What Drives Engagement?

What Drives Engagement?

Top ten global engagement drivers

You have at least met (if not work with) someone who is NOT engaged– they show up and barely do the job.

What can be a delight for co-workers and managers is someone who is “actively engaged.” Engagement is when an employee expends discretionary extra effort in their job— studies show that about 20% of US workers fit this category but some organizations have more than 40% engaged workers.

What influences an employee to go “Above and beyond?”

I have grouped them into four categories and will discuss suggestions for improving these (see number 1 below) with future articles.

1. How the organization treats people

  • Senior management sincerely interested in employee well-being
  • Organization’s reputation for social responsibility
  • Organization quickly resolves customer concerns

2. What is valued at the organization?

  • Set high personal standards
  • Organization encourages innovative thinking

3. Employee role/ relationship

  • Good relationship with supervisor
  • Employees feel they have input into decision-making in their department

4. Development and career opportunities

  • Enjoy challenging work assignments that broaden skills
  • Improved my skills and capabilities over the last year
  • Have excellent career advancement opportunities

(Source : Towers Watson study of the global workforce, Closing the Engagement Gap)

Many managers may be surprised that social responsibility and how customers are treated impacts employee performance. But employees are always considering not just how they are treated, but also how others are treated, and want to take pride in their employer and the organization’s decisions and direction. (For example, I have a colleague who begrudgingly took a job at a local company that is under investigation by the DEC for polluting the neighborhood, and she is not exactly “proud” to promote her new position.)

Three steps you can take NOW to improve employee perceptions of how people are treated:

  1. Spend 10 minutes once a week going around to exchange “small talk” with employees, finding out more about their lives outside the office and what is important to them (bonus points if you know names of kids, grandkids, and pets as well as favorite hobbies)
  2. Ask your key team members to suggest one way the organization can improve social or environmental responsibility, and then implement this idea
  3. Decide one way customers requests can be fulfilled more quickly or conveniently.

Thanks to Terry Williams of the Brain Based Boss for alerting me to this interesting research.


Diana Southall is a fifth generation entrepreneur, and creator of the People Plan toolkit.™ Her firm specializes in coaching small business owners and managers to build, engage and reward a fabulous team!

You can start working with Diana with free members-only access to People coaching resources, including informative video training, articles, time saving documents and templates. Join the FREE membership club here.

Quick recognition template

Quick recognition template

Our recent blog post showed that employees desire more appreciation and recognition, so here is a quick template for you to develop your own semi-formal recognition program.

(If you involve your team members in the development process, we will give you bonus points).

•List 3 ABC’s (ABC- attitudes, behaviors and contributions) that would improve your internal team work
•List 3 ABC’s that would improve your customer care
•List 3 ABC’s that support your organization’s core values
•Communicate list of 9 ABC’s to your employees (team meeting? poster on the wall?) and what you plan to do with it
•Make a list of when you can recognize at least one employee publicly for demonstrating one of these ABC’s
•Invite team members to recognize each other when they witness an ABC
•Take one minute to recognize an employee privately if you witness a great ABC
•Schedule and recognize based on your plan


Diana Southall is a fifth generation entrepreneur, and creator of the People Plan toolkit.™ Her firm specializes in coaching small business owners and managers to build, engage and reward a fabulous team!

You can start working with Diana with free members-only access to People coaching resources, including informative video training, articles, time saving documents and templates. Join the FREE membership club here.


Image courtesy of Maggie Smith at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Sharing the “Profits?”

Sharing the “Profits?”

Does your organization pay discretionary bonuses or “profit sharing” to employees this time of year? Year end payments have many names… bonus, incentive, profit sharing, gain sharing…

The majority of organizations make these annual payouts that typically cost 3-10% of employee pay, but are you getting any “bang for your buck?”

The plans (if you have one) range from the individual to the entire group, and from an entitlement to true pay for performance. Of sometimes managers just pick a number and add it to someone’s paycheck.

The communication ranges from a personal conversation describing the specific performance that earned this bonus, to a team bonus tied to specific profit or operation goals, or a “hey, boss, thanks for the bonus, what was it for?” Perhaps worst of all is “where is MY year end bonus?

