Hands Down The #1 Best Way to Improve Your Employee Engagement

Hands Down The #1 Best Way to Improve Your Employee Engagement

Employee disengagement hovers around 70%.  This means that 70% of your employees – of your team – are only there for the paycheck and not much more.

Do they want to be engaged?  You bet.  But they aren’t.

So what do we do?  We create programs, initiatives, cultural upheavals, incentives, parties, and at times even threaten.

Still – 70%.

And it really doesn’t change.

Over the last 20 years I have been in numerous team meetings.  I have watched as initiatives to improve the culture and employee engagement fail.  A valiant effort of course, but most don’t deliver on the intended results.

But there are glimpses!  Those times when you can feel it coming together.  You get excited because you may have found something that works!  And at some point you hit it on the head and… WOW!  It’s like magic!  The team or company as a whole gels together and you feel the momentum.  Numbers are up.  Productivity is up.  Morale is up.  You are on a high!

We have all felt these times of bliss.  And we want to keep the feeling!  But in time it fades, or we change jobs, or the market adds a twist and changes everything.

Aaaaaand, you’re back.

What was it that took you to that high?  What were you missing that brought on the low?  What is that magic ingredient?

Having worked with a diverse set of teams – in size, scope, geography, industry, complexity – I have seen many that work and many that don’t.  And there is one factor that is ALWAYS present in the healthy teams/companies, and always missing in the depleted teams/companies.

Before I give the secret, I want to point out that by “healthy” and “depleted” I don’t mean financially, although that does follow.  I’m talking about the health of a company’s culture, which leads to financial success.  Not that there aren’t companies who are financially successful and have a horrible culture – because there are.  I’ve seen them.  I’ve worked with/for them.  But the financial success is either not stable or not anywhere close to where it could be.  Rather, some smart moves and market conditions make the financial success.

What I’m talking about is sustained success – of a company or of a team.

This secret ingredient is the catalyst to employee engagement.

And here it is…


Pure and simple.  Hard core and poignant.  Focused and real. The healthy teams have healthy discussion up and down the chain of command and in team meetings.  The depleted teams don’t have discussion – they have mandates.

And I’m not talking about the, “What do you think about…” token discussion.  Not the ones where the managers check a box saying, “I asked them and they didn’t tell me anything.”  These are the ones that are targeted on a specific subject, are free from hierarchy and free from retribution.  Everyone is able to speak their mind without fear.  They are able to bring up ideas, no matter how crazy or idiotic they may sound.  They may voice concerns that were long ago identified but never properly handled.

And it is done in a group setting. This way everyone can help solve the problem.  It isn’t on the shoulders of the manager only.  It is the team’s issue and the team’s solution.

But one of the difficulties is how to start a free flowing discussion.  If it is brought up by a manager, then it almost seems staged.

“How can we improve our meetings?”

(“Oh boy, what is she trying to get at?  What does she really mean?  I’ll stay quiet and let someone else fall into this hole.”)

No.  Ideally it is a third party that starts the discussion.  That’s why counselors are so effective.  They start discussions between parties and help steer it in a healthy direction.

And that is what I want to do for you.

Each week I will come out with a  new “VINJONES Discussions” topics.  These are short videos that introduce a theme.

Start your meetings off with one of these videos and open up the floor to discussion.  You will only need to take about 10-15 minutes at the start.  Sure, it takes a few minutes, but the level of trust you will build will pay dividends for the rest of the meeting.

I have done this in real life and it just plain works.  It may take a few times before it catches on and people start to open up.  Give them that time to become accustomed to a different format.

So, let me be your coach.  Choose any of the VINJONES Discussion topics each meeting and then sit back and let the discussion happen.

You can also use these on a company level.  Put it out there and let people discuss and discover what many have been hiding.

This, by far, is the best way I have seen and used to dramatically start increasing employee engagement.

