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How are you approaching the hot topic of employee engagement?

It appears that if organisations can improve employee engagement then staff retention and loyalty will improve; people will feel more engaged and happier at work. The thought is happy employees are more emotionally engaged in the workplace, committed to the business. HR professionals recognise the link between engagement and performance, highlighting the importance of engaging employees. (HR.com)

How would you describe employee engagement? 

One description is ‘the extent to which employees feel passionate about their job, committed to the organisation and put discretionary effort in to their work.’ Whilst others state ‘the relationship between the organisation and its employees.’ Might this mean happiness at work?
Creating a workplace that provides conditions for employees to be happy at work, helping people ‘want’ to be at work must go some way in developing employee engagement. Happiness is an emotional response, it might be said these are behavioural elements, and yes, happiness might be increased through benefits or financial reward or developing knowledge and skills, but my curiosity is, will this be a short lived happiness and not develop employee loyalty?

What would it take to develop long term happiness?

Developing lots of benefits, reward packages are relevant at some level but in my experience, the emotional detachment from the workplace starts long before the financial aspect of not being paid enough is voiced[1]. Thought for employees biological, psychological and social needs might be areas that require further deliberation. We are after all human ‘beings’ not human ‘doing’s’.
It is very easy for an organisation to draw up lots of processes or task driven tick lists that can be offered to employees in the hope of keeping them happy, rather than reflecting on the behaviours or culture that is being lived throughout the organisation and causing employee dis-engagement. Generally, people come to work to do a ‘good’ job, they rarely wake up and think “today I’m going to actively deliver a poor contribution.” Something else gets in the way, which can often be the relations between employees. How often are senior managers spending their time trying to resolve internal issues due to poor communication or management by the appropriate line-manager. Consideration for the interdependence and interaction with each other and within their teams must be a place of reflection for all leaders and managers throughout any organisation, we are after all societal beings.
Reflecting on the culture of the organisation all the way through from frontline to Board level is good place to begin. People want to be involved, contribute, co-create, be valued and appreciated.  Many organisations are beginning to define their ‘purpose’ or ‘why’ they exist as explained by Simon Sinek. This is a great place to start. My challenge back is “what is their strategy to make sure this is lived and owned at every level in the organisation?” After all, creating a bunch of words might feel good at the top but has very little value if employees at every level don’t know it, they don’t experience it from those above them and can’t understand how they contribute their experience to it.

What might it look like?

Imagine if you could create an environment throughout the organisation, regardless of the size, where each group of people understand and are actively living the organisation’s purpose. Each team can then co-create and more importantly, take responsibility of delivering their purpose within the company. They can define their team objectives as well as individual objectives. Employees have an understanding of how they contribute to the bigger picture, they can feel part of the organisation.
Work done by WeThrive (2018), states ‘a good experience at work is an enabler of good engagement and leads to better productivity and loyalty.’ Looking at and gaining understanding of the employee experience within the workplace might be a useful exercise. The only concern here is the ‘survey’ approach giving anonymous average scores, what happened to talking to team members and getting real insight?

What type of employee experience exists in your company?

A reflection on the whole of the employee experience, what they see and feel in their working environment. People are social animals and generally want social interaction with each other, a feeling of belonging and being in this together. This isn’t about developing deep personal friendships that become detrimental to team collaboration if these friendships breakdown, it is more about developing professional friendships where employees build enough trust to share their thoughts and ideas openly and have respect for others views and opinions too. This can help an organisation start to build a culture of appreciation and acceptance of each other’s differences, developing this level of awareness might have the profound effect on the experience of the workplace.

What impact are your managers and leaders having on the environment you want your employees to experience?

Do any of your managers or leaders having the following traits;
·     Tendency to micro-manage?
·     Overly direct feedback skills?
·     Struggle to build interpersonal relationships?
·     Lack empathy?
·     Procrastinate or poor decision making skills?
·     Avoid ‘having conversations’ that need to be done?
·     Avoid confrontation – turn a blind-eye?
·     Lack of self-awareness or self-regulation?
Greater emphasis on developing the role of the manager, especially their behavioural skills would be a benefit to any organisation. Quite often these people have little management training, support or development into these roles especially in terms of developing their interpersonal or emotional intelligence skills. They might have been internally promoted due to being able to do their current day job really well. This doesn’t always translate in to being a great manager or leader. Or they might be a successful external candidate who has very little knowledge of the organisation culture until they experience it first-hand. Being a manager can feel as if you need to have all the answers, you can’t possibly ask for help or support on how you approach scenarios or ask for feedback on your management style, especially from those your manage or lead. For those who have experienced people management and leadership it can be a very rewarding experience and it can also be challenging, confusing and solitary role regardless of your route you have taken.

What plan do you have in place to support and develop the behavioural role of your managers and leaders?


Offering lots of employee benefits might create a short term solution but long-term results on retention and loyalty will require greater organisational behaviour change starting with your leaders and managers. A PWC study found that loyal employees put 57% more effort in to their work and more importantly 87% were less likely to resign. When key areas such as accountability, communication and developing a culture of working in a meaningful way is experienced then employee loyalty will be earned and not bought. Your managers and leaders create the experience, they are role-models and serve as an example of values, attitude and behaviours of the organisation, living the purpose to set the tone for the employees within their teams.

For senior teams to develop Team Coaching offers the opportunity for the team to build trust, define their role as a team within the organisation and how they will lead their respective teams. Quite often senior leaders believe their team is the one they lead, whilst it is hugely valuable to have good relationship with the team they lead, they in fact belong to the senior team as a team member.

For managers of different levels  and experience then online group coaching  through our Management & Leadership courses can be a safe environment for them to learn who they are as a manager and how they can develop their knowledge and behaviours.

[1]This doesn’t apply to any employees that are living beyond their basic needs of shelter, food and warmth as referenced by Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.


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Brodie is a commercially experienced, qualified executive and team coach having worked with both global organisations and  SME's. Her passion is supporting individuals, teams and organisation's to continue their journey of growth. She has worked with managers and leaders of all levels including Executive and Board level.

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 Feb 20, 2019