If you Google “best companies to work for” chances are that you will come across a Glassdoor list of companies relevant to your location. One thing is clear from a prospective employees point of view. It is this – the organization’s culture, values and the opportunities they potentially could offer are as important as the compensation and benefits packages.

From an organization point of view there is the challenge of finding the best productive talent and retaining them for the long term. The State of Productivity and Management Report 2018 revealed that 70% of companies surveyed measure productivity. However, as most businesses know improving productivity isn’t without its challenges. Establishing a productivity mindset, quality of work, hiring, and measuring the cost of lost productivity are among the biggest challenges that organizations face.

These challenges are often symptomatic and stem from the level of employee engagement in the organization. The solution therefore lies in applying the right employee engagement strategies that will help to create and foster the work culture that best suits your organization.

At Hubstaff, we decided to take a deep dive into employee engagement and how it can address the challenges related to productivity and management that organizations face.

The table of contents below will help you navigate to sections of particular interest and what experts and organizations are doing to address these issues.

What Is Employee Engagement?

Employee engagement is a term that’s commonly used, but what is it and why is it important?

Managers often mistake employees who are happy and partake in meetings or events as being engaged employees. In reality, they may not be truly engaged.

This is why it’s important for businesses to understand and monitor employee engagement.

Employee engagement is a workplace approach that helps set the right conditions for:

  • Employees to bring their best selves to work every day, while being committed to an organization’s goals and values
  • Employee motivation to contribute to organizational success

How Do We Define Employee Engagement?

There are a few different definitions of employee engagement.

According to Jim Harter, chief scientist at Gallup Research:

Engaged employees are more attentive and vigilant. They look out for the needs of their coworkers and the overall enterprise, because they personally ’own’ the result of their work and that of the organization.

Kevin Kruse, author of Employee Engagement 2.0, says:

Employee engagement is the emotional commitment the employee has to the organization and its goals.

From these, we can infer that employee engagement is the level of enthusiasm and commitment employees have toward their job. The job means far more to these employees than a paycheck. Further, the passion they have for their work is often reflected in the outcomes they achieve.

Engaged employees are ones who believe that their work and efforts make a difference to an organization, themselves, and others.

How Does Employee Engagement Benefit Your Business?

A Gallup study drew a correlation between employee engagement and financial success. According to Gallup’s research, top-quartile and bottom-quartile units differ by 16% in profitability. That’s how much work activities each day affect profit.

According to Gallup’s State of the American Workplace report, when compared with business units in the bottom quartile of engagement, those in the top quartile realize improvements in the following areas:

employee engagement strategies - statistics

This data is important as it helps managers motivate employees while also improving business practices.

…we know that engaged workers are about twice as likely to be thriving in their overall lives in comparison to actively disengaged workers, and we also know they’re much more productive.

In other words, when employees feel that the organization is looking out for their best interests, then they are likely to reciprocate and look out for the best interests of an organization.

Furthermore, the path is clear from engagement at work to customer perceptions. Our analysis showed that there’s a difference of about 12% on customer engagement or loyalty metrics between top-quartile and bottom-quartile business units. In large organizations, that affects thousands of customers.

Harter also says engaged employees:

Listen to the opinions of people close to the action (close to actual safety issues and quality or defect issues), and help people see the connection between their everyday work and the larger purpose or mission of the organization.

When engaged employee do this, they create a virtuous circle where communication and collaboration nurture engagement and vice versa.

Given the benefits, why do organizations struggle to implement employee engagement strategies and foster engagement on an ongoing basis?

The answer, according to Harter, lies with organizations measuring the wrong things, or too many things, or not making the data actionable. In many instances, employee engagement strategies aren’t part of a company’s overall organizational strategy. In others, the importance of employee engagement isn’t clear, and no quality education is provided to help managers assess or decide on what can be done with the data they have.

In other instances, people are committed to implementing and improving employee engagement strategies but are intimidated by potential pitfalls.

What can you do in such instances?

One way to simplify things is to focus on the purpose. Communicate the purpose of the organization and how employees fit into that purpose. When employees have a clear sense of their role and what they need in order to fulfill that role, they can see the connection between what they do and their organization’s purpose. That in itself helps to create greater levels of employee engagement.

What Is The Cost of Disengaged Employees?

A State of the American Workplace report found that only 33% of employees are engaged in their work. This is a trend that has continued since 2000.

Commenting on the effect of disengaged employees, Gallup CEO Jim Clifton said:

At the other end, 16% of employees are actively disengaged, they are miserable in the workplace, and destroy what the most engaged employees build. The remaining 51% of employees are not engaged, they’re just there.

Dimensions of Employee Engagement

As we can see, employee engagement requires physical, emotional, and psychological involvement on the part of individuals while they’re at work. There are four key dimensions that can help determine a person’s degree of engagement. They are:

Commitment. Employees who are deeply invested in their work and committed to facing challenges are also dependable, highly productive, and accountable for what they do.

Motivation. Achievement and motivation go hand in hand, so proper recognition and reward can help motivate employees to achieve more for the organization and themselves.

Loyalty and Autonomy. Employees who are engaged with their work need less attention from their managers, as they feel accountable for their responsibilities and results. A proper reward and recognition system will help make employees feel appreciated and engaged.

Trust. High levels of employee engagement can only be fostered when both sides exhibit trust. In tandem with an employee emotionally investing in an organization, the organization should show trust in said employee’s abilities.

Growth in employee engagement isn’t a linear process. In fact, it’s a long-term one that can go through phases as an organization as its employees work their way through challenges.

Can You Craft Employee Engagement Strategies?

I have a confession. I’m not a fan of the phrase “employee engagement strategies.” It seems to conjure the impression that employee engagement strategies are like mathematical equations that management can apply for instantaneous results.

To put it more simply, employee engagement cannot be a strategy because engagement comes from an employee. It’s an emotional connection that an employee has toward an organization.

What you can do is create an environment in which employee engagement can be fostered and nurtured.

So, employee engagement strategies are, in reality, about creating an ideal environment for your employees.

To create and implement employee engagement strategies you will need to meet your employee’s needs. A helpful starting point is Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.

According to Maslow a person’s motivation is the derived from attempting to fulfill five basic needs: physical, safety, social, esteem, and self-actualization. The diagram below shows a pyramid-like hierarchy of a person’s needs.

Maslows hierarchy of needs

In looking at this hierarchy in the context of what an employee needs to thrive and become engaged, some interesting insights emerge.

Maslows hierarchy of employee engagement

How to Achieve Results with Employee Engagement Strategies?

Simply put, organizations are beginning to realize that higher levels of employee engagement lead to higher levels of productivity, and higher levels of profitability.

To achieve higher employee engagement, you need to ensure that the process is supported by other steps. Managers will need to work on themselves as well as employees through well-crafted strategies.

Achieving results with employee engagement isn’t about delivering a slew of seemingly ad-hoc activities. Rather, when done well, it helps hone in on what really motivates employees to remain with their employer, deliver extraordinary customer service and be innovative.

Deloitte, after much research, discovered that organizations that are “irresistible” employ five major elements that help to drive employee engagement.

employee engagement strategies - irresistable organiaztion

How to Create Engagement that Fosters High Productivity, Performance, and Profit

Metrics around the five elements (based on the Deloitte irresistible model) that drive employee engagement can provide insight into the trust, motivation, commitment, and loyalty of your employees.

There are numerous metrics that could be applied to each unique business. However, there are 13 strategies based on core metrics that any organization would need to measure and track. These metrics can be measured on a Likert scale to help provide the insight you’re looking for.

The employee engagement strategies are:

1. Company Alignment

Many organizations talk about finding the right cultural fit when hiring new employees because it leads to higher engagement. That happens when an employee’s personal core values align with an organization’s core values.

However, the reality is that:

  • 33% of employees don’t believe the organization’s core values align with their personal ones.
  • 19% of employees don’t know or understand their organization’s core values.

An organization’s culture is made up of the attitudes, beliefs, philosophies and behaviors that exhibit itself in repeated observable patterns of behavior. It makes for the social and psychological environment in the workplace.

Culture develops organically over time and with the change that your business encounters. However, as a leader in your organization, you can set the course for the development of that culture. The organization’s vision, mission, and values form the foundation for that culture and can help steer the development of the culture.

In other words, arming your employees with a sense of purpose is critical to creating the emotional bonds between your employees and their work.

“The things you can’t buy are dedication, devotion, loyalty – the feeling that you are participating in a crusade.” – Herb Kelleher Click To Tweet

Expert perspectives

Below are what certain organizations and experts do in this regard.

David Niu is the CEO of TINYpulse. He’s also an angel investor and serial entrepreneur who loves growing the people with whom he works.

Six years ago, I sold everything I owned, stuffed the rest of my belongings in storage, and bought one-way tickets to New Zealand with my wife and 10-month old daughter to start a career + vacation: a careercation. One of my goals during my careercation was to create some amazing shared memories with my young family. The other goal was to interview CEOs around the world about their best practices and pain points around leadership, culture, and managing people. Despite the diversity of location, industry, and size, almost every CEOs focused on how to better engage their people to improve business outcomes.

Their insights inspired me to start TINYpulse as an employee engagement tool. We obsess about the health of our culture by collecting anonymous employee feedback on a regular and frequent basis. We take the insights and trends to spark positive change that we share back and celebrate as “wins.” In addition, we make it very easy for anyone to give a colleague recognition versus the old top-down way. This culture has enabled us to attract and retain great talent to accelerate our mission of making employees happier.

How TINYpulse creates a productivity mindset
Our basis for developing a productivity mindset has really been based on our values.
Our company values are spelled out in a single word: DELIGHT. Each letter stands for one important value. For example, “D” stands for, “Delight customers,” and “L” stands for, “Lead with solutions and embrace change,” which cultivates a productivity mindset. Usually, the person closest to the problem has the best point-of-view regarding a solution. By encouraging personal accountability and a solution-oriented mindset, we’ve created a motivated, empowered team.

Nicole Clark is a small business trainer and coach who works with Canadian small business owners to educate and help them implement the necessary tools to operate a successful business. This may take place one on one, in group workshops, or online.

Employee engagement starts with our annual strategic planning session, where there are no bad ideas. After reviewing how we have met our purpose, vision and values, we examine what is working and what needs work, what our top priorities for the coming year are, and set an action plan with responsibilities assigned to each team member who is the Champion of each priority.

How Nicole helps cultivate a productivity mindset 

To help cultivate a productivity mindset, each team member emails the rest of the team each Friday with their five main goals for the following week. We then have a Daily Huddle at 8:30 am, Monday through Thursday.

On Monday, each team member shares their goals with the rest of the team outlining any inputs they require from other team members. The following days are to share that day’s priorities and whether we are on focus or under fire. In this way, we are all able to keep on task and assist others where required. We finish the week by holding a weekly meeting which can be attended in person or virtually. The format for the meeting is:

  • The Champion of each project reports on progress
  • We share success stories
  • Anyone can give a shout out to team members who have made a difference in our week

Neen James is a motivational keynote speaker, leadership coach and mentor, author, and Certified Professional Speaker (CSP).

As a small virtual organization, we leverage employee engagement to drive business in a number of ways. Everyone has access to our annual goals and we review these monthly. Our business manager has access to Quickbooks for sales data, the calendar has a daily appointment to prioritize business development, and we also bring team members to my keynote speeches to meet audience members and potential new clients, too.

As a small virtual organization, we leverage employee engagement to drive business in a number of ways. Everyone has access to our annual goals and we review these monthly. Our business manager has access to Quickbooks for sales data, the calendar has a daily appointment to prioritize business development, and we also bring team members to my keynote speeches to meet audience members and potential new clients, too.