The first one is coming…




(photo by Lars Ploughmann on flickr.com)

Best Employee Engagement Posts for March 1st


It will happen.  But how it happens is up to you.  It can overwhelm you or you can approach it first, tackle it, and be the master.

As we go through the next years, we will see businesses change in the way they function, they way employees work, and how they relate to each other.  This is an exciting time!

It’s better to grab that by the horn now and wrestle with that monster than let it wrestle you into a pickle, only to find that you can’t change fast enough.

Go for it now while you have the flexibility, resources, and vision to mold it into what works best for you and your company.

Each of these posts point to changes that have one major thing in common: they have the potential to dramatically increase employee engagement.





The CEO Of The Future Is A “Designer-In-Chief”

“…The new CEO is almost like some sort of rebel general, inspiring small guerilla-style teams to dream up new products or experiences. They rally the troops rather than outright command them. They empower their employees to think and work like designers, observing problems or scouting trends, and developing coordinating solutions that don’t get lost to bureaucracy.” (read more…)



Job Titles are Killing Your Business. Here’s What to Use Instead.

“So if job titles actually do more harm than good, then what’s the alternative? Can an organization keep running without discrete titles that tell people what they should be doing and whom they should treat as their boss?” (read more…)



John Hagel – The courage to pursue this change

“I think that companies pursuing change, particularly if you are talking about large companies, that bear extremely challenging undertaking, there are very powerful immune systems and antibodies that have been built up in large companies to resist change in very effective ways.” (read more…)




“We live in a world that requires more than freely independent masters of the universe. We need people who manage purpose, autonomy and mastery through and for others. Relatedness is the concept that reminds us that all work is human.” (read more…)

Yes, You Can Measure Employee Engagement – Introducing viaPing

Yes, You Can Measure Employee Engagement – Introducing viaPing

As of right now there isn’t a great way to measure employee engagement and company culture.  But that doesn’t stop companies from trying.

In fact, you may have lived through this scenario…

You send out an employee survey saying that you want to improve the culture and make a better workplace where employees can feel good about their work and be more engaged.  You don’t want to upset them with too many surveys so you only do this once a year but you pack in a ton of questions.

After about question 25, your employees grow old of the survey and they just want to get back to work.  For the last 25 questions they hurry through it, sometimes even giving false information just to get it done.

Then you get the (skewed) results and it takes a couple of months to analyze it, present it to the management team in the form of a nice PowerPoint.

It takes them a two more months (at least) to create some new programs to get employee engagement and culture back on track.

Then they need to create a pretty PowerPoint to communicate the (usually watered-down) results that are six months old to the employee base.

The employees are sceptical, but the initiatives are launched.  In the end the results usually fall far short of the goals.

At which point you say, “Well, maybe next year.”  And, until then, you keep putting out fires as they flair up.

After a company goes through all of that with subpar results, no wonder they don’t want to do it again!

  • Survey fatigue
  • Measuring once a year
  • Acting on out-dated results
  • Actions from the top-down only

But what if we were able to reverse those four points?

  • Measurement the employees willingly participate in
  • Measure every day
  • Real-time results = acting in the moment
  • Action from bottom-up

This is what viaPing allows any company to do!

viaPing with City

With viaPing, employees get only one question or statement (a “Ping”) a day.  It takes less than 10 seconds to read and answer.  From there, they don’t need to do anything else.

But if they want to share more information on that subject, they can (but it’s not required).  Plus, they get to see the previous Ping’s results.

Seeing real-time results allows managers to act today on issues of today, rather than issues of six months ago.

Plus, when employees see the results, it becomes a topic of conversation.  “Hey, did  you see the score of the last Ping?  What do you make of that?  Do you think our team is like that?  What can we do to make that better?”

Suddenly, you have an army of motivated people wanting to make a difference because they are armed with information.

Plus, if something comes up, you don’t need to wonder how it is affecting your employees.  Just ask them and get feedback within 24 hours.


