How to Ignite Employee Engagement


There is a new corporate buzz about employee engagement. Organizations around the country are coming to the realization that unless your people and teams are highly engaged you will not see successful business growth. This is because engagement is another word for commitment. Leading people who are willing to commit is essential to what produces a competitive edge and great results.

According to the Gallup organization’s 2017/18 State of the American Workplace report in 2016, 33% of U.S. Employees were engaged at their jobs. (Pause – I’m not kidding.) What this means is only 1/3 of the people we are leading are committed and enthusiastic about the work they are doing and who they are doing it for.

While this is alarming we may want to consider this:

  • 33% is a low number for employees being engaged - but it’s a 15 year high!

  • This means that although leaders know this few are doing anything about it.

  • 51% of employees are disengaged at work – trust me, they are looking for new work.

  • Most alarming is that 16% of employees are actively working against your company’s mission.

What Gallup is finding through their impressive research is that, as leaders, we know there is a problem but for whatever reason refuse to deal with it. However, we are entering into a new evolution of leadership and failing to understand and react will cause low morale and declining profits.

While there is much a leader can do to create an employee experience that shifts this trend and connects great people to great work; I offer two easy leadership ideas to ignite an engagement transformation.

Take notice of those you work with – The people you are leading want to be noticed. You must be able to recognize the value they bring in a quantifiable way. This means taking the time to identify their unique gifts and talents. While there are many ways to do this the CliftonStrengths Assessment may be the fastest, most intuitive, and cheapest way learn about what makes them snap into the engagement zone.

Caution your team members are not asking for empty words of praise and recognition. They want to know you know them well - and see what’s right in them. Do this authentically or don’t bother.

Prove they matter and their efforts have impact – Once you’ve learned what superpowers your people possess begin to help develop them by noticing and acknowledging when you see a strengths in action. Not only will this inspire them to stay in their most natural state of high performance, but it will lead to soaring levels of trust and certainty.

Caution you will lose your great performers if you can’t offer them trust and certainty. My dad always told me that trust is the hardest thing to gain and the easiest thing to lose. My dad is awesome and smart – you don’t want to screw this up.

Understanding that we have an uphill battle is important. It’s also important to be real and recognize that in business it takes all parts of the body functioning together. When only 33% of our workforce is actively engaged and results are suffering don’t play the blame game.

"No matter how frustrated, disappointed and discouraged we may feel in the face of our failures, it's only temporary. And the faster you can stop wallowing in guilt, blame or resentment, the faster you can put it behind you." - Fabrizio Moreira

Instead, take time and look in the mirror. Are you doing everything as a leader to build confidence, trust and certainty? Right now is the best time to double down on culture, engagement and great leadership.

While learning to recognize and put your strengths to work may seem like soft-skill, feel good learning - how to recognize and reward talent is the secret to high-engagement and improved results.