How Neen helps cultivate a productivity mindset

As a small team, we constantly review systems and processes. We created an operations manual that’s stored on Dropbox with templates and procedures. We use Slack for internal messaging with separate channels to help manage workflow. We created guidelines to manage email, i.e. someone can’t email back and forth more than three times (if they don’t get the answer they must pick up the phone), we have a weekly 1:1s to discuss calendar and logistics for the upcoming month.

I only book 15-minute appointments for catch-up and usually by phone or Zoom. My calendar doesn’t permit appointments before 9am each day (so I can work out, make breakfast, etc.). If the team needs my attention, they text me (it’s the quickest way and it’s fast and easy to reply).

Anna Binder is Head of People Operations at Asana.

Watch as she shares her insights


Stephen Lynch is president of RESULTS. He’s also an award-winning author, speaker, strategic planning facilitator, and business consultant.

Read his insights:

When you search “employee engagement,” it can be confusing. The term has devolved into an amorphous synonym for “happiness.” That’s all fine and dandy, but happiness does not necessarily drive business growth.

My experience in observing thousands of companies is that the formula for increased employee productivity requires the following three things at a minimum:

  • A compelling core purpose that explains the difference or contribution you make
  • A clear set of performance metrics that a good person (not a slacker) should be able to achieve 90% of the time if they are doing an honest day’s work
  • Regular coaching and feedback on performance from the team leader

How RESULTS cultivates a productivity mindset

Naturally, we use our own software, RESULTS.com, to help us execute our strategy. But regardless of the tools you use, the key is regular management feedback. This means giving praise and appreciation every week when people are performing well. It also means confronting poor performance every week when people are falling below the required performance standard.

To be blunt, if the team leader is not comfortable giving their employees feedback on their individual performance every week, then you should not be managing people. Making performance visible using software is great, but unless there are consequences for the level of performance, your team’s productivity will be less than optimal.

Consequences work both ways. Good performance needs to be recognized with praise and gratitude. Below standard performance needs to be called out and addressed with coaching and support. To optimize engagement and productivity, both of these things need to happen on a recurring weekly basis.

Greg Clowminzer is a professional business coach.

Read his insights:

You can hire people’s hands, but you must win people’s heart.

In order to win people’s hearts, you must teach them that engagement is innate and already within them.

One of the biggest mistakes employers make is trying to maximize productivity on the backs and hands of their employees.

Of course, this is shortsighted.

Most experts of employee engagement offer prescriptive or strategic ways to manage and control employees to increase engagement.

Why is employee engagement such a hot topic?

It’s because employers are finally waking up to the fact that low morale is in direct proportion with the employee’s lack of engagement.

And, we all know poor morale is not good for the bottom line.

Here’s the secret when it comes to employee engagement.

Human beings are born to be engaged.

We have an innate ability to find value and meaning in whatever we throw ourselves into.

So, what gets in the way of this innate ability? Self-doubt, second-guessing, and excessive feelings of pressure to perform.

All the above could be summarized in the fact that the employee is drowning in troublesome thought.

The solution is helping the employee get out from underneath problematic thinking.

How Greg helps cultivate a productivity mindset

We work with individuals and teams helping them understand the essence underneath human capital via a transformational conversation delivered over the course of three-to-four days.

We teach people a new way to think about what really drives motivation, engagement, and success.

Our teachings are based on one simple truth about how the mind works, which leads to a vast array of powerful and positive changes.

This inside-out understanding of where people’s experience is coming from holds the key to a satisfying, successful, and inspiring work life.

For example, when we look at engagement from an outside-in approach it would look like the organization, management, or boss is responsible for the employees’ job satisfaction and feelings of engagement.

With an inside-out understanding, the employee takes 100% responsibility for where their moment-to-moment experience is coming from.

With just a little bit of understanding, the employee stops blaming and making excuses for work/life experiences.

When employees get out from underneath extraneous problematic thinking they are naturally more engaged.

Employees who make the link between engagement and enjoyment are obviously happier and more productive employees.

Volker Ballueder is a consultant and coach, developing commercial propositions, teams and individuals, and delivering high performance.

In any organisation, it’s essential to involve employees in the vision and mission of the business. If employees engage in the day-to-day running of the business and identify themselves with the objectives, they naturally get involved in business growth. This is a wider statement in terms of growth, e.g. this can be anything from “not wasting resources” to “actively selling and identifying new business opportunities” depending on the character of the employee. All that has to be taken into consideration, but involvement and a culture of trust is important.

How Ballueder Partners cultivate a productivity mindset

I’m personally a big fan of a growth mindset, where the team pushes as a team or individual, how they can improve every single day. By analysing their daily tasks, reviewing them regularly in one-to-one or group meetings, or even on their own, they identify areas of improvement. From that growth mindset, you start cultivating a mindset that’s productive, engaged, and ultimately improves business growth.

Implementation tips

To gauge the health of your company culture you can ask questions of your employees to find out:

  • Do they socialize with colleagues outside of work?
  • Do they have a best friend at work?
  • Are they willing to accept responsibility for mistakes or not?
  • How likely are they to refer a friend to work at your company?
  • How they feel about their work and

To build an engagement-driven work culture, consider doing the following:

  • It starts with leadership, as teams will look to their leaders to set examples of proper behavior.
  • Focus on cultural fit from the start.
  • Ensure that there’s a focus on cultural fit right from the start.
  • Get everyone involved in team decisions.
  • Encourage employees to work on things they are passionate about.

2. Great management

While CEOs can create strategies, when it comes to delivering on them and making things happen, they need to rely on managers. Investment in fundamental management practices can have a huge impact on engagement, performance, and retention.

According to Marcus Buckingham, author of Now, Discover Your Strengths, people leave managers, not companies!

James K. Harter, Gallup’s chief scientist for workplace management, says people leave companies because of factors that filter through the local work environment. At least 75% of the reasons for voluntary turnover can be influenced by managers.

In the State of the American Manager: Analytics and Advice for Leaders report, the following is stated:

Having a bad manager is often a one-two punch: Employees feel miserable while at work, and that misery follows them home, compounding their stress and putting their well-being in peril.

The report goes on to say that:

Managers account for at least 70% of the variance in employee engagement scores.”

It would therefore be fair to say that business objectives can be achieved in the fastest way possible only if your employees are fully engaged. To do this you’ll need to understand what actually engages or disengages employees. Once you have that information and data, you can design and implement appropriate strategies in the next step.

A key element to managing employees in an efficient manner is having simple, clear goals that create clarity, alignment, and job satisfaction.

Google, for example, uses an agile goal-setting process called OKR (Objectives and Key Results). This is used to create clarity around what needs to be accomplished. It also allows managers to revisit the goals regularly to ensure the team is moving forward.

Expert perspectives

Here are what a few organizations and experts do:

David Hassell is cofounder and CEO of 15Five, a continuous performance management software that includes weekly check-ins, objectives (OKR) tracking, peer recognition, 1-on-1s, and reviews.

Read his insights:

Every manager at 15Five reflects on this question, “What do my employees really need to become their best selves at work?” By managers focusing on the personal and professional development of every employee, by checking-in regularly on performance, and offering support along the way, everyone in the organization is organically driven to succeed.

How 15five cultivates a productivity mindset

We engage in a continuous performance management practice that include our Weekly Check-in, Objectives and Key Results (OKRs), and the Best-Self Review (a quarterly review that improves performance by focusing on employee growth). Of those, OKRs (or “Objectives” as we call them) are most directly responsible for cultivating a productivity mindset.

At the beginning of each year and quarter, our leadership team creates a handful of top objectives for the company to achieve. Progress on Objectives and peer appreciation (what we call “High Fives”) are all transparent company-wide. Accountability is therefore baked into the system, but there’s also a sense of shared celebration and commitment to moving the company forward.

Anthony Ferrier is an innovation driver, COO of ExOxo, and CEO of Culturevate. This Australian living in NYC is forever on the go, an adventure seeker, and reportedly nice guy (as reported by himself).

Read his insights:

As a consultant, I work with a range of organizations, often focused on engaging employees to develop new ideas that drive growth, often within the context of constant, radical disruption.

In the past few years there has been a shift in how organizations seek to drive growth:

On one hand, they’re looking to more actively engage employees to develop a range of ideas that drive growth. The approach here is to democratize ownership of innovation as a competency of the core business and a driver of personal employee success.

Increasingly, innovation and HR leaders recognize that the antibodies within the core organization will kill (or incrementalize) disruptive ideas, and so they place the development of those ideas on the edge of the organization, often supported by key, innovative employees sourced from the core. I often work with organizations to set up those processes and ensure there are the appropriate connections back to the core.

With this model, you often need two different engagement strategies:

  • One is focused on how to better engage and democratize innovation ownership across a broad range of employees within the core business
  • For the “edge” model, new engagement, management, and leadership models need to be created, [in order to] speed up the development of these ideas and enhance their chance for success

How Culturevate cultivates a productivity mindset

As mentioned, my focus is generally around innovation development, rather than a productivity mindset, though the two perspectives often run in parallel.

First and foremost, you need to ensure leadership buy-in and ongoing support for your efforts. Without this, efforts will be seen as another “fad” and the result will be innovation theatre. Executives will only buy-in when they see a robust strategic framework that aligns with their goals and objectives.

Within these documents, I tend to include strategic objectives, but also get quite tactical, just so leadership is aware of the scope of activities and their responsibilities in ongoing support.

The frameworks that I develop tend to focus on setting up platforms and processes to support a mindset shift and behavior change for employees over a period of time. This might include creating channels to support new ideas, training employees around an innovative process/approach, tracking the pipeline of ideas in development, [and] actively communicating with employees around innovation opportunities (as well as rewarding/recognizing employee achievement). In order to efficiently engage the organization, I often develop a tiered engagement approach, so that we focus support and resources on those employees with the most interest in driving change and impact over time.

Barbara Hemphill helps leaders create great cultures, eliminate physical, digital, and emotional clutter so they can accomplish their work and enjoy their lives!

Read her insights:

We don’t really have a specific strategy, but business growth is the result of what we do to create a productivity mindset.

How Barbara helps cultivate a productivity mindset

Your ability to accomplish any task or goal is directly related to your ability to find what you need when you need it. Research shows that for every five employees you hire, only four are doing what they are paid to do because the fifth is looking for something!

Our strategy to address this issue is to make sure that the physical and digital environment intentional, starting with the leaders (who often have the messiest offices!).

Research shows that 80% of what we keep we never use, and the more we keep the less we actually use, so we create specific events to educate and empower employees to get rid of what they or the organization no longer needs. We call these events “Productive Environment Days”—or in some cultures, “Productivity Parties.”

The day includes food, prizes, education, and the time to actually go through their physical and digital environment to ask questions such as:

“What’s the worst possible thing that would happen if I didn’t keep this?”

“Does this help me accomplish my work or enjoy my life?”

Then we provide specific places for employees to donate, recycle, shred, or toss what isn’t longer valuable to them or the company.

We have created a free community for people who want to create a productive environment in order to increase profit, productivity, and peace of mind: ProductiveEnvironmentNetwork.com

Pamela Lewerenz is a business consultant who coaches ambitious, action-oriented Gen X service-based entrepreneurs to build successful businesses. She’s the founder of The Brick Wall Coach, with a mission of positively impacting entrepreneurs around with the globe.

