Last week, the EFC hosted a virtual dialogue with 16 of its members.  Facilitated by Kimberly Manno Reott of Context Partners, participants explored top challenges in effective employee engagement.                  

How do you connect a diverse, even global, workforce?

Participants shared information about the programmes they use to engage employees. Volunteering and annual donation drives are at the top of the list. Others described a variety of one-off events or opportunities to “get out in the field.”

Some EFC members represent employee communities in the tens of thousands, with multiple offices and disparate geographies or cultures. The common question: What’s the best method to help a diverse workforce feel like a connected community?

In order to answer this question, Kimberly recommends to start by clarifying the ‘Shared Purpose’ that resonates with employees. Shared Purpose is the beyond-business goal held in common by an organisation, its employees and its stakeholders. While a single activity or campaign can generate excitement among some employees for a short period of time, Shared Purpose is the glue that connects them well beyond that single event.

Personalise your calls to action

How do you select an engagement experience that will appeal to the optimum number of employees, regardless of their title or office location? That’s a question most organisations struggle to answer, especially when resources are constrained. Employees contribute to the Shared Purpose of their organisation’s brand based on who they want to become and the world they want to live in. In other words, not all employees are motivated to act or contribute to that purpose in the same way. Yet too often, engagement programmes offer only a single call to action, or calls to action that misalign to employees’ true motivations.

Context Partners has identified six Aspirational Roles that reveal the key motivations of all employees, regardless of what part of the world they are in, their job title or their career stage. Some organisations have all six Aspirational Roles represented, while many have a density of just a few. Aspirational Roles characterise the inherent drive within people. For instance, Connectors recruit new members, while Storytellers generate content and Sharers amplify brand messages.

By building in engagement strategies unique to each of the six Aspirational Roles, this gives employees more ways they can take action and helps ensure more diverse and meaningful participation.

“We want to engage our entire staff,” was a common theme in the dialogue. Rethinking how to segment employees is an important key in realising that goal. Context Partner’s online Know Your Role Quiz helps enhance understanding of the different team roles.

Rethink rewards

A few participants asked, “How can I build engagement results when I can’t get more time with our employees?” It’s easy to assume that improving engagement results requires a bigger time commitment—which many employees simply can’t give. But more time doesn’t always equate to deeper engagement.

Instead, participation grows when actions are linked to the right rewards. In other words, organisations don’t necessarily need more time with employees; rather, they need to show more employees that their participation will be rewarded in a way they find meaningful. That means incorporating three types of rewards—monetary, reputational and experiential—into employee engagement strategy. This approach boosts both immediate and sustained engaged results.

Self-sustaining networks can scale

Several participants shared this challenge: If the people in power in the organisation don’t rally their teams (or if these internal champions leave the foundation), the engagement levels drop.

Many organisations assume that people in leadership positions are the only influencers in their organisation, and the only people who can motivate employees to participate. Job titles actually say very little about who the best influencers really are. And they say little about how groups can become self-sustaining and scalable in a manner that taps into the community’s inherent motivations.

That’s why Context Partners recommend Aspirational Roles (not job titles) as the best bet for tapping into the team’s best internal champions. To learn more about each of the six Aspirational Roles and what they reveal about your employees’ true motivations, please download The Future of Segmentation” from the Context Partners website. 

The EFC provides a safe space for its members to learn, exchange practices and co-develop solutions towards advancing organisational effectiveness and human capital. We are always keen to hear from you. If you are interested in pursuing the subject and follow-up exchange or have an idea for a peer-exchange topic, please contact Policy & Programmes Director, Maria Orejas on