5 Steps to Engage Employees

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Every year, Gallup releases, at the global scale, the percentage of employees who are not engaged or are actively disengaged.  That number currently sits at 85% and equals a loss of $7 trillion in productivity.  That means HR professionals have their work cut out for them when it comes to employee engagement

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Components of Achieving Engagement

There is a 5 step process for engagement success, but before laying those out, it’s first important to understand what has to happen to achieve engagement.

Firstly, there has to be a personal connection for the program and/or the company.  In other words, the business has to mean something to the employee.

Secondly, there has to be an understanding by the employee; an understanding that engagement is mutually beneficial to the person and the company.

Thirdly, and finally, the employee must feel fundamental to the process.  Each employee must be made to feel like they are part of the process.

5 Steps to Engage Employees

To examine or discuss each step in this process, consider the following situation.

Each year, Company A issues an annual report.  The latest results are in and it is a poor showing.  HR is determined employees understand the results and are fully engaged in the process to turn the company around. 

Step 1:  Survey employees.  This can take make many different forms:  focus groups, pulse surveys and similar strategies fit here.  Just remember to ask each employee about their thoughts on the organization and its competitors.  This data sets the tone for the rest of the process outlined below.

Step 2:  Identify the largest gap between what customers think and what employees think customers think.  This is derived from the data gathered during the research.  In addition to your employees, companies have to understand what their customers’ expectations are and what employees believe customers want.

Step 3:  Shift the paradigm.  This doesn’t have to be monumental, but it needs to be enough to get the pendulum swinging in the opposite direction.

Step 4:  Measure the impact the paradigm shift had. 

Step 5:  Measure the significance on the outcome of business.  It is very realistic one paradigm shift will not be enough to effect real change.  It fact, it may take several smaller moves to equal a whole.

Following these steps, here’s how Company A achieved engagement success.

The company held four brown bag lunch meetings over four weeks that employees could attend for free for one hour and hear from an outside professional about how to invest in the share market. There was no link between the meeting topic and the organization the employees worked for.

At week three, they were analyzing annual reports and generally deciding whether they would invest in a particular company based on the information contained in the report.

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By the fourth week they were given another annual report and asked the same question, "would you invest in this company?" The answer was overwhelmingly no. And of course this last company was the one they all worked for.

Now the organization’s employees understood and were engaged and ready to become involved in turning the company around through teamwork and new initiatives.


Employee engagement is a shared understanding of the issues that affect the business, and that understanding leads to changes in employees’ attitudes and behaviors as evidenced above. Unless employees truly understand the issues and make a meaningful connection between their jobs and those issues, their attitudes and behaviors will not change.

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Mason Stevenson
HR Exchange Network