The Manager’s Guide to Foster Engagement and Retain Top Talent

February 22, 2024

Picture this – It’s been a busy week. You’ve been focused on wrapping up that big project before the week comes to a close.  Before you know it, it’s 3PM on a Friday, and your star performer walks into your office. She hands you her resignation. You feel frustration, shock and disappointment. You’ve been here before. But you didn’t expect it this time. 

You know that typically disengaged employees tend to not be focused on their work, experience absenteeism and may miss deadlines. But this one, it took you by surprise. You pour your heart and soul into leading your team, but sometimes it feels like your efforts are missing the mark.

Does this sound familiar? 

Here’s the good news: you’re not alone, and you’re not powerless. Forget the finger-pointing and blame games. The secret to a thriving, engaged team isn’t solely an HR initiative; it’s right there in your hands. 

Imagine, with a few key strategies, you can transform your team from disengaged to driven, becoming the retention rockstar your company needs.

Here’s the truth: HR sets the stage for employee engagement. Executive leadership supports and is a champion for culture initiatives. But you, the manager, serve a special role in this partnership. Think of your team as talented individuals, each with their own unique strengths and motivations. Your role is to create a harmonious environment where those strengths can shine, fostering a sense of purpose and connection that goes beyond just ticking boxes.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: “But I’m just one person, and I’m already swamped!” Relax, this isn’t about adding more stress to your plate. It’s about leveraging your unique position to make a real difference. No one knows your team like you do. You see their strengths, hear their concerns, and have the power to create a positive, supportive environment where they can thrive.

This blog is for you. Think of it as your personal guide to employee engagement. This blog is filled with strategies, not jargon. It contains realistic ideas, not false promises. Consider these actionable steps you can take right away to become the leader your team needs and deserves.

Why Should Managers Care About Engagement?

Forget ping pong tables and trendy perks. Employee engagement goes deeper. It’s about creating a space where individuals feel connected, valued, and motivated to give their best. Here’s what research says about employee engagement:

  • Companies with highly engaged employees are 21% more profitable (Forbes)
  • Employees are three times as likely to explore their options if they don’t feel supported (Tiny Pulse)
  • 70% of the variance in team engagement is determined solely by the manager. (Gallup)

Managers often are the first to see when employees make that switch from engaged to disengaged. They are counting on you to show support and encouragement. Do you see this key driver you serve with the connection to your employees’ engagement?

Engagement’s Impact Beyond Numbers

Employee engagement isn’t just about metrics and numbers; it’s about a ripple effect that transforms your entire organization. It binds your team together and creates positivity throughout your organization, with:

  • Improved morale and well-being: Engaged employees feel happier and more fulfilled, leading to a positive work environment.
  • Reduced stress and burnout: Less disengagement means less stress and burnout, both for you and your team.
  • Stronger team spirit and collaboration: Fostering connection and purpose leads to a more cohesive and supportive team dynamic.
  • Enhanced agility and adaptability: Engaged teams are more flexible and able to adapt to change, giving you a competitive edge.
  • Sustainable success: Ultimately, a company built on engagement thrives in the long run.

By investing in your people, you cultivate a culture of innovation, resilience, and long-term success that benefits everyone involved. Now that you see the importance and benefits, let’s talk about how to make it happen.  

Manager’s Toolkit: 5 Ways to Spark Engagement in Your Team

Now the big question: how do you translate these benefits into reality? Here are 5 actionable steps:

  1. Become a Communication Catalyst:
  • Implement one-on-one conversations. Regularly engage in meaningful, two-way conversations through regular meetings, check-ins, and open-door policies. Encourage questions, concerns, and feedback without judgment.
  • Become a transparency champion. Share company goals, challenges, and successes, fostering a sense of shared purpose and involvement.
  • Actively listen, truly listen. Pay attention to verbal and nonverbal cues, acknowledge concerns, and show genuine interest in their perspectives.
  1. Invest in Learning and Development Opportunities:
  • Conduct skills assessments. Show your team you’re committed to their growth by identifying individual strengths and development needs. Offer personalized training, mentorship programs, and opportunities to learn new skills.
  • Empower career ownership. Encourage team members to set individual goals aligned with their aspirations and the company’s needs. Provide resources and support to help them achieve those goals.
  • Celebrate learning and development. Recognize and appreciate individuals who actively seek out and participate in learning opportunities.
  1. Recognize and Appreciate:
  • Tailor recognition to preferences. Acknowledge individual contributions, big and small. Some may crave public praise, while others prefer private acknowledgment. Ask and respect their choices.
  • Connect recognition to values. Highlight how individual actions embody the company’s core values, reinforcing their importance and impact.
  • Offer diverse rewards. Consider flexible work arrangements, personalized gifts, or opportunities for development alongside traditional methods. Remember, a simple “thank you” can go a long way.
  1. Be a Champion of Psychological Safety:
  • Create a safe space for vulnerability. Encourage open communication and honest feedback, even when it’s critical. Avoid punishing mistakes and foster a culture of learning from them.
  • Respect diverse perspectives and opinions. Encourage healthy debate and disagreement without personal attacks or negativity. Focus on finding solutions collaboratively.  Support open communication and avoid a culture of blame
  • Lead by example. Be open to feedback yourself and demonstrate a willingness to learn and grow. This encourages others to do the same.
  1. Align Individual Goals with the Bigger Picture:
  • Clearly communicate the company’s mission, vision, and values. Help your team understand how their individual roles contribute to the larger picture and to the company’s mission and goals. 
  • Empower decision-making and ownership. Give them opportunities to contribute meaningfully to projects and initiatives. Foster a sense of purpose and meaning in their work.
  • Celebrate collective achievements. Recognize and reward team successes that demonstrate progress towards the company’s goals.

Employee engagement isn’t a quick fix or a destination; it’s an ongoing journey. By incorporating these steps and continuously seeking feedback, you can create a thriving, engaged team that drives your organization’s success. 

Conclusion: Your Engagement Champion Status Starts Now

Be patient, experiment, and adapt your approach as needed. Every team is unique, and what works for one might not work for another. By consistently implementing these action items, seeking feedback from your team, you will demonstrate your genuine commitment to their growth and well-being.

Remember you’re not alone. HR is your partner in success, providing resources, guidance, and support. Together, you can create a thriving work environment where employees feel valued, motivated, and inspired to bring their best selves to work every day. So, step up, embrace your role as an engagement champion and watch as your efforts translate into reduced turnover, boosted productivity, and a vibrant, dynamic team that propels your organization forward.

Ready to become the retention rockstar your company needs? Start embracing the power of employee engagement today!


Employee engagement data is a powerful tool, but it’s just one piece of the puzzle. To truly unlock its potential, you need to build a culture of engagement where your people feel heard, valued, and empowered. To explore more ideas and strategies for supporting a corporate culture that leads to becoming and maintaining an award-winning workplace, check my book, CULTURE IMPACT. This comprehensive resource will empower you to take steps to create an extraordinary workplace culture and unlock your organization’s full potential.

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Hello, I’m Angie

I help business leaders and HR professionals improve their workplace culture and increase employee engagement so that they can focus on running their organization.

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