Thoughts on Employee Engagement

I’ve been thinking about employee engagement quite a bit recently. It’s something I’m very passionate about because, to me, it’s the backbone of our workplace. Without our employees, we have nothing. My mission is to help companies help their people grow and love their jobs! 


A few of my favorite types of employee engagement that I’ve built

Champion groups: for career development support and social business advocacy. The Career Advisor Network was a global team of 300 people in the company brought together to help with the deployment/change management of a new career framework. I loved working with this group to facilitate training, communication, and collaboration. Secondly, the GTSgetSocial team helped with the transition to social business — the new way to work. As a group of social advocates, we held training and engagement programs with executives and employees to encourage them to be more collaborative and open in their work.

Mentoring programs: including language mentoring for those going on international assignment. Experience-based learning programs are low-cost and very engaging. When we have friends at work, we are happier and more engaged!

An elevated town hall experience: making it more fun and relatable. Maya Angelou tells us that people will forget what you tell them, but they will remember how you made them feel. I use that principle as the basis for the town hall experience.


The top trends in employee engagement, in my opinion

  1. I’m a huge fan of Dr. Brené Brown’s work on vulnerability in the workplace. Her research and teachings are powerful and can transform leadership and the employee experience. As a trained social worker, I imagine the ideal work environment as one that is open, transparent, vulnerable, and shame resilient.
  2. Also, as technology moves us forward, we can evolve the way we work with collaboration tools; AI capabilities that personalize our HR experience; and data that can provide the knowledge we need to better understand how to proceed. People analytics are invaluable. We now have access to real-time data – from Glassdoor to social media. We’re able to find out what’s on people’s minds more than the once-per-year engagement survey. We need to harness this data and celebrate what we’re doing well and make corrections where we need to improve throughout the year.


When you’re new to employee engagement, start here

Manager engagement and training: Research says that people don’t leave companies, they leave managers. Managers play a very important role in employee engagement and need the appropriate skills to be thoughtful and caring leaders. They need to understand what motivates and drives employees and how to execute with the help of the organization. Managers should also be recognizing individual and team accomplishments on a regular basis.

Invest in strengths: I’m a huge fan of Gallup’s StrengthsFinder. They’ve done a lot of research around employee engagement and using our strengths in the workplace – employees who use their strengths are happier and more engaged. And managers who understand and talk with their teams about strengths have highly engaged teams. I’ve led team-building workshops around strengths and the feedback has been very positive.


Communication basics in relation to employee engagement

Clear communication that is transparent, direct, and fresh is key. And one size doesn’t fit all so it’s important to use several different tactics. Town halls and in person events are invaluable. In larger organizations, it’s necessary to have several avenues of communication – email is still very valid, as is an internal intranet.


The value of using social media for employee engagement

Employees are the best and most important brand advocates for a company. If employees are happy and thriving, then they’re happy to share their experiences with the world. This can be a very effective way to use social media. When employees are proud to promote their organization, it’s a huge win for both.

We can also use social media to take the pulse of the company. For instance, we can use various hashtags and key words to gain insight on how things are going, as well as promote the brand.


Implementing an enterprise-wide initiative in a complex organization

One of my first jobs involved deploying an enterprise wide career framework. What helped make it successful was that we had good relationships with many of our stakeholders, built on trust. The biggest stumbling blocks were that the framework was a bit too complicated. We rushed through the change management piece and there wasn’t enough emphasis on employee engagement. The framework had many moving parts and hoops to jump through. Before implementing such a large project, it’s important to run pilot programs to understand what works and what doesn’t.


Learning from failure in employee engagement

Companies should be employee-centric, but that’s not always the case. Sometimes the higher up you climb in an organization, the more you forget what it’s like to be an average employee. I’ve seen this happen with executives. They can be out-of-touch. Low engagement happens when morale is low because leaders seem to be more concerned with the bottom than their workforce. When times are tough, it’s more important than ever to be clear and caring. Internal communications should be innovative and transparent. When we can’t be face-to-face, we’ve been using video more and it works better when it’s less scripted and more natural. People want to see an authentic leader.


Let me know what you think in the comments section below!