Four Strategies to Achieve Higher Employee Engagement


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As readers of this blog know, I do not usually stay on any specific topic for more than one post, but we seem to have hit a nerve on the last few posts, so I am going to keep with this theme for one more day.

There was in interesting post over on CNN’s Management and Career Blog entitled “Exposing Management’s Dirty Little Secret.”

The tagline of the article reads: If employees aren’t as enthusiastic as they could be, it’s not because the work sucks; it’s because management blows. While obviously, this is a broad statement, there is certainly some truth.

The article talks about three factors that contribute to employee satisfaction and engagement:

The scope that employees have to learn and advance (are there opportunities to grow?);

The company’s reputation and its commitment to making a difference in the world (is there a mission that warrants extraordinary effort?); and

The behaviors and values of the organization’s leaders (are they trusted, do people want to follow them?).

My husband works in Human Resources and much of his work focuses on efforts to track and improve employee engagement in corporations. We discuss these issues frequently and agree that opportunities for growth and adequate compensation are critical components to keep employees engaged. And they are certainly the basic ingredients for success.

But the discussions on this blog over the past few days have made me think about a fourth, equally important but more elusive factor. What kind of work-life balance does a particular job offer its employees?

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We have discussed some of the reasons many women leave high level positions in earlier discussions. But this issue is certainly not confined to its impact on women. And change will only come if we expand the discussion to include the impact on men.

A few thoughtful readers commented on the benefit to a company’s bottom line of having healthy, balanced employees. I do not have data to support this claim at my fingertips, but I would imagine that companies that provide these types of intangible benefits have more loyal employees and less turnover.

This must impact the bottom line.

What do you think? What makes you want to stay in a job or look elsewhere for work? Do you know of any companies whose employees are exceptionally engaged? To what do you contribute this success? How much of a role do you think a manger plays in this and how much is determined by the overall corporate culture? What energizes you at work?

I would love to hear your thoughts. Thanks so much for reading!


Filed under Business, Career Planning, Culture, Economy, Education, equality, Income inequality, Parenting, Peace, Policy, Poverty, Relationships, social pressures, Stereotypes, Technology, Women, Youth Leadership

28 responses to “Four Strategies to Achieve Higher Employee Engagement

  1. I was never in the work-a-day world, so I can’t comment intelligently. But that won’t stop me from making a comment! I cannot imagine just working for a paycheck. If the work isn’t meaningful the pay would never be enough. Our lives get meaning from the things we do, and if what we do doesn’t help make the world a better place it isn’t worth doing. The best job is one where we feel we are making a contribution (and making enough money to live comfortably.) No?

  2. True, but I can tell you from experience that if your salary is not adequate, you will struggle. I worked for years for non-profits that paid so little, half the stress of the job came from trying to pay the bills every month. It is very hard to survive doing non-profit work on one income. I still do non-profit work, but now I have my husband’s income and I am more senior in my role, so my salary is a little better. So, meaningful work can only get you so far. This is another issue I am passionate about. Why do non-profits pay so little? And schools? Is this less important work thatn working for a corporation? I think not! Thanks for your insightful comment, as usual, Hugh!

    • No. As things now stand, we feel valued according to rewards. If we are making less money we tend to feel we are undervalued. It’s a misconception formed by a market-place culture in which (increasingly) everything is valued by dollars and cents. THAT’s what needs to be changed. When we start thinking of work as simply something we do (though we would certainly like it to be meaningful work as I said above) and not something we are, we will have made a stride forward. Everyone should be paid a living wage, and not have to worry as you did. But the reward should not come from the work, simply, it should come from the rest of our lives where we share what we know with others and grow together as a family and a community. That’s the Greek ideal of leisure and we might benefit from altering our thinking. This ties in with your post yesterday, doesn’t it? When work takes its proper place in our culture (IF it does) then men and women can play a similar role in raising the family and working, say a 20 hour week with time left to do things together and still have some alone-time. [This needs more thought. But I am working on it!]

