will Get You Motivated



About the Author

Dean Mathews is the founder and CEO of OnTheClock, an employee time tracking app that helps over 9,000 companies all around the world track time. 

Dean has over 20 years of experience designing and developing business apps. He views software development as a form of art. If the artist creates a masterpiece, many people’s lives are touched and changed for the better. 

When he is not perfecting time tracking, Dean enjoys expanding his faith, spending time with family, friends, and finding ways to make the world just a little better. You can find Dean on LinkedIn.

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