35 Secrets to Profitable Employee Engagement

September 1st, 2014

Engaged EmployeesEmployee Engagement

Running a business would be easy without customers and staff! But don’t jettison them; the reality is, you need both. And you need both of them to be fully engaged too.

In my last blog 40 Secrets to Better Customer Engagement  we looked at how and why it is crucial to the success of your business to engage customers with your brand for maximum income.

Now we turn our attention to employee engagement.

When employees are engaged with the business, the level of care and pride they have multiplies. They’ll understand the what and the why of your vision and work hard to help you achieve it. Everything they do will be focused on the customers; who then feel the love too. Your customers become more engaged and they buy more and more; the never ending sales circle.

“Employees who believe that management is concerned about them as a whole person – not just an employee – are more productive, more satisfied, more fulfilled. Satisfied, employees means satisfied customers which leads to profitability” Anne M Mulcahy

Starting, and keeping your employees engaged with your vision; business standards and the right way of doing business is critical. Engaged organizations grew profits as much as three times faster than their competitors according to the Corporate Leadership Council.
So much has been written about this topic but it was hard to find the very best information pulled together in one place. This is my attempt to do just that….

Here are my 35 Secrets to Profitable Employee Engagement

  1. Surround yourself with experts – that’s what all start-ups are told to do but it’s not only start up that benefit! You need experts to help you but you also need very good foot soldiers to deliver the goods, service, experience and products.
  2. You don’t necessarily need the most qualified person you can get to do a job. Its the most appropriate person for the job that is important. The most appropriate person is the one that can do the job for the lowest cost to the business as described by Michael Gerber in The E-Myth Revisited
  3. Before you get too excited that you don’t have many employees and this is going to be easy; let me bring you down to earth with a bump. For our purposes of employees include freelancers, contractors, interns, out-sourcers, strategic partners, suppliers and temps. Not so easy now? Perhaps we should be talking about team engagement  rather than just employee engagement?
  4. When you recruit your team you need to consider 4 things: Knowledge, Attitude, Skills and Habits of your prospective employee – commonly known as the KASH model (Knowledge, Attitude, Skills and Habits) In the first recruitment sweep, Knowledge and Skills are important boxes for the candidate to prove and the employer to recognise. But even more important are the Attitudes and Habits of the people they employ.
  5. This great blog by Kevin Daum shows how to recruit a marketer to make sure that habits and attitude match their knowledge, skills and creativity.
  6. That old saying you can take a horse to water but you can’t make it drink is just as true for employees unless you recruit a team with the right attitude. Find people who want to be part of your team – a volunteer is always better than a conscript!
  7. Remember that your teams are all employed to do a job. Don’t leave them guessing what it is they have to do; tell them and make it clear. Work on the basis that you have to spell everything out to them because that is the only way that you will achieve a consistent experience for the customer.
  8. If you don’t set the rules and standards around their behaviour, then chaos will reign. Once you have the rules in place then you must police them fairly; be consistent in how you apply them.
  9. Successful grown-up businesses have frameworks and rules in place too. It is not a free for all. If every employee did what they thought was best it would be chaos and customers wouldn’t know what they were going to get. There are lots of ways to set the rules written or otherwise. Nigel Botterill’s book Botty’s Rules includes his What’s it’s Like to Work Here list of rules for all of his staff. They sit alongside the job descriptions, personal objectives, staff handbooks and employment contracts. In my view they are critical in defining the how we behave.
  10. Sam Carpenter’s excellent book Work the System talks about the strategic principles on which his business is built. They come from the same place as Nigel’s, but reflect a different culture.
  11. Whatever you want to call them – The Work House Rules, the Company Bible, the Way We Do Things Here; they set the rules and the standards for your business. They are the guidelines within which your team must work.
  12. But this doesn’t have to be difficult. Take a look at Virgin, Innocent and Google, British Airways or John Lewis Partnership; all of their teams are engaged with the brand, the company and customers. There is no doubt that business leaders who have a clear vision, purpose and goal is a great help in improving employee engagement. Great leaders articulate this so clearly that you no one is in any doubt about what is required of them
  13. Say what you mean and mean what you say. Be consistent with your employees lead by example.
  14. Share your vision. Inspire them, paint the picture of success help them understand the why and the how it has to be done. Better still get them involved in developing your brand manifesto.
  15. Your team are at the coal face – you’re not, so ask for suggestions from the team; they should know most if not all of the answers and remember to reward the good ones too.
  16. Celebrate successes – even the small ones – with your team and set the next milestones for the team to achieve. Setting goals will focus their efforts.
  17. What gets measured gets done so make sure that you measure the important stuff where your employee are concerned. What they achieve may, or may not be more key than how they perform but also aspects such as sickness, training, compliance might be important.
