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7 Employee Engagement Tips for a Better 2021

Employee engagement is a top priority for HR this year. Find out how you can make employees love work in 2021.

Our 7 Employee Engagement Tips for 2021:

1. Fine tune your remote onboarding strategy

2. Leadership training is key to employee engagement

3. Get creative with internal communication

4. Give employees more responsibility

5. Boost your mental health support

6. Create opportunities for learning and development

7. Use feedback to improve engagement

Employee engagement is the emotional connection that employees feel towards their organization. It’s the level of commitment they have for the company they work for.

An engaged employee feels a strong sense of purpose. Their values align with the company, so that they care about their work. Have you ever felt excited to start a new project, or to collaborate with colleagues? This feeling motivates us to perform at our best.

So how can we promote engagement in 2021? The pandemic continues to up-end business practices. Amidst the uncertainty, one thing is clear: remote work is here to stay. According to Upwork, almost 42% of American workers are currently remote. While some return to the office, remote work will continue to rise. By 2025, 36.2 million Americans will work remotely – an 87% increase on pre-pandemic levels.

How management improves employee engagement

HR professionals need to hone their engagement practices to the remote environment. Training leaders to support their teams is always a priority – and with long-distance teams, this is more true than ever.

An employee engagement strategy should take into account every aspect of employee experience – from onboarding to career development. Surprisingly, 60% of companies have hired at least one employee since the pandemic started. This is an opportunity to engage employees from Day 1.

Always consider what engages your people. Everyone is different. For some, it’s the joy of learning a new skill. For others, it’s the thrill of managing a new team. A commitment to engagement means trusting your team – stretch responsibilities can boost confidence and make us excited to get back to work!

Employee Engagement Trends in 2021

Important trends to watch out for in 2021:

  • Greater focus on mental health support

  • Strategies to engage a fluid and flexible workforce

  • Rethinking HR practices – from onboarding to exit interviews

  • Digital internal communications


1. Fine tune your remote onboarding strategy

Despite the pandemic’s impact on the job market, most companies hired a new employee this year.

HR leaders need to create a remote work strategy that addresses the onboarding process. This is perhaps one of HR’s greatest remote work conundrums – how do you develop a new employee when you’re not able to have those all important one-to-one conversations?

So many companies have proved the impossible possible however! A combination of careful planning, great communication and openness to suggestions can make for a better remote onboarding program.

To engage your new hires, make your onboarding process action-based. Build their learning towards a first project or responsibility. Not only will this motivate new hires, it will quicken their time to productivity.

Use daily morning and afternoon check-ins to improve communication. Encourage newbies to turn on their video during sessions, to build belonging and community.

Employee satisfaction and remote onboarding


2. Leadership training is key to employee engagement

Leadership is crucial to engagement. According to Gallup, management accounts for 70% of the variance in employee engagement.

During remote work, leaders need a whole new set of skills. Trust is one of them. When managers can’t see employees working at all hours of the working day, they can feel unsure of their team. This has led some managers into an over-scheduling trap – unnecessary meetings peppered throughout the day, or too many emails that take employees’ focus away from the task at hand.

In 2021, we’ll see management styles shift. Employees are more likely to be engaged if their managers engage in ongoing coaching conversations with them.

According to Gallup, employees who receive daily feedback from managers are 3 times more likely to be engaged than those who only receive feedback annually.

Leadership is the art of giving people a platform for spreading ideas that work - Seth Godin

The problem is, most managers do not receive training on providing feedback, or on how to create an approachable, supportive management style. We sometimes see leadership qualities as innate traits, rather than skills that can be learnt.

That’s why only 39% of managers receive any leadership training at all, let alone regular coaching or mentoring.

This is where your learning and development team come in. Design a coaching and development plan for managers as they tackle the challenges of managing a remote team.

Create an online mentoring program so that managers can connect with inspiring leaders remotely. Train managers on how to use software for their people processes: from scheduling one-on-ones to setting SMART goals with employees.

