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The Business Leader’s Definitive Guide to Employee Engagement

If we’ve learned anything over the last three years, it’s that employees are struggling . . . a lot. Dealing with a pandemic, rising costs of living, and increasing mental health concerns have led many employees to feel burned out and disengaged at work.

Fifty million Americans changed jobs in 2022.1 And that trend is likely to continue if employers don’t pay attention to their employees’ engagement at work. Employees are looking for anything that could be better. Better pay. Better benefits. Better commute. Better work-life balance.

It can feel pretty impossible to satisfy every employee’s wants and needs. What if you focused on building an engaged workforce instead? You can light the spark that gets your employees fired up! Let’s dig into what you need to know about employee engagement and how you can improve it at your company.

What Is Employee Engagement?

Employee engagement refers to an employee’s involvement and enthusiasm for their work and the workplace. Employers will notice that engaged employees have a natural appreciation and love for their job and all it involves. Engaged employees are more mentally and emotionally invested in their work and the workplace.

Think about a time an employee went out of their way to address a need without being asked. That’s what a truly engaged employee looks like! They anticipate the needs of others and consistently step up to the plate. But employee engagement comes in all shapes and sizes.

Four Levels of Engagement

There are four different levels of engagement. Let’s take a minute to explore each one so you can give your employees the support they need wherever they are.

1. High Engagement

Highly engaged employees love their job and the workplace. They’re big fans of your business and care about improving the company culture. And they help others stay engaged at work. Think of these employees as internal brand leaders.

2. Moderate Engagement

Moderately engaged employees like their job and the workplace—but something is keeping them from being fully engaged. It could be a professional or personal concern. They probably do great work and enjoy the company culture, but they aren’t actively contribute to growing the company culture).

3. Low Engagement

Employees with low engagement show up most days but aren’t passionate about their work or the workplace. They’re a turnover risk. And they’re likely bringing down your company’s culture. They can still do good work, but they don’t go above and beyond to wow your customers.

4. No Engagement

Employees who aren’t engaged at all don’t want to be at work, period. They’re actively researching new jobs and doing the bare minimum. Their negative attitude affects their work ethic and ends up affecting others. These are the employees you need to set free so they can find work they’re passionate about.

How Do You Spot a Disengaged Employee?

One of the most difficult parts of monitoring employee engagement at your company is figuring out which employees are at each level. Knowing where your employees are will help you serve them better.

So, how do you spot employees who are disengaged? Well, this is one of those many times when their actions speak louder than their words.

At Ramsey Solutions, we use our core values—the attitudes and actions that are important to us as a company—to establish the baseline for employee engagement and help us recognize when a team member is less engaged than usual. When we see a team member not display these core values, the door is open to have helpful conversations.


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In our talks, we may find that the team member is going through something at home, or they’re stressed about a conflict with another team member. Now, the leader knows how to support them as they get back on track. The chart below shows some of the warning signs our leaders look for to spot a team member who’s struggling to stay engaged.

How do you spot a disengaged employee?

Now it’s your turn! Make a list of four to six desired traits you want to see in your employees and explain what it looks like when someone does and doesn’t display those traits. That clarity should allow you to spot your most engaged and least engaged employees as you look around your company.  

Important note: Now that you’ve defined your desired traits, you need to cast vision and communicate them to your team and to potential new hires. It’s important for everyone to know what’s expected of them when they work for you.

Why Is Employee Engagement Important?

Now, you might be wondering if employee engagement is necessary for your business to succeed. The simple answer is yes! Everyone in your company should be engaged in shaping your company’s culture. From your younger employees to those about to retire, everyone’s engagement level affects your company’s culture.

4 Benefits of an Engaged Workforce

It’s important for your company to have a fully engaged workforce. Here’s how having engaged employees will benefit you as a business leader:

1. Higher Productivity

An engaged workforce is 18% more productive than a disengaged workforce.2 As you make hires, focus on applicants who are highly or moderately engaged. They’ll continue increasing company productivity and offering your customers the best service possible.

2. Loyal Employees

Highly engaged employees tend to be more loyal. Team members who are bought into the company and are culture creators stay around longer and help the business grow—professionally and culturally. And with highly engaged employees, your turnover rate could drop by 43%.3

3. Improved Customer Satisfaction

Engaged employees naturally take care of their customers. And the numbers back that up.  Gallup found the most engaged teams have a 10% improvement in customer loyalty.4

4. Lower Absenteeism

Having an engaged workforce dramatically reduces absenteeism because engaged employees have a sense of purpose and feel fulfilled by their work. Improving employee engagement levels reduces absenteeism by 81%.5 Imagine the kind of amazing work your company can do when employees show up more often and are engaged and fulfilled at work.

When your business is filled with engaged workers, you’ll notice a drastic shift in your culture. Your employees won’t feel detached or overwhelmed as much because they won’t feel isolated. Instead, they’ll know they have a support system at work.

How to Increase Employee Engagement

Guess what? You can start increasing employee engagement right away. Here are some strategies we use at Ramsey Solutions:

1. Listen to Your Employees

Employee engagement doesn’t have to be complicated. It can be as simple as listening to your employees and building relationships with them. Of course, when you give your employees the chance to tell you what they like and don’t like about working for you, you’re probably going to hear things you don’t like. And while that’s tough, it’s an important step in building trust with your team. And it will lead to better communication and company culture in the long run.

