Table of Contents

Employee engagement is a hot topic in the business world today - and no wonder because highly engaged employees benefit your business. But in all the discussions about the best ways to engage employees, one very important group is left out: managers. 

According to one Gallup research, the manager determines 70% of the variance in team engagement. Moreover, A study by Trade Press Services has shown that 85% of employees say they’re most motivated and engaged when management regularly updates company news.

Gallup has found that only 35% of managers have engaged themselves. And with the relationship between employees and their managers as a critical part of the overall work environment, disengaged managers could be dragging down the entire team members.

So, what can you do to raise engagement levels among your managers?

We've got plenty of great ideas for you on engaging managers. This article explores why employee engagement is important to management, why it is important for engaging managers, how to engage managers, and details on employee engagement tools for managers - like Empuls.

Why is employee engagement important to management?

Engagement levels in the workplace are a vital measure of the connection an employee feels to their work, their team, and your company. If an employee feels the work they do every day contributes to the success of something larger than themselves - your team, your business, or the broader community or world - they're more likely to go above and beyond in their role.

Engaged employees are inspiring to be around, excellent at their jobs, and essential to the success of your business. Don't take our word for it - there's plenty of data out there to support this case.

Engaged employees make your company:

β†  89% more likely to delight customers

β†  17% more productive

β†  21% more profitable

β†  20% higher sales

So engaging your employees is essential to your future success. That's why many companies run annual or pulse engagement surveys to measure how they're doing. Without highly engaged employees, your business won't reach its full potential.

Engaging managers matters

But it's not just your individual contributors who need to be engaged, though that's often the focus of employee engagement surveys and efforts. Engaging managers matter too. It might be one of the biggest factors in your employees' engagement levels as well.

Surprised to hear that? It's pretty intuitive, really. Managers have a huge impact on the daily lives of employees. They direct tasks, explain company policies and priorities, and often play a large role in compensation and promotions.

But good managers also have a strong impact on their teams. Employees who receive daily feedback from their manager are three times more likely to be engaged than those who only get feedback once a year (or even less). Good managers can raise your engagement levels while struggling or bad ones can tank it.

Keeping managers in mind

Managers are often saddled with the task of raising engagement rates among their teams by senior leadership. After all, leaders often assume those managers know their teams best and have such a strong impact on the daily employee experience - shouldn't they be accountable for engagement?

But since such a small portion of managers are engaged themselves (just 35% according to the Gallup survey cited above), asking them to take on the task of engaging employees when they're disengaged doesn't set anyone up for success.

Instead, it's better to raise the engagement levels of managers themselves if you have a significant employee engagement problem at your workplace. Those efforts will pay off in spades as both your managers and their teams become increasingly engaged at work.

5 Tips on how to engage managers

So how can you engage managers effectively? Many of the same employee engagement tips that work for employees apply to managers as well - they're all human beings who work at your company, after all.

But there are a few tips specific to the manager's role in employee engagement that you should try to raise engagement rates among your managers.

1. Develop their communication skills

No one wants to think of themselves as unskilled communicators. But unfortunately, communicating clearly and effectively doesn't come naturally to most people. Many managers get into their roles by excelling at their job skills, and not necessarily for their people and communication skills.

That can leave them frustrated and confused when they need to communicate organizational priorities or have difficult conversations with employees. Offering corporate communications training can bridge this gap and help managers feel more confident in having important conversations.

2. Create a culture of recognition

When it comes to recognition, are your managers giving much more than they're getting? The onus is often put on managers to offer plenty of recognition and rewards to the employees on their teams. While that's an important role, managers themselves also deserve to receive regular recognition when they're doing excellent work.

This doesn't mean that you need to encourage employees to recognize their managers - that can get tricky formally. But developing a strong peer-to-peer recognition system can help fill in some of these gaps as managers support and shout out each other's great work.

And senior leadership should also make a real effort to recognize and reward their managers on a regular basis as well. If you're looking for a tech-forward solution to make recognition and rewards simply at every level of your organization, you'll find it in Empuls.

3. Build trust and transparency

Managers are the most frequent conduit of information from the higher levels of leadership down to individual employees. It's not reasonable to expect that you can always provide managers with every detail that went into making a complex corporate decision there are security issues at stake there.

But offering them as much information as you can so they feel they're getting as much of the story as possible will help them trust you more.

That trust will be reflected in their conversations with employees about topics like reorganizations, policy changes, promotions, and compensation. If managers feel they can trust your senior leaders, that will trickle down through their discussions with employees. If they think you're holding back vital information, employees won't feel that sense of trust.

4. Engage with empathy

Your managers are often asked to be on the frontlines of uncomfortable conversations with the employee while ensuring tasks get completed on time and the department runs smoothly. Add in the lack of recognition that often accompanies a managerial position, and you can see how managers can become disengaged.

Approaching managers with empathy when you're telling them about a new challenge they need to take on or a way in which they need to improve can help improve your relationship with your managers.

While that doesn't mean they can escape all the less-fun parts of the manager role, knowing that you acknowledge and understand what they're going through can help them feel supported and engaged.

5. Communicate the why

How do you approach it when you assign your managers tasks, projects, or conversations with their team? Do you tell them what they need to do, or do you take the time to explain why you're asking them to take on this task? Just like employee engagement needs to explain why what they do contributes to something larger, it's vital to do the same with your managers.

When managers understand the why behind the tasks they're asked to take on, they are typically more eager to accomplish them because they know it's not just busyworkβ€”what they're doing has real value.

That feeling of value and significance is one of the major components of engagement, so it will boost your managers' engagement rate. And when they understand the why, they'll also be better able to communicate to employees to increase their engagement as well. It's a real win-win.

How to measure manager engagement?

Knowing how to increase manager engagement is essential. But measuring your manager's engagement levels is a step that can't be ignored. It's a mistake (though a common one) to lump all employees into one big bucket when you're running an employee engagement survey.

While knowing the overall engagement levels at your company is certainly important, it's also important to measure manager engagement levels precisely.

Why? That's so you can decipher where your engagement problems (and successes) lieβ€”are your employees pretty engaged, but your managers are struggling, or vice versa? Only when you have that concrete data can you find a real and lasting solution to raise your engagement rates effectively.

When you run an employee engagement survey through a platform like Empuls, you should be able to segment your survey data by employee level. (If you're looking for the best way to find the right engagement survey vendor for your needs, check out our guide).

Digging deep into where engagement levels currently are with your managers and where you see plenty of room for improvement can allow you to tackle issues in a targeted way and measure your progress as you go.

Employee engagement tools for managers

Empuls is a holistic employee engagement software built to suit organizations of all sizes and employees of all kinds. The platform offers Rewards & Recognition, Pulse Surveys, eNPS surveys, 1-on-1 Feedback, Social Intranet, and People Analytics in one powerful solution - not only to engage employees but also to have well-defined features for engaging managers.

Empuls makes peer-to-peer recognition fun with its social-media-like interactions, built-in rewards catalog, custom badges and stickers, reward workflows and much more. Trusted by 1000+ brands across the globe, Empuls helps organizations to build high-performing teams that are aligned to organizational culture and values.

Unlock the Biggest Secret of Engagement to Retain your Top Performers.
Learn how

Kathleen O'Donnell

Kathleen O'Donnell LinkedIn

Kathleen is a freelance writer and employee communications and culture expert, with 6+ years of experience in corporate internal communications.