Read her insights:

I have a team of people that help me manage different pieces of my business. For example, my marketing specialist does all targeted advertising via a weekly newsletter. That helps reach not only current and past clients, but attracts new ones because of the content.

Together, they all help me with the marketing and spreading the word of what I do and how I do it so that really helps with business growth.

How the Brick Wall Coach cultivates a productivity mindset

Like the old saying goes: “There’s no ’I’ in team. My team keeps me on track, on schedule, and helps me stay focused on my goals. The more organized my team is, the more organized I am, and vice versa. Good time management really helps with productivity. And, having a proactive and positive mindset creates an atmosphere of “the sky’s the limit”!

Amit Chowdhry is a co-founder of Pulse 2.0 and a Forbes contributor.

Every employee deserves individual attention and it’s their manager’s responsibility to constantly express empathy. I like to schedule an hour with every employee per week.

During that time, I encourage that person to tell stories about what they are going through in their personal life. Personally, I have gone through a series of traumatic events—which temporarily impacted my work goals and productivity.

I’m not a fan of managers being confrontational with their employees when a certain goal hasn’t been met. I’ve had managers like that in the past and we didn’t get along as a result. I also like to acknowledge employees when they accomplish something above and beyond.

How Pulse 2.0 cultivates a productivity

Because no one’s perfect, everyone should be receptive to how they can improve managing teams and tasks. One of the best ways to achieve productivity as an organization is by quickly identifying what everyone’s strengths and weaknesses are.

For example, one of my weaknesses wasn’t having familiarity with the advanced functions that Microsoft Excel has built-in. When I worked for a Fortune 50 company, I quickly learned that one of my colleagues could perform a task in Excel in five minutes for what would have taken me hours to figure out. So, I made sure to get on his calendar for a few minutes whenever he had free time to further improve my multitasking abilities. And I made sure to acknowledge that colleague regularly to his manager as a way of expressing my gratitude.

Employees shouldn’t shy away from asking for help. And it’s up to company executives to foster a corporate culture that emphasizes frequent collaboration.

Mark Graban is a consultant, speaker, and author of Measures of Success, Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen. He’s also a senior advisor to KaiNexus and a board member for the Louise H. Batz Patient Safety Foundation.

Read his insights:

I’ve helped clients in different industries apply the “Kaizen” approach to continuous improvement through employee engagement. Kaizen is a Japanese word that means “good change.” Instead of managers having all of the answers or focusing only on large projects, Kaizen means engaging everybody in solving small problems they face, doing so in a structured, yet non-bureaucratic way. Employees are encouraged to, if you will, fix what bugs them. How can they make their work easier?

Problems are identified (which means leaders have to create an environment where this is same) and possible solutions get tested. The focus is more on “just do it” than big projects. By starting small, we can engage people in changes they want to make, which makes it easier to then also steer improvement in the direction of organization goals and needs. Starting small means people build confidence and capability in their improvement skills, which means they will be happier to take on bigger challenges.

How Mark helps cultivate a productivity

The Kaizen focus of “make your work easier” isn’t selfish. That means better productivity, as long as the organization has demand for more work. Generally, people are happier doing value-adding work than they are fighting the same fires every day. Kaizen means working easier, not harder. It’s not about moving faster, it’s about eliminating barriers to doing the right work the right way. That’s the path to true productivity.

Implementation tips

To create an environment that fosters great management you’ll need to:

  • Invest in coaching
  • Invest in leadership development
  • Simplify or modify the annual performance appraisal so that it’s meaningful, constructive and involves continuous feedback.

3. Provide Feedback

Providing feedback is at times can feel like a high-wire act to both manager and employee. Having said that, the benefits outweigh the problems if it’s done correctly. Consider this:

  • While most managers don’t enjoy giving feedback, most employees love receiving it. In fact, 83% of employees crave feedback regardless of whether it’s positive or negative. 64% of employees think that the quality of feedback they receive should be improved.
  • Researchers found that leaders who gave honest feedback were rated as being five times more effective than those who didn’t. Also, their employees were rated as being three times more engaged.
  • 72% of employees said they thought their performance would improve if their managers would provide corrective feedback.

Expert perspectives

Here are what a few organizations and experts recommend:

Michelle Vazzana is CEO and Partner at Vantage Point. She’s also a sales management expert and an avid golfer.

Read her insights:

One of the most important things we do to drive engagement is to seek input and solutions from the people closest to the work. If we have a billing problem, we sort it out by tracking the workflow to determine where the disconnect occurred.

We often find that small changes in a particular business process eliminate the issue. In addition, we ensure cross-functional communication on a regularly scheduled rhythm. This is particularly important to ensure open communication between sales and service. Once this regular communication was established, sales was more informed about the service workload and service better understands the unique sales challenges we face in the marketplace.

How Vantage Point cultivates a productivity mindset

We are still tackling this important issue, but the bottom line is that individual compensation must be directly connected to company performance. If the company does well, we all do well. This is the only way to drive a true productivity mindset and ensure that each individual, regardless of job function, is looking out for the health and best interests of the company. We also provide monthly updates regarding our performance to target so everyone knows where we stand.

Sara Mauskopf is the CEO and co-founder of Winnie, a platform that helps families do more, together. Moms and dads use the website or mobile apps to browse fun activities nearby, find quality childcare, or get advice in real-time on any topic from pregnancy to puberty.

Employees at Winnie are encouraged to come up with creative solutions to problems on their own. One such example is our comprehensive day care and preschool database: winnie.com/childcare. This product grew out of an employee realizing that lots of parents on Winnie were looking for daycares and preschools with open spaces and this information was not previously online. So far, we’ve rolled out this child care database in cities like San Francisco, New York, and Houston, and it’s driven tremendous user growth in those markets.

How Winnie cultivates a productivity mindset

We pride ourselves on being the most family-friendly startup ever. We encourage employees to have work-life balance and spend time with their families. We believe having this time outside of work allows us to better focus when we’re in the office. We work fewer hours than most startups, but we’re more efficient and productive with our time.

Jason W. Womack, MEd, MA is an executive coach to mid-level managers learning leadership skills to improve team productivity through neuroscience and emotional intelligence.

Read his insights:

Growing a business—or a line of businesses—will depend on three things:

  • Team members committing to the function of the product or service they provide.
  • Customers trusting that business enough to recommend it to their friends.
  • Individuals on the team caring enough about business success to say something. when they think something isn’t right. An engaged employee can be measured on how many new ideas they bring to their manager per year. In our experience, it should be 12 or more.

How Jason helps cultivate a productivity mindset

Productivity is defined as, “Doing what I said I would do, in the time that I promised.” It is easy enough to say but challenging to implement.

The productivity mindset demands that each person self-identify their goals for the year and curate the support, network and milestones needed to achieve those goals.

We expect everyone in our organization to implement the 30-30 Rule: 30 minutes of thinking at a time about something that isn’t due for 30 (or more) days into the future. These 30 minutes of thinking, planning, discussing and working today will manifest in more productivity—and less stress—in the months to come.

Vartika Kashyap is the marketing manager at ProofHub.

Read her insights:

We strive to establish a strong work culture to boost employee engagement and improve our business growth. It has four simple steps:

  • Giving them a voice to be vocal about their ideas
  • Building a two-way communication culture
  • Providing employee feedback on how to work on the issues
  • Organizing in-office employee engagement activities to bring them closer

How ProofHub cultivates a productivity mindset

It starts with motivating the team to find the right path forward to accomplish their goals. We like encouraging them to practice mindfulness to reduces stress, solving problems, and using self-talk to maintain their focus and boost productivity.

Francis Plaza is a software engineer, entrepreneur, and is the CTO of Olelo, a platform that helps businesses understand online conversations and transform them into actionable insights and meaningful conversions.

On top of the accountability and responsibility that comes from having clearly defined roles, we have a culture of openness that allows any member of the team to speak up about any improvements they see room for. All ideas are welcome, regardless of hierarchy, and this creates a psychological safe space for people to be their best, most productive selves.

How Olelo cultivates a productivity mindset

We work hard, but we remember that fun is serious business, too. There’s always room for fun at Olelo, whether it come in the form of music, food, or video games. We know to respect the mental well-being of each person, so each person in turn respects when it’s time to focus on the work and really deliver.

Another key factor is getting everyone’s buy-in to the end we’re working toward. Without the buy-in, there’s no motivation to do what needs to be done, and the effort seems doubly hard, like “a whole lot more work.”

Lastly, we operate as a team, and this allows us to tackle even the biggest challenges as something doable—because we can work on it together, one step at a time.

Implementation tips

What is the best way to give feedback?

Kim Scott’s radical candor framework may be a solution:

What does constructive feedback look like?

It should possess the following characteristics:

  • Consider the employees’ performance, results, and the effort they put in.
  • Based on correct information and procedures.
  • Delivered sincerely, concisely, and respectfully with sufficient explanation (in private if it’s criticism and in public if it’s praise).
  • Doesn’t personalize in a negative way.

4. Happiness

Research shows that 29% of employees don’t feel happy at work and 26% are unhappy outside of work. Clearly this unhappiness will only make your employees less productive and unfocused.

study found that happy employees are up to 20% more productive than unhappy employees. When it comes to salespeople, happiness has an even greater impact, raising sales by 37%. But the benefits don’t end there.

Happy employees are also good news for organizations: The stock prices of Fortune’s “100 Best Companies to Work for” rose 14% per year from 1998 to 2005, while companies not on the list only reported a 6% increase.

Patrick Lencioni, author of The Truth About Employee Engagement, says it boils down to wanting to feel like who you are matters, that what you do matters, you’re making progress and the work you do has an impact that leads the individual and the organization forward.

Expert perspectives

Here are what a few organizations do:

Thanh Pham is the CEO of Asian Efficiency. He’s an eggs benedict connoisseur, green tea sipper, bookworm, and a Lakers fan.

Read his insights:

We have a strong culture that encourages people to be results-oriented and fully engaged at work. We have an unlimited vacation policy; people can take time off whenever they want. This allows people to show up for work with motivation and excitement. As I tell everyone: “Happy people are productive people.”

How Asian Efficiency cultivates a productivity mindset

Being a productivity training company helps. All joking aside, it starts with hiring. We look for people who have a growth mindset and are willing to learn new things (even if it’s not related to their role). Every two weeks, we have a company-wide training session where we teach people productivity tools, strategies, and mindsets.

It’s the consistent training sessions that allow people to take on a productivity mindset over time. As an employer, you can’t expect it to happen overnight. You have to consistently instill it and demonstrate it (lead by example).

Charlie Gilkey is an author, business-growth strategist, and the founder of Productive Flourishing.

Read his insights:

Rather than commit to business growth projects and then try to get our team to become more engaged with those projects, we use our teammates’ interests and joywork (work they enjoy) as a lens to determine which business growth projects to commit to. We’re all much more likely to truly own, prioritize, and succeed in the projects that align with our joywork, and assuming those projects drive our goals forward, improved business growth is a natural by-product of doing work that matters to us.

How Charlie helps cultivate a productivity mindset

Given that our business is centered on productivity, the practice for us is focused on eating our own cooking. The most challenging practice point for us is addressing both sides of the continuous improvement coin:

  • Simplifying our business and eliminating the unnecessary
  • Continually experimenting with new ways to add value and work better

Those two poles of continuous improvement are always in tension, but we have ample after-action review meetings at both the project and business levels that help us stay in that constructive tension.

Katelin Holloway is VP of People & Culture at Reddit.

