3 Ways to Improve Engagement Without Breaking the Bank


Employee engagement has risen over the past two decades — from 26% in 2000 to 34% in 2018, according to a Gallup survey — but the numbers are still low. Having 34% engagement means 66% of employees are under-engaged. We’re in an employee-driven market, so low engagement could cost your organization a pretty penny in turnover.

As a startup, you can — and should — make employee engagement a priority right from the start. But growth costs money, so how can you increase engagement without breaking the bank?

“The easiest, cheapest and fastest way to increase engagement is to make sure your employees feel valued,” says Robin Schooling, practice lead for HR and people strategy at Strio Consulting. “There are many ways you can do this with minimal financial expense to your startup.”

Here are three ways you can cultivate an engaged company culture from the very first days of your business.

Communicate Your Vision

As a startup your vision is everything, and your staff helps bring that vision to life. Help them to be more involved, or have them help you develop and grow your dream. This includes sharing everything with your team; after all, without trust, you won’t engender engagement.

“It’s crucial to be transparent with your team, especially if you want people to sign on to your vision,” Schooling says. “Be as transparent as possible with business processes and the state of the company. When you trust them with the information, they feel more invested in it.”

Give Your People a Chance to Get Creative

As a startup you may not be able to take your staff to conferences, but you still can tap into internal growth and development opportunities. “These opportunities are often cited by employees as a top factor for job satisfaction,” Schooling says. “Make sure you’re giving people a chance to learn and contribute to the business’ success in new ways.”

You can do this by encouraging team members to contribute in different areas of the business. “For example, say you may have an accounting director who would like to flex their creativity a little bit. Let them take on marketing responsibilities,” Schooling says. “It’s a win-win. That person gets to explore things in a safe environment, while the organization encourages investment and wanting to do that work.”

Offer Acknowledgement Consistently and Creatively

There are many ways to show your employees you appreciate them, including a simple and genuine verbal “thank you” or a small gift card to a coffee shop or restaurant. The key when offering acknowledgment is to do it consistently and to have fun with it. Remember, as you build your organization, you’re also building a culture.

Tap into what your employees bring to the table and make it fun. “You don’t have to break the bank to show appreciation and to keep that spirit alive,” Schooling says. “You can get creative and make it very culturally specific. The beauty of a small organization is that it is often less stodgy and more fun and nimble.”

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