I think everyone would agree that making sure your employees are engaged is pretty important. Employee “engagement” is a big buzz word these days. What exactly is “engagement”?

Gallup defines “engaged” employees as “those who are involved in, enthusiastic about and committed to their work and workplace”

Involved, enthusiastic and committed, does that sound like your employees? I wrote in an earlier blog post, how employees are increasingly busy, but not productive.

A recent Gallup study stated that only 34% of employees are actually engaged in their jobs. By the way, 34% is an all-time high!

That means that 66% of employees are NOT involved, enthusiastic and committed. In fact, among the 66%, 16.5% were considered “actively disengaged”. It’s possible that with a company of 20 people, 2-3 employees are working against the company, sowing seeds of discord. That’s pretty frightening.

Why Is This Happening?

There are several trends which are putting more and more pressure on small businesses and driving this crisis.

Recent data shows that the typical tenure is less than 5 years and descreasing. Since most companies do not have systems to engage employees with the future vision and goals of the business, new employees are not brought up to speed and the trend continues. This especially concerning since other studies show that the cost of replacing employees can be anywhere from 16-200% of that employee’s annual compensation. A double whammy.

Another study noted that by 2020 (in only 4 years), 40% of employees will be freelance employees. These “employees” will be even further removed from the core business and be default less engaged.

Even with the adoption of many new messaging apps like Slack which allow employees to interact with each other minute by minute, employees are less engaged, stay on for less time and are becoming less committed. These trends, I believe will continue.

Gallup points out that this is a crisis. One of the reasons they give for the crisis is that company’s tend to “measure workers’ satisfaction or happiness levels and cater to their wants, instead of treating employees as stakeholders of their future and their company’s future”

What’s The Solution?

These trends were predicted by change management expert John Kotter and he offers some insight into how to companies can fix this growing problem.

Kotter says, “figuring out the vision and the strategic initiatives, and communicating that out and getting buy-in —never letting up until the vision becomes a reality, and even then, institutionalizing it ultimately into the culture. That is not what we’ve been taught to do; it’s not what organizations do. They’re going to have to learn to do it.”

Due to these changes and others, your company is going to need better ways to communicate the vision and goals to your staff. Kotter also points out that this is a never ending process. Business owners must never let up until that vision becomes a reality.

The way companies communicate their vision and initiatives needs to be upgraded. If the current employee base in not engaged (remember less than 34% are), what are the chances that freelance workers will be? Or what about that employee who has just joined the team?

Four Steps to Driving Employee Engagement

Given the challenges you are up against; how can you adjust your approach? How do you help drive execution and facilitate a culture of engagement? Here are 4 steps….

1. Ensure every employees understands your vision

Make sure that every employee understands your vision. Vision is made up of the core values, the core purpose, the BHAG and strategic anchors of your business. If after reading this, ANY of these are unclear in your mind, they will definitely be unclear in your employee’s mind. If your employee doesn’t understand why your business exists and what it stands for, it’s going to be very (impossible) to engage them.

2. Ensure every employee understands the business goals over the next 12 months.

Everyone is so busy, yet no one really knows what the business is focused on (other than the default – “we need sales” etc). A recent study showed that the typical employee is only productive 3 out of 8 hours a day! If you’re employees don’t have a clear understanding of the main priorities of the business, they are not going to be engaged. How could they! In fact, they will make up their own priorities.

3. Ensure every employee understands how their day to day work supports the company goals. Make sure they have at least one initiative which supports at least one goal.

This is where execution really begins to happen. Now that each employee knows the company goals, challenge them to come up with at least one initiative that can move the company forward over the next quarter. They don’t need to do this alone. Maybe they collaborate with members of their team. As a leader, you need to drive this thinking and challenge your team.

4. Use a platform to make goal tracking and vision communication easy (we suggest this one)

Lastly, move away from excel spreadsheets and word docs to an online platform that allows you and your team to easily access and update their progress. Don’t let multiple and cumbersome spreadsheets be a barrier to success.

Next Steps…



Do you have any ideas on how to improve employee engagement? Feel free to comment.