Watch as she shares her insights:


Implementation tips

At work, life can get busy and demands at work can mount quite quickly. It’s all too easy to get into routines and relationships that don’t serve our happiness. Fortunately, there are a few ways to break the trend and build happiness among your team or organization. Consider the following:

  • Engage with happy people
  • Foster meaningful work relationships. According to the Harvard Business Review, “close work friendships boost employee satisfaction by 50%.” Moreover, “people with a best friend at work are seven times more likely to engage fully in their work.”
  • Make your team aware that its members are also responsible for their happiness and can implement personal strategies.
  • Pay unhappy employees to quit. Amazon, for example, was paying its warehouse employees $5000 to leave if they were unhappy.

5. Recognition and Reward

Your employees are your most important resource. Yet many companies struggle to retain their top talent. An employee reward and recognition system to reward staff for their efforts can stimulate them to perform better.

Not sure about how well a reward and recognition system would work? Consider this:

  • A third of respondents surveyed said that the number one reason they stayed at their current company is because they find their work to be meaningful.
  • Workers at companies with values-based recognition are twice as likely to say they passionately believe in their company’s core values, compared to workers at companies with recognition not tied to core values.
  • 61% of workers at companies with no formal recognition program aren’t even aware of their organization’s core values.
  • 82% of employees think it’s better to give praise than to give a gift. In other words, they don’t want the gift card, but rather have you notice, acknowledge, and appreciate their hard work.
  • Providing recognition to your employees is one of the easiest things to do but is also one of the easiest to forget in a busy environment. Employee recognition is simply the acknowledgement of a job well done. However, most organizations don’t understand the concept very well. They often use money as a motivator. This doesn’t always work, so they end up wasting money and ruining the employee’s motivation.
  • Money is important but has its limits in engaging employees. Research by economist Angus Deaton and psychologist Daniel Kahneman shows that money doesn’t contribute to our happiness above $75,000 a year.

Why Money Has Limits

Research proves that when you add money to a task you lower a person’s motivation. This is known as the overjustification effect. It refers to a psychological effect that occurs when a task which was once intrinsically motivating for a person now becomes extrinsically motivated.

The problem goes deeper, because when the reward is now removed or lowered the interest drops and the intrinsic motivation has also gone. As a result, organizations now have to keep supplying extrinsic rewards.

What to Do Instead

To implement effective recognition culture strategies to recognize and reward your employees establish the following conditions for work performance:

  • Provide opportunities for all people to be recognized
  • Foster a recognition culture that encourages frequent yet informal feedback
  • Ensure that the organization’s culture, objectives and strategy are aligned with performance benchmarks
  • Provide opportunities for employees to receive ongoing training and career development

Then consider implementing the following practices:

  • Make it specific, personal, and accurate to demonstrate that you understand the person’s Use the PRAISE model which means praising individuals in a manner that has the following characteristics:
    • Public
    • Recognition
    • Authentic
    • Immediate
    • Specific
    • Enthusiastic
  • Magnify the recognition, which includes using technology and social media to publicize accomplishments
  • Offer beyond the call-of-duty rewards
  • Give holiday rewards and bonuses
  • Facilitate peer-to-peer recognition
  • Recognize people’s passions

Other ways you can connect with employees includes showing the language of appreciation, based on Dr. Gary Chapman’s book The 5 Love Languages, to connect with employees.

  • Words of Affirmation. This can be done by publicly acknowledging the efforts an individual made in an all hands meeting/company newsletter and even sending them a hand-written note.
  • Acts of Service. This could come in the form of offering to help with a stressful project, assisting with a technical issue, re-arranging plans so that others can attend to important personal matters, or even something as simple as bringing someone a cup of their favorite coffee.
  • Quality Time. Spending time with people to connect in a personal way could take the form of playing golf, a joint lunch, or a coffee break.

Receiving Gifts. Ask employees what their interests and likes are. Gifts associated with those interests would be a welcome surprise that creates a deeper bond with the organization.

Physical Touch. It’s important to be sensitive to boundaries and consider your personal connection with individuals in order to show an appropriate type of physical expression.

Expert perspectives

Here’s what a few organizations and experts do:

Glen Allsopp is the CEO of Detailed.com, an agency that provides SEO services for some of the biggest brands in the world, and a suite of SEO tools for businesses and individuals.

Read his insights:

A big part of how I deal with team members is to keep them up to date on exactly how customers and clients responded to their specific work efforts.

Read his insights:

A big part of how I deal with team members is to keep them up to date on exactly how customers and clients responded to their specific work efforts.

Even if someone only contributed a page or two to a 100-page strategy report, I’ll let them know exactly how our client responded to that section and how well their work was received.

Similarly, our developers know exactly which features they made—even without being asked—that customers have thanked us for as offhand comments in emails.

Everyone knows exactly what great things they’ve done to help the business, and they tend to want to do much more of that going forward.

How Detailed cultivates a productivity mindset

All team members are given complete autonomy over how they spend their time. Everyone knows what needs to be done and then it’s up to them the specific hours and days they want to work to make that happen.

We only work with people who love what they do—people who would likely do their job for free if we weren’t paying them—so in that regard, productivity has never really been an issue.

Naomi Simon is the co-host of the 20Something podcast and co-founder of Byooti.

Read her insights:

We work within an agile framework which means it’s all about collaboration and creating a culture of testing ideas quickly. This means there’s little time for boredom and people are encouraged to remain creative and be vocal about their ideas. Tools such a Slack mean that team members can communicate and keep up to date on what each other is doing.

How Byooti cultivates a productivity mindset

“We set very tight deadlines to force ourselves to get things done quickly. We’re also accountable to one another. Because we’re a small start-up we don’t have the luxury to be unproductive. Between the three of us, we are the marketers, brand ambassadors, accountants, graphics designers, customer services, etc. I think being small means that it’s imperative that we move fast in getting things done quickly.

In addition, we find a Kanban board to be helpful. This means we have three columns split into “to do,” “in progress,” and “done” with tasks assigned to team members, which means it easy to track the status of tasks and prioritise them.

Ashraf Kamal is the founder of Openthrive, an inbound marketing agency and HubSpot certified partner.

Read his insights:

I believe that for any business to be a success, the most important aspect is how its team is feeling. In short, if the team is feeling energized and motivated to come to the office every day, they’ll be at their best in most of the situations.

Our relationship with our employees is very transparent, where they are open to share their views, ask questions and give suggestions which are also implemented, if feasible. Each employee talks about our business and our clients’ businesses which, in turn, helps us know how the clients are doing, where do we have scope to do better, and which client doesn’t deserve to be on our list. This has simply fine-tuned our processes and contributed toward improving our service quality.

How OpenThrive cultivates a productivity mindset 

We are a HubSpot Partner Agency, and so, we have involved all our employees into taking the relevant courses from HubSpot to keep on brushing up their skills. They are motivated to take these skill classes during office time or any other time according to their convenience, without compromising any of their daily responsibilities.

We have the fixed review processes in place, for anything that gets done for our own marketing or any kind of work that’s done for the clients. If required, we also motivate them to help other employees who are responsible for some different tasks. Sometimes, this makes people more creative and helps them go out of their way to find solutions for others.

Richard Tubb is the IT Business Growth Expert, productivity nerd, and a Nimble CRM Ambassador.

Read his insights:

Although I work with a team of virtual admins (VAs)—each highly-skilled in their own area of expertise—we work together as a team. We’ve even got a name—Team Tubb!

Employee engagement in our context means being fully included as a member of the team, given clear goals, and receiving regular guidance and feedback. Internally, we use Slack to make sure that everyone has visibility of the projects everyone is working on, giving them the opportunity to ask for help across the team.

The result for us is that we have a team that’s proud to be working together, and a team that often receives compliments from our clients!

How Richard cultivates a productivity mindset? 

We regularly share resources, tools, and ideas that are of benefit to the whole team—in both their individual roles and outside the business environment in their personal lives.

For instance, at the moment we’re sharing with each other about the dangers of negative self-talk. When somebody says, for instance, “I’m rubbish at marketing,” one of their colleagues will quickly respond to correct them to say, “You’re working on becoming better at marketing.” It makes all the difference!

Himanshu Sharma is the founder of Optimizesmart. He’s also an internationally recognized best-selling author and web analytics consultant.

Read his insights:

We always make sure that we give recognition and positive feedback to employees whenever we can. This keeps them motivated and engaged.

We don’t over complicate tasks. When you overcomplicate things, or don’t clearly define project scope, people can’t see how they will be successful and often feel disengaged.

How Optimizesmart cultivates a productivity mindset? 

We do that by sharing core business objectives, so that everyone in the company understand how their day-to-day work impact the business bottom line.

Always work with the end goal in mind and focus on one thing at a time.

6. Connection with Organization

More than 50% of organizations worldwide have trouble retaining some of their most valued employees. The cost to replace such employees can exceed 200 percent of their annual salary.

But what does it look like when employees feel connected to their organizations?

  • Productivity improves by 20-25% in organizations with connected employees.
  • Employees who exercise their strengths on a daily basis are 8% more productive and 6 times more likely to be engaged.
  • High performing employees have three things in common: talent, high engagement, and 10+ years of service within the company.

Take, for example, the CEO of Bitly, Mark Josephson. He connects with his employees on a daily basis by sitting at tables and desks throughout the company office. But the best engagement he says occurs at his Cocktails & Dreams meetings.

The meeting happens every week. Everyone in the company grabs a drink together while someone is nominated as bartender. The casual setting provides Josephson with the chance to update the staff on Bitly’s current happenings, goals, and wins. It is also a great way to recap the week and set the stage for the following week.

Expert perspectives

Here is what a few other organizations and experts do:

Paul Houston is co-owner and director at Catalyst. He helps companies to gear their business for growth, by aligning operations, process, sales, and marketing strategies.

Read his insights:

It might sound a little unorthodox, but we manage our teams and our meetings upside down. Sarah and I came from an agency that, in our opinion, was run as a dictatorship and all ideas were from the top-down (whether they were right or wrong). We noticed that the junior team members wouldn’t speak in meetings, lacked confidence and were always having to focus on meeting their billable target!

Strangely enough, it’s often those younger and less experienced members of the team that come up with something completely different, creative, and ideal for the audience we’re targeting. We’ve got a very flat structure here anyway, but since taking the reins at Catalyst, we’ve made sure that every team member speaks before the management team and are fully aware of our short- and long-term goals and objectives. We want the team to understand what success looks like and how we all play a role and contribute toward it. So far, we believe our approach is working with a 253% increase in new and retained clients this year and furthermore, we have retained and added to our happy team.

Our approach has really helped to cultivate a culture where everyone feels involved, we all talk and throw ideas out there and enjoy ourselves (we never discuss billable hours!). The Catalyst team now really feel like there’s no such thing as a stupid question or idea. If you can work out why an idea won’t work, that will get you closer to the right answer, so we’re always throwing out new ideas trying to improve the way we approach our work, each other and our clients.

How Catalyst cultivates a productivity mindset?

It’s not ground-breaking stuff, but we feel we tend to get the most from our team when we make them feel valued and are honest with them, never asking them to perform a task that we are not prepared to do ourselves. Keeping them in the dark, working them to the bone with no reward other than a wage is NOT the way to go!

We do a variety of things like:

  • A simple pat on the back and saying well done
  • Scheduled training and self-improvement courses with third party training and well-being consultants
  • Have lunch together
  • Have a few impromptu drinks after work
  • Take day trips to places like Alton Towers, art and science museums, English heritage sites, Ghetto Golf, and Digbeth Dining Club

All of these really help build a productive and inspired team spirit.

Samantha Dillenback is chief of staff at The Lions Pride. She brings her A game to systems administration by organizing teams of diverse experts, synchronizing communication, and empowering the highest levels of ownership.