  18. Are you team busy doing the right things or just busy doing nothing?
  19. Now, would your staff recommend you as an employer for a friend of theirs? It is a great question to ask to assess sentiment and moral at a particular time. According to the Corporate Executive Board, more than three-quarters of departing employees wouldn’t recommend their employer to others. Whatever growth, change, or plan you want to achieve you have to get your team on board.
  20. Do you know what your team are saying to your customers? When did you last review the recorded telephone conversations and go on to make improvements? When did you accompany a salesman on a sales call, a pitch or a demonstration? Perhaps it’s a while since you spoke to a customer and asked their views, opinions and feelings?
  21. Do you mystery shop your own organisation and that of your competitors to find out how engaged your employees are compared to your competition?
  22. Who might be ready to resign, and why? Do you know? Engagement always declines when an employee is looking to leave…. A change in behaviour is sometimes noticed by others and if it is a key employee it could be contagious!
  23. How your customers are treated by your employees is a reflection of how you treat your employees. Do you treat them well?
  24. When did you last visit the shop floor for a walk and talk session with your teams ? If you are stuck behind your desk then it’s time to go walk-about….
  25. Do you regularly have open communication with employees and your wider teams?
  26. Do employees have the opportunity to ask you questions, and do you answer them?
  27. Other than you direct reports, when did you last ask an employee what they thought, believed or liked about the company, their manager, the products, the customer, in fact anything about the business? I’m guessing that face to face questions are rare in most businesses.
  28. Employee satisfaction surveys  are a great tool for finding out what teams really think. Remember to include every category of employee. Some employee groups might feel better or worse than others its worth knowing if one department is disengaged. Asked what they want, need and believe. The critical part is that if you ask the questions you have to take the answers on the chin and act upon them. The worst thing you can do is brush it under the carpet. Raising employee expectations and then dashing them is a sure fire way to dis-engage them quickly!
  29. In my post on the 40 Secrets to Better Customer Engagement, I introduced Susannah Schofield’s Dice Matrix; employee engagement is the other side of the engagement coin. With this system you can ask both, employees (all categories) and customers the same questions albeit phrased differently. The results from both groups will identify any gaps in engagement which are risks to be attended to or opportunities to be maximised.
  30. If your team just turn up and aren’t engaged they won’t give their best. If they are just going through the motions then your business will start to stagnate. Soon sickness, absence and stress levels rise. Employees’ leave and production falls as there aren’t enough people to do, or care about the work. Consistency of product and service falls, customers become disillusioned and exit, quietly profits start to tumble – it’s hard to halt the decline without re-engaging your team.
  31. Customers dislike inconsistency, inconvenience and erratic behaviour when employees are engaged to deliver a consistent experience  so they start quite the walk away, income drops and profits suffer.
  32. People are one of your greatest assets, but your biggest liability too. How your employees talk, listen and behave with your clients can be the difference between mediocre and meteoric business success. How they feel about working for or with your company and what they say to their friends can make a big difference too. Do you really know how your employees (and your outsourcers) are dealing with your hard won customers?
  33. Behaviours exhibited by your team are just as important as their attitudes and habits. The anatomy of an engaged employee includes 10 different behaviours.
  34. Building a valuing, empowering and achieving company culture is vital to the success of any business. Good positive cultures adds bucket loads of more profit to the bottom line and fun to the working day.
  35. Whilst researching this blog I found a ‘garbage free’ list of 13 quality employee engagement ranked blogs which Duncan the founder of Vetter www.getvetter.com  had curated in an attempt to help him build up his knowledge of Employee Engagement and where it fits into HR, Management and Business as a whole.

“Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships”. Michael Jordan

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to find out how engaged your employees are right now. Once you have learnt that, you can start making improvements to the quality and consistency of the service that you give to your customers.

List of contributors on Twitter:
– ONVA – @crispinluke
– Corporate Leadership Council – @CEB_HR
– Sonia Kapadia – @soniakapadia
– Michael Gerber – @MichaelEGerber
– Thomas Lowery – @tal62
– Jeanne Loh – @Jeanne_Loh
– Kevin Daum – @AwesomeROAR
– Karsten Strauss – @KarstenStrauss
– Nigel Botterill – @nigelbotterill
– Sam Carpenter – @workthesystem
– Phil Teer – @pteer
– Amy Guettler – @saltedbayonet
– Joe Light – @joelight
– Nikky Alkemade, MSPA – @nalkemade
– Dr. David G. Javitch – @DrDJbiz
– Robert J. Herbold – @bobherbold
– Amy S Choi – @awesomechoi
– Bacal and Associates – [email protected]



Shirley Mansfield is a highly experienced business coach and Master Problem Solver. With over 25 years’ experience, she founded CoachSME in 2011 to work with business owners to maximise growth, and she is still trying to reduce the 14 handicap! Keep up to date by following me on Twitter.