Leadership and Employee Engagement


3. Get creative with internal communication

What drives employee engagement? A feeling of purpose. Alignment with the company’s values. An awareness of how the tasks you complete each day contribute to wider company objectives.

All of these things require skilled internal communications. Disengaged workers are often unaware of the organization’s core values. Too often they are mentioned during onboarding and then forgotten about.

Improve awareness of company values and objectives. Virtual manager town halls are a great way to circulate important information. It’s also a chance for your leaders to inspire, and create a sense of direction.

You can also boost your internal social media to bridge the distance between remote employees. Build a supportive virtual community, for example through ‘recognition badges’ or discussion boards.

However, internal social media will only go so far. More personal, one-on-one virtual communication should still be an HR priority. Train managers to interface regularly with employees.

Read our blog on remote employee communication here


4. Give employees more responsibility

Ever feel like groundhog day at the office? The same tasks, day in, day out? Disengaged employees are often given narrow responsibilities. Managers don’t trust them with stretch tasks, so they’re unable to spread their wings.

Leaders need to take calculated risks so that their employees can develop. Give an employee a new responsibility. Offer the necessary training, and watch as your employees challenge themselves to achieve results you wouldn’t have dreamed of before.

This boosts employee satisfaction. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs reminds us of the importance of self-actualization to our professional needs. If there aren’t any relevant stretch roles in your team, find a development opportunity, such as an online course, to inspire a team member.

Many of us are motivated by learning and curiosity. Make the most of this and employee engagement will flourish.

Stretch roles for better employee experience


5. Boost your mental health support

Around 4 in 10 adults in the U.S reported symptoms of anxiety or depression during the pandemic. The past year has put untold strain on employees, and effected everyone in different ways. It goes without saying that HR must review their wellbeing strategy in light of this.

Training leaders to respond compassionately when employees seek support can reduce stigma. Be vocal about emotional wellness policies, for example offering employees time out of the workday to attend therapy.

Burnout has been a particular concern during the pandemic. When there is no separation between your living room and the office, we risk an ‘always on’ culture. Employees have been working longer hours since the move to remote work. Be flexible and understanding. If it's late and a task can wait til the morning, tell your team to go home and enjoy their evening.

We can’t pour from an empty cup. When we feel calm, rested and supported, we’ll have a positive mindset with which to approach our work. This is how you create a foundation for employee engagement.

Read our guide to Remote Work here


6. Create opportunities for learning and development

Why does learning boost employee engagement? Because engagement is all about curiosity, initiative and resilience. Learning sparks all these things, and makes us take steps forward in our professional development.

Learning and development programs are popular with employees. Mentoring provides a more targeted, personal approach. This helps employees understand how to advance their career within the company.

Knowing that development opportunities are available keeps employees engaged – with the ability to develop their skills in their current role.

7. Use feedback to improve engagement

Some employers are afraid of employee feedback. They think that if they give it too often, they’ll jeopardise the engagement of their teams.

In fact, the opposite is true. Ongoing feedback normalizes open communication. Just a quick comment in a video call about their progress can support employees.

This shows that managers care about their teams’ development. With clear pointers about how they can improve, employees are more likely to feel engaged. Employee retention will improve as your team sees a future at the company long-term

HR professionals can facilitate more formal feedback processes using software. Schedule regular feedback one-on-ones so that managers and employees can discuss their professional development.

Investing time and energy into employee feedback works wonders – employees feel engaged, valued and motivated.

Employee engagement for Satisfied Employees


Employee engagement is top of the agenda

Half-way into 2021, we’ve seen so much innovation from HR teams. Employee engagement must be at the top of the agenda as we strive to create a high-performance remote work environment.

With a blend of learning and development, skilled leadership and communication you can make work an engaging and exciting place to be this year.


PeopleGoal has customizable apps to improve engagement in your organization. To find out more, why not take a look at our Solutions page?

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