Employee engagement

March 1, 2011


Can you please explain “employee engagement”?


Employees who are actively engaged in their jobs work with passion, feel a connection to their company, and help move the organization forward. Studies have shown that engaged employees are more productive, more customer-focused, safer, and less likely to leave their jobs.

Employee-engagement surveys are often used to measure employee engagement. One of the most popular is the Q12 by Gallup.1 Employees are asked to rate their response to each question on a scale of one to five. Higher scores correlate to higher employee engagement.

  • Do you know what is expected of you at work?
  • Do you have the materials/equipment you need to do your work properly?
  • At work, do you have the opportunity to do what you do best every day?
  • In the last week, have you received recognition or praise for your work?
  • Does your supervisor seem to care about you as a person?
  • Is there someone who encourages your development?
  • Do your opinions seem to count?
  • Does the mission/purpose of the company make you feel your job is important?
  • Are your fellow employees committed to doing quality work?
  • Do you have a best friend at work?
  • In the last six months, has someone talked to you about your progress?
  • In the last year, have you had opportunities to learn and grow?

You have probably heard the saying “Nobody ever washes a rental car.” When we do not own something, we do not treat it as well as if we did. Employees who feel they have no ownership in the organization do not put forth their best efforts. In order to be engaged, employees need to feel they have a stake in the company’s success. This comes from understanding the company’s direction and the significance of their role in helping the company reach its goals.

Employees need to know that they are valued. To help staff understand their value, work toward making changes that improve employee engagement.

—Richard Loftus

Consultant, Staffing Solutions

Pittsburgh, PA



  1. Gallup Consulting. Employee Engagement: What’s our engagement ratio? http://www.gallup.com/consulting/52/Employee-Engagement.aspx. Accessed February 2, 2011.




Employee engagement is directly related to the connections workers have with an organization.
Engaged employees are enthusiastic about their work. In a workplace with little employee engagement, there is often low morale, high turnover, frequent employee disputes,
high absenteeism, poor teamwork, resistance to change, and poor customer service. In order to be engaged, employees need to:

  • know what is expected them;
  • have the materials and equipment needed to perform their job well;
  • receive recognition for good work;
  • trust their boss and co-workers;
  • know their opinions matter;
  • feel their job is important;
  • believe their fellow employees also are committed to doing quality work.
  • talk to management about goals and progress; and
  • have opportunities to learn and grow.

Read books or attend workshops on the subject to learn how to build a culture of employee engagement in your workplace.

—Christine Dobb, MT(ASCP), Retired
Columbus, OH



Engaged employees find meaning in their work, and they perform their duties with energy and enthusiasm beyond the minimum required to keep their jobs. They make decisions with the best interest of the company in mind — because they are connected to it. Engaged employees are more productive, experience lower stress levels and higher job satisfaction, and have longer tenure. Employee engagement begins with management.

  • Communicate openly and honestly with employees.
  • Invest in your staff. Make sure they have what they need to do their jobs well.
  • Provide opportunities for career advancement.
  • Communicate to employees what the organization’s goals are and how to achieve them.
  • Make expectations clear.
  • Be a coach. Give constructive feedback.
  • Listen.
  • Give recognition often.
  • Involve employees in decisions that affect them.
  • Build employees’ trust by being honest, fair, and consistent.
  • Make personal connections. Know your employees and their needs.
  • Make sure employees are trained — for the job they have now and the one they aim for in the future. Help them upgrade their skills to match the needs of the organization.
  • Trust your staff. Make them trust you.
  • Get feedback from your employees. Ask them, “What do you think?”
  • Check your own engagement regularly — lead by example.

—Linda Lawson
Lawson Management
Dallas, TX

Bottom line: Ask yourself if you have an environment that encourages engaged employees. If the answer is no, take the advice of our experts and survey your employees to find the baseline of their engagement. Then implement actions that encourage engagement and resurvey to see improvements in engagement.

Anne Pontius is a senior medical practice consultant with State Volunteer Mutual Insurance Co. in Brentwood, TN, and president of CLMA. Send questions to Ms. Pontius at [email protected].