Read her insights:

Our team is made up of contractors, but more than that, they’re business owners and experts in their fields. We strongly believe in gathering experts around the table in order to benefit from their combined efforts and high ownership. When you lead with respect and trust, the right people will reciprocate that by entrusting you with their best work. We make team culture a priority and we seek to serve and appreciate them in the manner that they deserve.

How The Lions Pride cultivates a productivity mindset?

Because our team is completely virtual, we know it’s even more important to communicate clearly on our priorities. Our virtual team means that we focus on productivity over presence, so we provide a clear framework for what we need and then we trust them as the experts to deliver that to us however they think is best. We also communicate regularly with our team using tools like Slack and Zoom so as to troubleshoot issues as soon as they present themselves. This keeps us moving quickly and on track for our deadlines.

Claire Hughes Johnson is COO at Stripe.

Watch as she shares her insights:


Paul Linde is founder of Mindfire AB and specializes in sharpshooting at business productivity through the digital workplace and collaboration.

We always evaluate employee satisfaction and we have biweekly compass meetings with all employees. During the compass meetings we have further discussions with each employee about personal, team and business productivity.

How Mindfire AB cultivates a productivity mindset?

We constantly talk about what is important by asking questions like:

  • Are we doing the right things at the moment?
  • Are we reaching our full potential?
  • How can we continually improve our business?
  • Is everyone engaged and listened to in our work to be more productive in our daily tasks?

Larry Kim is CEO at Mobile Monkey and was the founder and CEO of Wordstream.

Read his insights:

We encourage people to share and celebrate wins at MobileMonkey. Our Slack channels are full of shout outs when we get new customers and hit mission-critical milestones. When we all get excited for each other and recognize what we’re doing as a team, it helps get momentum and friendly competition going.

How Mobile Monkey cultivates a productivity mindset?

We focus on metrics that matter. You can measure a lot of things but focusing helps us be productive, not just busy. Product sign-ups is a good example of a metric that matters to us at MobileMonkey. It’s an outcome generated by a successful user journey at every step of their interaction with us.

Implementation tips

How can you put help connect with your employees?

Consider implementing the following:

  • Put people first
  • Create a safe haven where employees feel safe to share and be heard
  • Help employees strike the right work/life balance
  • Break down barriers to information
  • Create opportunities for personal growth
  • Let employees hear about their accomplishments and opportunities to grow in real time
  • Undo bureaucracy and give employees the responsibility and authority to do their jobs
  • Engage your employees.
  • Make recognition a way of life
  • Use workforce analytics software to track their performance

7. Foster Community and Relationships

Author Henry Mintzberg says:

“Community means caring about our work, our colleagues, and our place in the world, geographic and otherwise, and in turn being inspired by this caring.”

As people we cannot function effectively without a social system that’s larger than ourselves. It’s the social glue that pulls people together almost like a family.

However, in the workplace this is often not the case.

  • 34% of employees don’t think they have enough social interactions with their colleagues
  • 31% of employees wish their manager communicated with them more frequently

Why is this?

It could be due to several reasons including:

  • They might be overworked. 60% say they eat alone at their desk working
  • Bullying occurs whether employees realize it or not. 40% of employees have seen one of their co-workers be mean to someone else.

What we do know is that much of this can be addressed and remedied by management. By helping create an environment that fosters a sense of community and via direct interactions with employees.

Expert perspectives

Here is what a few organizations and experts do:

Natalie Sisson is on a mission to turn busy entrepreneurs into Freedomists who enjoy more personal and professional freedom on a daily basis through proven tactics, strategies and systems that work at nataliesisson.com.

Read her insights:

We have a weekly check-in via email where each team member shares three things they achieved last week, three things they’re working on this week, and a win or challenge. It’s short and sweet and allows everyone to know what’s on each others’ plates, as well as their focus. The win or challenge can be personal, or career related and that helps to build rapport. By seeing the results of their work in the numbers shared each week: sales, subscriber growth, traffic, etc. It helps them be part of the momentum and makes the growth more tangible.

How Natalie helps cultivate a productivity mindset

I’m a huge productivity freak so most of the systems I’ve implemented in the business have been adopted by each new team member to make us all efficient. We’re a lean and global company with 100% remote team members. Plus, everyone is doing many roles, so Slack, Asana, and Google Suite help us stay on top of that and stay connected.

Natalie Sisson is on a mission to turn busy entrepreneurs into Freedomists who enjoy more personal and professional freedom on a daily basis through proven tactics, strategies and systems that work at nataliesisson.com.

Read her insights:

We have a weekly check-in via email where each team member shares three things they achieved last week, three things they’re working on this week, and a win or challenge. It’s short and sweet and allows everyone to know what’s on each others’ plates, as well as their focus. The win or challenge can be personal, or career related and that helps to build rapport. By seeing the results of their work in the numbers shared each week: sales, subscriber growth, traffic, etc. It helps them be part of the momentum and makes the growth more tangible.

How Natalie helps cultivate a productivity mindset

I’m a huge productivity freak so most of the systems I’ve implemented in the business have been adopted by each new team member to make us all efficient. We’re a lean and global company with 100% remote team members. Plus, everyone is doing many roles, so Slack, Asana, and Google Suite help us stay on top of that and stay connected.

Snowden McFall, MAT, is a 25-year professional speaker, corporate trainer, and six-time author. Named National Women in Business Advocate of the Year by the SBA, she’s currently writing her seventh book on women and overwhelm. She speaks on stress, productivity, teambuilding, and employee engagement.

Read her insights:

My business has grown and changed through the years. Because of technology and because my focus is now on keynote speaking and corporate training, there are fewer on-site employees and more 1099s all over the U.S.

At one time, when we were all centralized in one location, we did a number of social events as mainstay engagement tools. We’ve had barbecues at my home, done dinners with all the employees, gone on staff outings. We also used to have an annual client appreciation party every year where employees brought their spouses or significant others and that was great fun. (We don’t do this much anymore because our clients are global now.)

My personal favorite tools for engagement include handwritten notes and sticky pads. I’m a visual person, so I keep cards, notes, thank you notes, etc. from friends, clients and employees.

Handwritten anything is rare these days, so people really appreciate it. Staying in touch with clients that way is also quite effective, because handwritten notes are just not used much anymore

I also believe in celebrating wins. Whenever we brought in a new client, we would ring the bell in the reception area. Everyone cheered for each other. We celebrated wins large and small at our weekly staff meetings, which usually had food. (People love meetings with good food!)

How Snowden cultivates a productivity mindset

There are several productivity tools and techniques to streamline work that I actually teach my clients when I am doing productivity training.

One is to only have short meaningful meetings with an agenda and with accountability action sheets, so that everyone knows who is doing what by when and what the consequence is for that action or inaction (lose a client, miss a critical deadline, gain new business, etc.)

I also believe strongly in 60-to-90-minute scheduling, where the door is closed, phones are off, and no interruptions occur while you get high level, high ROI projects done. This works incredibly well.

Interruptions cost American business $588 million annually according to a study by Basex.

I believe in tracking your time, seeing where it’s going, and then streamlining after that. Most important activities should be done when you are fresh and energized. (Hint: for most people that’s NOT 2-4 pm.) I also really like Kanbanflow® for teams to share project status and updates.

Cory Cook is a time management and productivity expert for business owners. She’s also a co-host on Goddess Toe, a podcast for imperfect entrepreneurs and is an ironman triathelete.

Read her insights:

If you’re looking to improve your business growth, your organisation must be genuinely committed to employee engagement. The companies I’ve worked with who are most successful at this have created a sense of meaningful community in the workplace. They communicate regularly with their team members…and across all levels of the organisation.

Additionally, they involve each team member in their processes. People like to feel they are included and contributing, not merely being told what to do. Ask how you can help your team perform their work easier. Likewise ask your team for their input on making improvements, be it productivity, customer experience, and the like.

Implementation tips

With a sense of community and relationships playing such an important role in employee engagement you need to help foster the right conditions. Regardless of the nature of your organization, you could consider creating a culture that encourages the development of following characteristics:

  • Create a culture of trust and honesty
  • Encourage social interactions
  • Discourage “office tyrant” behaviors
  • Create opportunities for people to connect
  • Encourage people to work in dynamic teams
  • Have at least one team communication channel
  • Encourage them to give and receive feedback
  • Organize organization wide philanthropic initiatives
  • Celebrate anniversaries with unique events
  • Share employee bios and stories
  • Spur friendly intra-organization competition

As a leader/manager you will need to lead by example and so will need to do the following:

  • Build emotional connections with others that are of a positive nature. Emotions are contagious so ensure you are spreading the right emotions.
  • Display integrity
  • Cooperate with others
  • Be an inspiration, a coach, a mentor, and a teacher as needed
  • Be visionary
  • Ask for feedback that provides the information needed for personal change.

8. Serve Customers

You know a company is doing something right when their employees and customers are happy. From a financial perspective consider this:

80% of U.S. consumers would pay more for a product or service to ensure a superior customer experience.

To win in the marketplace you must first win in the workplace. - @DougConant, former CEO of Campbell Soup Click To Tweet

But what does employee engagement have to do with customer experience?

A lot. In fact, there’s a direct correlation between employee satisfaction and customer satisfaction. A study from Washington State University found this to be the case. The study also found a direct correlation between customer satisfaction and financial performance.

Expert perspectives

Here is what a few organizations and experts do:

Steve Johnson is an author, speaker, and strategist within the technology product community. At Under10 Playbook, he helps product teams implement the latest methods for today’s business environments.

Read his insights:

I encourage our employees and consultants to have at least one customer interaction each week so we all keep the customer first in our decisions. Satisfied customers are the goals of any business. Customers buy our services and recommend them to their friends. Customer engagement is employee engagement.

How Under10Playbook cultivates a productivity mindset

Our plans are open for discussion and feedback to all employees and strategic partners. After all, we all share in the results when our business is successful. In this way, we’re all owners of the business.

Author Hal Rosenbluth reminds us that customers come second, employees first. If we’re truthful with our employees and treat them with respect, they will do the same with our customers.

Frank D. Cottle is chairman and founder of Alliance Business Centers. He’s building the Business Center industry and the Alliance global Network of independent Business Center Operators.

Read his insights:

All employees are required to “make decisions,” if it’s the wrong decision we will fix it and train, but we stand behind the employee’s ability to make the decision and we actually require it. It adds a lot of speed to our operations and service departments overall.

How Alliance Business Centers cultivates a productivity mindset 

Everyone on every team is empowered to commit to whatever solution is needed to keep a client happy, and to extend our client lifecycle. Keeping clients is part of our overall focus which is, “retention, recruitment, recurring revenue”…sort of our big “R” approach to business. It works.

Chris Garrett is Director, Marketing at WP Engine, and co-author of http://ProBloggerBook.com.

Read his insights:

Essentially, what we sell is customer support, so keeping employees engaged and happy translates directly to business results. We have various tools and processes, but mostly it comes down to keeping in constant contact and supporting each other, whether that be through chat apps such as Slack and Hipchat, through to voice and video calls.

How WP Engine cultivates a productivity mindset

Using regular stand up calls, each of us has to prioritise what we are going to work on and share anything that’s in our way of achieving those tasks.

Claire Haidar is part chaos and part rocket fuel and founder and CEO of WNDYR a CEO of a company redefining the future of work.

Read her insights:

Employee engagement is a very broad term. For WNDYR, engagement means a team that’s relentlessly focused on creating customer excellence. This removes the focus from us to our clients: the ones who truly matter.

