Featuring Don Peppers and Martha Rogers, Ph.D.
STRATEGIC FOCUS: Engagement
To Spur Success
Engage and Enable
Having a clear and concise understanding of engagement is
essential when seeking to improve business performance
Recognized for over a decade as one
of the leading authorities on customer-
t here is no lack of buzz around “engagement.” Business pundits are pitching employee
engagement as a cure for all that ails a company. The trouble, however, is that they’re not
all talking about the same thing. A good place to start, therefore, is at the beginning: getting
clarity around what is (and isn’t) engagement. We need a common understanding so that prac-
focused business strategy, Don Peppers
is an acclaimed author and a founding titioners will know the end in mind, will understand the tactics that are tightly aligned with the
partner of Peppers & Rogers Group,
the world's premier customer-centric
goal of enhancing employee engagement, and will be able to track progress against that goal.
management consulting firm that Engagement manifests itself through changes in employee attitudes, such as an increase
provides clients with world-class cus-
in passion toward the job—but, it isn’t just an attitude. Engagement is also indicated by
tomer strategy, flawlessly executed,
for bottom-line impact. improvements in business outcomes, such as reduced turnover—but, it isn’t the same as
those outcomes. Engagement is also sometimes discussed from an organizational perspec-
tive, emphasizing the alignment of the company’s objectives with the
employees’ skill sets—yet, there’s more to it.
Defining Engagement is positive,
“We see engagement—for both customers as well as employees—as proactive
positive, proactive involvement,” explains Don Peppers, founding part-
ner of Peppers & Rogers Group. When an individual is engaged with a
company, she or he is involved. Interactions occur, information is
exchanged, operational friction is reduced, and the cost of switching increases over time. At its
highest level, involvement creates interdependency and inextricably intertwined interests; at its
Fay Beauchine lowest level, it fosters independence of a transactional nature.
Fay Beauchine is President of Carlson Involvement is necessary, but isn't sufficient by itself to indicate engagement, on the
Marketing's Engagement & Events part of an employee or customer. For involvement to rise to a state of engagement it must
business. She also serves the industry
as a member of the Executive Com- also be proactive—namely, the individual must be self-motivated and must be the one ini-
mittee of the Enterprise Engagement tiating the participation, setting in motion a sequence of events. A proactively involved
Alliance, President of the National
Business Travel Association Found-
customer may recommend the company’s products to friends or colleagues and take a
ation and Vice President of the SITE personal interest in the company’s success or failure. A proactively involved employee
Foundation (Society of Incentive
won’t wait for management to explain that a problem needs to be fixed—she or he will see
the need and solve it now. Involvement with a company by a customer which is largely in
response to a company’s action (e.g., registering for a promotion) is typically beneficial—
but, it isn’t engagement if it isn’t proactive.
In this 1to1 Executive Dialogue, Don Peppers, founding partner of Peppers & Rogers
Group; and Fay Beauchine, president Engagement & Events at Carlson Marketing,
discuss the top issues and trends in the discipline of engagement today.
What are the most common misunder- and that they can make a difference in measurement approach can not only miti-
standings about engagement? business today. Companies want to retain gate angst among leaders, but stimulate
their best employees to take care of busi- enthusiasm for employee engagement
DON PEPPERS: People believe that any-
ness. When the economy improves, and its benefits.
thing positive represents engagement
employees who feel disengaged will jump
(e.g., a positive attitude or customer loyal- What are the top trends in the discipline
ship the first chance they get, leaving their
ty). If you have engaged employees and of employee engagement?
employers struggling to maintain an effec-
customers, you’ll get those outcomes—
tive workforce. FB: One trend is the ongoing challenge of
but, that is not what engagement means.
finding impactful, meaningful ways to
FAY BEAUCHINE: It’s commonly believed show appreciation that are budget-con-
that engagement is meaningless jargon scious and socially acceptable. Companies
“Engagement impacts every have to be aware of outside opinion and
and can’t be measured. Both are false.
Employees engaged in their work experi- employee in every department. influences. Another trend is the expanded
ence a strong connection that taps into To be most effective, the use of technology to achieve engagement
emotional and rational efforts, their hearts engagement solution needs goals—through vehicles like social media
and minds. These efforts lead to greater to be designed to best suit and virtual meetings.
results measured by traditional metrics each audience.” — Fay Beauchine
(productivity, retention), as well as differ- And, looking back, what is the single
ent approaches (macro rather than micro, most important change in the discipline
delayed rather than immediate effect). that has occurred over the last five years?
Creating, maintaining and enhancing FB: The most important change is all the
What are the most effective ways in which employee engagement isn’t necessarily research that proves how critical engaged
companies are making the business case easy. What are the top challenges or employees are to an organization’s bottom
for investments in employee engagement? obstacles that most often inhibit success? line. We recognize that technology, process-
DP: It’s difficult to convince a CEO to give DP: First, it’s short-termism—the malady es, and machines are all commodities.
up $1 of quarterly earnings per share for that causes businesses to place an undue Employees are not.
some unspecified benefit in shareholder emphasis upon today at the expense of
value later. But, if you realize that cus- tomorrow by harvesting customer equity What role does technology play in making
tomers are the key asset creator then for immediate gain without considering an employee engagement solution
creating value today as well as value how to replenish and grow that asset. successful?
tomorrow through changes in their like- Second, it’s the belief that we can buy
FB: With the right strategy and the right
lihood to repurchase and recommend— employee loyalty. In fact, the most impor-
tools, technology can be helpful and even
it makes it easier to overcome the crisis tant things for the best employees are
critical in many business situations. This is
of short-termism that plagues too many intrinsic in nature.
especially true for large-scale efforts
FB: The question points out an excellent where technology provides the infrastruc-
FB: Companies understand that they need reason for working with experts in the area ture for efficient execution. Online or web-
employees to take care of their customers of employee engagement—it’s not easy based recognition programs (peer-to-peer,
and that engaged employees take care of and it’s good to have a solid coach in your manager-to-peer), incentive program com-
their customers better. Consequently, they corner. The biggest challenge to overcome munications and tracking, and virtual
are investing in employee engagement as is leadership’s lack of understanding and meetings for recognition all benefit from
a remedy to the issues facing most com- commitment to the value of engaged the marvels of technology. Every year we
panies today—the economy, layoffs, and employees. That’s followed by short-term see refinements in capabilities within the
doing more work with fewer people. It thinking and the unfamiliar territory of technology realm, as well as acceptance of
serves as a reminder to employees that engagement measurement. A long-term new approaches and tools within the
they and their contributions are valued success strategy buoyed by a well-defined workforce.