Collaboration is Key to Employee Engagement

Last week, we wrote about the power of collaboration as today’s world demands leaders who know how to collaborate well on all levels - upwards, downwards and cross-functionally inside and outside their respective organization. Working collaboratively by coaching and engaging your people is the key to fostering an engaged workforce and it’s no surprise that employee engagement is one of the most written about, debated and discussed topics that some organizations struggle with.

According to Gallup's State of the Global Workplace report, 85% of employees are either unengaged or actively disengaged. Unengaged employees, who make up 67% of this group, are indifferent to the success of their company and do the bare minimum required of them. They are often referred to as “quiet quitters,” as they may not express their dissatisfaction and are also unlikely to go above and beyond in their work. 

On the other hand, actively disengaged employees are not just indifferent, but actively resentful of their current work environment and may act out their unhappiness, potentially harming their colleagues’ work in the process. This means that the majority of workforce around the world are either viewing their workplace negatively or only doing what they have to do to make it through the day, with little to no emotional attachment to their work.

To top all of this off, did you know that an employee’s relationship with their direct manager is the single most important factor influencing engagement and the number one reason people leave organizations?

Engaged employees are 85% more efficient at their work, are 10 times less likely to take sick leave, and have 50% more of a sense of getting things done. 

So how can you, as a leader, directly improve your employee engagement levels? It starts by creating a collaborative and open environment where employees feel psychologically safe to do their best.

Create More Engagement Through Psychological Safety

Successful leaders deflect attention away from themselves and encourage others to voice their opinions. They are highly skilled at making others feel safe to speak up and confidently share their perspectives and points of view.  They foster and create an open and approachable environment and they know what each employee needs to feel safe to just be themselves without judgement or repercussions.

The latest McKinsey research indicates that a positive team climate in which team members value one another’s contributions, care about one another’s well-being, and have input into how the team carries out its work, is the most important driver of a team’s psychological safety.

Really think about it – what if your employees were afraid or did not care to share their thoughts and perspective? What impact would that have on your results and overall engagement?  

Let me bring this point to life for you through my personal experience.   

Early in my career, I worked for a startup company that sold me on how entrepreneurial and employee focused the organization was and how it was a great place for a new university graduate to start a career. So I jumped in with both feet. The individual who interviewed me did a good job selling me on the culture and how I could create a successful career for myself, provided I worked hard and was dedicated.  

I quickly came to realize that the environment was quite the opposite of what I had been led to believe, and the most Senior Executive in the company was a dictator, who wanted to control everyone and everything because it was his company, after all. He shall remain nameless, as will the organization, but you can imagine the impact it had on the business.  

I experienced firsthand the command-control culture. We were not encouraged to ask questions, let alone challenge the status quo. We struggled to meet expectations, and many, including me, were afraid to voice our opinions.  

Let us fast forward just 12 months after I accepted the job – the company declared bankruptcy and good people lost their jobs. Think about what the outcome could have been if the leadership team had created a safe and open environment where people felt included and could voice their perspectives. We could have had a fighting chance at surviving and eventually thriving if our input was encouraged and valued. Collectively, we could have figured out how to solve problems and grow the business.

Collaboration helps drive meaningful and measurable results

Creating a collaborative, open and psychologically safe environment is one of the many things that you can do to drive employee engagement and results for your organization. It is all about people and having an engaged workforce makes the difference between struggling to survive and achieving success.

Your next step to fostering an engaged workforce through collaboration

What are you doing to drive the level of employee engagement you desire for your team and business? Are you engaging your employees and asking for feedback and insight or are you too busy telling them what to do? 

If you need expert advice on your specific situation, please reach out by emailing me at or call me at 1.416.560.1806.

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