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Employee Engagement Ideas for Managers

Executive Summary

Looking for ways to engage your employees is always a good thing, but unless your employees find meaning in their work, the engagement will merely be fleeting. That's why managers need employee engagement ideas that inspire direction, discovery, and devotion.

  • Employees who find meaning in their work will engage more, which leads to finding more meaning, which leads to a deeper sense of fulfillment. This extraordinary cycle results in a phenomenon called "profound performance."
  • Find a creative way to remind employees of the "why" behind the work they do every day. Helping employees connect with their work's impact on the end-customer is key to keeping them engaged.
  • Want an edge over the competition? Foster devotion by working hard to create a culture that values and supports each other like family.
make it matter book for employee engagement

Many people assume they can never find meaning in their work.

Facilitating meaning not only drives up employee engagement, but it also takes employees beyond engagement to elevated performance and true fulfillment. This is critical because many things can capture an employee’s time, attention, and engagement, temporarily.

Meaning holds the engagement at the deepest, most fulfilling level, and it sustains over the long haul, constantly flowing back into a virtuous cycle of deeper engagement, more meaning, deeper fulfillment, and ever-escalating performance.

I call this phenomenon “profound performance.” It’s the depth and duration of engagement and fulfillment that accompanies the height of the associated performance that makes it profound. It is an absolute competitive advantage in the market for those managers and manufacturers that can create it. And it is the inspiring end-goal for those managers who want to make work matter.


You can create meaning because it is derived from seven specific conditions that I call the Markers of Meaning. Satisfy these conditions and you create meaning and fulfillment for yourself and your employees. Profound performance will soon follow suit.

All of the Markers of Meaning, when intentionally attended to and wired into a work environment, produce outcomes that truly matter. They include:

  1. Doing work that matters (significant work that makes a real impact on you/the business/others and is reflective of your values and beliefs, and worthy of your focus and energy)
  2. Being congruently challenged (in ways that personally energize and maximize individual learning and growth)
  3. Working with a heightened sense of competency and self-esteem (feeling valued and valuable, worthy and worthwhile)
  4. Being in control and influencing decisions/outcomes (sense of autonomy)
  5. Working in a caring/authentic/teamwork-based culture (feeling appreciated; being able to bring one’s whole self to work; having a sense of belongingness and harmony with coworkers, leaders, and company)
  6. Feeling a connection with and confidence in leadership and the mission (sensing you fit within the mission and can make a difference toward that mission)
  7. Being free from corrosive workplace behaviors (removing barriers to the best self)

The Markers of Meaning can be organized within three groupings: (1) conditions that yield a calming and clarifying sense of inner direction, (2) conditions that lead to a gratifying sense of self-discovery and growth, and (3) conditions that engender devotion to one’s work and a deeper connection between employer, employees, and a greater good. Let’s consider them group by group.


Reconnecting the dots between the work and its impact on the end beneficiary has tremendous power when it comes to employee engagement. University of Pennsylvania psychologist Adam Grant demonstrated this in an interesting experiment. He suggests that managers:

  • Introduce employees to their end-customers. (Medtronics medical equipment engineers have watched formerly paralyzed patients cartwheel across a stage at an annual meeting— thanks to their work.)
  • Gather stories for your employees. (Volvo engineers get to read stories about their beneficiaries from the Volvo Saved My Life club.)
  • Encourage employees to share their own stories and open up discussion on the purpose and significance behind their work.



Learning that adds to your employees’ career progression efforts produces meaning by increasing their felt sense of competence and self-confidence, and by helping them to achieve a desired career objective—a source of meaning in and of itself.

To unveil such learning opportunities, you and your employee can explore three questions, which are intended to serve as pillars on which to construct a thoughtful learning plan:

  1. What do I need to learn to advance my career?
  2. What do I want to learn that advances my cause?
  3. What am I interested to learn to feed my curiosity?


Thinking and acting like a family unit, where relationships and connections are a priority, is a better way. If you stop and think about the attributes of a happy family, you’ll soon realize the number of traits that would be applicable for the creation of a close-knit group in the workplace. And while each unhappy corporate family is unhappy in its own way, happy corporate families are all very similar. They and their employees:

  • Make heartfelt connections with one another, showing warmth and an interest to connect.
  • Openly and honestly communicate (even overcommunicate) with one another.
  • Believe that “we’re all in this together” and watch one another’s back.
  • Are fiercely committed to each other and put each other first.
  • Share goals and values, and uphold family codes.
  • Enjoy each other.
  • Have compassion and move toward rather than away from one another in crisis.
  • Help each other grow and support each other.

With these three goals guiding your management approach, disengagement, mediocrity, and despair do not stand a chance; the map to true meaning creation and long-lasting employee engagement is now at your disposal.



scott mautz author headshot

Scott Mautz

SCOTT MAUTZ is CEO of Profound Performance and a popular speaker on workplace motivation and engagement. A veteran Procter Gamble executive and an adjunct professor at Indiana University, he is the author of Make It Matter and a weekly contributor to Inc.


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