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Three Keys to Create Employee Engagement

June 7, 2022

Originally featured in SBAM’s FOCUS Magazine

“When dealing with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but creatures of emotion” – Dale Carnegie

Let’s take away a big chunk of stress and worry from your life right now! There’s a lot that keeps small business owners up at night, though one thing hits you in the head and the heart…employee issues. If tomorrow, you lost all your team members would your business survive? How much stress and anxiety ensues when you have to cope with the loss of a valued employee? How much time, money and resources do you spend attracting, maintaining and retaining quality employees? The math is simple, the challenge is real, and as a smart business owner, you need to get out ahead of this.

You’re reading this article, so I know you’re keeping current. The “Great Resignation” continues; just in January of this year alone, nearly 4.3 million people quit their jobs according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Surveys conducted this past fall showed anywhere from 50-70 percent of the workforce were actively looking for new job opportunities and over 90 percent of people would consider different opportunities. We can theorize all day about what’s going on. Though, remember you’re a business owner and time is money, so let’s do something about it!

As business owners we want and need dedicated and engaged employees. Prior to the pandemic, Dale Carnegie and MSW Research found that employees who are engaged are satisfied with their immediate manager, believe in the organizational leadership and take pride in their organization. These three variables are certainly still in play and guess what? We have three new variables that need to be individually addressed, if you want to stay ahead of the competition on employee engagement.

Here’s what you’ll need to do now as a business owner/leader:

  • Make sure each employee enjoys their work.
  • Make sure each employee utilizes their strengths.
  • Make sure each employee is growing their skills.

Let’s break each of these down:

Make Sure Each Employee Enjoys Their Work

Meet with each employee individually to understand what they enjoy about the work they do for your organization. Understand “why” they enjoy it; search for specific examples they share with evidence of “why” the work brings them happiness. Validate their “why” and draw the connection to how their work delivers on the promise of your organization to your customers. You need to remove any assumptions here. Thus, you should be able to articulate exactly why each person on your team specifically enjoys their work.

Make Sure Each Employee Utilizes Their Strengths

Every human being wants to be appreciated for their strengths and how they impact others. Your responsibility is to understand and appreciate the strengths of each of your employees. Moreover, your responsibility is to make sure their strengths are being leveraged in the work they are doing for your organization. Invest the time to document each employees’ strengths through the utilization of assessments, observations and direct conversations with the individual. You should be able to articulate exactly how your organization is leveraging their strengths and how their strengths help your organization be successful (and yes, you need to share this with them).

Make Sure Each Employee is Growing Their Skills

Change is constant and no one wants to be left behind regardless of their stubbornness. When things become stagnant, we eventually leave; it’s human nature. Your challenge is to have a growth strategy/plan for each of your employees based on their needs/desires as related back to the growth of the organization. When you can show an employee how their growth directly aligns to the growth of the organization, it will give them greater pride in the success of your organization and how they are helping the organization achieve that success. By making sure each employee enjoys their work, utilizes their strengths and are growing their skills, you will dramatically increase employee engagement. So, open up your spreadsheet program or grab a piece of paper. List each employee and ask yourself why they enjoy their work, how their strengths are being utilized and how they are growing with your organization. If you don’t have the answers, don’t beat yourself up. Rather, get busy and find out the answers!


Phil Zeller, Owner and Master Trainer of Dale Carnegie Training in Southwest Michigan. Dale Carnegie Training is a business partner with SBAM and provides practical common-sense solutions to solving everyday challenges with people.

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