When payroll budgets are tight and benefit costs are rising at alarming rates, perhaps your management team should take a look at your year end payments, and ask the following questions:

  1. What are the desired behaviors (performance) that we want to reward (that help us achieve our goals)
  2. Does the payout reward desired behaviors?
  3. Do recipients understand how their payment linked to organization goals? (and what they can do to earn more of this?)
  4. Does it follow our firm’s Three C rules that employee ask:

-Clear— what do I need to do to earn it?

-Control— how do I impact the results that impact the amount?

-(not) Complex— is the plan easy to understand how I earn it?

As much as everyone likes “extra” money during the holidays, perhaps the money you are spending on these could be more effective properly linked to performance or diverted to another part of your total compensation budget.


Diana Southall is a fifth generation entrepreneur, and creator of the People Plan toolkit.™ Her firm specializes in coaching small business owners and managers to build, engage and reward a fabulous team!

You can start working with Diana with free members-only access to People coaching resources, including informative video training, articles, time saving documents and templates. Join the FREE membership club here.


Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Total Rewards #8- Performance Management

Total Rewards #8- Performance Management

In my informal poll of employees and human resource professionals, most are not satisfied with the performance review process at their organization. The “annual review” is often the most dreaded event for employees and managers alike (hundreds of studies back up my personal polling results) go to this web-site. Don’t blame HR people—they have the best of intentions.

You see, employees crave performance feedback — really! (next week our blog post will focus on the value of feedback). The problem is that they are not getting enough between the “annual reviews” and that managers are not doing a very good job with the conversation during the annual review (or worse, the reviews are less frequent than annual or not at all).

Performance management is not just an annual event with a sit down conversation and simplifying an entire year of an employee’s conversation to a single number. The term performance management refers to all the efforts of peers, managers, measurement and systems that literally “manage” or guide an employee’s performance to do work that accomplishes an organization’s goals.

A terrific Aberdeen Group report found out what differentiated the “Best in Class” employers from the “Laggards” in the area of performance management. At Best in Class companies, 88% of managers reached agreement on performance goals between a manager and a worker (compared with 77% of others).  Simple stuff that they should be doing, but how they did this was remarkable —83% of Best managers provided ongoing, informal feedback compared to 43% of the lowest performing companies.

Wait until you here the impact of having great managers that align and focus employee productivity—at Best in Class employers, these managers rated 71% of employees as exceeding expectations, compared to 20% of those employers with average performance to their industry and 13% of lower performing companies. (Also, 62% of employees at Best employers were engaged compared to 28% at laggards).

So this means that Best companies had 6 times are many Top Performers– no wonder they hit the ball out of the park compared to their competitors!

The study also found that there were reasons Best employers had more effective manager- employee conversations, as they provided tools and training for managers on how to engage workers and deliver effective performance reviews.

Compare this to an organization I recently worked with. The organization had no performance review process, so a new manager took the initiative to copy the one used by his wife’s employer. He then completed the reviews by himself, handed them to employees with the comment “let me know if you have any questions.” And yes, each employee was given a number, but no, the reviews never left his office (I do not believe the general manager or HR even knew about this). I definitely give him an “A” for effort—but put yourself in the mind of the employee—what must they be thinking?

Read the Aberdeen report, the Engagement Performance Equation


Diana Southall is a fifth generation entrepreneur, and creator of the People Plan toolkit.™ Her firm specializes in coaching small business owners and managers to build, engage and reward a fabulous team!

You can start working with Diana with free members-only access to People coaching resources, including informative video training, articles, time saving documents and templates. Join the FREE membership club here.


Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

High Involvement work practices engage employees

High Involvement work practices engage employees

Organizational effectiveness scholar Edward Lawler identified four “high involvement” principles that have a positive impact on employee engagement– power, information, knowledge and rewards.

What Lawler called “Power” (also referred to as autonomy or independence) means that employees have the power to make decisions that are important to their performance and to the quality of their working lives. Power can mean a relatively low level of influence, as in providing input into decisions made by others or it can mean having final authority and accountability for decisions and their outcomes. Involvement is maximized when the highest possible level of power is pushed down to the employees that have to carry out the decisions

Read more about Lawler’s principles for a high involvement workplace


Diana Southall is a fifth generation entrepreneur, and creator of the People Plan toolkit.™ Her firm specializes in coaching small business owners and managers to build, engage and reward a fabulous team!

You can start working with Diana with free members-only access to People coaching resources, including informative video training, articles, time saving documents and templates. Join the FREE membership club here.


Image courtesy of KROMKRATHOG at FreeDigitalPhotos.net