There’s an old joke I’ll borrow to kick off this post. A CEO is asked how many people work in his company and he responds: “About half of them.”

Disengaged workers cost the UK £44bn a year (IES) and the US between $270bn and $343bn (Gallup) in lost productivity. The fact is that each of our companies makes up some slice of that wasted money. Hence, why employee engagement is such a hot area in the HR community.

Given it can be a tricky task to demonstrate when an employee engagement strategy is delivering let’s talk about some top tips to consider for structuring an employee engagement strategy that will deliver for HR professionals and for the business.

Set out the objectives: Be honest and upfront about what you want your employee engagement to deliver. Is it innovation, training, volunteering? Set some realistic goals and don’t feel the need to share these with the whole company. We all know our businesses need to be successful in order to pay its employees, and be in a position to give pay rises, bonuses and offer general perks of the job. Your strategy has to keep in mind ‘how engagement can improve employee performance?’

Line management: Line managers have responsibility for motivating and engaging your employees. Investing in quality line management skills has to be a priority for all businesses. Letting people manage their direct reports with little understanding of what is required or how to communicate most effectively with people will reduce motivation, productivity and overall performance and can leave both the line manager and the person being line managed demoralised and disengaged.

Formal reviews: On the whole, people want to do well in their job. They want to develop, excel and they want to feel valued. Without providing feedback on performance or setting out objectives, employees can lack direction and feel undervalued, both of which detrimentally impact performance.

Personal approach: As part of skilling up line management processes, encourage line managers to take the time to find out their direct report’s personal objectives and values. Person-to-person is the best way to engage someone – taking into account their personal objectives into their work objectives is a great motivator, and demonstrates that the company values them.

Inventive employee engagement: Sometimes you need to go beyond the work environment and offer more inventive means of team bonding. A few pints down the local may be fun, but it does not make an employee engagement strategy. This stat from recent independent research is so powerful that I think it’s worth repeating: 63 per cent of employees (1,000 in total) said they would be more engaged with their company if they could engage in community or charitable initiatives. Businesses can’t ignore this. From one-off group volunteering events to help bonding and skill development, to long-term commitments to a local charity that provides opportunities for individuals and teams to offer up their professional skills, all these activities can not only benefit the charities but also your teams’ personal development. Be it money management, bookkeeping for small charities, to public speaking or networking, design, web development or copyrighting, the skills your employees use on a day-to-day basis can be vital for the charities themselves and their causes.

Company communication: What information do you communicate to your staff, and what channels do you use? Are you open about the company’s financial health and company objectives. If not, why not – has the company considered how this could alienate the staff, when the company is aiming for cohesion? What channels of communication do you use to disseminate company news, work or social events and are you aware of the take up or engagement with these? It’s all very well sharing valuable content – or launching volunteering opportunities – but if employees aren’t reading it then it’s like sending a blimp into a black hole.