Right now we are in Private Beta stage. What that means:

  • Companies who join use the service for free during this time.
  • The employee facing part of the service is in prime production.  This way, it doesn’t feel like a beta project to your employees.
  • The admin section is still being worked on – features are being added and refined.
  • Those who are in the private beta will receive a large discount when we go live and start charging as long as they are active.


Do you want to finally measure your employees engagement and the company’s culture?

Contact us and let us know.

Best Employee Engagement Posts for Feb 16th

Sorry to be so obvious here, but I must reiterate once again… When we help our employees become more engaged in their work, productivity, innovation, revenues, (I could keep going…) rise.

But to help them we must do things differently than we do today!  There is no doubt about that.

Yes, it’s scary.  Yes, it is not the norm.  But when it happens it is glorious!

We allow them to bring out the gifts and talents that our current structures and cultures naturally hide.  They use these to the benefit of those around them.  And soon the company is fulfilling its purpose better than it ever has.

This is where we want to get.  But it will take some change.

Each of these articles talk about making a different change.  Not all are not focused on employee engagement, but they have important information in them which we need to consider.

Let these sink in and think about how you can use them to help each person love their work and be more productive and engaged in their job.

Have some fun with these ideas this week!



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New Leadership Choices: Are You the Leader This Moment Requires?

“The future of work calls for an overhaul of business and work design. Each company’s needs are different, but the overall trend is moving away from 20th-century hierarchies to a wirearchy — leveraging the power of networks and communities to organize work and responsibilities.” Amen.  (read more…)



Five minutes with… Jane McKay, Senior HR Officer, VECCI

This point is KEY: Change management will involve everyone, not just managers.  “Change management will become an integral part of our positions, as we seek to bring our employees on a journey towards a culture that is characterised by collaboration and promotes increased productivity, efficiency, flexibility and greater engagement.” (read more…)



The Future of Work

“In an effort to attract skilled talent, make decisions and take action in a faster, more agile way, more companies are also adopting a flat working structure which is simpler, non-hierarchical, collaborative and multi-skilled. These organizational models are better suited to the more complex and less structured nature of 21st century work.” (read more…)



The Future of Management – Recipes and Mastery

Simon nailed it.  “When you let go of the management recipes, things do get more challenging. Measures are not as precise. Interventions are not as predictable. The shift for managers is from focusing on efficiency to focusing on effectiveness. In our traditional efficiency mindset we rarely consider the human potential lost because policy prevents action or requires wasteful steps.” (read more…)

How to Convert Introverts into Extroverts

How to Convert Introverts into Extroverts

As part of the Employee Engagement Design method, we interview employees. I could do this 10,000 times and I will always be amazed at what I learn.

Recently I was interviewing an employee of a company as part of an effort to understand their current culture.  He was one of hundreds of engineers who have been labeled as introverts.  He said that anything we do must take into account that fact that we are dealing with many introverts because they respond differently to company initiatives.

When he said this, a little devious thought came in my mind.

I asked him what he loves to do outside of work.  He said he loves to play video games.  I asked what kind.  Because I don’t play video games he described a type of game I have never heard of before.

“Do you play this game with others?”

He smiled.  “You bet.  There are a lot of people who play.”

“And when you hang out with others who play this game, do you talk about the game?”

With great enthusiasm he said, “Sometimes that’s all we talk about.  We discuss strategy, different levels, how to get powers and weapons. We kind of geek out on these games.  It is a lot of fun.”

By the end of his explanation he was leaning forward, talking without hesitation, and was really quite animated.

I sat back, paused, and smiled.

“So, are you introverted now?”

He sat back, his eyes darted off to the side, and there was a long silence.

“No.  I guess I’m not.”

Suddenly this shy, introverted man was transformed before me into a vibrant, extroverted game player.

This made me wonder – why is an introvert an introvert?  Is it mostly because that is who they are, or is it that their environment creates them?

