Woman looks at five of many possible strategies for increasing employee engagement

By Nils Reisen on 27.01.2021 | 3 minutes reading time

You’ve probably heard this before: higher employee engagement means improved productivity and more contribution to the company’s growth and success. Increasing engagement can be a bit of a challenge, especially if you have a large organisation looking to you for guidance. But you can do it! Here are few ideas that you might find helpful.

Let’s get started!

1. Define engagement

You can’t increase engagement if you are not clear on what it actually is. The first step is to define what engagement means for your company. To give you an idea, here is a definition we like to use:

We define employee engagement as behaviour in the interest of the company, which manifests itself in the employees’ actions, their collaboration with their team members and people across the company, as well as in activities with customers, partners and other external parties.

2. Select key engagement drivers to focus on in 2021

A variety of aspects of the work environment have an impact on employee engagement. We did an extensive literature research together with the University of Applied Sciences in Lucerne and identified the following factors:

  • Job content: do employees enjoy their daily work? Does it fit their experience and competencies?
  • Development opportunities: can employees keep learning new things? Do their tasks challenge them in a positive way?
  • Company vision and strategy: are employees familiar with the vision and strategy? Do they feel that they contribute to the long-term success of the company?
  • Collaboration: do employees receive recognition for their work? Can they rely on others? Do they work in a climate of trust and psychological safety?
  • Communication: is the communication honest and transparent? Is there a constructive feedback culture?
  • Working conditions: do employees have the tools they need? Do the processes help them do their job well? Is the stress level within a healthy range?
  • Leadership: do managers support employees in building on their strengths? Do they grant autonomy and trust? Do they provide clear direction while granting autonomy? Do they give constructive feedback?

For which of the above do you see the most room for improvement in your team or company?

3. Ensure that employees set measurable objectives

Employees will be more productive and engaged with their work when they have set measurable and achievable goals for themselves. Clearly defining objectives and periodically reviewing progress drives accountability and builds confidence and assurance in the ability to succeed (Trahant, 2009). We just set our own personal and team objectives for 2021. Not an easy task but the perfect foundation to start into the new year full steam ahead.

4. Establish regular feedback loops

Our working conditions are constantly changing, and so is our collaboration. What worked perfectly a few weeks ago suddenly may not be adequate anymore. This calls for constantly adapting our assumptions, collaboration and processes to the new reality: which activities and projects are now critical, which have less priority? What is on everyone’s mind? What practical issues need to be addressed? A regular collective reflection enables teams to develop individual responses to their current challenges and stay on track with their goals.

5. Empower your leaders

Managers play a crucial role in driving engagement and performance. Research shows that authentic leaders who support the team, perform effectively and display integrity have been found to achieve high engagement (Bridger, 2014). If you make it easier for them to be great leaders, they will make it easier for their teams to do a great job.

Bottom Line

Fostering employee engagement essentially comes down to making it easier for everyone to do a great job. It will probably still take quite a while until we get back to our normal way of working (if ever). Get in touch and learn more about what you can do to enable your employees to perform well in 2021.


Bridger, E. (2014). Employee Engagement. Kogan Page Publishers.

Trahant, B. (2009). Driving better performance through continuous employee engagement. Public Manager, 38(1), 54-59.

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