The ever changing face of Employee Engagement

Written by Adam Mazrani on 1 August 2014

Hi all,

I’m part of a team that will be hosting a summit later this year on the 26th November on Employee Engagement in conjunction with Training Journal.

I’m looking to have some really innovative case studies on the day – do you know of any that would appeal to an audience of fellow L&D, HR and Internal Comms professionals?

Also what thought do you have on the best techniques to help employees achieve higher levels of productivity and performance?

Any help is appreciated and I look forward to reading your response.

Best wishes,


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Submitted on 1 August, 2014 - 10:42

Hi Adam.


Please contact my colleague Neil Anderson for some valuable insights. We'd like to consider attending too.





02476 411288


Submitted on 1 August, 2014 - 12:06

Hi Adam

I am doing something very similar for a client this year -they are considering a number of options from me.Very happy to send you the outlines of these options.They should give you some extra dimension for creative thinking/further research and probably reconcile one or more of them with your specific brief or agenda.





Submitted on 1 August, 2014 - 12:16

Hi Adrian & William.

Thanks for your comments! We will definitely be in contact. In the meantime, I was wondering if you had a personal opinion or top tip or how you could improve employee engagement, or indeed if you believe there are any challenges the summit specifically needs to tackle? If you need more details, please do visit the summit website.




Submitted on 4 August, 2014 - 09:39

Hi Adam,

Thanks for starting this thread - I'll be sure to check out the summit website.

For me, employee engagement should be a strategic priority in any organisation. After all, people are the company's most important asset. I'm sure others will have their own views, but for me, there here are a few things i'd highlight when looking to improve engagement:


Use the right employee engagement survey

Focus on enagagement at all levels - getting buy-in from senior management should be a focus

Be stringent in selecting the right managers

Coach managers correctly so that they can build an engagement plan for their team

Describe what success looks like - have weekly meetings. One-to-one coaching with each person in your team is great in this regard.


Hopefully that helps to answer your question a bit, or at least gives you a starting point from which to build from.


All the best,



Submitted on 4 August, 2014 - 10:39

Hi Adam.

For us, employee engagement is about our identified 6 key drivers elicited from research:

A trust-based leadership model for NextGen managers


CHOICE® is a 6-point model published by The Training Foundation in 2008, derived from analysis of international research into the fundamental drivers of engagement. Six key drivers were identifed as being universal to the human condition, innate ‘human givens', and this realisation inspired CHOICE.

The underlying ethos of CHOICE is that, in any interpersonal context, win/win results are best achieved when people feel their own needs are being met. Applied in the work environment, the model helps managers to focus on treating their people in ways that inspire them to give their best, go the extra mile and achieve and exceed performance goals. It also reminds them that their own behaviours can either build team trust and a sense of meaning and purpose, or be a negative influence.

CHOICE  is an appropriate acronym because managers can choose to follow an outdated control-based carrot and stick approach, or choose to adopt a new, NextGen style. Here is the mental model:

          CARING about individual well-being shows people are valued and appreciated      

          HONESTY and FAIRNESS develops the confidence and respect of others

          OPEN COMMUNICATION is the basis of positive and productive relationships

          INVOLVING people in decision-making wins their commitment to the end result

          COACHING and assisting people to achieve their objectives helps us achieve ours

          ETHICAL PRACTICE, 'doing what's right', builds trust and loyalty

I think there is still debate across the globe on what the drivers are for Employee Engagement; how to measure them and how to improve skills within an organisation in order to improve. I guess the summit will discuss these issues!? 


Submitted on 13 August, 2014 - 10:21

Hi Adrian,

My name is Dominic and I'm the producer behind the Employee Engagement Summit - firstly I would like to thank you for your input in the discussion.

How to measure the drivers behind Employee Engagement (and measure accurately!) is an issue that will be spoken about at the event - from our research we know that this still remains a challenge for many organisations from the big to the small. 

I was wondering whether you know of any organisations you believe are doing a good job around this issue? We may well get in contact with them to see if they could contribute.

