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Employee Engagement: How To Develop Your Action Plan (+Free Template)

Anthony Cotter

Creative Director

31 Jan 2023

Employee engagement is the rocket fuel that powers every successful business. According to Gallup, engaged employees are more productive, have lower absenteeism rates, and are more invested in the company’s success. Plus, low engagement rates are estimated to cost US businesses up to $550 billion annually. 

However, despite the evidence, only 40% of organizations have an employee engagement program. 

It’s tempting to sit back and cross your fingers that your company’s engagement improves. But unfortunately, that isn’t going to work. If you want to reap the benefits of good employee engagement, you need to put in the work to get there – which is where an employee engagement plan comes in. 

To get you started, here’s all you need to know about improving employee engagement at your organization (stick around until the end for our downloadable employee engagement survey template).

What Is an Employee Engagement Plan?

Employee engagement describes how invested your employees are in their jobs. A highly engaged employee will be enthusiastic, dedicated, and emotionally committed to their position, work, and company values and goals. They can do great things for your company – and as you’ve probably already guessed, an employee engagement plan is how you get there.

An employee engagement plan is a strategic playbook outlining a series of prioritized tasks that your organization believes will increase engagement and improve company culture. This plan includes short-term actions that your team can implement immediately, as well as long-term ideas for improved employee engagement.

These plans are great vehicles for kickstarting employee engagement in your organization: They help you turn strategy into action. Another reason this kind of plan is so helpful is that it’s highly customized to your workers, focusing on what will incentivize them to be more engaged at work.

Your plan evaluates your company’s current state of employee engagement and outlines goals you hope to reach. From there, you can pull actionable insights to develop specific action plans to help you accomplish those engagement goals.

Examples of Employee Engagement

What does employee engagement look like in real life? Here are a few characteristics that can help identify an engaged employee:

  • Shows up to work on time and with a positive attitude
  • Happily collaborates with other team members, working together toward team goals without complaint
  • Accepts feedback gracefully and offers constructive feedback to others

If you don’t see as many of these traits among your staff as you’d like to, you may seek to improve engagement by:

  • Recognizing and rewarding examples of good employee leadership or engagement
  • Offering a competitive salary and benefits package 
  • Improving internal communications so everyone can easily access what they need.

Why It’s Important To Use an Employee Engagement Plan

Because employee engagement is so important, it’s not something you want to leave up to chance. A solid plan will make it easy to measure and maintain engagement. 

When you develop a written plan, you’re more likely to achieve that goal. You have your sights on something clear, measurable, and achievable. This way, employee engagement won’t feel like such a puzzle: you’ll know exactly what you need to do and how you need to do it to improve engagement across the board.

4 Steps for Developing an Employee Engagement Strategy

As you prepare to develop your employee engagement strategy, we recommend following four main steps. Addressing each step in order will result in a strong plan to increase engagement in your organization. 

1) Set the Overall Objectives For Your Plan

The first step is to set an overall vision for your plan. This is important because it will serve as a foundation for the rest of your strategy. You have to know where you’re going to get there efficiently – and that’s what this first step does.

To find your objectives, answer the question: what do you want the employee engagement plan to achieve? Each business is different, but possible goals include the following:

  • Lower staff absenteeism
  • Higher employee retention rates (and reduced turnover)
  • Greater productivity
  • More employee motivation and happiness
  • Better customer satisfaction
  • Improved organizational culture.

Identify no more than one or two main objectives. This will help you maximize your chances of success. An overall purpose will provide a focus for the plan’s detailed action points.

2) Evaluate the Current State of Employee Engagement

The next step is to involve staff in determining where you are at with employee engagement. By figuring out where things stand right now, you’ll have a better idea of where you’re starting from and the primary areas that need to improve.

Use employee pulse surveys, focus groups, and team meetings to determine your performance. Ask workers for their views on what needs to improve via an employee engagement survey, and work with staff to explore their key drivers for being engaged at work.

According to Achievers, top drivers of employee engagement include:

  • Recognition
  • Feedback
  • Culture
  • Team
  • Empowerment
  • Development
  • Work-life balance
  • Expectations
  • Purpose
  • Role
  • Manager support
  • Leadership and strategy 

It’s important to gather employee feedback to fully understand the current state of health and key drivers for employee engagement in your business. This vital step will help you identify the detailed priorities for your plan.

