As we get underway with the launch of our 2018 UK & European Employee Engagement Awards, we at the Engagement Zone sit down with Sean Trainor – Founder of Uber Engagement.

EZ: What does employee engagement mean to you?

SEAN: For me, employee engagement is the art and science of influencing people to enable key business outcomes. I view engagement as a verb (not a noun) and I view employees as colleagues (not resources).

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

SEAN:

If you want to ‘drive’ anything in an organisation you need to understand what ‘drives’ people. Read  Daniel Pink, he summarised it beautifully.

  1. Purpose
  2. Autonomy
  3. Mastery

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

SEAN: Not having a clearly articulated purpose. You can engage anyone in anything but unless you understand why, what’s the point?

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

SEAN: I don’t believe that any employees fail their companies by not buying into their efforts to “ramp up” engagement. I actually believe that companies are failing their employees if they believe that employee engagement is measurable outcome that can be “ramped up”

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

SEAN: If you want to encourage a positive culture (I’m carefully reframing the question here as I don’t understand what a “culture of engagement” is, never mind how you “move towards” it) then you need to provide a psychologically-safe environment where it’s ok to fail, it’s ok to speak up and it’s ok to think (and be) different. I like to call that a “just culture” not a culture of engagement. The greatest skill to encourage that is empathy.

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

SEAN: Honest outcomes based on insightful interventions.

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

SEAN: If I thought there was actually a way to disconnect them, I might be able to answer this question.

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

SEAN: Demonstrating that an engagement strategy I developed and delivered averted a national strike for a large national utility company.

EZ: What’s the worst?

SEAN: Uprooting my family for a three-year international secondment from the UK to the US that lasted a week!

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

SEAN: Ethics, politics, economics and rhetoric. What else is there to know about in business?

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

SEAN: Piano Man, Billy Joel

EZ: Best place in the world you have visited?

SEAN: Madain Saleh, Saudi Arabia

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

SEAN: Machu Picchu, Peru

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.