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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 Sesil Pir – Founder of Sesil Pir Consulting.

EZ: What does employee engagement mean to you?

SESIL: Employee engagement for me is helping an individual connect to their inner powers and help activate the natural abilities and intrinsic motivators they behold within themselves.

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


  • Building a purpose-driven mission strategy.
  • Being thoughtful about who to elevate to leadership roles and why.
  • Understanding organizational data to actively feed culture-built.

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

SESIL: Being mindful of structures created within which employees will be empowered. Having audit processes for recognizing and rewarding core values of the culture.

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

SESIL: There may be historic or current reasons. It is our experience that when employees have a hard time to buy-in, there is often a legitimate reason such as change fatigue or inconsistency of value role modeling.

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

SESIL: Through a recent collaboration with Stanford University’s CCARE, we just launched a set of “leadership” attributes that are proven to activate humanity in the workplace. We believe it is most critical for each one of us to reconnect with the inner wisdom we have inside of us and build critical skills around self-knowledge, self-awareness, self-expression, and relation-building before becoming productive contributors to a culture.

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

SESIL: Balance between demonstrated investment around individual, collective talent and a culture of engagement.

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

SESIL: There is an undeniable link between employee experience and customer experience. Companies that lead in customer experience have more engaged employees and companies that lead in employee engagement have higher customer satisfaction. There are several studies showing that investment in employee experience impacts not only the customer experience, it leads to higher ROI for the company through the customer loyalty.

I always say, you may have the best business strategy at hand but if you can’t touch people’s hearts and activate them through engagement, your strategy remains on paper and achieves nothing. That saying “culture eats strategy for breakfast” is there for a good reason… 🙂

EZ: What’s the best EE idea you’ve seen a company roll out/attempt and wish you’d had that idea yourself?

SESIL: 20% of think time when it was introduced by Atlassian Software was a great one. The process of creation requires a lot of downtime; therefore, this is a great way to support creative thinking.

I also loved it when Chobani gave 10% of its holding to employees as shareholders. What a better way to officialise the value in sharing a reality with your workers?!

EZ: What’s the worst and glad that you didn’t?

SESIL: I have seen and witnessed many organizations try to throw more and more stock into employees in hopes of engagement and retainment. Let me tell you, it only works to a certain and unexpectedly low threshold. After that, not only it doesn’t work, it actually starts hurting the morale and de-motivating employees.

EZ: Since you entered the world of work, what’s the best experience you’ve had?

SESIL: Oh, I loved working at Microsoft during its heydays. The culture of learning it was founded on I never experienced anything quite like it after. We also had a-ma-zing leaders, who were not only well knowledgeable/ trained in their functional areas, they were kind and passionate. There was a quality of humanity and whole-roundedness with so many of them (including Bill himself) that made working together a beautiful, joyful experience.

EZ: What’s the worst?

SESIL: My latest gig with one very large pharmaceutical company was pretty much a disaster. I witnessed more than one leadership teams exercising favouritism, employees being written off over very minor events, many HR colleagues not fully trained in their areas, people outside of OD leading major change efforts. I have never signed off on as many burn-out cases I have done in those four years. It really was a shame.

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

SESIL: Oyy! Can you help me get with Krista Tippett? I am dying to meet her. 🙂 Joke aside, I have been very fortunate to have the opportunity to meet many people I look up to. That said, I’d have loved to meet Nelson Mandela, Maya Angelou and I’d have loved to see Zeki Muren (a Turkish classical singer) live on the stage.

EZ: Favourite song to crank up after a tough day at work?

SESIL: So many! I go with Helldorado – A Drinking Song. 🙂

EZ: Best place in the world you have visited?

SESIL: I am completely in love with Japan. It is my second home.

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

SESIL: I had the good fortune of seeing over 60 countries; yet, Colombia is number one on my list of places to visit.

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.