The 4 elements of an effective employee engagement strategy

You don’t usually realize that you need an employee engagement strategy until something goes terribly wrong – your reputation fails to attract new talent, your best employees are one foot out the door or your working environment has become so toxic that even office plants are withering.

Almost two thirds of employees surveyed in Deloitte’s TalentEdge 2020 global survey say that they’re open to or actively looking for their next career move. The lack of a coherent employee engagement strategy is reflected in their trust and intent to stay, or rather their intent to leave.

It’s time that companies step up and start playing by the new rules – being the best employer if they want the best talent. Engaging employees is an overall business strategy, not just an activities plan. It requires focus on all areas that affect an employee’s working experience, from leadership style, to internal processes, organizational culture and reputation management.

Because an employee engagement strategy has to be specifically tailored to the reality of your company, there’s no standard template that you can follow. It’s mostly trial and error, with a lot of effort and long-term commitment.

However, from the existing endeavors of employee engagement pioneers we’ve learned that there are four basic elements of an employee engagement strategy:

1.      Identify key action areas and set clear goals

Getting to know the reality in your company is the first step. The urgency to act doesn’t overrule the need to focus your efforts in the right direction.

Find out how your employees feel. Why did they stay? Why are they planning to leave? What would your workplace looked like if they could re-design it?

When you’ve finally discovered how your company works from a talent point of view, direct your efforts towards the key goals you want to achieve. Be focused when establishing your goals and start mapping out the basis of your employee engagement strategy – the what, when and who.

2.      Set-up the right data collection and measurement system

SaaS HRMS adoption has doubled from 2012 until now. Small and medium-sized companies have embraced the trend, developing effective employee engagement strategies based on workforce analytics.

Global companies are soon following, as they realize that cloud HRMS leads to smaller HR and IT efforts, with increasing rewards in talent acquisition, retention and engagement.

Depending on the size of your organization, you will need to adopt the right HRMS solution to fit your needs. Standardize and improve the efficiency of your HR processes, with a simple solution that can collect and measure the data you need to achieve your goals.

Have employees use this system, rather than have it exclusively used within the HR and management team.

If you’re just getting started with cloud HRMS tech, focus on increasing the cost efficacy of your HR function, allowing it to focus its time and efforts in gaining strategic insights that can help you develop an employee engagement strategy.

For more sophisticated organizations, efforts should be concentrated on gaining business intelligence that empower managers to retain and engage top talent.

Also, make sure you get employee buy-in for the new tech solution you’ll be implementing.

3.      Plan specific actions to achieve your goals

You’ve theoretically designed your employee engagement strategy so far. Ensuring that it’s implemented relies on these last 2 steps.

HR processes and administrative issues take up a lot of time and can make it difficult to stick to the strategy. You have to plan ahead and come up with concrete action steps to help collect data, maximize the results of the data reports and achieve your goals.

Here are 15 employee engagement activities that can inspire you to plan your own.

4.      Communicate your strategy

As detailed as your plan may be, it will be difficult to implement without the understanding and support of your employees.

Communicating is not the same as informing. From your end, you need to explain the current status of your organization, the goals that it’s striving to achieve and how this employee engagement strategy aims to get you there.

Go through every detail and explain why you chose that direction and how it will impact employees, both on a macro-level as well as in their day-to-day activity.

From their end, ask for honest and actionable feedback. Involve employees in this discussion and get their sincere opinion on the next steps. Keep in mind that a “one size fits all” solution is most likely to fail. Every employee and every team will have its own needs and ideas.

Listen to them and try to build on your strategy. Maintain a constant communication on the subject and always try to get improvement suggestions and ideas. Employees’ trust and support are the vital ingredients for your strategy’s success.


Caring about your employees is the first and most important element of any employee engagement strategy. From there on, with a little documentation and a well-thought plan, you can start testing what works best for your company.

Remember to focus your efforts in the right direction, use technology to your advantage and get employees involved in building engagement.

If you’ve already been through this process and learned more about it, what would you advise other business managers who are just getting started with an employee engagement strategy?

Image credit: Don Wright  under C.C.2.0