The best way to get feedback from your team is through effective communication in the form of one-on-one conversations and team meetings with a specific focus. Taking the time to hear your employees’ concerns, answer their questions, and address larger issues that affect them speaks volumes about you as a leader—aka your employees will respect you even more for it.

2. Think Outside the Box

When you want different results, you have to try different things. So, get creative with your employee engagement strategies.

At Ramsey Solutions, we hold team events like happy hours, spelling bees, Battle of the Bands and so much more to help people engage at work. Remember: Engagement is about employees being bought into their work and the workplace. Events like these are a great way to show employee appreciation, build relationships and allow team members to have shared experiences outside of the work they do.

When you’re trying out ideas, let your employees tell you what they like:

  • Are they talking about certain events in a good or bad way?
  • Are they showing up to events and excited about them?

Learn as you go and try new ideas. Eventually, you’ll see what works, and you can stick with the winners!

3. Offer Benefits That Provide Lifestyle Change

Employees who are well—physically, mentally and financially—are more likely to be engaged. That’s why at Ramsey Solutions, we do things a little differently. We offer benefits like fitness and counseling reimbursements.

And you can be different too. The 2022 SmartDollar Employee Benefits Study shows that 73% of employees think a financial wellness benefit, like SmartDollar, is an important part of a comprehensive compensation package. But only 23% of employers offer one.

Adjusting to life post-pandemic has had its challenges—inflation and cost of living has dramatically increased. Your employees are feeling these effects and are experiencing financial stress. You can provide life-change for all your employees by offering a financial wellness benefit that helps them change their money habits and improve their stress levels. SmartDollar, an employee financial wellness benefit, gives your employees hope and a chance to change their financial outlook for the better—forever.

Benefits like this show you care for your team and that they matter to you.

What Should You Do With Disengaged Employees?

When you notice disengaged employees, the first thing you should do is talk with them. Following a conversation, you want to put our engagement methods into practice. If employees are disengaged, you can’t expect them to re-engage by themselves. They need your help along the way.

Unfortunately, even after putting our practices into effect, you may find some employees aren’t interested. At this point, you may need to make a tough decision for you and your company and let these employees go so they can find a new position and company they’re passionate about.

A disengaged employee is “quietly quitting” and not being as productive as you need them to be. And if they won’t reengage at work after weeks and months of intervention and changes, they’ll only slow down your company’s progress and growth.

Who Is Involved in Improving Employee Engagement?

You are! That’s the incredible thing about employee engagement—you get to decide how to improve it. You are the hero in this story. There are so many ways you can start getting employees engaged in their work. And when you’re ready to drive employee engagement, make your job easier by connecting with these departments:

  • HR: Brainstorm and research strategies together to increase engagement. Then roll out and implement approved strategies during onboarding and throughout the year.
  • Finance: Ask them to help you set and track your budget your for employee engagement activities throughout the year.
  • Leadership: Depending on the size of your business, you may need leaders from other departments to step in and offer activity ideas and budgeting tips.

How to Measure Employee Engagement

Measuring employee engagement is just as important as increasing it. Once you’ve put your employee engagement strategies in place, you need a way to measure their effectiveness. Spend your time and money wisely by speaking with employees, using multiple reports, and observing your employees in the workplace. Here are a few ways Ramsey Solutions measures active employee engagement:

Team Member Feedback

Get an idea of what your employees are feeling and thinking by talking with them. One-on-one conversations give you unfiltered access to how your employees are doing. Ask questions related to your engagement efforts—what do they like, what would they like to see changed, and what are some ideas they have?

You want the most accurate reading of how your employees are feeling, so ask the tough questions and prepare for tough answers.

Key Results Areas (KRAs)

When employees have clear criteria for success, they’re more engaged in their work. That’s why we use a KRA to capture each employees’ goals for the year. The employee makes these goals with their leader so everyone is aware and accountable.

A KRA also gives employees a clear idea of how their role fits in the overall mission of the company. When people feel like they’re a part of something bigger, it gives them meaning and encourages them to be more involved. KRAs are a great tool for boosting engagement and passion.

Weekly Reports

As Ramsey Solutions has grown over the last 30 years, we’ve gone from placing Weekly Reports on our CEO’s desk to sending digital reports directly to our leaders. And we’ve learned new ways to collect insight from our team members to figure out how leaders can serve them better.

In their Weekly Reports, team members share their highs and lows of the week, their stress and workload levels, and their morale. These reports tell leaders everything they need to know about how their team members are doing as a person, not just an employee.

Leaders can also track patterns in their team members’ responses over the weeks and months. This opens the door to good conversations that can address problems early on—before they become big issues.  

Are You Ready to Engage Your Employees?

Just like a fire, involvement and enthusiasm don’t just happen—you have to light it. And it all starts with a spark. If you’re finding that most of your employees are disengaged, it’s time to put our methods into practice.

We know you need hope right now. “Quiet quitting” is real. Layoffs are happening like crazy. And you deserve a foolproof way to engage your employees so you can retain them for years to come.

You can do this. Visit for more free resources on how to improve employee engagement and retention.

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Ramsey Solutions

About the author


Ramsey Solutions has been committed to helping people regain control of their money, build wealth, grow their leadership skills, and enhance their lives through personal development since 1992. Millions of people have used our financial advice through 22 books (including 12 national bestsellers) published by Ramsey Press, as well as two syndicated radio shows and 10 podcasts, which have over 17 million weekly listeners. Learn More.

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