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As we get underway with the launch of our 2018 UK & European Employee Engagement Awards, we at the Engagement Zone will be interviewing judges for the upcoming event. Today, the Engagement Zone sits down with Karin Volo – Chief Joy Bringer at Evoloshen.

EZ: What does employee engagement mean to you?

KARIN: The short answer is being able to bring out the best in people at the workplace. My definition of engagement from our bestselling book Engage! is to have full attention, commitment, enthusiasm, passion, and purpose for your work, to be wholeheartedly involved in and contribute positively to an organization.  We believe that these are the key elements relevant to both the company and to the employees—it’s a two-way street!

EZ: What are your three tips to companies looking to drive engagement in their organisations?

KARIN:

  • Have a clearly defined bigger purpose that will help to connect the employees and future recruits emotionally to the company.
  • Make sure that you have a high level of trust at all levels within the company—otherwise, it becomes difficult to work with engagement long term.
  • Be proactive in working to develop the culture. We define the culture through our 5 Cultural Keys of Collaboration, Creativity, Connection, Celebration, and Contribution. We have found in working with companies that rank high in each of these categories, the engagement levels soar.

EZ: What do you feel are the biggest pitfalls that companies should look to avoid when executing their engagement strategy?

KARIN: Some of the key mistakes companies make when working with engagement is that they do NOT emotionally anchor the values, purpose, or engagement activities with the employees, they are not measuring or tracking their progress and that they do not have a bigger purpose of why they do what they do. So think through how do you want the employees to FEEL at work, how can you measure the results of your activities in a meaningful way, and know what your bigger purpose is and communicate it freely.

EZ: Why do employees fail to buy in when companies try to ramp up engagement?

KARIN: If they have been with the company long term, they are often skeptical and need to feel that the efforts are truly authentic. They need to see that management is committed and truly cares about THEIR well being. When that trust is built, the loyalty and belief increases tremendously. Keep in mind that over the years, many employees have been burned or disappointed—although they would really love to have an engaged workplace and be engaged. But they need to feel connected and aligned with the values and purpose, and they need to trust their leaders first.

EZ: What skills are most useful for everyone to have when trying to move towards a culture of engagement?

KARIN: There is a difference between skills and attributes and I’d say that attributes come before skills. People need to have the attributes of authenticity, caring, and being inspiring. Then in terms of skills, they should know how to motivate others, be visionary so that everyone can buy into building the culture, and they should be inclusive so that everyone feels they can be a part of the journey and contribute to the success.

EZ: You’re a judge for the Employee Engagement awards. What will you be looking for in the entries?

KARIN: I always like to see the passion and commitment to engagement. The enthusiasm that comes through in the writing for the entries is important. I also like to see creative ideas that are working and how it has impacted the employees and the company.

EZ: How important do you think it is to connect Employee Experience to the Customer Experience and why?

KARIN: The employee and customer experience are definitely two sides of the coin! What I like to call the “inner work” is towards the employee and I’m glad to see we are starting to use the term experience. Giving a great experience at work for the employees increases engagement and enthusiasm which can be felt by the customers. The customer experience is the outer work. So when companies do their inner work with their culture and employees, the market and their customers will benefit greatly.

EZ: Which person (dead or alive) would you love to be able to come in and speak to your workforce/colleagues?

KARIN: I’m a huge fan of Southwest Airlines and feel that their leaders can share so much for the business world. I also love Vineet Nayar. They’ve done this engagement journey with huge success.

EZ: Best place in the world you have visited?

KARIN: Really loved the passion of the people in Cuba and more recently, have been in Croatia—what a lovely country that is on so many levels!

EZ: The place you’d most like to visit?

KARIN: Am really looking forward to heading to Australia and New Zealand in 2019. There is so much in Asia to explore as well.

NOTE: Entries for the UK & European and ANZ  Employee Engagement Awards are now open. For your chance to be recognised as a great place to work, click the link here.