We have defined five layers of customer excellence and how everyone in the company can accelerate our clients through these layers. Employees who are actively solving problems for clients are the most engaged and an engaged organisation results in business growth not only in revenue but culture, innovation and overall improvements in operations.

How WNDYR cultivates a productivity mindset

We have a no bullshit guide. This is our foundation according to which we work and serve every client.

Frank Schuil is the CEO and co-founder of Safello. He’s also the founder of Rhino Ventures.

Read his insights:

As a cryptocurrency business, we strive for our employees to own some cryptocurrency themselves. Some employees even receive their salaries in cryptocurrency. This helps all of us to have a better sense of what our customers are feeling when the market is volatile and keeps a pulse on developments that we can swiftly respond to. We are also a firm believer in eating our own dog food and so many of use Safello to buy and sell their cryptocurrency.

How Safello cultivates a productivity mindset

In Sweden, we believe in a good work/life balance. There’s parental leave, plenty of vacation, and reasonable work hours. Working for the sake of working isn’t meaningful. Instead, we believe productivity is driven by happy people doing focused work. As a Dutchman coming to Sweden, this was a big shift for me to embrace, but if you just look at the per capita unicorns in Sweden, it clearly pays off. I’d say we have a light-hearted office culture that’s open and flat in its organizational structure. We have lunch together and do the occasional offsite trips, nothing too special I suppose.

Sean Ogle is founder of locationrebel and helps people build small businesses they can run from anywhere on earth.

Read his insights:

The primary thing we do to help improve employee engagement with our team is to give them the autonomy to make decisions on their own. When they don’t feel like they’re being micromanaged, it gives them the ability to take ownership for helping customers, take the initiative to improve our products, and to feel like they’re making a difference. They feel more engaged when they know I trust them to be engaged in all aspects of the business.

How locationrebel cultivates a productivity mindset?

The biggest thing we do is continually circle back on what is getting our team members excited about the business. When someone is excited to work on something, they’re much more productive. So, I do everything I can to make sure the majority of things any one person is working on are things that get them excited. The combo of this, and weekly check ins has worked really well to encourage productivity amongst our team.

Neville Garnham is The Productivity Philosopher and is an author, speaker, and coach to businesses and individuals looking enhance their people skills for personal leadership development.

Read his insights:

We use employee engagement to improve business growth in the following ways:

Products/services & changes to them are delivered to people, for people, by people.

Start engagement at initial interview. Provide three-to-five practical in-house scenarios to candidates 24 hours before interview, ask them to pick a couple, and delegate authority to them to interview the selection panel and explore for the panel how they might deal with their chosen scenarios.

Other aspects of this include:

  • Keeping engagement through regular challenges to enhance critical thinking and problem-solving.
  • Being wary of using recruitment AI or agencies in the initial selection of candidates.
  • Putting out specific adverts and cross-match applicants to other possible roles in the organisational pipeline.

Collaboration. Do what you do, do well, but everyone pitches in to help others.

Select smart people with savvy (ability to influence) and attitude to make a difference even if they don’t immediately understand the full implications. Never be afraid of hiring people smarter than you.

Service to self in serving customers.

Operate an effective incentive (profit-sharing = ownership) scheme. Everyone is an independent contractor/consultant in my organisation and results depend on their, team, and corporate efforts to continuously improve the business and its processes to ensure growth.

How Neville helps cultivate a productivity mindset


Ensure everyone understands that unless a team/organisation is “running faster” internally than the customers/external market they serve, the team/organisation is falling behind and becoming irrelevant. Provide regular engagement about this and practical learning opportunities: in-house and external.


Develop research/new ideas culture and explore all ideas no matter how weird they may seem initially. Amplify this by learning opportunities mentioned above.


Encourage cross team/profession infusion of ideas to avoid “just a mentality” (“She/he is just a…<insert virtually any job/role name>…why should we bother talking to him/her!”) and/or professional jealousies and/or excessive positional subservience. Encouraged through lifetime-learning opportunities mentioned above.

Adam Feil is the president at MakeStickers. He has a PhD in educational psychology and writes about company culture, management, and personal growth.

Read his insights:

I think of employee engagement in terms of how mentally and emotionally present my employees are. For example, we make tens of thousands of custom stickers each day; employees who are engaged will be more likely to catch quality issues and want to ship orders ahead of schedule to wow the customer. So, for us there’s a clear link between employee engagement and customer satisfaction which leads to all the things you need for business growth like repeat customers, positive reviews, and referrals.

How MakeStickers cultivates a productivity mindset

For us, a productivity mindset fits underneath a growth mindset. The way I look at it is, if we’re able to learn from mistakes and are willing to look at objective measures of our performance, then the productivity will follow. You could say it’s a somewhat long-term view on maximizing productivity.

Implementation tips

To build the culture that provides the kind of experience you would like customers to have, you will need to build the same kind of experience and culture within the organization. Here are a few strategies that could help:

  • Build a culture that rewards and supports the kind of experience you want your customers to have.
  • Spend time on the front lines. Many companies, including Zappos, Amazon, Craigslist, and Rackspace, practice “everyone does support,” a model that calls on all employees to spend time responding to support tickets and engaging with customers.
  • Give your employees a voice to build your organizations community.
  • Foster friendly competition.
  • Use social media to improve productivity. According to a study by Microsoft, 46% of workers say that their productivity has greatly or somewhat increased because of social media use in the office, and more than one-third (37%) say that they could do their job betterif their organization’s management was more on-board with the use of social tools in the workplace. But, as a manager of a business, it’s important to know what the goal is, and then choose the right tools.

9. Employee Development

The lack of opportunity for personal growth and/or career development is a major reason why employees leave organizations.

  • 56% of employees believe they don’t have any career advancement opportunities.
  • A survey by Glassdoor and Harris Interactive found that more people (52%) wanted to hear about growth opportunities when applying for a job.
  • Only 38.5% of organizations encouraged employee development

Why does training and opportunities for personal growth and career development mean so much? Because it could lead to:

  • More autonomy
  • Better mastery over skills
  • A greater purpose and feeling that they are part of something bigger than themselves.

Michael Leboeuf, in his book “The Greatest Management Principle in the World,” warns of the dangers of ignoring training:

“If you believe that training is expensive, it is because you do not know what ignorance costs. Companies that have the loyalty of their employees invest heavily in permanent training programs and promotion systems.”

The cost of not investing in employee training can be quite high as you see in the infographic below:

Expert perspectives:

Here is what a few organizations and experts do:

Mike Flache is a business angel and investor. Together with great teams, he builds digital businesses worldwide.

Read his insights:

First things first: Employee engagement is not a one-way street. It’s based on building a trusting relationship between employees and the companies they work for. That’s why the same applies to both sides: appreciation instead of abasement. Eye level instead of authority.

Companies that successfully implement employee engagement give their employees enough space to develop their skills. But they also make sure to offer them the right position that allows them to take responsibility. Engaged employees do meaningful work and have a clear understanding of how they contribute to the mission, purpose and strategic goals of the company. And motivated employees are productive employees.

However, this assumes that companies have devised clear strategies in their corporate goals for attracting and retaining talent/employees. As with all important corporate strategies, a high level of employee engagement and commitment cannot be implemented overnight. In that sense, most companies still have a long way to go. Nonetheless, it’s worthwhile to follow this path consistently.

How Mike helps cultivate a productivity mindset

Corporations who think that this problem is simply solved by rebuilding the cafeteria and setting up a football table is certainly on the wrong track. Employee engagement is much more complex than that. Simply put, it requires a fundamental change in leadership, workplace and corporate culture.

It’s not unusual for companies to try and figure out first where to start and what to do.

Anonymous employee surveys are a great way to get things started at this point. Of course, these surveys should be very specific to this subject and go beyond whether an employee is satisfied or not. For example, potential questions could be: “To what extent has your current project contributed to the company’s overall success?” or “How many times have you received recognition for your work this week?”

Riz Wasti is a chartered management accountant. He supports small businesses with growth objectives and provides all business accounting expertise via 2EAccountants Ltd.

Read his insights:

At 2E Accountants, we are a small closely integrated and interdependent team. Team cohesion is facilitated through professional knowledge exchange and team building initiatives. Our practice director takes a positive interest in the personal wellbeing and strongly encourages our professional development via training courses and client facing responsibilities. In this way we are motivated and enabled to deliver the highest levels of customer service thus increasing word of mouth referrals and business growth.

How 2E Accountants cultivates a productivity mindset 

We prioritize and encourage individual professional development, regular in-house training, and daily knowledge sharing. Combined, these inspire and encourage us to deliver an efficient and effective service to our clients.

Dan Healy is a product strategist, NYC tech enthusiast, and the COO at prolific interactive.

Read his insights:

At Prolific, we do a number of things to encourage our team to help grow the business. One specific example is our quarterly Hack Days. The weeks leading up to these days, teams get together in their spare time to plan their projects and set an objective. They then spend a dedicated day building the first version of a product that we can invest in formalizing if there looks like an opportunity to do so.

In the early days, this was building conference rooms or soundproof phone booths for productivity, and more recently it has been for testing AR and VR products or enhancing our AMS (App Management System). This has led to a formal service offering in the Augmented Reality space, and a dedicated team focusing on new technologies in AR/VR.

How prolific interactive cultivates a productivity mindset 

Everyone on every team is accountable for the overall success of the products we are working on. As a result, individual teams are encouraged to formulate a process that works for them to ensure that deadlines are met and product quality is not sacrificed.

Gabriel Paunescu is the CEO of NaoLogic, which helps automate ERP development to help your business scale. He also teaches machines how to solve their own damn problems.

Read his insights:

Creating desire is often stronger than managing by force or fear. We strive first to recruit only A players, which is itself somewhat art and somewhat science. A players want to contribute where they can excel and feel respected. By empowering them to choose and control how the desired results are met, we find expectations are often exceeded. We take the extra time to not only train our developers but to show them how to seek out knowledge themselves. Continuous innovation means that the entire team must also continuously be learning, adapting and evolving.

We use the latest technologies in our builds not only to ensure maximum performance but to keep the job interesting. If we find that we do not have the tools we need for the work, the challenge becomes to BUILD them, not to find them.

By engendering this burning desire in our employees, through empowerment, feedback, permission to experiment and recognition, we find they become co-drivers in the organization’s growth.

How NaoLogic cultivates a productivity mindset

Focus and energy are the two primary keys of maximum productivity.

Although we do use daily stand-up meetings to foster social accountability, we also encourage team members to go offline in order to fully focus on their own “deep work.”

We create a lot of complicated software, and we need everyone we work with to contribute beyond the scope of their work.

Don’t forget: Minor fixes have a major impact.

Experiment, experiment, experiment! I can’t stress this enough. At NAOLOGIC, we applaud failed experiments because they teach us so much. Nothing kills creativity and innovation like the fear of failure. To be truly innovative everyone on the team must understand and embrace that often ideas get scrapped, the code needs to be rewritten and failure is the often the road to perfection.

Very often, team members have the answer to the question they are asking. We challenge all our partners to try and understand the business problem they are working on, so they know what every incremental improvement will solve and feel the impact of their contribution.

