10 drivers of improving employee engagement

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Picture of Dawn Heiberg
Dawn Heiberg

The job of any good communications professional is to keep employees highly engaged. Employee engagement is critical to productivity and retaining/attracting employees, and engaged employees increase motivation among the entire workforce and enable others to feel as though they have a stake in a company’s strategic direction. That’s why so many companies are prioritizing the employee experience. 

But what does engagement look like in the digital era and how can you improve it in your organization? Here are 10 important employee engagement insights we discovered from surveying more than 400 internal communicators at organizations with 1,000+ employees. 

10 essential drivers of employee engagement

1. Increase your communications budget to invest in new technology

More than half of respondents (53%) said their CEO, executives, or board expects the communications team to get employees aligned with organizational and strategic changes. This signals an imperative to adopt technologies that facilitate communication and enhance employee engagement. 

Leveraging technology is vital to creating a digital workplace centered around collaboration and communication. Our report found that 75% of respondents are spending more budget on employee engagement than they were two years ago. Organizations are increasingly acquiring agile, up-to-date technology. 

The digital workplace is aligning technology (existing and new) and business processes around strategy. Spending on internal communications tools has increased as internal communicators are beginning to play a larger role in shaping the employee experience. 

2. Fight misinformation and become a single source of truth

Preventing misinformation is integral to building trust with employees. More than half of the communicators we surveyed (51%) said that preventing “fake news” and rumors is their leadership’s top concern when communicating with employees. 

Stories are quick to spread, which means communicators must maintain an active presence across the digital space in order to reach their employees first. This puts pressure on internal communicators to have the correct technology to reach their employees at the right time, wherever they are. 

In turn, employees expect consistent communication in order to feel motivated. Having technology tools in place for a seamless communication experience is vital to keeping employees engaged—where workers receive relevant messages on their preferred channels. Establish a single source of truth for employees to receive the information they need and make sure your messages reflect the company’s position and leadership values. This is vital to maintaining trust. 

employee engagement

3. Make sure you engage all employees

Employment no longer looks like it did ten years ago. Many organizations employ remote and hybrid workers, part-time workers, contractual workers, and frontline workers. Digital communication tools need to reach every worker regardless of what type of employee they are. Whether they go to the office every day or work contractually, keeping your entire workforce in the loop is vital to ensuring high engagement

To engage all employees, regardless of when and where they work, use a holistic approach. Creating a virtual work environment, or using a dedicated workforce communications platform, is key to successfully manage distributed teams

Firstup allows us to make it happen
“The best way to reduce turnover is to increase engagement. One of the best ways to energize the team about the work they’re doing is to highlight it for the rest of the organization to see.”

4. Measure your communications engagement

One thing is crystal clear from our survey: it is no longer sufficient to send out an email to your employees and hope they’ll read it. You need to take steps to find out how many employees are reading the messages you send. 

Many communicators are behind on this. A full 64% of respondents in our Internal Communicator Index say they don’t have a good way to know whether employees have seen or read their published content. Meanwhile, 57% of our respondents stated that being able to measure the impact of communications on employee engagement was the most important aspect to the success of their communications strategies. 

This means internal communicators need the right technology that can measure the impact of their communications. Look for tools that can track engagement, click-through rates, and other actions. 

5. Personalize your content

Workers are more likely to engage with content if it is targeted to them. Personalization drives more frequent use and higher retention rates. People also engage more with content when it is relevant; nearly double the click-through rate when communicators use targeted channels. 

Our survey found that users of a workforce communications platform who personalize their own content feeds are four times more likely to be using a company app after 90 days. (This results in what we call highly active “power users.”) Personalization and targeted content is integral to retaining employees and keeping them interested in engaging with internal communications. 

How can internal communication be improved in the workplace?

6. Establish a regular content cadence

8 Employee Engagement Best Practices was culled from data related to 300 million Firstup customer events. Our intention was to help communicators engage with their employees in the most effective way. One of our key findings was it’s ideal to have at least five communicators contributing to your comms strategy. This ensures you’ll have a regular content cadence to engage your workers.  

7. Video keeps employees coming back

Employees are used to getting emails from the communications team. Try switching it up and sending a video instead. Our Comms Effectiveness Survey found that video contributes to 53% more employees staying active after 30 days. 

Video also has three times higher click-through rates than any other form of content. This could be due in part to the fact that videos provide both a visual and audio component; whereas print or email requires the employee to take the time to read and analyze the communications. 

Videos that receive the most likes are either less than 30 seconds long or 60-90 seconds long. Keeping videos short makes them easy to consume and more effective. Short formats allow employees to quickly consume the information and only contain key messaging points that are easier to remember. 

8. Vary your messaging and content

If you want to engage employees, make sure to switch up your content routinely. Don’t fall into using the same, stale messages, information, and language over and over; otherwise, your employees may become apathetic about engaging with you. Use a variety of visuals (consider GIFs, photos, videos, and infographics) to increase employee engagement. 

In addition, try different types of content to keep employees interested. For example, you can try contests and trivia, executive CEO messages (video), personal and professional growth tips, polls and surveys, and employee recognition and awards. Employees may become more engaged when the content is varied and the information is unique. 

However, we know Firstup customers who send emails have an average open rate of 45%. Having tools that enable internal communicators to effectively reach their employees through unique channels is key to increasing engagement. 

9. Partner with IT and HR to invest in tools that employees actually like using 

Keeping workers up-to-date with digital tools that empower them is critical to their engagement, but bear in mind employees expect that their workplace technology to be as easy to use as the technology they use in their personal lives. Partner with IT to provide the best employee experience, and measure the success of new technology by tracking its ease of use and adaptability. 

Digital workplaces allow employees to stay connected across a variety of channels. This creates the opportunity for HR and IT to work together to make technology decisions that will enable employees. The employee experience can vastly improve if the technologies the organization utilizes enables them.

10. Integrating new technology with your existing tools where possible 

Although it is important to embrace the changing digital landscape, that does not necessarily mean abandoning current software and starting from scratch. Integrating new tools with existing ones can help build a seamless communication stack. By integrating new technology with old, workers will be able to leverage different digital technologies to improve efficiency. This will also allow for more time for workers to adjust to new systems and learn new processes. 

Teams can be more agile when the have the most up-to-date technology, and employee engagement is high when employees are empowered by the technologies that are available to them. Maintaining a robust digital workplace is key to sustaining organizational performance.   


Keeping employees engaged is critical to creating a positive employee experience and maintaining organizational performance. According to Firstup research, organizations are now prioritizing spending more budget on employee engagement. On the whole, embracing new technologies is important in keeping employees motivated and enabling them to leverage different digital skill sets. 

  • The digital workplace can play a large role in unifying internal communications. 
  • Having the right tools to build trusted communication channels is critical in establishing a solid relationship between employee and employer. For example, a company app may be the best channel to establish a personalized experience that is easy to access by every employee. 
  • Diversifying the content and form of communications helps provide value to employees by giving them new and varied pieces of information. 
  • As the importance of employee engagement continues to rise, internal communicators can benefit from a variety of strategies.  
  • Measure the effectiveness of your communications initiatives to discover what works best for your organization.

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