Engagement: The Key to Good Employees

What are the best ways to measure and increase employee engagement? Young entrepreneurs offer their tips.
Founder, The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC)
May 10, 2012

To explore the best ways to measure and increase employee engagement, I asked members of the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) to tell me what works for them.

YEC is an invite-only nonprofit organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. It promotes entrepreneurship as a solution to unemployment and underemployment.

Here are some YEC members' best tips for assessing and promoting superior employee engagement.

1. Incentivize

"We've had instances where an employee has come to us with an idea to help grow the business. Once it was enacted, and we saw tangible results from it, we found some way to reward the employee, whether it was a small bonus or something else of that nature. [Incentivizing] is more … for increasing employee engagement than measuring [it]. "
— Justin Beegel, founder of Infographic World

2. Ask

"Because it is entirely subjective, the only way you can assess whether employees are engaged is to ask them. Whether they answer 'yes' or 'no,' or the more likely answer of 'sometimes,' ask individual employees what engages them so that you can best do it moving forward."
— Alexia Vernon, communication and leadership author, speaker, coach and trainer for Alexia Vernon Empowerment

3. Survey

"Just like you measure website metrics and revenues, you can measure employee engagement. Create a survey with a few questions that can be easily scored on a scale of 1 to 5, and commit to regularly (consider quarterly), sending it around for completion. You should include an open field on the survey where employees can add their own ideas for improvement of the work environment."
— Doreen Bloch, CEO and founder of Poshly

4. Take Notes

"Are [employees] learning every step of the way? If your startup is growing, your employees should be growing. Actively engaged and dedicated workers are willing to learn every step of the way. Make sure you encourage growth to stimulate employee engagement."
— Brent Beshore, owner and CEO at AdVentures

5. Take It Seriously

"I solicit feedback from my team. When we are starting a new project, everyone is involved and is encouraged to give ideas. When we start using these ideas, and said employee gets to implement it, this creates a ton of buy-in."
— Justin Nowak, partner at Mobile Business Advisors

6. Hold Weekly One-on-Ones

"Meet with each of your employees once a week for 30 minutes. During this time, ask employees to raise concerns and provide feedback on their job satisfaction. Be honest and transparent in your answers. These conversations help employees feel engaged and empowered, and prevent team problems from sneaking up on you."
— Bhavin Parikh, co-founder of Magoosh

7. Look for Organic Ideas

"When was the last time your employee came to you with a solution you didn't request? Team members who problem-solve over the weekend, bring up new topics and are filled with passion for your business are the measurement. If solutions and ideas only come when scheduled, requested and assigned, then engagement is flat."
— Kelly Azevedo, founder of She's Got Systems

8. Throw a Party

"When you have an informal party within your business, see what kind of attitudes are revealed. The ones who are having fun are the ones who are engaged in your company activities. Sniff out the bad attitudes throughout the evening. Culture is everything in building a successful company."
Nancy T. Nguyen, founder and Ms. Corporate America 2011 at Sweet T

9. Use WorkSimple

"WorkSimple is a platform focused on social goals, and can help capture employee results. [It can] help workers collaborate with one another through real-time notifications and updates. It’s also a great way to provide informal feedback to employees on a regular basis."
— Heather Huhman, founder and president at Come Recommended

10. Offer Opportunities to Quit

"No matter how engaging the work, there will always be team members who need a change. At the end of every project (or other big milestones), offer a way for your team members to quit. That might take the shape of moving to another project, switching teams or actually leaving the company. You can spot trouble fairly quickly—big waves need close examination."
— Thursday Bram, consultant at Hyper Modern Consulting

11. Create Office Competitions

"Sometimes, simply making performance public knowledge can be enough to motivate your employees. Take a metric like deals closed, products shipped or customers helped, and simply display it in a public place. The person with the best numbers at the end of the period gets a prize. Watch your employees go the extra mile to reach the top of that list and earn their gold star."
— Lucas Sommer, founder and CEO of Audimated

YEC gives entrepreneurs access to tools, mentorship and resources that support each stage of their business’s development and growth. Use these tips from YEC's best and brightest young entrepreneurs to put those tools to work on employee engagement for your company.

What's your best tip for measuring—and increasing—employee engagement?

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