A Formula for Employee Engagement

Know your people. Lead them well. Thank them for their work. That’s the formula for engagement.

Is employee engagement formulaic? It is according to Gallup, which offers the equation below:


Per-person productivity =
Talent x (Relationship + Right Expectation + Recognition/Reward)


Let’s break that formula down.

Talent – Some would argue this is the easiest element in this equation. The ability of your talent – top performers, high potentials on down – is measurable and reportable (though, of course, some always slip through the cracks).

Relationship – This is much harder to factor, due to the sheer vagaries of human nature. Some people hit it off; some don’t. But organization leadership is responsible for ensuring the right managers are in place, with the right skills to manage, as well as the right employees with the right skills in the right positions.

Right Expectations – It’s easy to get expectations wrong. The story from one of our clients comes to mind in which they noticed their employees in R&D were being recognized far more for “achieving results” than for “taking risks” – precisely the wrong expectations for the R&D department of a company renowned for innovation.

Recognition/reward – And that’s why getting recognition and reward right is critical. If you structure a truly strategic recognition program around your core values, as our client did, then track when and how employees across the organization are recognized based on those values – you can not only target employee productivity but also change your culture.