Now I’m not suggesting that introverts are bad and that extroverts are better – or that there are not those that naturally are introverted.  But I wonder – how much is the work environment encouraging it?

How are you designing your culture?  Are you just letting it happen, or are you specifically designing it so that the environment brings out the characteristics, skills, and passions your employees already possess?

Does your environment create introverts that hold back, are shy, and don’t want to engage?  Or does it create those who are passionate about their work; those who will give you their discretionary time voluntarily and enthusiastically?

When we let our environments just happen, it will take the path of least resistance.  But when we purposefully design employee engagement, we can bring out the valuable characteristics our companies need.



Ask yourself these questions:


  • Do I have mostly introverted or extroverted people in my company?
  • What in the work environment reinforces that behavior?
  • Is it the behavior we want?
  • What can we do to make it better?


(Photo: © 2013 Nguyen Hung Vu, Flickr | CC-BY | via Wylio)

Best Employee Engagement Posts for Feb 9th

Combine the WHY and the art of Lingering, and I have learned this week to slow down a bit.  Maybe still not as much as I need to, but more than I have.

Instead of a mad rush in our businesses, what if we were to linger a little longer, discover our WHY, and then be really thoughtful about where that will take us?  I wonder what would happen if we were to value that as much as a hyper-focus on productivity alone.  I would not be surprised if productivity increased even more than before.

Just a few thoughts as you start this busy week.

-Kevin Jones

AAAt some start-ups, Friday is so casual that it’s not even a workday

“At first, I thought, ‘This is insane; We’ve got way too much work to do,’ ” Carson said. “But the more I thought about it, really, running your own company is about creating your own universe. So why not create a universe you’d want to live in? That’s when the idea went from stupid and crazy to, maybe we should actually do that. So we tried it one week, and never looked back.” (read more…)


ABLessons in Learning to Linger

“I have long pondered the importance of slowing down, of pausing long enough to reflect on what a particular situation or circumstance could teach me. The problem is, I have not been very successful in actually doing something to periodically interrupt the ever-present pull to hurry along, to get busy pursuing the next thing on my ‘to-do’ list.

But I decided recently, enough is enough. If I am truly going to live up and into my potential as a leader, at home, at work, in my church, and in my community, I need to spend more time pausing to appreciate, reflect, and learn from life’s ordinary moments.” (read more…)


ACDeloitte: Millennials Are Not as Different as Originally Thought

Maybe the flexibility is the most important thing for employee engagement.  “Findings show that work is changing in that it is more flexible, open and tech-friendly than ever before. While nine out of ten employees would prefer to work at the office, they still want the option of working from home if necessary. 62 per cent of millennials and 59 per cent of non-millennials feel open and connected to their coworkers which close to two-thirds agree they seek such connection in an ideal workplace.” (read more…)


ADDisruptive Startups Sell What Customers Want– And Let Competitors Sell What They Don’t

Although focused on startups, there is a lot to be learned about how successful ones run and how we can engage our employees better.  “The companies spearheading the trend look for opportunities to deliver what is of most value to the consumer while stripping away what’s not—leaving the rest to be delivered by the established player.”  There is something here for us to learn in “decoupling.” (read more…)

AEHow 14 Successful Entrepreneurs Discovered Their Life Purpose

Have you found your purpose – your WHY?  Employees who know their WHY are automatically engaged.  No coorsion, no extrinsic incentives, no extra programs.  It just happens.  Here is a list of how others found their WHY. (read more…)

2015 – Focusing on Employee Engagement Design

Over the last year I have been focused on The Future of Work. This topic is fascinating to me and I have absolutely love it, the people I have met and interacted with, and the organizations I have worked with.  The possibilities are HUGE!

But that’s part of the problem with the Future of Work: the topic is HUGE itself.

