5 Employee Engagement Concepts that Deliver Ideal Results

There is no magic formula for business regarding engagement. Engagement is comprised of common sense, empathy, and emotional intelligence.

The following five concepts will increase engagement in your organization.

1. Own It

As a business professional, engagement is up to you, not anyone else. According to Gallup, “Managers account for 70% of variance in employee engagement.” So, if your internal pulse survey is telling you engagement is a problem, 70% of your problem-solving efforts should be on what management can do differently.

Pulse survey data can be segregated by division, function, department and the team level. Where engagement is a problem, there is normally a significant degree of variance within the same organization. Often these organizations have good pay, strong history, culture, values, and great benefits. However, what IS different is the variation among management of understanding engagement.

If you want your people to be engaged, take responsibility and do something different.

2. Engagement Drives Productivity

Engaged employees are happy, involved, and productive. The Shingo Model drives engagement which is demonstrated through these three organizations. All three produced exceptional results and earned the Shingo Prize.

 Envases Universales Rexam de Centro America, S.A. (ECA Guatemala):

  • Zero Lost Time Accidents for six consecutive years from 2010 through 2015
  • 3 million hours without a Lost Time Accident
  • Customer complaints per billion reduced from 112.07 (2007) to 4.57 (2014), a 96% reduction
  • Employee turnover reduction from 2.23% in 2008 to 0.8% in 2014
  • Operational Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) increased from 80.3% (2008) to 93.3% (2014)


Newsprinters, a UK organization:

  • ₤1.0 million savings to the business
  • Zero Lost Time Accidents since 2009
  • ISO 9001 Quality accreditation
  • Staff survey results show 90% approval (good to excellent) for site communications
  • Plant efficiency up by 30% since 2007


Barnes Aerospace:

  • 65% decrease in freight cost per pound
  • New product introduction on-time delivery increased from 74% to 100%
  • Currently over 950,000 hours worked without a Lost Time Accident
  • 64% reduction in internal [quality] escapes
  • 28% increase in on time delivery

Employee engagement is proven to deliver results.

3. Engagement ≠ Perks

A small biotech provided free beverages for employees of every kind and often had free lunches for achieving milestones. However, they had high turnover, high levels of frustration and infighting between functions and teams. But there were ample free t-shirts.

Completely lost on the business was the emotional connection an employee feels with their employer and its goals. Perks are great. Offsites can be fun and build teams. Engagement is not defined perks. It is defined by how involved employees are.

Several factors were cited for its problems, but no one took responsibility for the issues involved.

Another business in the mining industry holds 60% share in its market. Employees hold one another accountable to meet or exceed at plan innovate problem solving. They meet four times daily in huddle meetings to evaluate performance throughout the day. Management is present from time to time learn, understand and coach. This organization has relatively few perks.

Engagement is a focus on people.

4. Engagement is Trust, Recognition and Resourcefulness

Dr. Shigeo Shingo, acknowledged father of Lean, always pointed to his head – indicating to use your brain – when teaching money was not the problem, resourcefulness was the problem. By providing an environment where employees are trusted and recognized for their efforts, resourcefulness takes hold.  

Once a partnership between GM and Toyota, the Fremont, California GM Plant (now Tesla), was once a joint venture between GM and Toyota. Called NUMMI for New United Motor Manufacturing, Inc., its purpose was to see if the Toyota Production System (TPS) could be embraced by American workers. Shut down earlier by GM, it was its worst performing plant.

Toyota required the former union leadership and labor hired back for the NUMMI partnership to proceed. NUMMI became the top producer in the GM system. The TPS trusted and recognized employees. The same labor from the closed GM plant became resourceful and innovative for NUMMI.

Engagement is not about money.

5. Engagement Is Not A Program, It’s A Mindset

Engagement is not something you add to your direct report’s performance management plan, or a walk out on the floor you can check off your daily task list. It’s a mindset. It’s a belief that each employee is a force multiplier for the business by providing valuable critical thinking and insight within their domain. This mindset exemplifies the two foundational Shingo Guiding Principles: “Respect Every Individual” and “Lead With Humility”.

When businesses understand engagement, employees become “force multipliers”.

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