How to create an employee engagement plan

Learn how to create an actionable engagement strategy with this guide.

The state of engagement

Imagine a world where everyone’s productive and satisfied at work. Don’t you wish this was reality, not just your imagination?

Unfortunately, 29% of employees are disengaged at work. This indicates a huge opportunity for businesses everywhere, as engaged employees are more productive and happier than their disengaged counterparts.

A 0.1% increase in engagement was worth $100,000 to one Best Buy store. Low engagement companies experienced an 11.2% decline in earnings per share.

The 2019 Annual Employee Engagement Report

Smart organizations proactively identify potential engagement issues. Instead of reacting to issues as they arise, these companies work to prevent engagement issues by continuously measuring engagement and addressing drivers of disengagement.

Employee engagement is a form of people data that indicates how your employees feel about working for you.

What drives disengagement

Engagement issues typically point back to four main drivers:


When positions are poorly defined, the hiring process doesn’t take behavioral alignment into account, or growing business needs morph a role into something new, poor job fit can result. This lack of job fit impacts motivation and productivity—ultimately leading to disengagement.


If managers aren’t adequately trained—or if they don’t know how to tailor their managerial style to support each of their direct reports—distrust can result. This decreased trust causes employees to disengage.


Team-based work is more critical than ever—yet poor communication, insufficient collaboration, and the inability to manage interpersonal conflict continue to extract a massive tax on productivity and innovation.


Nine of the top 10 drivers of turnover intent related to the organization, according to the 2019 Employee Engagement Report. If employees aren’t aligned with company values, don’t trust senior leadership, or feel the work environment is toxic, productivity and performance suffer.

You need an engagement plan.

Poor planning breeds poor performance. Prevent costly engagement issues with a strategic plan. 

Create a plan using these four steps:

1. Set a benchmark.

To track growth, you need a benchmark to measure against. Start with an accurate measurement of the problem using the tools at your disposal. This first pulse on engagement can be accomplished using the following tools:

  • Employee engagement surveys
  • Behavioral and cognitive assessments 
  • Job performance data
  • Exit interviews
  • Review sites (e.g., Glassdoor)

Document your findings and collect them in a centralized place key contributors can access. Make sure the data is shared in an easy-to-understand format. It’s hard to act on data when it’s hidden or misunderstood.

2. Create a vision and set clear goals.

Start your engagement initiative with clear goals that will guide your efforts. There are so many ways to fix engagement problems—but if you’re going in many different directions, they can end up canceling each other out or actually damaging your culture. 

An example of a good vision and goal:

We want to be a Best Place to Work. We will improve our company Glassdoor rating from 3 to 4 stars by the end of this year. 

3. Address each engagement factor individually.

Engagement is multi-faceted. As a result, it needs to be tackled in pieces. 

Engagement at the job level

Getting the right person in the right seat plays a key role in engagement. Here are a few strategies to get job fit right and boost engagement at the job level:

  • Consider behavioral and cognitive requirements when hiring.
  • Make career pathing clear to employees.
  • Offer learning and development opportunities.

Engagement at the manager level

Managers have a significant impact on employee engagement. By taking the following steps, your people managers can improve engagement at the manager level:

  • Communicate the bigger picture.
  • Establish clear goals and expectations.
  • Acknowledge a job well done.
  • Ask for feedback.
  • Tailor your management style. 

Engagement at the team level

Teamwork is critical to business success. Ensure healthy engagement at the team level with the following strategies:

  • Use people data (e.g., behavioral assessments) to foster self-awareness and understanding. 
  • Foster healthy conflict and build a culture of trust.
  • Support employees in resolving interpersonal conflict. 
  • Conduct a team-building session. 

Engagement at the organization level

Organization’s, as a whole, have the largest impact on employee engagement. Changes at the organizational level take time but are well worth the effort. Here are four activities to include in your engagement plan to improve engagement at the organizational level:

  • Create a mission, vision, and values your organization stands behind. 
  • Foster transparency from top to bottom. 
  • Invest in your people. 
  • Identify and acknowledge missteps.

Keep in mind: The key to successfully executing changes at the organizational level is communication. Your employees want to know what changes are being made, why, and what to expect as a result of that change.

4. Schedule repetitive diagnostics.

Measuring and improving engagement is not a one-time effort. To keep engagement levels high, you need to measure and address engagement issues frequently. Aim to administer engagement surveys every 6-12 months, followed by an action plan to address areas in need of improvement.

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