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Blog Post

6 Key Drivers of Improving Employee Engagement Remotely or in the Office

By Aaron Dimmock, Client Engagement Leader

“Are people inspired to achieve the organization’s goals?”

“Do people have a way to remove frustration from their work?”

“Do people feel both challenged and cared for in a way that builds trust and increases performance?”

To get at the core of these questions about the work your employees do in the office and working from home, let’s first understand a little bit about employee engagement.

Employee Engagement

Employee engagement refers to the amount an employee feels committed to their goals and the organization such that they are moved to put forth discretionary effort. Coined and researched since 1990, employee engagement has been around a while and yet 85% of employees are not engaged or actively disengage at work. We also know that managers account for 70% of the variance in employee engagement. On the flip side, employees who have twice the number of one-on-ones with their leaders than their peers are 67% less likely to be disengaged. Lastly, inspiration is 27% more predictive of performance than engagement. If you want people engaged, ask them about their work; then, address their frustrations. A company that excels at utilizing employee engagement to drive inspiration, and ultimately performance, is Disney.

The Walt Disney Company was founded in 1923 on the power of imagination. Walt’s original passion that has endured at the heart of the company is animation and all the Disney Parks inspire a timeless sense of adventure for visitors from all over the world. Cast members, what Disney employees call each other, continually center on Walt’s original idea: to tell stories that inspire people and prove the power of imagination. Inspiration is the thickest thread throughout the cultural tapestry of The Walt Disney Company. Released in 2019 on Disney +, “One Day at Disney” is a documentary film that provides the viewer with a glimpse of Cast Member life around The Walt Disney Company. The inspiration shared by ten Cast Members provides a case example of what engagement really looks like.

Cast Member Position Team Inspiration
Eric Goldberg Animator Walt Disney Animation Studios “I am grateful to be trusted making something larger than life [i.e. drawing Mickey].”
Mark Gonzales Steam Train Engineer Disney Parks “Traveling to get somewhere new never gets old.”
Robin Roberts Co-host Good Morning America (ABC) “We get to set the tone for America.”
Jerome Ranft Sculptor Pixar Animation Studios “I just love to make stuff.”
Grace Lee Senior Illustration Manager Walt Disney Publishing Co. “Drawing comes from a feeling that I have in my mind and is an emotion that flows through my hand to try to put on paper.”
Eric Baker Creative Director Walt Disney Imagineering “We owe it to others to give them the best possible experience they can have.”
Dr. Natalie Mylniczekno Veterinarian Walt Disney World Resort “Helping animals and healing them has been an innate part of my growing up and now I get to do it every day.”
Zama Magudulela “Rafiki” The Lion King (Broadway) “I feel honored that I was trusted with this very powerful [role].”
Ryan Meinerding Vice President of Visual Development/Creative Director Marvel “I love going on the journey that the hero is going on.”

Six Key Drivers

Employees are inspired to achieve when the environment in which they work has the following six key drivers and their leaders embrace a continuous improvement approach.

  1. Purpose is the clear reason that the organization exists and serves as the beacon to which employees can align their behaviors, decisions, and action. Ask yourself and your employees, “How well do our actions align to the purpose of our organization?”
  2. Personal engagement refers to the amount of autonomy employees are given. Ask, “To what extent do our employees have a say in their own work?”
  3. Systems can be helpful, or they can be frustrating. When the frustration starts to set in, engaged employees feel they have a way to minimize or remove them. Here you can ask, “What ways are our employees able to voice and address system or process frustrations?”
  4. Feedback is what employees may provide each other to develop. Ask, “How receptive are our employees to the feedback that is given?” Watch how to ask for and deliver feedback
  5. Capability refers to the skills, tools, and resources employees need to do the work they are asked to do. Ask, “What skills, tools, and resources would help us better accomplish our goals?”
  6. Measurement is key for employees to understand the extent to which they are making progress. Ask, “What are we measuring to show individual and collective progress within our organization?”

Three Ways to Practice

Three practices that underpin the continuous improvement approach include listening in a disciplined way, using employee focus groups, and conducting periodic assessments.

  1. By listening first, you’re able to better discern what the person needs from the conversation and how to most appropriately respond. To learn more about disciplined listening, feel free to read our insight “Becoming your organizations Chief Listening Officer” detailing the active behaviors that make employees feel heard, understood, and valued.
  2. Next, make employee focus groups routine. Engage your employees in dialogue around customized questions and learn what’s driving your culture. Doing so will shine light on opportunities to improve your business systems. By engaging employees, you lay the foundation for future change and gain a deeper understanding of what’s important to them.
  3. Lastly, use an organizational culture survey to periodically capture your organization’s current state. Measure the level of inspiration and the degree to which your systems and processes are aligned. Understanding and acting on these elements of your culture provides a competitive advantage.

Leaders want employees to feel committed to their goals and the organization such that they are moved to put forth discretionary effort. Using the six key drivers and three practices increases the likelihood that your employees will do just that. They make someone’s work better. Making someone’s work better is how you eliminate frustration. And when you eliminate frustration, you improve employee engagement.

Learn more and start using our organizational culture survey with your team today.

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