3) Identify Targets and Actions That Will Make Your Plan a Success

Step one shows where you’re going. Step two shows where you started from. Step three shows how you’ll get there.

Now that you know your priority areas, it’s time to work up the plan’s detailed actions and targets. These are the solutions that will help you achieve the overall objective.

The targets in your plan should be clear and well-defined. In this context, the SMART framework is a useful tool. SMART is an acronym that stands for the following:

  • S = Specific: Try to set clearly defined targets, so there’s no room for misunderstanding.
  • M = Measurable: Be clear about how you will measure success.
  • A = Attainable: Stick to targets that you know you have a reasonable chance of achieving.
  • R = Relevant: Make sure targets are consistent with team and company objectives.
  • T = Timebound: Set a timeline for completion. It’s also a good idea to assign ownership, so it’s clear who is responsible for delivery.

Try to include a mix of short and long-term goals. If this is your first employee engagement plan, the workforce will expect fast results. And a few quick wins is a great way to get staff on board with the plan. Plus, it signals to employees just how serious you are about employee engagement.

4) Incorporate Review Mechanisms for Your Plan

All the best plans (employee engagement or not) include regular opportunities to review your progress. Things can (and do) change – so you want to make sure you’re staying on track.

Get the senior management team involved in reviewing performance. This should happen at least quarterly. Review what’s gone well and what aspects could be improved, and be sure to share any lessons learned throughout the entire organization.

Most importantly, find ways to report progress to staff. Use all internal communications channels to update employees, including employee communication platforms and internal social media, plus newsletters and team briefings.

The company’s credibility is on the line with employees, so don’t compromise on this crucial step.

Essential Components for an Employee Engagement Plan

Now you know how to create your own employee engagement plan from the ground up. Below, we’ll highlight some of the most essential components that every engagement plan should include.

(If you’re ready to dive in headfirst, you can jump over to our full template here.)

Action Item

Your action item asks: What is the action that has to be taken to improve employee engagement?

This action item gets down into the nitty-gritty, looking at areas of improvement to figure out what exactly needs to happen to reach your goals.

Maybe you’re having trouble with employee retention. You’re noticing that team members aren’t staying at their jobs with your company for very long. In this case, the action item might be a more competitive salary package or offering different benefits. 

Action Description

Your action description is simply a description of the action that has to be taken. Be as detailed as possible in this section.

For instance, you might write, “We will research our competitors to see what kind of salary packages they’re offering. We will also survey our employees with a questionnaire to see what kind of benefits they’d like. Then we will put together a new sample package for review and approval.”


The owner is the name or position of the person or people championing this initiative. When you assign a project to one specific person (or team) and give them a deadline, it’s much more likely to actually get done. In this case, it might be your human resources team.

Timeframe and Deadline

The final component you should include is a timeline. Pick a specific date by which this action needs to be implemented. If there are any review periods, you’ll want to add those, too.

The exact timeframe will vary depending on the scope of your action item. Your implementation team could complete some tasks in a week, while others might need several months. 

Benefits of an Engaged Workforce

The benefits your organization will see by cultivating a more engaged workforce are virtually endless. Here are a few of the top advantages you’ll enjoy.

Increased Employee Retention

Engaged employees are more likely to stick with your company for the long haul. Data from Workday reveals that an employee’s engagement can show warning signs nine months before the person leaves the organization. And this statistic only makes sense: If someone is committed to your company, treated well, and cares about their work, why would they want to leave?

Heightened Productivity in the Workplace

An engaged employee is a productive employee. Companies that have strong employee engagement are more profitable by 21%. This is because employees who are engaged at work get more done in less time, helping employee performance increase. 

Improved Team Collaboration and Communication

A group of employees with high job satisfaction will find it easier to work together than a group of clock-watchers. Engagement produces better communication – and communication results in better engagement.

Positive Workplace Culture

Culture can sometimes be amorphous and difficult to pin down or create. Engagement is key. Engaged employees will naturally exemplify your values, helping foster that sense of culture in the work environment (even with remote work). 

Use the Free Employee Engagement Template From Workvivo To Elevate Your Workforce

An employee engagement plan certainly takes commitment and effort on your part. But don’t write it off as being too hard. With the steps we’ve identified here and our free template, it’s easier than ever to create an effective employee engagement strategy to get your employees in the game.

Want to learn more about how our employee communication platform at Workvivo can increase engagement levels and improve the employee experience? Get started with our template, or book a free demo today.