I also wonder - what do you think is going to be the biggest challenge around employee engagement in the next five years? It is also interesting to have a forward looking perspective on these issues

You can find out some of the other issues that we are covering in the summit on the agenda website

Many thanks



Submitted on 4 August, 2014 - 12:02

I'm in L&D and we talk a lot about transactional analysis. When I've seen employee engagement at its worst it's because there's a shift to parent/child. Either the 'parent' hides things, thinking it's protecting the child. But the child stays in the dark, never learns to deal wtih bigger issues and then is shocked when mum and dad reveal that money is tight and they've got to move to a smaller house, plus the dog's gonna have to go.

Alternatively the parent goes 'critical' no one is allowed to make mistakes and heaven help those that do. Your intentions don't matter, just the results. What happens to the child - they either end up worrying so much your sickness absence starts to go up. Or, they'll have a pissy fit that'll show on your survey's and employee groups. They won't recommend the company and for some, they'll vote with their stamping feet.

When engagement is about adult to adult then more things are openly discussed. When times are hard, people know why and talk about it. They're tough conversations at times but they are still had. One way to know if you're in an adult to adult company is think about the last time someone senior left. Did you get an email out of the blue from the MD saying they were leaving with immediate effect and nothing much else? Or something more honest and open?

We're getting great at spotting jargon and corporate bull. So when messages to staff are littered with 'hearts and minds' and 'stakeholder engagement' words that feel more like a lecture than a personal chat, we're less convinced.




Submitted on 13 August, 2014 - 10:31

Hi Teresa,

Thank you for your message.

The idea of a parent-child relationship is one that other individuals have also brought up during research and one that explains the relationship very well. Do you think this issue is amplified when the workers come from different generations?

In additional to the use of language, I was wondering what other methods you believe would help break down those barriers and ensure a more adult-adult relationship?

Best wishes


PS - No one likes the idea of the Dog having to go!


Submitted on 5 August, 2014 - 16:56

For me: 

  1. Define the employee experience you are trying to deliver
  2. Align this to your customer experience
  3. Implement psychometric tests to ensure you are selecting the right people
  4. Recruit according to the experience you are trying to deliver to your customers
  5. Design you employee experience, as you would a customer rxperience to gain the desired outcome
  6. Ensure the measures and behaviors are aligned to the customer experience and the employee experience
  7. Measure employee’s engagement, not satisfaction.

Hope that helps!



Submitted on 13 August, 2014 - 10:37

Hello Geoff, 

Thanks for your input! Looking through the points, there are some really good ideas to kickstart an organisations Employee Engagement strategy.

What do you feel is the biggest challenge for organisations in implementing the points above? e.g. Lack of staff? Lack of management buy-in?

Kind regards




Submitted on 13 August, 2014 - 10:51

Hi everyone,

Thank you for all your contributions! 

We hope to see you all there and don't forget you can also join the conversation on Twitter #EmployeeEngagement 

I would also like to ask another question - what is the single greatest challenge to having successful employee engagement?  

I look forward to your replies!

Many thanks



Submitted on 13 August, 2014 - 11:46

hi Dominic,

really pleased to see that you've got Nita coming along from Engage for Success (EFS) and I'm sure that everyone who attends will get a lot from her and the rest of the excellent speakers that you have lined up. At EFS one of our special interest groups have recently released papers from thought leaders from across a range of backgrounds in which they share their thoughts about the future of engagement and these have given rise to various challenges around the 'what' and 'how' of employee engagement. I think this might have some interesting things in it for you - they can be accessed at the below link.

I wish you all the best for the conference,


Communications Manager

Engage for Success


Submitted on 14 August, 2014 - 08:23

Dominic was asking about what could be the biggest challenge to employee engagement over the next 5 years...

Now as a caveat here I need to say that I understand engageement, but would not profess to be a market leading authority.  I think though that there is a difference between engaging people in a business and giving them a nice time.

  So over the next 5 years....?  Well perhaps as the employment market place opens up, and we see a continuing shift towards self-employment and the mindset that people are indeed in control of their professional lives, organisations may experience greater challenges in terms of staff retention.  In these circumstances there may be a drive towards being 'nice' to people to retain them.  Having a lovely time at work doesn't necessarily harm engagement, but people who are having a dreadfully nice time are not necessarily engaged with the Purpose and direction of the business.

