Six steps to increasing employee engagement and enhancing your bottom line

Are your employees engaged? Employee engagement is the level of emotional commitment employees have to your organization, its purpose, its culture and goals. Providing jobs with good working conditions, competitive pay, good relationships and security will help you “satisfy” a workforce, but if you want to unlock the intrinsic motivation and emotional commitment of your employees, you need to engage them. Engaged employees are more innovative, work more hours and will take more initiative on behalf of your firm.

According to Gallup, only 13% of the global workforce is “engaged” at work, 63% is not engaged and 24% are actively disengaged.[i] Towers Watson also reports that nearly 40% of global workers are engaged, and like Gallup, reports that 24% are fully disengaged.[ii]

Employee disengagement costs you and your customer’s big time!

Gallup examined 49 publicly traded companies and found that organizations with a critical mass of engaged employees outperformed their competition. They also found that disengaged workers can be counterproductive, negatively influence their peers, have higher absenteeism and drive customers away with poor service.

The research behind employee engagement is compelling

The models and science behind employee motivation and employee engagement date back to Abraham Maslow’s famous Hierarchy of Needs in 1943[iii] and with Frederick Herzberg’s discovery of Hygiene factors and Motivators[iv].  Many other research organizations have found that firms with HIGHLY engaged employees have better business outcomes. They have lower employee turnover,[v] higher discretionary effort from their employees,[vi] nearly three times higher operating margins[vii], and five times higher shareholder returns over five years[viii].

Sounds great! How do I get it?  Here is the recipe for employee engagement:

  1. It all begins with CEOs and their executive teams. To engage employees, leaders need to be transparent, trustworthy and purposeful. They have to repeatedly state the purpose of the business and its impact on its customers. In addition to purpose, they need to build their organizations based on principles and performance[ix]
  2. Middle managers need to align their department’s goals to the purpose and strategies of the business. They enable their employees to succeed by providing resources, breaking down bureaucracy, creating learning environments, and aligning rewards to performance.
  3. Front line leaders need to provide clear goals, responsibilities, roles and operating norms. They have to take an active interest in their employees’ development, offer opportunities for challenging work as well as expanded roles and responsibilities, coach their employees, manage performance, celebrate achievements, and align rewards with performance.
  4. Celebrate, recognize and reward collaboration and teamwork. Individuals win together when they collaborate! The smartest teams are ones where everyone is allowed to contribute equally without the domination of one or two members, and where team members show empathy toward one another.[x]
  5. Provide ample opportunities for learning and development. In the most productive organizations, functional training is augmented by coaching and mentoring from key technical experts and others outside an employee’s own line of management. Ideas are exchanged openly.
  6. Implement flexible work arrangements. Organizations that provide flexible work environments enable employees to more easily manage their work lives, while meeting business goals and expectations. In return they get harder working and more engaged employees!

What about pay?

There is ample evidence showing that employees expect competitive wages and benefits and that they will leave if they aren’t being paid competitively[xi].  As wages continue to lag job growth in the current five-year economic recovery, pay and benefits are increasingly important for employee engagement. In fact, a 2015 LinkedIn Global Talent Report showed that excellent pay and benefits are among the top criteria for job seekers.[xii]

It is the factors stated above, however, that drive superior performance, innovation and long-term employee engagement.  For your organization to have optimal bottom line results, your employees must be engaged!

Victor Assad is a strategic human resources consultant and coach who works with key decision makers and human resources leaders on talent management, accelerating change, leadership development, team effectiveness, flexible workplace, mergers and acquisitions, and other strategic initiatives.  Please e-mail Victor at or visit Victor’s website at

[i] Steve Crabtree. (October 8, 2013) “Worldwide, 13% of Employees Are Engaged at Work. Low workplace engagement offers opportunities to improve business outcomes.” Gallup. Retrieved from; and 2013 Gallup State of the Global Workplace Report. Retrieved from

[ii] “Driving Engagement Through a Consumer-Like Experience,” Towers Watson, August, 2014.

[iii] Abraham Maslow (1943) “A Theory of Human Motivation” Psychological Review 50 (4) 370-96.

[iv] Frederick Herzberg (September-October 1987). “One More Time: How Do You Motivate Employees?” Harvard Business Review 65 (5) 109-120.

[v] The Seven Hidden Reasons Employees Leave, by Leigh Branham. AMACON, 2005.

[vi] Employee Engagement for Everyone: 4 Keys to Happiness & Engagement at Work by Kevin Kruse, 2013.

[vii] “Engagement at Risk: Driving Strong Performance in a Volatile Global Environment”, Towers Watson, July, 2012.

[viii] “Engagement Levels in Global Decline: Organizations Losing a Competitive Advantage.” A 2011/2012 Kenexa® High Performance Institute Worktrends™ Report. Kenexa.

[ix] Robert A. Ready, Linda A. Hill, and Robert J. Tomes. (2014) “Building a Game-Changing Talent Strategy”. Harvard Business Review, January-February, 2014.

[x] Anita Wolley, Thomas W. Mallone and Christopher Chabris (January 18, 2015) “Why some Teams are Smarter than Others” The New York Times. Sunday Review, pp 5.

[xi] “Driving Engagement Through a Consumer-Like Experience,” Towers Watson, August, 2014.

[xii] Sam Gager, Rachel Bowley, Esther Cruz and Ryan Batty.  “4th Annual Report. 2015 Global Recruiting Trends. Win the war for talent by staying ahead of these industry changes” LinkedIn Talent Solutions.

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