Implementation tips

To help employees better serve customers you could invest in the following:

  • Encourage employees to work on their passion projects by allocating a percentage of work time for this purpose or conduct a hackathon
  • Subsidize education for employees
  • Allow employees to take sabbaticals to learn and or gain new experiences
  • Leverage the expertise in your company by holding seminars taught by senior leaders, and/or rank and file employees
  • Create individual development plans
  • Provide performance metrics to help employees understand where they need to be
  • Provide opportunities outside of a job function
  • Give constructive feedback
  • Link to a professional network for support, advice, and information to develop
  • Outlay resources to invest in employee’s development
  • Set an example by investing in your development personally and professionally

10. Experience Well Being

According to Officevibe:

  • 60% of employees notice their job is taking a toll on their personal life.
  • 44% of employees are either sleep deprived.

The problem is that the fatigue this generates leads to unhealthy choices, higher stress levels, and lower overall wellness. This in turn affects productivity and engagement.

  • 47% of people consider themselves stressed at work.
  • 22% of employees are worried that they might lose their job in the next 3-to-6 months.

Research shows that:

  • 62% of engaged employees feel their work positively affects their physical health.
  • That number drops to 39% among non-engaged employees and down to a mere 22% among employees who are actively disengaged.

Therefore, caring for an employee’s wellbeing isn’t just a perk or nice gesture but should be a strong business practice. Organizations that invest in employees’ health and wellness actually save money by curtailing healthcare costs and reducing productivity loss. In fact, research shows that it leads to a significant increase in money saved. It also helps with creating an emotional connection with the organization.

Expert perspectives

Here’s what a few experts and organizations do:

Matt Plummer is the founder of Zarvana, which offers online programs and coaching services to help working professionals become more productive by developing time-saving habits.

Putting time back in people’s lives is our mission not only because we think it improves individuals’ lives, but also because we believe it’s better for companies’ bottom line.

Numerous studies have shown that engaged, healthy people who aren’t exhausted or overwhelmed with stress do better work. We work hard to live our values and mission. We think employee engagement depends primarily on 4 factors: workload, opportunity to contribute, felt sense of support, and opportunity to grow and develop, so we ask our team about these four areas each month, and then work to make changes when necessary.

Beyond that, we look for small signs that something is off, and we don’t back away from the hard questions. If someone sends an email at midnight, we’ll be talking about it the next day.

How Zarvana cultivates a productivity mindset

When it comes to developing a productivity mindset, we’ve found that you need to combat the four “P” beliefs: perfectionism, plateauing, powerlessness, and pointlessness.

Perfectionism says everything has to be exactly right all the time. We push back on this by talking about impact first (how much will this matter) and calling into question additional efforts to get work just right.

A plateauing mindset says that after a certain point, you can’t really get more productive. Many professionals believe they have already reached this point. From the top to the bottom, we believe we can all continue to become more productive and so we continue to “take our own medicine,” change our behaviors, and keep learning.

Powerlessness says change is impossible, but we say, “It’s hard, but research shows how to make it easier,” and so we follow research-backed ways to change habits.

A pointlessness mindset says, “It doesn’t matter if I save time by getting more productive because then my workload will just increase.” To combat this mindset, we don’t ensure our people work a certain number of hours per week. If they get their work done early one day, they can be done.

When pushing back on all four of these, it’s important to remember that mindsets and behaviors go hand in hand: we need to highlight behaviors that reinforce productivity mindsets and identify and stop those that undermine them.

Jana Green is a business coach, personal mentor, and success expert with Jana Green Coaching International.

Read her insights:

I would like to offer some statistics first:

  • 82% of people in the U.K. suffer from work-related stress.
  • Chronic stress costs the U.S. economy about $600 billion a year.
  • 2/3 of all of us will experience a health issue in our lifetime, all mainly stress-related.
  • 90% of all reported illnesses are stress-related.

There are measures and strategies to make sure the stress levels of your employees go down considerably. It’s all about helping your employees to:

  • Manage time properly
  • Learn how to manage stress
  • Learn coping strategies
  • Don’t be afraid to express worries and opinions
  • Learn how to communicate effectively
  • Learn to self-motivate
  • Gain self-confidence
  • Become resilient
  • Learn how to manage difficult people and difficult situations

Employees that have positive success mindsets and are content, automatically give back to their businesses far more than employees who are tired, unmotivated, and too stressed out.

How Jana Green Coaching International cultivates a productivity mindset

Success is all about time management. Time management is the tool to increase productivity easily by 150% in one day or 1000% in longer term.

I believe companies that are serious about their growth and enhancing productivity mindset do invite business coaches and trainers to come help show their staff how easy it is to be:

  • Super productive
  • Calmer
  • Happier
  • Less stressed
  • Gain free headspace
  • Have more free time

It all can be done and doesn’t take a very long time. It’s a matter of getting rid of old habits which don’t serve us and replacing them with new helpful habits which will serve us for lifetime. And to permanently change anyone’s unhelpful habits is a matter of couple of weeks or months.

Implementation tips

Things to consider when designing a health and wellbeing program:

  • Start with what you know
  • Link your wellbeing program with business objectives
  • Get management buy-in
  • Invest in holistic wellbeing of employees covering everything from financial health, sleep habits, social wellbeing, etc.
  • Promote your program
  • Foster a culture of wellness

11. Satisfaction

There are two parts to an employee’s sense of satisfaction:

  • Compensation (salary + benefits)
  • The overall work environment

According to research:

  • 1 out of 2 employees isn’t satisfied with their benefits package
  • 32% don’t think they’re being paid fairly

Assuming that salaries aren’t something you can change, there are ways to offer benefits to compensate. What can be done:

Expert perspectives

Here are what a couple of experts and organizations do:

Dr. Therese F. Martin is a change management consultant management consultant, former non-profit executive, and adjunct professor. Her areas of consultation and study are organizational development, change, emotion, and assessment.

Read her insights:

Employees who feel that they’re valued stay at an organization. As such, clear paths to promotion, training opportunities, and mentorship promote an environment that keeps employees engaged. This translates into strong relationships within and outside of the organization, which makes an operation smooth and able to grow.

How Dr. Therese Martin helps cultivate a productivity mindset 

The end user plays the largest role in creating productivity. Organizations may be efficiency-oriented while others are effectiveness-oriented; ours leans toward effectiveness. While logistics is key to organizations, we focus on customer satisfaction. Focusing on this requires an all-hands-on deck approach. More ideas flow from the bottom up than from the top down.

Nacho Ormeño builds products, services, and companies. The CTO and Startupxplore cofounder is backed by one of the best VC and Business Angels in Europe. Nacho has more than 12 years of experience in software development industry.

Read his insights:

We understand employee engagement as a leverage to make our people shine their best talents. Our company values give us a framework to know which behaviours are suitable to reward and which others need to be corrected. Once every employee is aligned with our core values, applying employee engagement strategies is a pretty straightforward issue.

  • Extreme Ownership. We see ourselves as a multidisciplinary and very talented team. We prefer to supervise accomplished goals instead of worked hours. If we delegate a task to a buddy, we expect clear output as a result.
  • One-on-One Meetings. Every month, people have the opportunity to meet face to face with Startupxplore cofounders. As a company cofounder, these meetings are one of the best qualified sources of new insights.
  • We F….ed Up, We Fix It. One of the best experiences is to attend meetings where people explain how they fucked up something in the company and finish the meeting with a clear path to fix it and the learning process to not repeat it again.

How Startupxplore cultivates a productivity mindset 

Trust and communication are paths toward throwing away emotional insecurity and isolation. In my opinion, these are the most important factors to keep teams focused and aligned.

Emily Muhoberac is COO at Sapper Consulting, a St. Louis-based company that replaces cold calling for its clients. It’s cooler than it sounds. You can also follow her on Twitter @muhobs.

Read her insights:

We invest in the growth of our employees by promoting from within, providing consistent feedback, and giving them the opportunity to work on projects outside their basic job functions. We’ve found that our team is significantly more invested in the business when we’ve invested in them first.

How Sapper Consulting cultivates a productivity mindset

In order to cultivate a productivity mindset, we focus exclusively on key performance indicators (KPIs) as opposed to work hours or other ancillary metrics. Every person has a number that they are accountable for, and we build incentives (like quarterly bonuses) around hitting that number. In order for this to be effective, the number must be a clear indicator of employee performance.

Implementation tips

The other strategies covered in this post will go a long way in helping improve your employee satisfaction. That said, here are a few more ideas to consider incorporating into the organizational culture.

  • Show respect to all staff
  • Keep an open door policy and encourage staff to ask questions, share ideas, and voice concerns
  • Accept mistakes on the part of management/leaderships
  • Be transparent
  • Make room to foster creativity
  • Encourage staff to add to the brand voice via social media or other channels
  • Make employee health and wellbeing a priority
  • Make time for staff to be involved in social causes and community projects
  • Beware of bureaucracy and micromanagement
  • Embrace flexible work conditions
  • Help staff to bond with each other
  • Conduct and act on in-company satisfaction surveys
  • Celebrate milestones achieved

12. Communication

According to Gallup’s research, companies showing higher levels of employee engagement used better communication strategies compared with those showing the lowest levels of employee engagement. So, capturing their hearts and minds is vital and regular, informative communication plays a vital role.

Expert perspectives

Here’s what a few experts and organizations do:

Mark Evans helps B2B software companies generate high-quality inbound leads.

Read his insights:

One of the keys to engaging employees is clear communications and managing expectations. It’s important that everyone understand how the business is doing, where it’s going, and what people need to do to succeed individually and as a company.

How Mark helps cultivate a productivity mindset 

It’s a matter of using tools that eliminate inefficiencies such as Slack, Trello, Dropbox, and Google Drive. When you have assets and content in a centralized place, you eliminate a lot of back-and-forth conversations. I’m also a big believer in meetings with a purpose as opposed to meeting for the sake of meeting. We set the agenda including discussions about key topics and make an action plan.

Mike Boorn Plener is the founder and executive producer at Business Connector. He’s a catalyst for change in people and organisations. He helps entrepreneurs grow their businesses rapidly and raise capital through a highly curated approach to accelerated business growth.

Read his insights:

Engaging the team is important as it allows people to work more independently and individually. In other words, they get stuff done without you having to micromanage them.

It requires you to share the bigger vision with them and refine it over time. But you need to then share how that vision translates to action plans, and eventually to what you want them to do in their job, so they can feel how what they do helps fulfil that bigger vision.

How the Business Connector cultivates a productivity mindset 

The good old 80/20 rule helps here.

First the entrepreneurial version: 80% is good enough in almost all instances. You can only rewrite that email so many times and expect to get a better result. You need to stop in time and just hit the send button.

The other 80/20 relates to business improvement, which is where real productivity is created. You often need to spend up to 20% (at least in a young business) of all time spent on documenting what’s done, formulating procedures, and implementing systems. Otherwise you will keep repeating the same mistakes and reinventing the wheel every week.

Debbie Page is an internationally recognized entrepreneur, speaker, author, and business coach.

Read her insights:

In growing a team, it’s important to provide open lines of communication. Long gone are the days where all decisions come from the top and those further down execute. The people on your team who are working in the details of your business see the opportunities and inefficiencies every day.

Creating a time and place on a regular basis, soliciting feedback on ways to grow the company and empowering your employees to do some of the exploration, possibly by starting a work group tasked with exploring the viability of the suggestions. The people with the energy behind it will, even when faced with a challenge, be curious and enthused enough to look for the way through to get the outcome that benefits everyone.

How Debbie helps cultivate a productivity mindset

By incorporating and encouraging a mindfulness practice, productivity will increase. Everyone is encouraged to support one another in reframing thoughts or language. When you hear, “I’ll never be able to hit this deadline,” you ask your co-worker, “What support do you need to hit this deadline?”

