The Recipe for Engagement

It’s now a well-established fact that organisations that master the culture/engagement dynamic reap the benefits - higher profits, faster growth, greater productivity, lower attrition…but what’s the recipe for success?

Companies that get it right give employees something to engage with - we highlighted a few of them in a tweet last week. 

The budget US airline, Southwest Airlines, for example, won't give customers much more than a pack of peanuts with their flight, but they can fly cross-country for as little as $49, and the company's customer service is legendary.

Southwest succeeds through a culture of mutual respect, where a high percentage of employees ‘own’ their jobs. It's right there on the company's careers webpage: ‘Not just a career, but a cause.’ Leadership urges a well-managed work/life balance in which employees "value the opportunity to work hard, be creative, and have fun on the job."

So, how can you create a cause in the same way, whatever your business?

A recipe for success

Most people live their lives according to "What's in it for me?”. So if you want to be a productive leader, consider this: What is in it for your employees? When they’re engaged, they’ll reward you with a bigger share of their discretionary time and effort — and their collective productivity will skyrocket.

While many ingredients go into any individual engagement recipe, all have three components in common: Motivation, appreciation, and communication. 


Give people reasons to engage that go beyond appeals to company loyalty. In addition to inspiring them with fulfilling work and your own example, try building their sense of pride in what they do. What’s their purpose? Why does it matter? What kind of incentive are people given to go above and beyond? At John Lewis, for example, hardworking partners get a share of the profits.


Financial rewards might work well, up to a point, but so too does public acknowledgement: pats on the back, public call outs. Regular one-to-ones, where great work is highlighted, not just what went wrong, are also highly effective. Try doing something unexpected - rewarding a great piece of work with a dinner for two at a nice restaurant, for example, or another personal touch. Just make it consistent: When anyone trips the switch for recognition or reward, make sure they get it.


Long-term successful businesses communicate well. It’s the lifeblood of the organisation, the thing that keeps people on board through tough times, and stops the rumour mill from disengaging people. Keep your communications clear, consistent, and to the point. Share organisational goals and objectives, erring on the side of over-communication. Show everyone why and how their contributions matter.

Of course, every business is different, and Agents of Change work with many sizes and sectors to help them to succeed. Get in touch to discuss how we can help you.