The following responses are provided by the Young Entrepreneur Council, an invitation-only organization composed of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. YEC recently launched #StartupLab, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses via live video chats, an expert content library and e-mail lessons. All photos are courtesy of YEC. Read previous SmartBlogs posts by YEC.

yec_1huhman1. Understand employees’ goals

When interpreting employee engagement surveys, it’s important to understand that each employee has individual goals and values. Therefore, what makes one employee happy might not be the same for another. Improve engagement by understanding your employees’ preferences, seeking their input regularly and creating transparency in communication. — Heather Huhman, Come Recommended

David Ehrenberg

2. Use upward evaluations

I favor upward evaluations in which employees have an opportunity to give feedback to their managers and leadership team. Everyone identifies key items that they want feedback on; then they use these evaluations to see if they are improving over time. This direct feedback is very motivating and makes for actively engaged employees. — David Ehrenberg, Early Growth Financial Services

Andrew Schrage3. Perform employee surveys

In addition to customer surveys, employee surveys can also be very helpful. A high score on customer surveys generally indicates a high level of employee engagement. Furthermore, it’s imperative that you recognize team members for their accomplishments and regularly hold team-building events. — Andrew Schrage, Money Crashers Personal Finance

yec_4agarwal4. Review experiences with 15Five

We use a weekly review process called 15Five. It takes 15 minutes to answer five questions about employee experience, and each employee shares her thoughts, ideas and feelings. These are rolled up to the manager, then to another person who can hear from each person regularly and provide comments for further engagement. — Shradha Agarwal, ContextMedia

yec_5rabhan5. Balance internal and external projects

We give employees the opportunity to choose which internal projects interest them, and they also propose their own ideas and projects using company resources. We shoot for half of their time to be spent on those internal projects and half on external. One of the most successful internal projects was spun off as a separate entity, which was acquired by a bigger company in a seven-figure deal. — Benji Rabhan, MorrisCore

yec_6cunningham6. Value work-life balance

At 87AM, we stress the importance of balancing work and life, and we even reward our employees for taking time off and long lunches. I’ve found that younger staff members tend to work without structured breaks, and this has been proven by so many studies to be antithetical to productivity. Having relaxed and happy employees brings about better engagement. — Adam Cunningham, 87AM 

yec47. Check in with weekly meetings

Weekly 30-minute meetings with employees are vital. Ask each employee two questions: “What do you enjoy about your job?” and “What would you change?” Listen to what you hear. Employees can tell if you truly value their opinions and care about their professional development. Show them that you can sacrifice a short-term project for their long-term development. You and your company will benefit. — Mitch Gordon, Go Overseas

yec_8sofia8. Take an anonymous survey each quarter

Each quarter we e-mail all our employees a copy of our 360-degree survey. In this survey, they anonymously rate themselves, their fellow staff members and our management team in 12 key areas. They can also provide feedback on what they like or don’t like about their jobs. Furthermore, we actually pay cash bonuses to employees who receive the highest ratings by their peers. — Robert Sofia, Platinum Advisor Strategies

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