A Modern Approach to Employee Engagement That Delivers Results

By Sandy Fenili of Modern Motivation


Employee engagement continues to be a hot topic in the workplace. For years, companies have been trying to find ways to consistently motivate their employees and improve their performance. However, they’ve often overlooked two important factors: the level of engagement experienced by an employee can vary from day-to-day or even hour-to-hour, and each employee is different. The good news is that there’s a way for companies to create experiences for employees that produce stronger, long-lasting bonds which can lead to higher levels of engagement and connection over time.

The definition of engagement versus motivation

The definition of engagement is one that has been around for a long time. It’s not uncommon to hear leaders talk about engagement in terms of how inspired and connected employees feel to their mission, their colleagues, and the organisation as a whole—and at times it feels as though these two ideas (employee engagement and employee motivation) are interchangeable. But they aren’t.

Employee motivation is an internal state driven by emotion; being motivated means you’re feeling inspired or excited about something. Employee engagement is an external state driven by behaviour; being engaged means you’re doing things like prioritizing tasks in order to make progress on your goals or actively seeking knowledge so you can better perform your job duties. These are two distinct states that need different kinds of attention from leaders—and they have very different implications for how we measure our success as managers!

A new approach can lead to higher engagement levels through unique experiences

Carving out 30 minutes to an hour on a weekly or monthly basis is important, especially in today’s remote and hybrid workplace so people do not feel isolated. It is important in today’s fast-paced, short-on-time workplace, that a short and long-term plan be put into place on creating a series of meaningful and impactful moments. Just like companies have a business plan, companies should consider having a 90-day action plan on ways to incorporate engagement, wellbeing and recognition activities. Annual engagement plans do not provide that frequency in connection that is needed to have a long-term impact.

A few tips on how to incorporate engagement: One idea is to create a teambuilding activity that gives back.

A second way to engage is to carve out time to have fun in the workplace. This can provide social validation and support for team members as well as improve their overall mental health and well-being by increasing positive emotions such as joy and excitement (which we know are associated with higher levels of employee engagement).

A third tip is to create “surprise and delight moments” which can be very impactful because unique surprises generate a sense of delight that people feel seen, celebrated, included and valued. An example of this is a team had just finished a major project. Each person had worked long hours to complete the project. The manager appreciated everyone’s efforts so the manager set up a “last minute team meeting”. Once everyone joined, the manager surprised the team with having tomorrow as a paid day off (for a long weekend) plus each person gets a choice of how they want to spend their day off. Multiple options were given to each person. Options included: a gift card from Spa Media Weekly, Hello Fresh meal delivery, a gift card to their favourite restaurant to share with family or an overnight stay in a hotel. The company gave the gift of time and choice. People felt seen, heard and celebrated. These are just a few ways to improve employee engagement and connection. Because creating moments for people really matters and has a long-term impact.


It’s time to think outside the box and understand what motivates, inspires and connects your team. Finding innovative ways to engage can provide experiences that deliver stronger connections and long-lasting effects, much more so than the typical meetings or occasional happy hours. Building human connections will lead to higher engagement levels through unique experiences that incorporate memories and moments that matter to people that drive results and reduce retention. Win! Win!

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