Episode 79.5 – Green Apple Slice


6 Tips to Increase Employee Engagement


The Green Apple Podcast does weekly “Green Apple Slices”, where John Garrett and Rachel Fisch discuss a recent business article related to the Green Apple Message. These shorter segments are released each Monday, so don’t miss an episode by subscribing on iTunes or Stitcher.

This week, John and Rachel discuss a Human Resource Executive Online article, “6 Tips to Increase Employee Engagement” by Sreeni Kutam.


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    John: Happy Monday! It’s another episode of the Green Apple Slices. It’s John Garrett and I’m here with Rachel Fisch. How are you doing, Rachel?

    Rachel: Good. How are you doing, John?

    John: Doing excellent here with the Grand Poobah of all things, Deloitte Bookkeeping Canada. I found an article that I thought I’d share with everybody and I sent it to you and I thought it was pretty good and we’ll see what you have to say about it, of course, but I liked it. It was the “6 Tips to Increase Employee Engagement.” It was by Sreeni Kutam in Human Resource Executive Online and yeah, I thought it was great. I mean it opens it up with a really great question of the kind of like a chicken or an egg sort of a thing of does business success lead to more engaged employees or is it engaged employees that make businesses successful?

    Rachel: Right. I think we’ve already made the connection that you can’t have one without the other, right? There’s been lots of research on how employee engagement can actually drive revenues and all of that and share prices in the whole bit but I think there is some really great points actually in here. So talking about what’s coming first, the chicken or the egg, employees don’t start new jobs just engaged, right?

    John: Correct. That’s correct.

    Rachel: If you’re starting a new job, you’re excited about the opportunity, you’ve taken it for a reason whether it’s more money or a change of pace or going up the ladder, there are of course exceptions to that but I would say most of the time, day one, employee in the office or wherever they work, they are not disengaged. I think the engaged employee, actually, comes first. That’s just my professional opinion but then it’s kind of the company’s job to latch on to that and then continue to drive it and make sure that that employee doesn’t get disengaged. So just because when you think of it that way, and I think it is kind of clear what comes first, however that company does need to have a culture of engagement in order to kind of keep that car rolling.

    John: Wow, that’s deep. It’s really deep. I like it.

    Rachel: Oh, we just got started.

    John: We just got started, I agree. But I also think that it is up to the person to also contribute to that. There’s only so much a company can do, you still have to plug in and get on the ride and be a part of it.

    Rachel: Yeah, absolutely which is mentioned in step number 6 and so the accountant numbers person in me is kind of freaking out that we’re not starting with step number 1. But yes, it does actually talks about that, and I want to make sure that we talk about actually owning, like the person owning that themselves but one thing that I think is important to remember is that this article is specifically designed for human resource executives. It kind of has that feel to it and that’s who the intended audience is. We, personally, aren’t human resource executives. But I was just kind of needing to keep that in mind as I was reading it because that’s really who this article is framed to.

    John: Right. In my corporate experience, I had plenty of meetings with HR executives so I feel like I was part of HR or I felt like, anyway. We’ll start with number 1 then for the very structured, Rachel Fisch. Number 1, have team leaders own the execution which I think it’s great. They have to set the example and that really has an impact on people.

    Rachel: Yeah. Usually, when it comes to things like visions and mission statements and those things that usually end up driving culture making sure that you’re being consistent within the company values and beliefs, that’s kind of done from a C-level and then down but there are, for most companies, several stages in between. Although we want to make sure that the managers themselves don’t feel like they’re outside of the employee structure, and their whole job is just to run other employees, we do want them to feel involved and engaged themselves but those are the exact touch points that you can kind of make sure that you’re hitting each level of your organization as well. I thought that that was really strong to make sure that they also feel part of what’s going on.

    John: Well, I think it’s also — and it leads to number 2 of just having encourage clear conversations with managers and associates because the managers, I think, have the most impact on this. Even if your C-suite is super fun and engaged and cool to be around, the managers can completely ruin that because they’re the ones who are the direct reports and have the most contact with the staff.

    Rachel: Yeah, absolutely. They’re the ones that people are seeing every day and when I saw this sentence I thought of you and I’m like, “Oh, they stole that from John” but I don’t think so. So finally encouraged managers to talk to associates about things outside of the office. So yes, we do have lives outside of work and so including that in our regular communication with peers as well as people above us and below us I think it’s a really great way to again bring that personality and that engagement within the company as well.

    John: And just show you genuinely care about them. I mean it’s that simple. It really is. And Number 3 was use data to fine-tune the messages, identify the best communication channels. If your people are on Twitter then use Twitter, if they prefer town hall meeting, use that. If they prefer email, do that, just finding out how people are receiving it and also realizing that different people receive it different ways so you need to be aware of that.

    Rachel: For sure and so then it’s not just the methods in which they communicate but also the demographics. What are some of the things you can do to increase engagement that would speak to their demographics specifically, although that’s a bit of generalization but just to keep some of those things in mind.

    John: Yeah. Number 4 was, understand the desires of your workforce which probably goes with having the conversations with them. But people just are more engaged when you care and you ask them, “What can benefit you and how can we help?” Which I went to Brian Wagner at Stratagem, was a guest on the Green Apple podcast a couple of weeks ago and he was an excellent example of that. From a partner level that just really cares about people whether it’s you’re going to stay here or not or whatever, it’s just really what’s going to make you better in your career.

    Rachel: Yup, for sure. And then number 5 is help remove friction from design processes. People do feel it when it is an effort to go outside of your department so just making sure that those are kind of as streamlined as possible and maybe a little less bureaucracy in this area would be fantastic. And then, last but not the least, number 6.

    John: Number 6, yes!

    Rachel and John: We made it!

    John: Everyone stayed around just for this one.

    Rachel: They totally think it is. Here’s why, because you still have to own it. I don’t know how many people like — there are some people you are just not going to make or keep happy but that’s not on the company. That is on the employee to own that. I don’t want to get this podcast to get an E rating so I’m trying really not to say bad words right now. But you just have to own your stuff and you have to be responsible and accountable to yourself for how you react and engage. If the company as a whole is engaging 90% of their workforce, I think that’s really strong and sometimes you may not just get to that 10% but I think that it’s really important that people own it. Does that make sense?

    John: Well, and people speak up. If you’re part of that 10% then, “Hey, I have an idea for an outside of work event that we can all do” or, “I have an idea for a better way to communicate to us.” Things like that where if you never really say anything, they can’t read your mind. You need to speak up and just be that change agent in an appropriate way and that works.

    That’s it, everybody and you know it would be super cool actually, is if you’re listening on iTunes or Stitcher, if you could just go and leave a rating, that would be fantastic, preferably five stars and a quick comment so that everybody knows what we’re doing. But yeah, that would be really cool and really appreciated. That’s it. Have a great rest of the week, Rachel.

    Rachel: Have a great week as well, John.

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