Setting the Foundation for Employee Engagement
April 17, 2017

Setting the Foundation for Employee Engagement


Employee engagement was pegged as the top HR trend for 2017, and we’re almost a month into Q2. Hopefully by now you’ve installed the kegerator, had a company picnic and set up the foosball table—and viola, employees engaged! Unfortunately, it’s not so simple. Most often, we find that there are deeper foundational needs to address in order to foster a healthy, engaging team culture.

To create a transformative and engaging employee experience, we need to think more strategically. In the rest of this post, I’ll cover objectives to work toward with your team, and activities that can help jumpstart progress.

The challenge: foundational dysfunction

Does your team struggle with conflict or accountability? How about core values? It’s easy to bypass underlying organizational needs such as clarity around core values, or a team-wide dysfunction like a fear of conflict. It may seem hard to address, but it’s even harder for people to feel invested if the basics like trust, accountability, commitment, aren’t in place.

Objective: Establish organizational values
Activity: Mountains and Valleys exercise

Gather a group of stakeholders and employees that are representative of the company, and ask the group to collaboratively tell the story of the company, or an amount of time leading up to the present. Focus on important highs (mountains) and lows (valleys) that affected the team. Bring in a trusted employee or third-party facilitator to guide the conversation, asking questions that dig deeper.

While listening, write down words from each mountain and valley—from feelings and emotions to themes and other terms. After reaching the present, take a break, then reconvene to discuss the highlighted words or themes. Have the team identify the ones that resonate most with them. What you’re left with is the start of your core values, extracted from your unique team and story. By giving team members a chance to participate, the team will feel more invested in these values, making them more likely to stick.

You can find a more in-depth guide to the Mountains and Valleys core values exercise via Culture Sync.

Oil change stickies.

Objective: Improve candor, address fear of conflict
Activity: Read “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team”—as a team

Addressing dysfunction is a major challenge, which is why companies and teams hesitate to do it. But as Patrick Lencioni, author of “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team” states, “the causes of dysfunction are both identifiable and curable.”

Teams that are willing to address common causes of dysfunction can better align around common objectives, make higher quality decisions, and retain star employees. Lencioni crafted this book as a “business fable,” making it easy to read and digest in a matter of hours. It also includes a team assessment, which allows individuals to self-assess their contribution to dysfunction, creating awareness of current roadblocks and behavioral solutions.

Objective: Gauge the team’s temperature & monitor progress
Activity: Employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS)

The Employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS) survey focuses on gauging employee engagement and loyalty by asking the question, “How likely is it that you would recommend your employer to a friend or acquaintance?” The eNPS is useful for setting a baseline that will help determine if your culture is growing and improving over time. It can also help prioritize areas of focus.

Team voting on language.

Hop to it!

Once you have a culture baseline and understanding of what your team desires, set some realistic and attainable goals such as increasing internal communication, giving accolades when core values are demonstrated, and even something as simple as stopping to celebrate wins.

These activities are just a few of many that can help get your organization on its way to an engaging employee experience. What are some of your favorite team or culture-focused activities?