9 Ways to an Engaged Workplace

Our problem is not employees who quit and leave; it's employees who quit and stay!

This comment makes a telling point about the damage that can be done to organisational effectiveness by people who remain on the job but do so as minimal contributors or worse...

In a recent book, 'First, Break All the Rules' Marcus Buckingham raises the issue of the engaged employee. Buckingham, of the Gallup Organisation, argues that employees fall into 3 main categories:

  • Engaged: those who are loyal, motivated and productive
  • Not Engaged: those who are going through the motions and merely putting in the hours
  • Actively Disengaged: those who are unhappy and are spreading this negativity to others
  • As a result of some extensive research Buckingham estimates that some 20% of the workforce falls into the 'actively disengaged' category. People in this category have the potential to do a lot to undermine organisational success.

An engaged workplace is a good place for everyone: employee, manager and shareholders. So what's the secret? How do you get it?

Of course it is never simple, quick or easy but the following approaches, based on the research in First Break All the Rules, seem to be significant in building an 'engaged' workplace:

  • Help employees see the overall purpose of what they are contributing towards
  • Clearly define and draw employees into serving something bigger than just bottom-line results
  • Invite employees to contribute to how to best achieve the broad organisational goals and listen to their input
  • Clearly define roles, responsibilities and expectations
  • Provide frequent, positive feedback
  • Celebrate success and achievements
  • Encourage lifelong learning and acknowledge and support the growth of the whole person
  • Ensure that people have an opportunity to use their talents - everyday
  • Develop the people management skills of any one who has people reporting to them.

What emerges from these suggestions is overwhelming confirmation of the value of integrating a strong coaching approach to the way you lead your people. Consistently implementing these kinds of practices will go a long way towards building an organisation that people are queuing up to join. When your people bring this positive energy to their work anything can happen!


  • Buckingham, M. & Coffman. (1999) First, Break All The Rules. Simon and Schuster. New York: NY