Employment Engagement – A Vicious or Virtuous Cycle?

Building a culture of engagement, although manager carries the most responsibility on it, it goes hand-in-hand irrespective of job level or title – be it a manager, director, president or a janitor. Everyone shares responsibility on the overall group engagement.

Employee Engagement – how do you go about it? Is it an annual event or integrated part of your culture?

Gallup recently published a report stating that only 15% of the global workforce is engaged.

 ‘Worldwide, the percentage of adults who work full time for an employer and are engaged at work — they are highly involved in and enthusiastic about their work and workplace — is just 15%. Though engagement levels vary considerably by country and region, in no country does the proportion of the employed residents who are engaged in their job exceed about four in 10.’

It is undoubtedly a very alarming finding. So, who is responsible to raise Employee Engagement? The common answer is the manager. I do, however, agree about it partially. To me, it is a team effort. Everyone holds responsibility in it and following are my reasons.

Some companies have this well-structured. They run annual surveys to sound the temperature on the teams and then create actions. This is the part I want to approach in this article. The actions can have two outcomes, it depends on you (anyone involved in this process). It can result in a Vicious or a Virtuous Cycle. Both refer to feedback loop and the difference is that one is negative and other positive.

Vicious Cycle: This happens when Employee Engagement is a yearly event. Like the Christmas party. Every one waits for this and there is always someone who doesn’t like something. Then agreement is made to change / improve for the next year and discussions start a few weeks or a month before the event.

Every year same discussion with temporary solutions will take place – thus a vicious cycle triggered by SURVEYS in which people complain, management create patches and both wait the next year’s survey to check how things went – TOO LATE.

Then the tendency with this one is to do things to bring immediate relieve and in general always start with incentives or perks. Don’t get me wrong, I love perks but they are not sustainable neither sufficient. They are patches. Probably best talents will have already left before next survey comes – regardless of how many perks or patches have been created or given in between – and requirements will be new (from newcomers perspective).

To inspire our people, we need more than flexible work time, happy hours or discount on the bookshop downstairs and that’s why we need to think Employee Engagement as being part of our culture and integrated part of all our discussions – which leads me to the next alternative and the key point of this article.

Virtuous Cycle: Well, I would say that this would be the ideal one. This is also known as positive feedback loop and I believe this only happens when Employee Engagement is part of the organization’s culture and part of its agenda – in all levels.

Building a culture of engagement, although manager carries the most responsibility on it, it goes hand-in-hand irrespective of job level or title – be it a manager, director, president or a janitor. Everyone shares responsibility on the overall group engagement. If new to you and running it for the first time, an idea to get started is to run brainstorm sessions with all stakeholders.

First session – what can we (should we) do to create a virtuous circle of employment engagement?

Second session – what should we avoid doing to prevent a virtuous circle of employment engagement?

Next step is about putting actions in place based on the findings (proper diagnosis) and incorporating it into team meetings (weekly or monthly) to track progression – again, all levels. I keep repeating this because the more people engaged in making this happen, the higher the probability for this to become part of the culture.

When involved in its conception, we/people become personally attached to it and genuinely interested in making things great, identifying areas to strengthen and embrace in making such things happen. On such culture, everyone work actively together digging deep, discussing and focusing on what really matters enabling constructive feedback on both ways (management – people) with common and genuine interest in making things great for everyone and the company – A WIN/WIN SITUATION.

In the end of the day, what matter to us (specialty today with a workforce manned by >30% of millennials) is to have a fulfilling job, to get ahead on its career/professional or personal growth, to make the difference in the world and (most of us) to work for a winning team and a company with strong values.

In such environment, management and employees genuinely care about each other, about the organization and whether the company and their career is heading on the right direction. As result, everyone becomes smarter, better in their jobs and stronger for having worked together and that will for sure create outstanding business advantages to any organization.

It is a journey. Having everyone committed to making Employment Engagement as part of the culture by sharing goals and responsibilities irrespective of job title or level in the organization, I see no other outcome but SUCCESS!

Conversely, and if not ready to embark on that one, just be prepared to answer the same questions every year and run though the same post-EES exercises again and again.

It starts with you. It is your decision! You are responsible!


If you need help on building a strong culture in your organization, Trevor has some very interesting materials to support that. Reach out to him!

In this post, I don’t into the nitty and gritty of EES processes but I can offer an example here. A common aspect measured in the EES is teamwork. If someone doesn’t think that there is teamwork and but keep gossiping about others, company and management can do a lot but this one is helping to improve anything.

Disclaimer – In my articles I share my personal views.

Sources for Virtuous and Vicious Cycles.

Quora: https://www.quora.com/Vocabulary-of-the-English-Language-What-is-the-opposite-nomenclature-of-a-virtuous-circle

Upwellness: https://www.upwellness.com/whats-the-opposite-of-a-vicious-cycle/

Wikipedia: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virtuous_circle_and_vicious_circle



Author: Domingos Silva Junior

Domingos Silva Jnr is Brazilian by birth and a shipping industry specialist with over 21 years of experience of international container shipping operations leading multicultural teams globally. Domingos encourages his teams for continuous improvement, teamwork and the ability to transform challenges into opportunities. His motto “If a problem is said to be difficult, my team would need a few hours. And if said to be impossible, three days would be sufficient to find a solution.” LinkedIn Profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/domingos-dos-reis-silva-junior-4b05a1b

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