Employee engagement is a workplace approach designed to ensure that employees are committed to their organisation’s goals and values, are motivated to contribute to organisational success, and at the same time are able  to enhance their own sense of well-being.   After a 2 year Gallup study around employee engagement in 140 countries, it was discovered that only around 13% of employees were actively engaged, 63% were not engaged and 24% were actively disengaged.

Maslow’s theory of employee engagementMaslow

Abraham Maslow’s theory of employee engagement is based on his Hierarchy of Needs model. The first level is around survival. These are employees who are actively disengaged and only at work for the money. Security motivates the next level up the scale. Again, these people are not engaged but enjoy the fact that they have some security in the role. Following on from the need to survive and feel secure is the need to belong. The being part of something is a driver that helps people be engaged. Sometimes people will say something like, “I love my job because of the people”. Engagement grows further when people understand that what they do is important. If their work is helping to contribute and achieving, it naturally raises engagement. Finally, someone that is highly engaged looks for opportunities to help others to do their best too. They look for opportunities to develop themselves further and this is a level of self-actualization.

Engage for success

The UK government put some energy into identifying whether engagement made a difference and what helps it. The result showed four main enablers which are highlighted through the management teams. Watch the short video clip for an introduction:

Four Enablers

There are four basic enablers that great organisations use to help improve engagement with employees as follows:

A Strategic Narrative. This is the ability a leader has to be able to tell the story of the organisation: where we have come, where we are now and where we are going. Helping the teams understand and buy-in to the vision of the organisation creates a desire to be part of the whole. Help them understand the meaning of their role, which gives purpose to what they do. When an employee feels that what they do helps to achieve the vision, they are on board. There is a reference that when President John F. Kennedy visited NASA and saw a man with a broom in his hand, he asked him what his job was. The man replied, “My job Mr. President Sir is to help put a man on the moon.”

Engaging Managers. There are three main things that engaging managers do. Firstly, they help the employee understand the scope of their role. They help them understand what success in their role looks like. Engaging managers also treat their staff as individuals. They are not an anonymous human resource but rather a human being. When they are treated this way, the organisation gets more of them. The third thing managers do is to coach their people. Great managers are coaching on a weekly basis. Mostly it’s about reinforcing positive behaviours and addressing any dysfunctional behavior.

Employee Voice. Good organisations that have high engagement are good listeners. They give their employees a voice, let them talk across silos and help them feel that their input is worthwhile. If something is about to go wrong in an organisation, someone somewhere always knows. If you want to be made aware of an impending issue, let your staff know that their input is welcomed and valid. If you see your people as part of the solution and not part of the problem, you will keep them informed well.

Integrity. Organisations should keep it real. What the organisations says, they do. They don’t pretend; there isn’t a gap between how you say you are and how you actually are. There needs to be a high level of trust.


If you are struggling with employee engagement, look at these four enablers for ideas about starting the process of what you need to do. Of course, there does need to be a level of consistency throughout the organisation for it to really stick, so try holding senior managers accountable for their role in this. After all, their salaries are dependent on being employed too and if productivity levels are not what they should be, it’s likely down to lower staff engagement levels. One final thought on engagement, the Gallup poll also stated that 20% of managers were engaged. That leaves 80% of managers in a state of non-engagement. If managers aren’t there yet, how can we expect the staff to be? For more information on improving employee engagement, visit: www.rapid-results.com