Does this sound familiar? You lack energy to go to work.  Work feels like a paycheck and you focus your passions elsewhere. You want to make things better but you’re tired of your ideas not being heard, so why bother?  If this is your state of mind, you may be suffering from symptoms of disengagement.  By the way, this disease is highly contagious and is at epidemic levels (according to some Gallup surveys 71% of people are disengaged).  This costs the economy $450 billion in lost productivity. The good news is that we can do something about it.  And we must re-engage, for our own well-being.

I spoke with Karin Volo, co-author of the book “Engage!” which looks at 15 “amazing” companies who have created enormous levels of engagement.  In the book, the authors identified five cultural keys common to these companies.  According to Karin, these cultural keys are often driven by a more “female” style of leadership, and often (not always) the culture change is driven by the women in these organizations.  Here’s what they are.

Five Cultural Keys of Amazing Organizations

The authors share data that compared to the S&P 500 companies who are among the Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For have outperformed return on investment by 4x.  The 15 “amazing” organizations identified by the authors included companies like Tom’s (the shoe company), Virgin, and Southwest Airlines among others. Here are the five cultural elements they share:

  • Collaboration – employees don’t just work together, they are vested in each other’s success
  • Creativity – employees feel heard and their ideas valued
  • Connection – employees and customers feel connected to the mission of the company
  • Celebration – employees feel their accomplishments are celebrated and recognized
  • Contribution – organization gives back and has a positive impact on the community. For example, Tom’s has giving built into the business model (for every pair of shoes they sell they give a pair away)

So what can we do as employees and leaders to create this kind of an environment?


  • Take personal accountability for your engagement at work.
  • Practice daily gratitude to reframe our focus.  Look for the three things that are going well.
  • Every day, recognize and appreciate others who are doing a good job.
  • Do the inner work to find what you’re passionate about and how to bring more purpose to your work.


  • Ensure that you’re clearly and regularly articulating the bigger mission of the organization
  • Bring a service mindset – help others bring out the best in themselves.
  • Love what you do and love the people you’re working with
  • Instill trust through transparency

In the book, the authors highlight the story of Virgin which took over the management of a couple of underperforming government run railway lines in Britain. They found employees disgruntled and disengaged.  The new Virgin leaders did nothing other than start to ask the employees what they thought needed to be done to improve the operations. As the employees felt their ideas heard, they started to engage. They became passionate about their work and operations improved dramatically.

What’s the moral of this story? We must know that we are here to make a difference and so is everyone else.   Our state of disengagement is like a temporary but malicious cold we need to fight against. Like our body’s defenses, our passion and purpose resides within us at all times.  We just need to make a decision to tap into it.  Will you do that?

To purchase the book “Engage!” and read more about the incredible journey of the author Karin Volo please go to or .  You can also follow Karin at

If this resonated for you, please comment, subscribe, and share with others.

Additional Information

To Unleash Employee Engagement – Make it Personal

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