Next is Now

Lior Arussy (Photo Credit: VCV Agency

The Secret to Employee Engagement

May 10, 2018 - 1:36 pm

This excerpt is from Lior Arussy's book, “Next Is Now,” published by Simon & Schuster.


In May 2016, Strativity launched a nationwide study of 30,183 adults, employed full or part-time, in an attempt to better understand employee engagement. We gave participants a list of statements in order to explore what factors played the biggest role when it came to engagement at work — and, by extension, their readiness and willingness to change and adapt. (From previous work, we had already learned that engaged employees demonstrate a greater willingness to adapt to change.) Here’s what we discovered:

  • Only 31 percent of employees agreed that “our company’s leaders inspire me to follow them.”
  • Only 34 percent said “my direct supervisor inspires me.”

  • Just 37 percent believed “this job is aligned with my career goals.”

  • The same proportion, just 37 percent, could say “my direct supervisor helps me develop my skills.”

  • Finally, only 38 percent felt that “I have complete ownership of the issues I deal with.”

As bad as the scores were, what else we discovered about them might surprise you: none of these factors had any clear correlation to engagement, or lack thereof. In fact, each of the needs expressed in the above statements was perceived by employees to be a basic requirement. So what else could be responsible for engagement? Education, or income level? Think again. Neither had any link to engagement.

As it turned out, the strongest correlation to engagement was demonstrated by three statements that comprise what we call the Impact Index:

1. “Our leaders inspire me to follow them.”

2. “I understand our customers’ needs and expectations.”

3. “Our company’s leaders effectively communicate with me.”

Next Is Now
(Next Is Now)

What is so special about these statements? In fact, several things. While other factors the employees rated treated them in a passive way — statements such as “Work/life balance” — the Impact Index statements focused on the employee as an active participant. While others focused on the big picture — “Competitive strategy,” for instance — which some employees may feel is too big for them to influence, these statements focused on the power that employees do have.

When people are inspired to act, understand the need they are addressing for their customer, and have their role in making an impact clearly communicated, they are ready to make a difference. In other words, people demonstrate the highest engagement not when their personal needs are being met, but rather when they feel empowered to make an impact and help others. People in our study felt most engaged when they were doing something meaningful with a clear impact on a real human being.

An organization that provides its employees with the tools to make a real impact on people’s lives is the company that will have the most engaged employees. When employees say they receive the support to deliver exceptional customer experiences, what they are really saying is:

“I can make an impact.”

“I own the issue.”

“There are people who need me.”

“I am not helpless.”

“I am in control.”

“I can perform to the highest (exceptional) level.”

This surprising finding was reinforced by the fact that employees who interacted directly with customers demonstrated a higher level of engagement than their colleagues (48 percent compared to 37 percent).


Lior Arussy is the founder of Strativity Group and one of the world’s leading authorities on customer experience and customer-centric transformation. Many of the world’s top brands work with him to drive successful change efforts: Mercedes-Benz, Royal Caribbean Cruises, Thomson Reuters, HSBC, E.ON, FedEx, SAP, University of Pennsylvania, and Johnson & Johnson, among many others. In addition to his work with Strativity, Lior is the author of Exceptionalize It! He’s written over 250 articles for publications around the world, including the Harvard Business Review and has been featured in a multitude of magazines and media outlets including MSNBC, CNBC, Bloomberg TV, The Wall Street Journal, and Fast Company.