A New Year - 3 Time Tested Ways to Keep Employees Engaged

3 Minutes Read

Another great year is behind us (insert digital sarcasm). We are in a new beginning and the trends around giving employees a positive experience, meaningful interactions with managers, and having senior leaders speak directly to employees making a difference are top of mind. 

I was recently the guest on a leading HR podcast and the discussion focused on the advice I have for senior leadership. A fun surprise is that I don’t focus on tech and buzzwords. I continue to highlight the human element of human resources is what is helping our clients stand out. Tech is a tool to fulfill the good things people want to acknowledge at work. 

3 Time Tested Ways to Engage


Be Authentic At Work:  This is something that I can’t stress enough. For some reason, authentic cultures are intimidating to many senior leaders. They fear employees may expect too much from the organization or misinterpret how to live the values. We are reminded that leading an organization is very challenging and we are not saying every last thing needs to be soft and open. 

What we are saying is that we can stop for a minute and think who do we, as a society, consider inauthentic. Politicians who promise and then don’t deliver.  Celebrities who cry about wanting privacy while doing things designed to generate publicity? The list goes on and on and we just roll our eyes and ignore them. 

Forming trust within the workplace is possible and yields positive results. This is a classic, time-test organizational behavior approach. 

Genuine Interactions Are the Best–This is the act of being authentic at work. If authenticity is the philosophy, genuine is putting the approach into practice. We all have silly work stories where someone was trying to be genuine and they fell on their face. It’s okay to laugh. 

It is the counterpoint to the inauthenticity many employees see. This is your managers recognizing employees for their contributions and successes as they happen. The closer the reward and recognition are to the employees scope of responsibility and the accomplishment of the task the more powerful and memorable the reward is going to be. 

Always Engage Forever-This is something that I am always telling HR executives to do when I’m meeting with them about KangoGift. Of course they all say very quickly that, “of course we are doing that,”  but when I press home for examples of how I hear common examples or a claim that the higher ups are opposed. Employees feel isolated and unappreciated.  Organizations who fail are the ones who think “well we treat them great.”  

It’s not about treating them great, or thinking that you do.  Instead it’s about making them feel like they are contributing something of value and consequence. 

I’ll leave you with 3 takeaways. But before I do I’d like you to think of this, the recommendations I make seem to be very simple at first. But your culture makes them very complex, even complicated. Consider how they will be implemented before you see them one way or the other. 

I recommend you:

Always be authentic–Many workers assume their employers are not so you are starting from behind the 8 ball. Set reasonable promises, over deliver, and be real with your employees. Train managers to treat team members as intelligent adults; not cogs in your machine.

Be genuine in your interactions with your employees–Treat your employees as intelligent human beings.  Recognize what they do when they do it. Don’t treat them as faceless and nameless numbers.  It’s that easy!  It’s also really hard!

Assume you’re not engaging your employees enough and then engage them some more–I am asked a lot should I engage with my employees more.  My answer to that is not only should you engage with them more, you should engage with them better.  If you’re concerned about engaging with your employees, the logical conclusion is that you are not doing it enough and you’re not doing a great job at it.  Whatever you’re doing you need to double down and do it some more. 

I’m firmly convinced that 2022 will be a year of more challenges. Try to anticipate what they are going to be is the fun, and scary, part.  You are fortunate in that there are some choices you can make today that will better position you to be ready for them and emerge stronger down the road.  

Welcome to 2022!

Todd Horton