Imagine a democratized process where employees manage their own engagement and partner with their manager to co-create individualized solutions.

Arcane [ahr-keyn]


  1. Understood by very few; mysterious; obscure; esoteric:

She knew a lot about Sanskrit grammar and other arcane matters.

Employee engagement is arcane to many employees. Few really understand it. They fill in an engagement survey at the behest of their leaders but are unclear about how much weight their opinion holds and what action, if any, will occur as a result of their feedback.

And what happens next makes the process seem even more obscure: silence. For up to six months.

The next time they hear anything about employee engagement is when they are invited to a town hall meeting.

“What we’ve decided…”

At that meeting, the big execs trot out and trumpet, “We took your feedback, went on an offsite and came up with some action plans that will fix the issues.

“You said you don’t feel recognized for your contribution. We’ve purchased a sophisticated recognition platform. You’ll see it coming on board within the next three months. You said we don’t do a good job of dealing with under-performers. We’ve purchased a performance management software solution that we think is best in class. I hope you can see how seriously we treat your feedback.”

And then employees go back to their work areas, confounded by three questions:

  1. What does this mean to me?
  2. What’s my part in this?
  3. Why should I ever fill out another engagement survey?

Partnering - not “to” or “for” but “with”

Imagine it differently.

Imagine a democratized process where employees:

  1. manage their own engagement;
  2. openly share what’s working and what’s not with their manager; and
  3. partner with their manager to co-create individualized solutions.

This is precisely what we are witnessing in the great organizations we get to work with.

Here are two notable examples:

The Human Resources leaders at YUM! Brands believed that HR should not be the primary owners of the employee engagement process: employees should. They believed employees should be accountable for their own engagement.

So they created an opportunity for employees to be a part of the PowerUp Squad: a group of employees that engaged their colleagues in conversation to discover the “backstory” behind the survey results.

As a result of their work, they saw an increase in almost 90 percent of the Best Places to Work survey questions. They also saw a 7% year-over-year lift in their trust score. On top of that, employees were still coming to the PowerUp Squad with ideas and solutions a full year later. Read the case study here.

Leaders at The Co-operators Life conducted town halls all across Canada and discovered that although employees and managers were thoroughly engaged, they were dangerously exhausted.

Juice worked with Co-operators Life to upload a simple system of doing energy checks, one on one and in a team format. It was all based on the title: Lifting the Manager’s Burden – the idea being that when managers believe it’s their job to fix all the engagement issues for employees, it’s simply unsustainable.

We helped leaders shift from parenting to partnering: not doing things to employees or even for employees, but with employees. Employees began to step up and manage their own engagement. They began to:

  • sort out their scheduling differences;
  • resolve problems and problem solve on their own; and
  • take ownership of their needs.

Sick time dropped. Overtime dropped. Read the case study here.

It’s time to democratize engagement

Employee engagement has become something we do to or for employees. It’s time to change all that—democratizing engagement so it’s something that employees and managers do with each other.

Want to learn more? Here are three Beyond Engagement principles you can use to democratize engagement in your organization:

  1. Pull out the backstory, not the action plan
  2. Shift from parenting to partnering
  3. Trust conversations, not survey

More About Transforming Employee Engagement

Juice custom designs solutions to engage your employees, and offers other services to enhance your current offerings.

Related Resources

An Introduction to the Beyond Engagement Philosophy

White Paper: The Engagement Paradox

White Paper: The Five Drivers of Engagement

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