10 Best Ways To Engage Employees

Patrizia Ciuppa

January 20, 2022

There’s a new bar for HR when it comes to employee experience. But some conventional engagement strategies work for a reason — especially when they’re amplified by intelligent tech. 

Talent Experience Live Host Tom Tate and Luke Carignan, Director, Enterprise Sales at Phenom, discussed the basics employees need to thrive and how organizations can deliver. Keep reading to discover the top 10 ways to engage employees, or watch the full episode below!

  1.  Seek employee feedback consistently and often
  2.  Encourage employees to explore their interests
  3.  Be diligent in providing a career path
  4.  Connect peers with other peers
  5.  Help employees find mentors and sponsors
  6.  Promote a culture of learning and curiosity
  7.  Invite employees to share their unique stories
  8.  Referrals: recruit your employees to recruit
  9.  Show employees you care
  10.  Just be human


1. Seek employee feedback consistently and often

To properly support employees and build personal connections, you need to ask them what they want and need, Tate pointed out. Acting on that feedback is important also. How can HR leaders prioritize what to tackle?

“Look for patterns… when you hear something three times, that’s a pattern,” Carignan said. Investigate those patterns, and put resources toward solving any problems you identify.

2. Encourage employees to explore their interests

Recognize that employees have passions outside of the confines of their career role, and give them the chance to apply them at work whenever possible. 

“True happiness comes in — and you get people staying — when you hit that magical flow of being able to integrate both what they love to do, what they’re passionate about, and what they can make money at,” Carignan said. 

Offering internal gigs is a great way to let employees bring their interests to work. For example, invite a team member who’s an amateur photographer to take pictures at the next company event.

3. Be diligent in providing a career path

Opportunities outside your company abound. Showing employees they have a future with your organization — and helping them visualize a clear career path — is a major piece of retention today.  “It can’t be just something on paper,” Tate said. ”It has to be actionable; it has to be multilayered.” 

So what does that actually look like? Organizations getting career pathing right approach it in a few key ways:

  • They recognize that employees will value different things at different life stages. (For example, entry-level workers might want an exciting location and networking opportunities; workers with young kids want to be able to provide for their families.)
  • They show employees how their evolving career path will fit with the company’s growth trajectory in the coming years. 
  • They use technology to help create an actionable career path. The right career pathing tech can help employees define goals, identify skills needed to get from point A to point B, and illuminate the resources available to gain those skills.


4. Connect peers with other peers

Especially in a remote working environment, organizations need to find ways to help colleagues build personal relationships. 
Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) are a vital way to help like-minded colleagues connect. 

Organizations can get creative, too, in helping employees bond. Here are a few examples of things Phenom does to encourage those “virtual water coolers.”

  • Share your “not normal.” As an ice breaker, team members are encouraged to share something that makes them unique. That can be pretty much anything, from unusual hobbies to "My feet are as almost as wide as they are long." (That was Carignan’s!) “I identify with my peers still to this with the ‘not normal’s’ that they shared,” he confided. “It brings us closer together.”
  • Create fun Slack channels. Phenom Dogs is one that co-workers really bond over. 


5. Help employees find mentors and sponsors

When it comes to career growth, mentors and sponsors aren’t always on the radar of organizations. But when employers help employees cultivate those relationships, it goes a long way toward engagement and retention. 

While some employees are naturally wired to network, many aren’t. That’s where HR can step in, helping match employees to mentors and sponsors based on their career goals.

6. Promote a culture of learning and curiosity

Organizations should encourage employees to ask questions and keep learning. “It’s really the best way to keep employees engaged and leveling up,” Tate said. Here are some ideas to promote a culture of curiosity:

  • Have various departments host L&D sessions to show what it’s like to work in that area. 
  • Engage senior leaders to share their career paths, which not only helps employees learn, but also humanizes execs. 
  • Practice “reverse mentoring,” where junior workforce members educate senior employees on things they have expertise in, like being a digital native. 

7. Invite employees to share their unique stories

“Most humans are wired to be storytellers,” Tate pointed out. But how can organizations empower people to share those stories?

In a word...video. Video is a great way to capture what employees are willing to share, and it's never been easier with the right technology. Ask employees to upload videos in which they respond to prompts like how they’re dealing with remote work, or describing their career journey.  

The result? Employees will feel seen and valued — and you’ll get awesome, authentic content to use on your career site, in email campaigns, and other channels. 

Related — Show & Tell: How Life Time is Winning at Video Testimonials

8. Referrals: Recruit your employees to recruit

“It’s everyone’s responsibility in the organization to recruit,” Carignan said. Adopt that mindset, and help it take root throughout the workplace. 

Just sending the simple message that you want and encourage employees to make referrals has dual benefits: Employees feel more valued and engaged, and you’ll get a nice flow of referral candidates to add to your talent pool. Of course, making the referral process easy, transparent, and trackable is more than half the battle.

If you're looking for a successful model to follow, check out Southwest Airlines' employee referral program

9. Show employees you care

“Every organization has the opportunity to look at what’s happening in people’s personal lives and support them through the good and the bad,” Tate noted. 

One of the simplest gestures that has a lot of impact? Recognize employee birthdays, and give them a tangible. (“Everyone loves swag,” Carignan mentioned.) Similarly, celebrate employees’ personal and professional milestones — and make gestures that show you care when they’re facing crises or challenges.

These are little things, but they go a long way toward creating community. “Think about how impactful that is, if you can create that type of community around your organization. That should be the goal,” Carnigan continued. 

10. Just be human

“Understand that every employee is a unique individual with a favorite snack, a favorite song and with challenges at home … and things to celebrate,” Tate said. “Once we start to integrate that into our day-to-day engagements … that’s when we open up the opportunity to be human in a very two-way nature.”

According to Carignan, team leaders can strengthen relationships with employees by asking two questions: What motivates you? And What’s important to you? Money and recognition are two common motivators. “Important” might mean having the flexibility to pick kids up from school, or to take a half-day on Fridays. “Figure that out, and then you can be successful with that relationship with that individual,” Carignan said. 

The main takeaway here? “It’s all about seeking to understand our employees on a professional and personal level,” Tate said. “Once we can do that, it unlocks the opportunity for us to do some amazing things to keep them engaged and keep them on the right path.”

Catch Talent Experience Live on LinkedIn, YouTube, and Facebook every Thursday at noon ET for the latest in recruiting, talent acquisition, talent management, and HR tech.

Patrizia Ciuppa