So I see the challenge as understanding the difference between these things, and indeed the relationship between them.

If that makes sense...?!

Good fortune All



Submitted on 17 September, 2014 - 08:48

Enjoying this thread. I'd like to add that it's about creating a cultural shift in the way organisations behave. For example:

  • Leadership: it's up to leaders to set out their stall for the future - a vision that is good for the organisation and that means something to staff. But the narrative must be ongoing and not just a one-off - keep communicating!
  • Line management. For organisations to thrive in the future they need managers who can relate to their staff. What weight does your organisation give to 'soft management skills' like active listening, motivating and empowering? Are managers equipped and confident in the skills needed to effectively manage staff and get the best out of them?
  • Voice: your employees know first hand what works and what doesn't. If you can harness that knowledge productively you will get better decision making and more innovation. It's a fantastic way to start motivating your staff.
  • Trust. Effective managers and commitment from the top of the organisation are some of the key ingredients in the recipe. But integrity is about making good your promises. Policies on things like quality and diversity have to be seen to work. Are managers practicing what they preach?



Submitted on 17 September, 2014 - 12:06

Apologies. I didn't see an email asking for further comment. In relation to the next 5 years:

In today’s knowledge and creative economies things are completely different. Three powerful drivers are making the transformation of management practice an organisational imperative.

First, the very nature of work has changed In the knowledge economy around 80% of the workforce are in jobs where what they do, unlike widgets, can’t be easily counted! And managers can no longer generally themselves perform all the tasks their specialist team members perform.  Micro management and command-and-control are neither possible nor effective; trust has to be the new watchword.

Second, the financial impact of low engagement and productivity is far more dramatic  In a service economy where the biggest cost line for virtually all firms is people-cost (in most cases around 40-60% of total cost) low engagement can no longer be tolerated – nor can the biggest cause of it, poor management practice, be ignored.

Third, the expectations of Gen F, the Facebook Generation, will need to be met   The experience of growing up online will profoundly shape their workplace expectations, and they will expect the environment they find in the workplace to reflect the social context of the web, rather than a mid-twentieth-century, hierarchical bureaucracy. And met they will need to be, because, in the knowledge and creative economies attracting and retaining talented young people will increasingly be critical to success.

In essence then, employers can no longer be indifferent to how their people feel they are being treated - a new management paradigm is urgently needed, one based on increasing trust between manager and their individual team members.

Despite the recent findings of genetics and neuroscience that the 'hand-me-down' management model is today counter-productive, for many it still persists. Could the default management style in your many organisations be putting a brake on engagement and productivity?

Generally, new managers tend to copy the behaviours of a manager they have personally experienced - it's often the only 'role model' they have.  However, recent findings from genetics and neuroscience reveal that the 'hand-me-down' management model followed for some 100 years is ineffective for today's knowledge economy. It is a key cause of employee disengagement and low productivy.

The word 'manager' has its origin in the French manège, a ring for training horses. The trainer, in the middle of the ring, controls the horse with a long rein in one hand and a stick in the other, with which the young horse is 'encouraged' to trot round.

Discipline is administered as needed and obedience rewarded - the original command and control, stick-and-carrot strategy!

Likewise, for around 100 years people-management has been synonymous with control and managers seen as enforcers
of the rules, with the power of punishment and reward.

                               Are your managers still training horses?

In the industrial 20th Century employee engagement mattered little against a background of a generally unskilled workforce and high unemployment, because replacements were readily available.  In the knowledge economy, attracting and retaining talented people is vital and employers can no longer be indifferent to how their people feel they are being treated at work - the old model is obsolete...'s time to shift to a new management paradigm!




Submitted on 17 September, 2014 - 21:15

Take a look at British Gas in Cardiff. I've visited one of their open days, and interviewed the the General Manager for a Case Study to bolster a series of books on sales management.  Frankly - I was blown away!!  If there was ever a case about how to achieve excellence, customer delight, and profits through employee engagement, this is it!