  3. Great topic. As a former HR consultant, management has done yeoman’s job of killing employee engagement. An employee’s loyalty is now to his/ her colleagues that he works on a routine basis, whether they sit in the workstation next door, or if they are across the country or planet and to his/ her clients or customers be they external or internal. Mercer has done a lot of analysis around this topic and the survey data backs this up. So, men and women are less engaged with their employers as they know the company is less engaged with them.

    • Thanks for the comment! I KNEW you would have data to back me up! 🙂 So true. How many people do you know who stay in job more than three years anymore? And even that is a long time. I feel like corporations are so focused on their bottom lines – merging and aquiring and laying off, no one feels safe – or loyal – anymore!

      • People watch how a company treats people when they exit them. When I saw the movie “Up in the Air” with George Clooney, it made me ill that a company would fire people like that. People are now totally free agents – our parents would not understand this. As long as their work experience is building with a company, they will tend to stay. The turnover data I have witnessed would tend to say, in general, people leave for opportunity or from the lack of opportunity. The relationship with their supervisor is another key driver. Lack of salary is less of a driver unless it is way out of whack.

        • That movie was difficult to watch at times, wasn’t it? Everything you say makes real sense to me. Thanks for bringing your expertise into the discussion. Relationship with a supervisor can be a huge factor in my experience. Especially if a good supervisors leave their job. Thanks for your comment!

  4. People (employees) are a company’s greatest resource! Companies need to recognize that. That’s it. That’s all. 😉

  5. Diana is dead on accurate. The greatest asset of a company gets in an elevator and goes home each day. I think companies tend to greatly undervalue the intrinsic knowledge their employees have in navigating their company and serving their customers. There is mantra that “good people overcome bad structure.” In other words, they know what needs to be done and they figure out a way. So, when people are let go, the company loses a vital piece of navigation and they may never know it. If employees are not engaged, they quit trying to find the ways to make things better and everyone loses.

  6. I’m not working in the corporate world any longer (thank god) My hats off to those who are still working and striving to get to the top. When I was working however, I believe it is the corporate culture that dominates success of individuals in the company. I believe management has something to do with it too, but mostly it is the culture.

  7. I’m glad you mentioned schools up there in your comments. While I have never had much dealings with corporations, I do know the school system fairly well, having worked in one for the past 17 years (and 5 years before I started a family). Even though I only work part-time, there are some classes that I’ve worked in where I felt totally unappreciated and those where I was welcomed back with open arms. The main system itself seems to be changing, though. Certain positions seem to be getting less appreciation and more hassles. This was the case with a friend of mine who taught special needs students. She recently retired, partly because of health issues, but mainly because she was fed up with the bureaucracy. Perhaps it has a lot to do with government funding cut-backs, where she was not getting the financial support she once got for her students, or maybe it was just the fact that ‘integration’ has become the new buzz-word and her special classroom was being fazed out. Whatever the reason, the school division lost a valued employee because of their shortsightedness and they will lose a lot more if this trend continues. People will become disgruntled and there will soon be a shortage of teachers and their classroom assistants.

  8. I work for a health care non-profit that tracks engagement. We score high. This is likely do to the nature of the work, the push to do to things the right way-not just the most profitable way, promotion from within and the training to make it work. It is far from perfect and I think at times they take advantage of our passion and engagement to push us harder.
    Just to make this longer…I take pause at internal survey results. Companies train that anything less than perfect is not an acceptable response on client sastisfaction surveys. I wonder if that brainwashing effects internal surveys?

    • It’s good to hear that your organization promotes from within and – as importantly – provides training. I have worked for non-profits for years and have seen promotions, but frequently people are not ready for those jobs and many organizations do not offer that training. I have no real knowledge about the trouble with internal surveys. I think many companies use respected vendors and have fairly valid responses. But I am sure you are right that human biases come in one way or another. Thanks for reading and taking the time to leave a thoughtful comment.

  9. Pingback: Marissa Mayer: Iconic figure or simply the face of future leadership? | newsofthetimes

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