It’s All About Engagement

Our new Consulting Director, Paul Spencer, will be publishing several articles on employee engagement.  These articles will provide a wealth of insight into the value of employee engagement, what you can do to create and sustain engagement in your team, and the multiplier effect of engagement in a variety of industries.  Here’s the first one in the series.  You can find out more about Paul on our “Our Resume” page, and you can contact him at

It’s All About Engagement

You know the feeling.  Your project is teetering on the edge of disaster.  A run of setbacks has the team struggling to stay on track, and you’ve just found out that the equipment you need to kick off the next phase is going to be six weeks late.  What happens now?  All too often, the result is a mess of disillusionment, finger pointing, and things grinding to a halt.  But some teams pull together, find creative solutions, and do whatever it takes to get back on track – and they enjoy the ride while doing so.

What makes the difference?  Why do some teams fall apart under pressure, when other teams overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles and keep getting stronger?  It’s not just about the people.  Teams stacked with great talent often still fail to get past major challenges.  And having a strong leader isn’t enough either.  To deliver truly outstanding results, your team needs a culture of sustained engagement.

What is engagement, and why do I need it?

Engaged employees are fully involved in and enthusiastic about their work.  They want to go the extra mile for each other to achieve great results.  So when the equipment is going to be late, engaged employees are the ones who will come up with creative solutions and put in the extra work to get the project back on track.   You’d be amazed what a difference sustained engagement makes.  Here are some examples from recent studies:

  • Highly engaged employees are almost 80 percent more likely to be top performers.
  • Companies with cultures of sustained engagement have operating margins up to three times higher than other businesses.
  • Engagement is infectious – it leads to higher employee satisfaction, happier customers, attracts better talent, and helps retain top performers.

Here’s how it plays out in the real world.  One plant manager here in Oregon was able to bring about an amazing transformation – reducing labor costs 23% while raising pay scales 10%, reducing waste by 34%, increasing customer service level from 74% to 99%, and reducing safety incidents by 70%.  All by fully engaging and empowering employees – from defining their vision and values to handling of day-to-day tasks.

Sounds great! But what drives employee engagement?

Engagement comes when a team is aligned on their values, vision, and purpose.  The specific drivers vary slightly for different types of organizations, but the underlying principles are the same.  Alignment comes when key engagement drivers are incorporated into the team’s everyday working life.  As a leader, it’s up to you to enable, encourage, and maintain this alignment.  To be fully engaged, employees need:

  • The tools, resources and training to succeed;
  • High levels of autonomy, and the opportunity to do what they do best every day;
  • Acknowledgment and appreciation for their contributions;
  • Clearly stated objectives, expectations, and priorities;
  • Understanding of the organization’s vision and business goals, and how their job contributes to achieving these goals;
  • A healthy balance between work and personal life;
  • Trust and respect for their supervisor;
  • Peers they view as capable, like-minded, and committed; and
  • The opportunity to learn and grow in the workplace.

Engagement can be created and sustained, but it doesn’t happen by magic – it takes up front investment and ongoing care and feeding.  True sustained engagement requires a team aligned on their shared vision, values, and purpose, and a roadmap for staying on course.  In the next installment in this series, we’ll explore what you can do as a leader to create a culture of sustained engagement.


Leave a Reply