Employee Engagement – as important as customer engagement

Employees who feel ‘engaged’ with their workplace – excited about who they work for, enthusiastic about what they do, and interested in the broader organization – are more likely to be productive, innovative, and collaborative.  And, they are more likely to stick around and contribute to the work environment both in person and virtually.

I see eight key elements that support engagement – they all challenge the 1990s commitments to efficiency and the assumptions that people can be managed to functional extremes.  We need to start managing people as best / most productive when they are social, and machines as best /most productive when they are functional.

Employee Engagement


Working from home – a right, a privilege, or just downright normal these days?

We’ve heard a lot in the press recently about Yahoo’s CEO eliminating the work from home policy that has long been a part of the corporate culture. Moves like this harken back to old assumptions about the workplace and the importance of place over space. The idea that the work to provide Yahoo’s core product, which is services based, can only be done in a particular physical location is at best quaint.

These kinds of changes also create challenges to employee engagement, sending messages that employees aren’t to be trusted, that everyone needs to conform to a standard version of work, and that connections can only happen in a physical container known as “the office”.  Current thinking on engagement and the value of it would suggest that Yahoo can expect to see a decline in productivity, moral, and retention as a result.

Culture at JCP – a new regime

Business Insider is running a close look at the changing leadership and culture at JCP – one of the oldest retailers in the United States.

Check it out here, in particular the disconnect between store employees and management.  A good case study on the effect of culture clashes and market drivers. Sometimes radical change means hard times for a while, so what’s happening might actually mean survival for the chain, only time will tell.

Measuring engagement

Engagement with your brand – whether by your customers or your employees – is important. But, it is a qualitative experience, and our corporate/ managerial obsession with measuring it quantitatively is questionable at best. Surveys and other common management tools for measuring how people feel about things are useful for answer some questions, and for working at scale, but for understanding why and how people feel engaged, ti can only get you so far. The “why and how” questions produce somewhat unpredictable results, and require a certain degree of analysis to understand themes and trends. If you want to measure engagement, you have to ask people broader questions than what you get on Liker scale.

Expose people to your brand or engage them – depending on who they are

Don’t make the mistake of trying to be all things to all people. When it comes to engagement, audience analysis is critical so you can make the best use of the resources you have in terms of time, money, and people. Are you trying to get people engaged to increase exposure? to provide customer service or answer questions? to encourage brand loyalty? to get to know the customer better? Whatever it is you are trying to do, you will need to spend time to create engagement with a particular group of customers or prospects. Figure out who can best further your brand goals and objectives by being engaged, and start there.

Digital Engagement – A Definition

Several people asked me what it ‘really means’ to have digital engagement as a part of your marketing strategy.  I suggest the following:

Digital engagement is about supporting your brand goals by giving people the opportunity to:

  1. Share your brand content in a way that enhances their own reputation
  2. Get service or sales support both from your internal staff and from others in the community
  3. Have a useful conversation with you or with other customers
  4. Express themselves to you in a transparent way
  5. Advocate for your brand
  6. Generate their own content that incorporates your brand
  7. Provide their expertise to your community of users
  8. Earn a social benefit in exchange for paying attention to your brand

Digital Engagement – Worth the Hype?

I’d say, conditionally worth the hype.  Trying to engage with all of your customers all the time is an overwhelming task, but targeted engagement with the right audience can be extraordinarily beneficial to your brand, both in sales and service.

I am doing more and more with clients around ‘digital engagement’, as a new packaging for social media marketing. The ones who are doing it right are drawing a line between the breadth and coverage of most marketing goals and the depth and attention required for valuable engagement.  Defining what engagement means and how it is different from social media marketing is important.

I see engagement as a targeted relationship with an audience that can further promote your brand goals and objectives through connections that are timely, relevant, and useful to all parties. It is about giving your audience the opportunity to have a voice in your brand spaces, and providing back support and content that is meaningful to the individual who has chosen to engage with you.

Engagement takes time, intention, and appropriate content. It is more than just having property on platforms like Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest, and Twitter, it is about having the capacity to provide content and conversation as appropriate with targeted audiences.