Podcast: Want engaged employees? Redefine ‘engagement’

Fact: Culture is one of the most important factors contributing to the success of your organization.

Your culture will determine how engaged your employees are ... and judging by recent research, they’re probably not engaged at all. The folks at Gallup regularly find that as many as 70 percent of American employees are not engaged in their work. They’re just showing up and collecting a paycheck, and not giving you any discretionary effort.

Gallup also found that companies with highly engaged workforces outperform their peers by 147 percent in earnings per share. That’s a pretty significant incentive to figure out this employee engagement stuff, isn't it?

So where do we start?

That’s where our guest this week comes in. Jamie Notter is an author and consultant who helps leaders drive growth and engagement by activating and aligning workplace culture. In his latest book The Non-Obvious Guide To Employee Engagement (For Millennials, Boomers And Everyone Else) — written with co-author Maddie Grant — Notter says a conversation about culture just start by redefining employee engagement.

In this conversation, we cover:

  • Why employees are disengaged.
  • The definitions of employee engagement and culture.
  • How we can stop treating symptoms of employee disengagement and start treating the disease.

Listen to our conversation here:



Most of us probably haven’t given it much thought, but Notter and Grant have developed a definition of employee engagement that turns this entire conversation on its head and leads directly to a blueprint for creating a culture in which employees are much more engaged in their jobs – and which makes your organization much more successful by extension. They define it this way:

“A level of emotional connection or commitment you get when you can be successful.”

If you want behavior that drives success, they claim, you create a culture that values those behaviors.

This is huge, because this definition will reshape how we approach employee engagement and culture in our organizations. Employee engagement is now a billion-dollar industry. There are scores of tools out there that claim they’ll help leaders engage their employees — or at least assess how engaged they are. And all those tools, Notter says, are worthless. They give us some interesting data, but they haven’t solved the problem — nearly 70 percent of American workers continue to be disengaged in their jobs, year over year.

Clearly something else needs to be done, and this book proposes some really interesting, unique, and important ideas for how to turn this ship around.

And remember: You’ve got a culture whether you know it or not. Even if you haven’t done the work to create or improve your culture, you still have one. Your people will define what your culture is, good or bad. This book is a playbook of sorts for how leaders can take back control of culture and make it work for them.

More resources:


William D. Sheridan