The new rules of employee engagement

Employee engagement is a hot topic. If you own a company or are responsible for managing and retaining a team, it should be one of your top priorities for 2022. How? More on that later.

First, how can you tell if employees are engaged? You can see it in their expressions, their behaviors, their voices. They convey their enthusiasm, they happily put effort into accomplishing tasks, they seem energized, not drained by challenging work. They go the extra mile because they feel invested in your company’s success.

It’s no wonder that engaged employees are 20 percent more productive than their peers. And here’s a critical fact: they are 87 percent less likely to leave their jobs (source: Corporate Leadership Council).

Why then isn’t every executive focused on this human capital strategy?

I was shocked to read that only 17% of executives consider increasing employee engagement to be a top priority (source: The Predictive Index).

Here’s the flip side: those who do will be better positioned to hire and keep stars, improve productivity and better their bottom lines.

Let’s look are some best practices for addressing employee engagement in 2022.

The definition of success is evolving

Rewind the clock five or ten years. Back then, employee success was broadly measured in better job titles, increased pay and opportunities to climb the ladder. Today’s employee has different priorities. They want their work to fit into their life, not the other way around. They need a sense of purpose. Most important, they want to be treated as individuals.

Engaging employees in 2022 requires a different leadership mindset.


First and foremost, recognize that there is no one-size fits all approach. You and your leaders need to understand each person working for you. What motivates them? What life pressures are they facing? How will they feel successful?

Perhaps someone on your team is experiencing a personal challenge outside of the work.  Is there a way you can help them?  If so, figure out a way to do it.  Be human.   You might just realize that your help is what they needed for both you and them.

Align your mission, values and actions

Trust in leadership is one of the top five drivers of happiness at work (source: MetLife). That starts with living your mission and values.

At the height of the pandemic a lot of businesses got this wrong. For example, one local company with a worker-centric mission statement forced team members back to the worksite before the CDC said it was safe. Over one weekend, this small business posted 17 job openings.

It all makes sense. Your actions must align with your mission, or your employees will lose faith.

Recognize team members

Everyone wants to feel appreciated. But all too often executives and managers forego the niceties. Some fail to recognize a job well done because they expect it. Others just get busy.

At NEMR Total HR, anyone can recognize a staff member or colleague. Kudos are announced to the entire company during our Monday morning meetings.  No amount of gratitude is too small or insignificant to share.

It’s in small acts of gratitude like this that camaraderie grows. But it doesn’t always happen automatically. Employee recognition takes thought. It needs to be intentional, and it needs to be consistent.

Provide career development and education

We expect our team members to be rock stars and we are disappointed when they fall short. But what are you doing to ensure your employees have the skills and the confidence to be great at their jobs?

Have you made employee development a priority? Are you letting your people try on new hats and develop new skills? Professional development has many forms: sending someone to a class, encouraging them to attend a webinar or supporting them in pursuing a certification. It can also be as simple as taking people to meetings to observe the right way to handle different situations. Reminding them that it’s okay to make a mistake is important too. It’s all part of the learning process.


Focus on performance management and goal setting

Performance management looks very different from the way it did in the past.

There’s nothing worse than feeling you are being set up for failure. That’s why goal setting should be a joint activity. When management provides guidelines on expectations and team members express their thoughts on achieving them, you get buy in all around.

Also remember that constant feedback is crucial to employee success. When annual reviews are replaced by ongoing conversations, there are no surprises.

Not surprisingly, four out of 10 employees said they would be willing to work harder if they were happier at work (source: Human Capital Institute) Are you doing your best to engage your employees? If you need guidance, talk to NEMR Total HR. Chat with us or email us here.