Take a look at a Google search on the Future of Work.  When you dive into the results you find that this phrase refers to:

  • Robots
  • Transportation
  • Employee engagement
  • Office layout
  • Working from home
  • Contracting vs. FTE
  • …even outer space

And the list goes on.   And while these are all great discussions around the Future of Work, I am not an expert in robots, or outer space, nor do I want to dive deep into working from home.  Those subjects may come up, but they aren’t my main focus.

My expertise has always been more focused.  This title has been a good catchall, but it is time to get more specific.

2015 is the year for more focus

My color-blindness is a gift.  I believe that I was given this condition to slow me down.  Had I been able to see colors normally I believe I would have gone into graphic design at an early age.

I feel like Ariel from the Little Mermaid:  “I want to see what the people see…”  But, alas, I can’t.  And no sea witch will make it happen. (And if she did appear one day, I think I would be freaked out.)

Unfortunately, graphic (and other types 0f) design is out of the question.  But because I do love it, it got me thinking…

After some deep thinking about where I have been, where I am going and what I love to do today, I learned some things about myself.

Self-Lesson #1: I am a designer at heart.

Although I can’t design with color, I love the creative process of designing, experimenting, testing, refining, pivoting, focusing on the end “user,” and creating solutions that excite everyone who use the design.  The urge to make things better is in my blood.  Not just incrementally better (although that works, too), but dramatically better.

Self-Lesson #2: I am a fan of human / organizational potential.

Not in a fake motivational type of way, but in a, “Do you really realize what you are capable of?!” way.  Too many are stuck in the normalcy and mediocrity of life that they overlook the possibilities which will far surpass what they think they are capable of.

Self-Lesson #3: I am not a fan of the status quo.

As I have quoted before, “Safety’s just danger out of place.” We don’t question status quo enough.  Sure, there is some comfort in normalicy.  With my family of ten there MUST be.  But there are times to disrupt and upend the day-to-day so that we can continue to progress.  As Seth Godin said, “Art, though, requires both pride and disobedience.  The pride of creation and the disobedience of disturbing the status quo” (The Icarus Deception).

Self-Lesson #4: I am at my best when helping others.

My wife and I wish we could serve people all day, every day.  But realistically, you need some way to pay to raise eight children.  And so I work.  But my work is what I love to do.  It is not only what I love, but also what I feel “called” to do.

Rather than focusing on the work part, when I focus on the serving aspect, everything else turns out and I do well financially.  And I’m happier!

Q: Put those altogether and what do we have?  A: What I have been focusing on all along without even realizing how to describe it.  Now I can.

I help people love their work by designing employee engagement.

I help people love their work.  And when they love their work, they are SO MUCH MORE productive! Employees are happier and more productive and the company is more successful.  So I also help organizations design employee engagement strategies so their employees will love their work.

And it really is design.  Using design thinking and practices from IDEO and IBM, combined with ethnography, Human Performance Technology methodologies, and some of my own tools I have created like PING (coming soon), Adoption Index, The Change Agent Handbook, and more, I design environments where people are fully engaged in their work.  When that happens, the potential of each person can shine and the organization is in a place to take off.

That is what I do.  That is what I love.  That is who I authentically am.

More importantly, that’s how I help others. Employee Engagement with a design perspective and methodology.


Best Employee Engagement Posts for January

The best Employee Engagement posts from the last little while…



A New Definition for “Engagement”

Engagement — variously defined as “involvement, commitment, passion, enthusiasm, focused effort and energy” — has now been widely correlated with higher corporate performance.

(read more…)



Screen Shot 2015-01-24 at 9.08.53 PM

In the 21st century, we need less PowerPoint and more conversations

Leaders have a huge opportunity to reinvent the workplace to tap into people’s needs for purpose and meaning by aligning talent with key projects. This will lead to the much-needed opportunities for innovation and productivity improvements.

