You can build an engaged workforce through a combination of several strategies, including promoting open dialogue between employees and upper management, recognizing good work, enabling employees to participate in decision-making, and fostering employee growth in their careers.

These resources can help you think about options in this area:

Employer Guide


The Thriving Workforce Employer Guide offers six strategies for building a strong team at your organization. 

View the guide

Ideas


Idea 1:  Have employees set goals and undergo performance reviews regularly. 

 

Set Employee Goals


Goals help align employees with the organization’s goals and to see how individual contributions fit into the big picture. This article on Quantum Workplace shares the best ways to set and track employee goals and why it’s important to do.


 


Idea 2: Create a sense of belonging and purpose in the workplace. 

 

Explore purpose

Powered by Purpose is a United Way of Central Iowa initiative to support individuals and businesses in identifying and living out their purpose. Find resources that can help you and your employees explore their purpose, which has proven benefits on workforce productivity and engagement.

 

Case Study

This case study features how High Plains Community Health Center built high-performing teams. Their formula for success is the following:

  1. Be prepared for resistance in times of change.
  2. Put the right tasks in the hands of the right people.
  3. Make sure the whole team’s incentives are aligned.
  4. Hire for attitude, train for skills.

 


Idea 3: Have an employee recognition program.


Create a Program

 

Many employees are dissatisfied with the level of recognition they receive for doing a good job and most would consider leaving if not recognized enough for their contribution. Recognizing employees can be a low-cost, high-impact way to retain your best employees and increase productivity. This guide from People Pulse outlines the benefits of an employee recognition program, how to set it up, and how technology can support employee recognition.

 


Idea 4: Foster open dialogue between frontline employees and upper management.

 

Skills for frontline leaders

 

Lack of support from a boss, negative co-workers, and lack of recognition for work are top reasons employees have bad days at work. Managers play a critical role in these factors and the experiences of frontline staff overall. This article from the Center for Creative Leadership outlines the six key competencies frontline leaders should have: self-awareness, learning agility, communication, political savvy, motivating others, and influencing outcomes.

 

In this Central Iowa Works’ blog, Chris Lorenz with Palmer Group shares five opportunities for open communication in the workplace, especially as employers navigate decisions during the pandemic.

 

What employees want

 

While this document was created for those who are working with retailers to develop career pathways, small businesses can also gain insights, especially hearing from employees what they value most in a job. Here is employees’ definition of a quality job:

  • Pay above the minimum wage, and take into account the local cost of living.
  • Offer paid family leave and affordable healthcare and give hourly or contract workers a chance to access benefits.
  • Ensure that the workplace and parking area are safe, especially for people who work night time or early morning shifts.
  • Hire supervisors who know how to be supportive leaders and have the skills to encourage and recognize workers.
  • Hold supervisors accountable for training and coaching all workers.
  • Give workers of all ethnic groups and ages structured opportunities to build skills, even if promotions are not available.
  • Recognize that all workers are responsible for business success.
  • Offer nearby or onsite childcare options.
  • Be transparent about layoffs or other job losses that might be due to technology, relocation, merger, or bankruptcy.

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