Employee engagement

by Hayley Oats and Vandy Massey

How to engage your team

Employee engagement is not only affected by how the organisation as a whole treats and values its staff, but by all the interactions an employee has in the work place. Managers have a significant impact on employee engagement; they play a key role in sustaining it and undoubtedly can also turn it off.

Think about two roles that you have had: one where you loved going to work and performed at your best and one where you didn’t want to go to work, underperformed and frequently looked for another job.

What was it in each case that supported the way you felt about that role? Was it a great manager or a poor manager? Was it the role itself that you felt passionate about and were interested in? What did the organisation do to support staff? Was there anything else in the role that was affecting your performance?

Armed with the answers to these questions, you’ll have a clear view of some of the key requirements for employee engagement.

Though commitment to the manager is not itself the most powerful drive of effort, the manager has tremendous impact on employees’ level of commitment to the team, organisation, and job.

Corporate Leadership Council report, 2004

Below are some more practical tips for ways to support employee engagement and maximise your team’s performance. So that you can decide where to concentrate your energies, take time to consider in which particular areas there is room for improvement within your department or team. There is plenty of more detailed information in several topics.

The following tips are by no means exhaustive. These are just some ideas about what managers can do to engage with their staff as a team. This can be expanded to all your interactions with other staff in the organisation and your customers too.


Talk to your team about what’s happening in the business, about work in the team and, importantly, about them as individuals. Get to know your team members and what is important to them; don’t just play lip service to this – they will know if you are faking an interest, so be genuine! See Emotional Intelligence.

Remember they are all unique, just as you are, so they might not like the same things, feel the same way or want the same things! Failures in communication can often arise because it’s too easy to assume that everyone else thinks as we do. If you are finding communication inexplicably hard with someone – whatever you say, they just don’t seem to get the point – you might find it worth looking at the pages on Representational systems and Submodalities in the NLP topic.

Hear them – listen to what they say, seek their thoughts and don’t just dismiss their views, opinions and ideas. See Listening Skills.

Make time for your team – ensure you are available to members of your team when they need you. Help them to find their way around the organisation – be a Wise Owl, see Political Intelligence.


Make sure that each individual in your team understands and appreciates the connection between their role and the organisational strategy. According to the Corporate Leadership Council report, this is the most effective out of 25 major levers of effort/engagement.

Have fun!

Have fun! This might sound odd, but having fun at work breeds excitement and energy and these are some of the key signals of engaged employees. Imagine an excited employee talking to a customer versus a disheartened employee talking to one – which customer do you think would come back again? For more ideas about creating an atmosphere in which the workplace is a fun place to be as well as efficient, see the topic on Humour.


An important part of your responsibility as a manager is to take an interest in developing the individuals in your team, making sure that they feel valued, that they have the opportunity to hone their existing skills, acquire new ones and generally feel a sense of purpose and fulfilment.

  • Actively support them in their development, seek opportunities and ways to help them grow and reach their goals. If you don’t know what their goals are, find out! See Goal Setting, Appraisals and Performance Management (People).
  • Empower them to make decisions and take ownership of projects (see Empowerment and Delegation).
  • Trust them to do the job and to come to you if they need to.
  • Ensure they have everything they need to do the job and do it to the best of their ability.
  • Be flexible, open to new ideas and ways of working.
  • Hold the team meeting outside on sunny days.
  • Have a team coffee break with the rule of no work talk.
  • Agree as a team to raise money for a charity together.
  • Celebrate team or individual successes.
  • Find out one work and one personal goal of each individual in the team and support them in achieving these.
  • Try new ways of doing things, as suggested by members of the team; implement the ones that work the best and talk about the ones that don’t work well to see if, by tweaking them, you can make them work better.
  • Have an open door policy and adhere to it.
  • Ensure you keep them up to date on organisation news and developments and share your team’s news and successes with the rest of the organisation.
  • Subscribe to blogs on employeee engagement for more ideas.