If teams are focusing on what they can’t get done, then that’s the results that will happen the majority of the time, and when they do hit the deadline the work will often be rushed and not the quality needed. By reframing and supporting one another in a collaborative, team environment where everyone contributes it energizes the team to know they don’t have to figure it out alone.

Last year, I spent the day at the airport. Flight after flight was cancelled due to weather, leaving thousands of passengers stranded. When I went down to try and find my bag that should have been in the belly of the plane several hours earlier, I ran into the CEO of the airline off-loading bags and making sure his team all the way through to the baggage handlers knew they weren’t having to figure this out alone. He was “in it” with them.

Great leadership by example will never fail you and your company.

Jenni Catron is the founder of the 4Sight group, a leadership coach and consultant. She’s also the author of The 4 Dimensions of Extraordinary Leadership.

Read her insights:

As a young consulting company, it’s critical that every one of my employees is deeply engaged and committed to our mission. By keeping our team well connected with key information about business growth—including potential opportunities—it helps them see how they are a part of the big picture.

Every team member participates in weekly calls and I work hard to help them see how their work connects to our overall growth. We celebrate every new client as if every person on the team landed the deal.

How the 4sight group cultivates a productivity mindset? 

My whole team works virtually so we have to be very intentional with our time. Most of them are juggling other work projects or managing their household so they are hyper-aware of the value of their time and the need to use it wisely. We know how many hours of the day should be committed to each of our priorities and we report back to one another how we’re doing in staying consistent with our time goals.

Mike Figliuolo is the founder and managing director of thoughtLEADERS, LLC, where he and his team train senior executives at leading companies on leadership, strategy, communications, innovation, and other critical business skills. He’s the author of three books: One Piece of Paper, Lead Inside the Box, and The Elegant Pitch.

Read his insights:

We’re a team of seasoned executives and professionals who are located all over the United States. Much of our interaction is virtual, which can make engagement tough. We look for every opportunity we can to get people together in person. Whether it’s a meal or sitting in on a session taught by another team member, those interpersonal interactions drive engagement for us.

It helps our team members understand their peers, share client opportunities, and improves each person’s ability to sell the services of their colleagues. I’m constantly encouraging folks to interact with one another in person as much as possible. The growth opportunities that come out of those conversations are always pleasant surprises.

How thoughtLEADRERS, LLC cultivates a productivity mindset 

Productivity is driven by incentives and by the fact that we’re all extremely busy. Our incentives are directly aligned with the volume of work our people perform and the margins they generate on that work. The math is clear to everyone: Doing more work in less time results in higher compensation with less effort.

We’ve standardized many documents, proposals, and processes to simplify everyone’s lives and give them more time to be productive with our clients and prospects. The fact that everyone is extremely busy drives a personal desire by every team member to generate and deliver as much client work as they can in their very limited time.

Implementation tips

With communication playing a vital role in engaging your employees you might consider implementing the following:

  • When communicating to individual employees, adopt communication styles that fit each individual
  • Be consistent by providing clearly defined roles and regular meetings with management
  • Use passion and seek to build a connection in your messages but avoid negative emotional displays
  • Praise more, criticize less
  • Share a clear, consistent message with the appropriate level of information
  • Create messages that are open and honest with an authentic tone
  • Share your goals, purpose, and direction
  • Clarity, transparency, measurement, and accountability are essential ingredients of your messages

Some of the best things managers can do and say to build their team and trust include:

  • That was my fault
  • I’m glad to have you on the team
  • Share a road map of your company and future goals
  • Thank you
  • Explain why
  • Recognize a team members effort with phrases like: “I know I can count on you for __________” or “I believe in you.”
  • Ask them for their opinion and feedback

13. Ambassadorship

While employee referral programs have advantages in recruiting qualified and culture-matched new employees, it also serves as a strong metric for work culture and employee engagement.

This is particularly relevant given that 57% of employees would not recommend their organization as a good place to work.

Research by Payscale found that referred employees are more engaged especially if they receive a referral from their extended network or from targeting another employee.

Expert perspectives

Here is what a few organizations and experts do:

Marcos Martin is a co-founder and the CEO at Menorca Millennials. He’s also co-founder and CEO at Torret Road Capital.

Read his insights:

The Menorca Millennial (MM) team is so engaged with the company and the project that has become the best ambassador of our brand. I’m really proud of the great team we’ve created. It makes a real difference.

Every member of the faMMily has shown a very high level of commitment with MM and it increases our productivity. With “teamwork” we encourage take them to “walk” an extra mile, provide better service, think out of the box and communicate honestly. It definitely impacts our business growth.

How Menorca Millennials cultivates a productivity mindset

We share with the team our core values. They know the what, how, and why of Menorca Millennials since the first day in the company. And they know these three elements need an extra ingredient to success as well: fun.

We like to be open to ideas; there is no little one for us. It doesn’t matter if it comes from CEO or the intern. We promote a respectful and diverse atmosphere among the team.

Rich Beynon is an IT & Business Strategy Specialist helping organizations improve process and bottom line through effective use of technology and organizational change.

Read his insights:

Well Better U Coaching and Consulting is a small organization, so it’s a bit easier to keep our people engaged than some larger organizations. We have a referral program that really encourages people to identify new opportunities within our clients as well as opportunities with new clients. And we have a profit-sharing program where people get bonuses at the end of the year based on how much we’ve grown year over year. But since we also coach companies on this stuff, it’s a bit more ingrained in our overall process.

For our clients, we recommend periodic employee surveys to get employee feedback and reviewing that feedback and really try to bring something out of it that shows that you’re paying attention to what your people are saying. Being able to SHOW that you are listening to them goes a long way!

How Rich helps cultivate a productivity mindset 

Again, that’s fairly straightforward for us because that’s one of the areas that we specialize in. The challenge for us is to not fall down the rabbit hole of trying everything that comes out. We understand the core fundamentals of productivity and efficiency and have bundled a few different methodologies into our own. People have to have a productivity mindset when they come work for us though, so we really do filter that from the get-go.

We have had some clients who have gone through our program ask if we’re hiring and it’s unfortunate that we have a clause in our contracts that say we can’t, because some people really just need to be shown the right direction and they take to it like a duck to water. It’s a shame that this type of thing isn’t taught as an elective in high school or college because I’m confident it would be one of the more popular courses offered.

Shelly is the Founder and CEO of V3B, a marketing consultancy, and president of Broadsuite Media Group.

Read her insights:

Our team has an incredibly large digital footprint and all members of our team understand that when it comes to content distribution and content amplification, we’re all a team, and we’re all part of the great results we can collectively deliver, for our own family of companies as well as for our clients.

How V3B cultivates a productivity mindset 

We have long used time-tracking software as a standard part of business operations, so our team is well-accustomed to tracking time spent and being accountable for the results they deliver. From a business-owner standpoint, the value this provides is a key part of what helps us keep our team on their toes as it relates to our deliverables to clients, and it also provides invaluable information from a business profitability standpoint.

Kamyar Shah is a small business advisor helping you increase profitability and productivity, offering remote CMO and Remote COO services.

Read his insights:

I’ve experimented with several traditional and non-traditional methodologies, but the one that yielded consistent results is the “emotional stakeholder” approach. In this particular approach, you engage with employees in a way that allows them to genuinely take “emotional ownership” of the work and company, allowing them to become the public ambassador of the company and its products.

How Kamyar helps cultivate a productivity mindset 

Fostering productivity mindset goes beyond your traditional reward models. I’ve found that using data to show team members that certain approaches allow them to be more productive and to convert those “excess time” to personal time goes a long way in swaying productivity and the resulting mindset.

Implementation tips

How do you set a successful employee referral program that creates employee ambassadors? Consider the following:

  • Educate your hiring managers on the benefits
  • Educate employees on the traits you look for in new hires
  • Designate team members to lead and champion the program
  • Make it simple to use and track
  • Reward engagement, not results
  • Recognize employees who make successful referrals
  • Provide incentives for employees
  • Engage your marketing department to expand your reach online and via social media
  • Keep it fresh by varying tactics so engagement does not fall over time
  • Use the right technology and automation to support the process
  • Ensure the process is transparent

Employee Engagement Tools

Employee engagement strategies can help create and promote the environment, culture, and productivity you want to see in your company. However, unless you measure it from time to time you won’t have any idea of how things are progressing. Fortunately, there are a lot of employee software options available in the market to help with that.

Employee engagement software helps organizations by sending out pulse surveys. These are short surveys that are sent out at regular intervals and ask questions designed to determine employee engagement. Based on the results the software can also provide:

  • Actionable insights from employee feedback
  • Recognize employee achievements
  • Assistance with promoting activities that better the health and wellness of an organization and its employees
  • Insights into employee sentiment
  • A way to track employee work and performance

Some of the popular tools used by a variety of organizations include:

Qualtrics Employee Experience

The software helps organizations reduce churn, improve employee engagement, and build strong teams by optimizing the employee experience. With the tools they make available you can:

  • Measure the employee experience at every milestone of the employee lifecycle and establish baselines to measure future performance.
  • Prioritize and predict key drivers of engagement and experience and then drive action throughout the organization with role-based dashboards and action plans.
  • Continuously track and optimize employee experiences to build stronger teams, improve productivity, and cultivate a winning company culture.


This employee engagement software enables organizations to undertake pulse surveys with anonymous employee feedback, real-time feedback and insights, eNPS tracking, and reports for every team and the entire organization. It also offers pre-build questions based on industry standards to ensure every aspect of your organization is covered. You can also get advice and strategies to overcome issues and problems that are identified.


The SmartHub employee engagement platform offers tools that enable you to attract, engage and retain your employees by building a culture where performance thrives. There are four distinct solutions on offer:

  • Employee benefits program, which offers the largest employee discounts program in the world.
  • Employee recognition, which helps showcase individual and team achievements, embed a culture of continuous recognition, and connect your employees to your mission, purpose, and values while highlighting behaviors that influences business goals.
  • Employee communications, which helps create an internal communications platform designed to build open and honest communication with employees, and vice versa.
  • Employee surveys, which enable you to take the pulse of the people via pulse-style surveys.


TINYpulse bills itself as the platform of the complete employee experience that enables you to:

  • Gauge how new employees are integrating into their new roles.
  • Build a culture of peer-to-peer recognition and performance improvement.
  • Understand why your employees are leaving and how to best keep crucial employees.
  • Empower employees to drive culture and company success.
  • Monitor and coach your teams to reach their highest potential.


The platform is geared to help you collect understand and act on employee feedback. In other words, the platform allows you to manage multiple sources of feedback and connect the dots for you. The platform was designed by data scientists and psychologists to build the feedback program you need.


The 15five platform makes continuous employee feedback simple to drive high-performing cultures. The platform offers a complete performance management solution to develop teams from their first day to their last. It uses psychology and researched backed proven employee development methods to drive businesses forward. Features include:

  • Establishing OKRs
  • Weekly check-ins
  • Setting up 1 on 1’s
  • Employee recognition
  • Employee development and growth through 360-degree feedback and forward-looking reviews.

Building Performance, Productivity, and Profit

If employees are an organization’s best asset, then caring for said employees should be a priority. After all, leaders have an opportunity to transform people’s work experiences into ones that provide fulfillment and motivation.

Leaders invested in people, work to strategically align their employee engagement efforts. They’re transparent in their approach to improving engagement and bring it up with their teams frequently.

These principles and strategies aren’t complex but crucial to prioritize if you consider the impact. Organizations that incorporate employee engagement naturally see greater productivity gains, greater financial returns, and find a competitive edge against their competitors.

Subscribe to the Hubstaff blog for more posts like this

Category: Workforce Management