When I have presented to front line retail banking teams of 16 or so I observed that of the 16 typically 1 was engaged, 3 were disengaged and the rest were inbetween.

Typically 20% of employees are actively trying to disrupt your business, 20% are actively engaged and the most difficult to identify category are in between.    These employees are just going through the motions, and are not even awkward.     This categories include employees at all levels including executives!

Onerous bank processes and management styles disengage employees.    These people are on the customer front line.

Many reports suggest, engagement has reduced with the uncertainty of the last few years.

If employees are not fully engaged and not thinking, what are they doing?

What is the answer?    It’s down to whether management walk the walk and the way they engage and their traits such as:

  • Develop an emotional awareness and self awareness in management
  • Encourage discretionary efforts
  • Take out waste and identify what to stop doing to make work more productive
  • Focus on strengths to increase engagement and get people out of the disengaged mode
  • Create clarity to mitigate the aspects of uncertainty
  • Care about and develop employees as people
  • Encourage better working relationships (Non work)
  • Value and recognise employees work
  • Growth and development mindset
  • Don’t confuse passionate employees with disruptive employees
  • Value and face the truth – real integrity and honesty is required
  • Show grace to encourage new ideas
  • Position employees where they best fit and can use their strengths
  • Define and encourage decision making at all levels
  • Create a support structure and organisation appropriate to the challenge

Positive signs

  • Do the employees sell and recruit for the business out of work?
  • Do employees improve the business?
  • Are employees encouraged to grow?
  • Recruiting round pegs for square holes
  • Encourage diversity and discourage the tyranny of tolerance
  • New customers (only created by engaged employees)
  • Value diversity and recognise diverse contributions of others


  • Create smaller focussed more autonomous teams.
  • Allow workers to work a day or so per week off site
  • Focus on engagement as a management trait
  • Encourage and develop new graduates
  • Repeat and test what the organisation stands for
  • Create internal; opportunities to learn and grow vocationally
  • Focus on people AND process
  • Manager should be liked and develop trustful relationships
  • Develop a keen eye for individuals strengths and a plan to develop them

Choose the right managers to increase engagement, energise, influence staff, and with the grit to make things happen and be a catalyst to build effective teams and organisations and walk the walk.

The most disengaged employees are potentially the most valuable tenacious, passionate employees.   Accept an organisation has created their disengagement and take responsibility to reverse this. People who complain care and are often very passionate and just lack the right opportunity to contribute to the business.    These people are often very capable and have Promotions have passed them by!

Engaged employees create agile high performing companies, what do disengaged employees do if they are not thinking what they are doing and how many customers are you losing if actively disengaged employees are in contact with customers? Optimising the focus and passion for customers and customer interaction is at the core of any business, and motivated engaged employees are the best recruiters?

Tap into this latent resource, do your employees know what your business stands for?

What is your target % of engaged employees?  How do you measure engagement?   What does high engagement look like and what will the challenge be like to lead manage?