Weekly Wrap: The 5 (Yes, 5!) Layers of Employee Engagement

Employee engagement is one of those topics that people just can’t get enough of.

I’m not sure why that is, but I suspect that it has something to do with the fact that people embrace the general concept but then struggle with the specifics of how it works and what needs to happen to get our workers to be more engaged.

And as we look more closely at employee engagement, it seems, we come up with any number of new ways to slice it, dice, it, and generally work to get a handle on it.

Here’s an example of what I’m talking about: The “5 levels of engagement model” created by global consulting firm Blessing White.

More than just “engaged” or “disengaged”

I read a lot of engagement studies (including this one from Blessing White last year), but I have to say that the “5 levels of engagement” are a new one to me, but interesting enough that I thought them worth listing here because they help to distinguish what it means for an employee to be truly “engaged.”

The “5 levels of engagement” are:

  • Engaged: These employees are contributing fully to the success of the organization and find great satisfaction in their work. They apply discretionary effort and take initiative.
  • Almost Engaged: These employees are reasonably satisfied with their jobs and are among the highest performers.
  • Honeymooners & Hamsters: Honeymooners are new to the organization or role and have yet to become fully productive. Hamsters may be working hard but focused on the wrong things — or they may be hardly working. The outcome is the same: maximum satisfaction for them and minimum satisfaction for the organization.
  • Crash & Burners: This group is the opposite of the one above. They are high performers, delivering what the organization needs, but disillusioned or not achieving their personal definition of success.
  • Disengaged: Disengaged employees are the most disconnected from organizational priorities and are not getting what they want from their work.

There’s an animated version of all of this from Blessing White in the video below.

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Only one in four North American workers are engaged

Who knew that there were steps between being “engaged” and “disengaged?” And yes, I’m with you if you think that labeling a group “Honeymooner & Hamsters” is over-the-top hokey and likely will make a lot of people out there reconsider whether the “5 levels of engagement” is something to take seriously.

This focus on the layers of engagement comes in a Blessing White press release that also teases some survey findings on engagement from the U.S. and Europe that they’re planning to release this summer. Here are some of those findings:

  • More North American workers are engaged, with 41 percent saying they are compared to 33 percent in early 2011.
  • In addition,the number of disengaged workers in North America has shrunk from 18 percent to 15 percent.
  • Across the pond in Europe, engagement levels have remained flat, with 30 percent of European workers engaged and 18 percent disengaged “compared to 30 percent and 19 percent respectively in our last study.
  • Less than half the workforce believes they have career opportunities with their employer. “At 48 percent favorability, the findings are actually slightly more promising than they were in our last study (which found that 46 percent of North American employees saw career opportunities).”
  • Engaged employees are much more likely than their lesser-engaged colleagues to respond favorably “but even so, only about two-thirds of engaged employees say they have career opportunities. This is troubling because our research identifies career growth to be the primary reason people leave organizations.”
  • Trust in senior leaders is up.“Our research consistently reveals the challenges that executives have in earning the trust of their workforce. This year, 57 percent of North American employees say they trust their senior leaders compared to 52 percent in the last study. Meanwhile, trust in employees’ immediate managers has dipped slightly from 74 percent to 72 percent, narrowing the historic gap in trust of managers versus executives.”

As someone who follows employee engagement closely, I’m intrigued by these figures from Blessing White and want a lot more from their latest survey. Stay tuned for that; I’ll have it here at TLNT whenever it becomes available.

Of course, there’s a lot more going on this week than the latest employee engagement survey. Here are some HR and workplace-related items you may have missed. This is TLNT’s weekly round-up of news, trends, and insights from the world of talent management. I do it so you don’t have to.

  • Is the WalMart gender bias suit coming back? According to the California legal newspaper The Recorder, yes, the class action gender bias lawsuit against WalMart might be getting some new life. According to The Recorder, “Judge Charles Breyer said Monday he needed to hear from the attorneys in Dukes v. Wal-Mart at least one more time before he rules on the proposed gender bias class action, possibly breathing new life into a case he was expected to dismiss. After the U.S. Supreme Court shot down the suit in its original, massive form last June, lawyers refiled regional suits in several jurisdictions across the country. One of those, currently before Breyer in the pleadings phase in federal court in San Francisco, alleges that 45,000 female Wal-Mart employees in and around California were denied promotions on the basis of their sex. … At a hearing in June on Wal-Mart’s motion to dismiss the case, Breyer signaled that plaintiffs could again fall short of showing that they have enough in common to sue the company as a class. Breyer said the key hurdle for plaintiffs would be to allege class standing that would survive when tested against the language of the high court’s decision.”
  • Even in Dayton, tech jobs carry six-figure salaries. How hard is it filling tech jobs? Hard enough that they’ll pay $100,000 per year plus in Dayton, Ohio, according to the Dayton Business Journal. “From smartphone applications to cyber security, businesses in the Dayton region require skilled information technology workers, and they’re willing to shell out hundreds of thousands annually to pay them. Jobs that earn top dollar at entry level include application developers, data security analysts, business intelligence analysts and user experience designers, according to Robert Half Technology. Career experts locally say demand for these workers has increased as businesses have returned to spending on systems upgrades and try again to keep pace with market evolutions.”
  • Office phraseology for the new millennium. Diane Stafford, writing in the Kansas City Star, lists some new office phrases that she says are taking root. Join the club if you haven’t heard of “prairie dogging,” “bobbleheading,” “or clockroaches.”
  • Putting up with office “martyrs.” Is being an office martyr good or bad? Take a read of this column by Steve Giegerich in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and let me know.

John Hollon is Editor-at-Large at ERE Media and was the founding Editor of TLNT.com. A longtime newspaper, magazine, and business journal editor, John has deep roots in the talent management space. He's the former Editor of Workforce Management magazine and workforce.com, served as Editor of RecruitingDaily, and was Vice President for Content at HR technology firm Checkster. An award-winning journalist, John has written extensively about HR, talent management, leadership, and smart business practices, including for the popular Fistful of Talent blog. Contact him at johnhollon@ere.net, connect with him on LinkedIn, or follow him on Twitter @johnhollon.


1 Comment on “Weekly Wrap: The 5 (Yes, 5!) Layers of Employee Engagement

  1. Blessing Whites model does have merit in describing the levels of engagement, not sure I would like being referred to as a honeymooner or hamster though – That is a sure fires way to help them into the crash and burner or disengaged categorizes. Although the stats are getting better my guess is there are a lot of people in crash and burners group then the surveys reveal. Employee Engagement will be a major concern for all businesses for the foreseeable future. Companies have a lot of work to do to keep the numbers going in the right direction. We created a product called Kudos (www.KudosNow.com) we believe can help companies move their team up a level a two. Take a look and let us know what you think.

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