(read more…)



The Goals of Empowerment & Engagement

Empowerment and Engagement are not in vogue today simply because they are another set of motherhood issues. They are not a component of the  of  Human Performance Technology or Improvement crowd’s latest proclamations – simply because they will make people feel better about themselves and will, therefore, make them work harder and be more productive for the business entity.

(read more…)

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Forget SMART Goals — Try CLEAR Goals Instead

The problem with SMART goals is that they just haven’t kept up with the faster, more-agile environment that most businesses find themselves in today. According to Adam, these new business environments require a new way of setting goals, thus CLEAR goals. CLEAR stands for… 

(read more…)

5 Liberating Signs You Love Your Job

This video has been a long time in planning.  Ever since Walk Off The Earth remade the song Little Boxes, I have been obsessed with the correlation between the song and what I observe all too often.

I see people who love their work and others who don’t.

And there is a stark contrast. To those who don’t, I want to say, “Yes!  You, too, can love your work!”

There is this obsession I have to help others love their work and to help companies create organizations where everyone is there because they want it.

It is liberating.  It certainly beats the alternative!  Anyone can have this experience in their work.  I hope you are one of them.

Here are five liberating signs you love your job.

1) You leave work more excited then when you arrived.

Sure, everyone has bad days.  But when bad days becomes the norm instead of the exception, something is wrong.  Rather, it is possible to come home more excited and energetic then when you arrived – regularly!

2) The alarm goes off and you jump out of bed.

You should be jumping out of your bed saying, “Yes!  I can’t wait to work on…”  Is this just a fantasy?  Not at all!  Those who love their work regularly are waking up early with ideas that won’t leave them alone until they act on them.  And they can’t wait to work on the ideas.

3) You chose your work because you wanted it, not because it was the best you could find.

There have been times when I took a job because it was the best option I could find.  But it is best if you are working because you want to be there, because you choose to be there.

4) Your paycheck is a side benefit.

Your paycheck should be a bonus.  Yes, it needs to support you and your family.  But while you work you shouldn’t be thinking, “I can’t wait to get paid,” because the biggest form of payment you get is the satisfaction from doing the work.

5) You know why you are working.

You have a purpose, a deep desire that you are fulfilling in your work.  What is your WHY?  You know it and are actively working toward it.  And love every minute of it.  Yes, even those times it is rough and nothing seems right, you still love it because your purpose is stronger than the lows you will experience.

Anyone can break free from little boxes.  Anyone.

And guess what?

It’s Your Turn!

I want to know…

How are you breaking free from little boxes?

The Future of Work is Ramping Up – The Future of Work, Best of the Best Posts – December 1

The Future of Work is Ramping Up – The Future of Work, Best of the Best Posts – December 1

There are changes coming to the way we work.  You can see it, you can feel it, and, as exemplified by below, you can read about it.

The only question is, when will it happen for you and your organization?

With the new year coming up, let’s resolve to take a better look and figure out how our teams will change to take advantage of the possibilities in front of us.



The correct environment will determine your future of work.  Not only the political and emotional environment, but also the physical.  These steps go right along with the principles of the future of work.

Read more…




“Large organizations of all types suffer from an assortment of congenital disabilities that no amount of incremental therapy can cure.  First, they are inertial… Second, large organizations are incremental… And finally, large organizations are emotionally sterile… As the winds of creative destruction continue to strengthen, these infirmities will become even more debilitating.”

Read more…



bookshelfSmarter in 7 Minutes: Ultimate Business Wisdom from 3 Decades of Bestselling Books

#1 starts out with, “Find your Why.”  Instantly you know this one is a keeper.  The WHY is the basis of everything Future of Work.  And the other points are spot on, as well.  Read.  Learn.  Do.

Read more…



FutureOfWorkCisco study shows how technology will shape the “future of work”

This study has a ton of great facts and figures to think about and use as we gear up toward the new year.  We can use these to help shape our goals.  Lots of tweetable tidbits.

Read more…

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