How to Create an Employee Engagement Action Plan in 3 Steps

“Here are your team’s engagement results, now go brainstorm an action plan.”

We hear it all the time. Managers are given their team’s engagement results, and then left guessing about how to improve their team’s experience. No wonder it’s so difficult to meaningfully increase outcomes like engagement and retention.

In fact, an executive at a large healthcare organization recently told us that many of their managers have stopped paying attention to their team’s engagement results because they don’t know what to do to make improvements.

Creating an action plan that works doesn’t have to be a daunting task. Here are three crucial steps in creating an effective action plan to finally move the needle on engagement:

1. Make sure you’re asking about employee experiences that powerfully drive engagement

2. Identify the top 2 focus areas for your team

3. Implement actions proven to work

By putting yourself in your employees’ shoes and nonjudgmentally understanding their perspective, you will better understand their feelings, the challenges they’re facing, and how best to act. Furthermore, taking employees’ perspective encourages better problem solving and self-initiated action, because they know they’ve been listened to and that you are in their corner.

Keep the following in mind when you are discussing issues with your team, particularly when they come to you with something they want to discuss:
•   Hearing negative feelings is hard and the natural instinct is to either defend them or “solve them.” Both strategies will leave the employee feeling unheard. While there will be a time for problem solving, be sure to acknowledge that you’ve heard the negative feelings loud and clear, without judgment.
•   Next, focus on the specific things that are at the root of the problem. Avoid talking about criticisms of people—focus on the actions that are evoking the frustrations (i.e. “When Bob does X, you are feeling Y”).
•    Discuss with the employee how you’d like to address the issues together, making sure to include them in the solution.

In summary, creating an effective employee engagement action plan involves:

  1. measuring the experiences that matter most
  2. identifying the top focus areas
  3. implementing proven actions to improve those focus areas

The result? Managers will finally know exactly what to do next and can lean into your employee engagement survey as a useful, pain-free tool to improve their team’s engagement and retention. What’s more, employees will finally feel heard after seeing their feedback being put to good use.

Learn more about how to support employees’ autonomy, mastery, and relatedness:

Download Manager Guide Read Blog: How to Support Your Team’s Autonomy