Employee Engagement From Personal Conviction

  • Brace
  • January 30, 2019
  • 10 min

When we at kununu engage speak about employee engagement, we think of it a little like a painter in pursuit of formal perfection. For them, a “looks good” would be just as unsatisfactory as a “mostly engaged” employee is for us. But what is the secret to employee engagement? A piece of the puzzle comes from the manager of a British marketing agency. At her company, they’ve built a team of almost exclusively “superengaged” employees. We’ve researched what employee engagement superpowers this multiple-time Great Place to Work champion must have and provided the quite human results for you in this article.

Employee Engagement Means Emotionally Connected

Meaningful, varied, and challenging tasks help employees be open toward their work and to bring new ideas and solutions to the company. How engaged they are in this process is tied to their emotional connection to the workplace. Employee feelings toward the company are not a side note, but rather play a significant role in engagement. More details about this connection are covered in our article The Measurable Magic of Employee Engagement and you can find ways to use Net Promoter Scores to measure engagement in KPIs to Measure Company Culture Success.

Net Promoter Scores are a yearly go-to engagement measurement for Propellernet, the award-winning British marketing agency. The results speak for themselves:

According to the owner and manager, Nikki Gatenby, 90% of her team are engaged, or are even what she calls “superengaged.” What sets super-engaged employees apart from engaged employees? This sounded like a topic worth investigating. With a quick jump on to YouTube, a listen to numerous interviews, and a peruse through her new book Superengaged: How to Transform Business Performance by Putting People and Purpose First, Nikki’s insights taught us many new methods for employee engagement. We’ll share these with you further on.

More Than 66% Worldwide are Disengaged

In her work, Nikki cites a study showing that only 30% of employees around the world are engaged in their workplace. With a just a little math-ing, you get a stat that hits like a bucket of cold water, or a bad alarm clock: More than two-thirds of employees are disengaged. Nikki Gatenby provides a fitting response to this state of affairs at the London Happy Workplaces Conference in June 2018: “What a waste of collective human intelligence is that!”

She passionately turns these insights toward bigger problems. While addressing the 17 sustainable development goals of the UN Refugee Agency, Gatenby imagines how much more could be accomplished if the other 70% of the world population would be engaged and contribute their collective intelligence to the issues of humanity. These possibilities clarify why she no longer wastes time on money-first strategies, but places people as the focus. Employees leave profit-oriented organizations much more often, Nikki explains in her podcast, and cost them productivity and more. Profit and money come first when people are prioritized.

But Does It Improve Our Lives?

The question that occupies both business and people’s ambitions is “Will it make life better?” This question has been pursued in many directions, from its effect on customers, customers of customers, to the benefits for the community. It has, of course, been viewed from an employee perspective, as well, who find themselves asking “does my work make life better for my employer?” It’s important to have dreams, Nikki explains, and more important to take these seriously and make them real; a quality of her leadership that Gatenby’s team loves. An impressive 98% of them would positively recommend their workplace to friends, associates, and other potential talent. Read on to find more details about her secret recipe.

Wanted: Happy, Visionary Employees

How would life be if we all seriously pursued and engaged with our dreams? Or if they informed our life and our business strategies? Nikki Gatenby and Propellernet are driven by these thoughts and  realize them through their “Dream Consultations.”

These meetings ask 2 decisive questions:

  • What can you personally contribute to make this company more successful?
  • And if you make that happen, what dream would you like fulfilled from our side?

Of course, few employees have just one dream, they instead have many. To work with this, Nikki installed the Dreamball Machine at her company (you can find the video of this contraption at the end of the article). For every award an employee wins, or every goal they achieve, the machine pops out a dream. These are then fulfilled by the company. With the Dreamball Machine, Nikki and Propellernet inspire employees, appreciate their efforts, and benefit from the countless unique business ideas that result. And all of that with great success.

As a case in point, the manager tells the story of an employee with a love for animals. In her dreamball, she wished for a safari in Africa. A dream that was ultimately fulfilled by the company. When the employee returned, she didn’t just have a great experience in the bag, but a load of great new business ideas and a full tank of engagement. These dreams would have never been realized, and the ideas never discovered, if it weren’t for the company’s investment in their employee; an investment that paid off in various new innovations, business models, and an engaged team.

Walking the Walk: Creating and Living Company Values

When striving for a healthy company culture through employee engagement, there’s one thing you can’t forget: The Employee Experience.

In relation to this, Nikki and Propellernet have 5 values that are of great significance to their workplace and team.

  1. Innovation
  2. Creativity
  3. Adventure
  4. Fun
  5. Well-being

For every value, Gatenby asks applicants related questions and emphasizes that they aren’t just niceties, but are taken seriously. After all, it’s not always so easy to find innovative, creative, and adventurous people.

Super-Engaged? How Does It Work?

In the British agency, there are 10 categories from which one can gauge the level of engagement. These range from company purpose to culture, and from development chances to progress. Communication and understanding between and among team and management contribute greatly to making an engaged, or even a super-engaged team member.

For Gatenby, a super-engaged employee is someone that:

  • Knows that their organization does everything possible to care for psychological and emotional well-being
  • Trusts their company to always be honest, and to stick to its principles
  • Is challenged at work and supported with the right education and development chances to drive the company further

Personal Conviction and Internally-Driven Engagement

So what are the takeaways from this lesson? We’ve seen that employee engagement is something emotional that brings the people of an organization in focus and inspires personal conviction for the workplace.

We’ve seen that there are people that harness the dreams of their employees and let them flow into the company and create an innovative whole. Naturally, it’s also clear that such an organization is not everyone’s cup of tea. There are many conceptions of employee engagement and not everyone holds to the same one.

But what can be gleaned from these experiences is that open company culture in every company is dependent on great internal communication between employees, management, teams, and values. Feedback can accelerate the growth of healthy company culture. Digital feedback platforms like kununu engage help you to collect honest and sincere input from your team and react quickly to their needs. Everyone can have a voice, and we don’t just mean a personal soapbox to stand on. Rather, each team member becomes an integrated part of the company journey and their input helps shape the future, creating happy and motivated employees that are simply more efficient.

Bring Out the Best In Everyone

At its most basic, businesses benefit when every employee becomes the best version of themselves. This is how Nikki Gatensby sees it. The real art of employee engagement lies in finding this potential and helping it shine.

A deep connection to the workplace and personal conviction for the company drives engaged teams. Nikki’s concept of super-engaged employees and her business philosophy serve as further inspiration. Why shouldn’t we ask how we can improve our lives and the lives of our customers? And why not sometimes dare to not just dream, but to put dreams to use? As we all know, one only needs a little imagination and good thoughts to create big dreams. And that works with no superpowers required.




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kununu engage is an application that allows you and your entire company to share continuous and anonymous feedback about what working in the company is like. This insight and transparency can help a company function better and build a stronger company culture.

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