Quite simply, many employee engagement programs fail because they are short-term fixes rather than long-term solutions. Offering employees an incentive will temporarily improve scores, but most short-term incentives do not make a permanent difference.

Employees catch on to the scheme of boosting scores in the short-term and watching scores go back down after the incentive wears off. Employees lose interest when the company’s efforts don’t seem genuine.

Proof of this trend can be found in Gallup’s recent release of the State of the American Workplace report and Gallup’s US Employee Engagement Daily Tracking. During Gallup’s three years of tracking employee engagement, it has averaged between 30-35% with no steady increase. As programs and spending have increased, engagement has remained stagnant.

If you’re questioning the importance of employee engagement, look at the financial impact of having a focus on the complete employee experience over the long term, not just engagement in the here and now.

Jacob Morgan, author of  The Employee Experience Advantage, compared companies he studied with those that invested most heavily in employee experience. Companies investing in employee experience were included 28 times as often among Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies, 11.5 times as often in Glassdoor’s Best Places to Work, 2.1 times as often in Forbes’s list of the World’s Most Innovative Companies, 4.4 times as often in LinkedIn’s list of North America’s Most In-Demand Employers, and twice as often in the American Customer Satisfaction Index.

How to permanently increase employee engagement

1. Focus – Integrate engagement in the corporate strategy

Employee engagement should be intertwined in every business function and program. It must start with executives and the corporate strategy. When managers and employees see that it’s important, they will value and participate in the effort. The most effective approach to engagement isn’t “start and stop” — instead, it’s an ongoing process that works alongside regular business activities.

2. Commitment – Involvement from executives and managers

Given the troubling state of employee engagement in the U.S. today, it makes sense that most managers are not creating environments in which employees feel motivated or even comfortable. A Gallup study of 7,272 U.S. adults revealed that one in two had left their job to get away from their manager to improve their overall life at some point in their career.

Employee involvement begins with executives and managers. Employees follow their lead. Leadership must be trained on the programs and incorporate them into their vernacular and team structure.

3. Goals – Create realistic milestones and actions

A goal without a plan is just a wish. Start your plan by establishing a baseline using a scientifically validated instrument to measure engagement. The baseline provides insights into problems that are affecting engagement and which problems to prioritize.

Managers need to be held accountable for engagement metrics. Help them incorporate engagement into their team goals and individual employee goals. Employees thrive when they understand how their contribution has an impact on the company’s revenue.

4. Communication – Be genuine and consistent

The common thread tying these tips together is consistency and communication. If you are not consistent or genuine, employees notice and lose interest.

Communication is key to making sure all employees are on the same page and stay in the loop. Your plan must be connected to ALL employees in order to improve engagement.

When you survey employees, ask them what types of content they want to receive and which communication channels they prefer. You may be able to adjust/eliminate some channels and make adjustments to others. When you listen to your audience, you should see an immediate improvement in engagement.

If your employees indicate a preference for digital communication, we can help you determine the best solution for your organization and your employees. Give us a call and we’ll give you an unbiased recommendation (promise!).