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13 Nov. 2014 | Comments (2)

You’ve seen the research. Read the reports. Talked to leaders and employees alike. You know that despite our quantifiable understanding of the bottom-line impact of employee engagement, it continues to elude most organizations.

The reason engagement is such a sought-after commodity is because it’s a powerful contributor to a cycle that every business wants and needs for long-term success. Here’s how it works:

  • Engagement unlocks discretionary effort. It creates the conditions that encourage individuals to volunteer more of themselves, their time, their creativity, and their talents to the organization. Discretionary effort at its core is a choice people make to ‘go the extra mile,’ a choice based in large part on their level of engagement.
  • Then, discretionary effort plays out in innumerable ways. Greater attention to the needs of customers. Improved sales and service. Innovations and improvements. Productivity and efficiency. Bottom-line results.

But it doesn’t stop there. Once you start this ‘engagement ring,’ the cycle can naturally perpetuate itself. Because the thing about employee engagement is that much of what it produces also feeds it.

Depending upon the study, key drivers of engagement include such factors as career opportunities, recognition, performance management, pride in working for the company, organizational reputation, and relationship with one’s immediate supervisor.

These items are inputs to engagement… but they are also frequently the outputs as well. For instance, when an employee is highly engaged in his or her work, and invests discretionary effort to drive extraordinary results:

  • Career opportunities may be more likely to follow. These career opportunities encourage greater engagement and the ring continues.
  • He or she is likely to receive recognition for their work. This recognition encourages greater engagement and the ring continues.
  • The organization will excel, instilling pride. This pride encourages greater engagement and the ring continues.

The process can naturally perpetuate itself… but only once you get an employee into the engagement ring. The good news is that there are countless ways to begin this positive cycle – that also serve the business:

  • Tap into the talents people want to use
  • Demonstrate appreciation
  • Ask for input
  • Highlight successes
  • Offer opportunities to learn and grow
  • Provide honest, meaningful feedback

As leaders, one of the most strategic investments of time and energy may be in taking the actions required to get employees in the engagement ring… because once they get in, they’ll become part of this cycle that can nourish and sustain itself while delivering unbeatable business results.

So, what about you? Are you in the engagement ring? How do you help others in?


This blog first appeared on Julie Winkle Giulioni's blogosphere on 11/06/2014.

View our complete listing of Employee Engagement blogs.

  • About the Author: Julie Winkle Giulioni

    Julie Winkle Giulioni

    Julie has spent the past 25 years improving performance through learning. As co-founder and principal of DesignArounds, Julie leads multi-disciplinary teams that create award-winning electronic and in…

    Full Bio | More from Julie Winkle Giulioni


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  1. Jim Watson 0 people like this 13 Nov. 2014 07:55 PM

    Hi Julie,

    Your article exposes a couple key positives about EE:

    1. It's a virtuous cycle (or as you so eloquently call it, an "engagement ring.")

    2. The countless ways to begin the cycle can be low-to-no-cost initiatives.

    With benefits of EE so large, and upfront costs so small, why is it that so few organizations actually have a highly engaged workforce? In other words, why don't more companies take the time to begin those initiatives you've outlined?

    My theory: There are no metrics currently tracked by organizations, that measure engagement. So, if they're not measuring it, they can't see the size of the problem, and therefore, don't take steps to fix it.

    What's your theory on this Julie? Why don't more organizations take stock in your recommendations?

    Interested to hear your thoughts!

    Jim Watson

  2. Julie Giulioni 0 people like this 20 Nov. 2014 03:32 PM

    Thanks, Jim, for your thoughtful response and framing of the issue. Here's my thinking: plenty of organizations 'begin' the initiative... but they don't sustain or stick with it. A little pixy dust here. A pizza party there. And engagement should be handled, right? Of course not! The virtuous cycle requires ongoing effort and thought. Engagement-driving behaviors need to become part of the fabric of the business... versus another initiative (flavor of the month) that just fades away. It's a matter of embedding thee behaviors in the organization and leader performance. Thanks again for your note, Jim!