The New Rules of Employee Engagement

Separate work and personal life.  Pay the most.  Reward and punish by using the carrot and the stick.  We are all familiar with these “old rules” as they defining attributes in many of our careers.  Luckily for us, “the times they are a changing.”  Life as a corporate citizen will never be the same.  As a leader in a contact center, your ability to embrace these new rules will pave your way to success in attracting, retaining, and engaging the very top talent in our industry.

disengageWe have an employee engagement epidemic taking place in America.  Jeff Ermin at Huffpost tells us that 88% of employees don’t have a passion for their work.  Gallup, the leader in research around employee engagement, estimates only 32% of the workforce in the United States is engaged.  It’s staggering to consider the financial impact of this problem.    Dale Carnegie estimates that $11 BILLION is lost annually due to employee turnover, and that companies with engaged employees outperform those without by up to 202%.  With numbers like that the final statistic I’ll share is the most baffling… 69.4% of companies do not measure employee experience (International Data Corporation).  How can that be?  Do companies even care?  Are they afraid to reveal the truth inside of their organizations?


One thing I can say with confidence when it comes to employee engagement – ignorance is not bliss.  As business leaders we must seek to understand our employees and bridge the gap to motivate them in meaningful ways.  By following these three guidelines, we can “wake up” to the problem and do our part to engage those around us.



New Rule 1 – Establish a baseline.  The first rule is by far the easiest.  Steps can’t be taken to improve your employee engagement scores unless you have scores.  Survey Monkey makes this very simple.

Under templates, they have a great employee engagement survey you can use for free.

WARNING – Do not survey your people unless you are ready to do something with the feedback.  There are few ways to sow disengagement faster than to ask for everyone’s opinion and then let it fall into a black hole.


New Rule 2 – Tap into the intrinsic motivators.  In my opinion, the best book on employee motivation and engagement is Daniel Pink’s “Drive.”  He shares that autonomy, mastery, and purpose are the keys to unlocking your employee’s potential.  So much can be said on all three, but purpose is the most essential.  Scott McKain says that 66% of employees have no idea what makes their organization different from competitors.  If you are not tying work back to a compelling mission and purpose, engagement is a battle you will not win.  As a leader, you should be carrying the banner for your company’s mission in work and in life.  Show your employees what it looks like to live the mission and set precedence for them to have a meaningful experience working together.  At UL, we are fortunate to have a very compelling mission – to promote safe working and living environments.  This gives a powerful, overarching purpose to everything we do.  We live this mission in our community together and by doing so we transcend the “common” disengaged work experience.  When it comes to money, this will not motivate employees long term.  There is always someone down the road that will incentivize with higher compensation.  Daniel Pink teaches that you should pay enough so it is not a distraction from the more important loyalty drivers.


ulteamNew Rule 3 – Create a relationship culture.  This is the most critical of the three rules.  Death to the over-separation of work and life!  Today’s employees view their work experience more holistically than previous generations.  They want their job to be an important part of their social structure and quest for meaning.  And we should be giving it to them.  As a leader in the contact center, one of your main responsibilities is to create a context of positive relationships among your teams.  It requires you to be authentic, transparent, and available… and to expect the same from your people.  This one is the hardest, because it is unnatural for many leaders, and there will always be people you don’t want to connect with.  Regardless, it is essential for creating a relationship culture and ultimately engaging your employees.  No amount of money, advancement opportunity, or even purpose will trump the unique experience of working alongside friends you care about.


There you have it!  Three excellent steps to get you started on your employee engagement journey.  For more around these principles, as well as the all-important 4th step, come and see my session in Nashville on July 26th at DaVita!  Register HERE.

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