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Employee Engagement: Nobody Wants an F

HRE Daily recently published an article entitled: Companies Surveyed Flunk Employee Engagement.

Here was the conclusion in the article:

“HR should be leading the charge to raise the firm’s employee engagement maturity level,” says Bruce Temkin, customer experience transformist and managing partner at the Temkin Group. “Employee engagement is one of the most strategic opportunities for HR professionals.”  Meanwhile, survey participants point to three common obstacles that prevent them from turning this situation around: the lack of a clear employee engagement strategy, inconsistent buy-in from middle managers, and limited funding along with inconsistent buy-in across the leadership team.

I think the article points to some serious challenges in engagement. I personally, don’t care for the term “buy-in” for engagement as I am not sure that fits with what it means to be engaged. I wonder if the “buy-in” challenge for managers stems from being overloaded with so many things and perceiving employee engagement as something extra they need to do. I don’t want to be sold on engagement or sell it. Having said that I realize what a challenge it is to invite, converse, question, and co-create engagement. Yet this approach costs very little and alleviates the limited funding obstacle.

My focus is on small, simple, strategic, structural, and sustainable actions that can move the dial on engagement. If you want to seize the strategic opportunity of employee engagement I encourage you to focus on the big impact while using small actions.

In the second half of 2015 I am creating 11 simple rules that all employees can follow to increase their own engagement and supplementing the simple rules with how managers and leaders can foster that in the people they lead and manage.


Pyramid of Employee Engagement Model

This is based on my pyramid of employee engagement and enhances: results, performance, progress, relationships, recognition, moments, strengths, meaning, well-being, and energy.

David Zinger uses the pyramid of employee engagement as a speaker and consultant to show an inexpensive and behavioral pathway to improving employee engagement for the benefit of all.

Employee Engagement: Give me an inch

Dan Cook on the Employee Benefits Network wrote a piece: Employee engagement inching higher.

Reading time = 49 seconds

Iatrogenic Disengagement

I’ll take an inch of progress in this field any day. But Dan goes on to talk about the Tempkin Group study with this statement:

engagement remains a science in its infancy. Even employers that measure engagement often don’t see acting on the results as an imperative.

I don’t mind scientific infancy in engagement but I think it is disheartening and disengaging to have employers measure engagement but fail to act on the result. This is what causes iatrogenic disengagement. Our efforts in working on engagement may inadvertently be causing a decrease in engagement. Employees were asked about their engagement, nothing is done, so obviously it is not very important. Engage is a hearty verb signifying action and connection not disconnection and disinterest.

Engage along with me, the best is yet to be!

David Zinger is an employee engagement expert and speaker who encourage an action approach to engagement based on power and simple rules derived from the pyramid of employee engagement.

People Artists: The Little Human Guidebook for Leadership and Management

People Artists Draw Out the Best at Work

Reading time = 55 seconds


People Artists: Drawing Out the Best in Others at Work will be released this October. I encourage you to think about what it would mean for you to be a People Artist. By this, I mean someone who brings an artistic sense to how they lead, manage, and work with others. Henry Mintzberg demonstrated the importance of art, science, and craft in management. In our time of unbounded enthusiasm for analytics and the science of work, let’s not ignore the art of managing.

And don’t tell me you are not an artist.

Everyone can be, and already is, an artist. Perhaps you need some encouragement, inspiration, and education to be a better People Artist. Peter and I would love to show you the way and in the interim we encourage you to take initial steps to bring out the best in others at work.

Just start. Once you embark down this path, People Artists can act as a guidebook and toolkit to take you further on the journey. If you want to know more before the October launch, I invite you to get in touch with me.

David Zinger is an employee engagement speaker and expert who believes in the power of People Artistry to enhance and enliven our employee engagement and employee recognition work.

No Time for Employee Engagement? Really?

Reading time: 54 seconds

Here is a headline from an engagement article from last week.

Who’s Got Time to Manage Employee Engagement?

I liked the post and the argument. I appreciated Johnathan Bright’s conclusion:

It is, as ever, a question of trust. The other question is of time. So, managers, get the results of your survey, find out the needs, set your KPIs, and then get the help of someone with the time and know how to implement the right strategy. After all, you’ve got other stuff to be getting on with.

To me, we need to weave engage into “the other stuff.” I fully concur with the lack of time available so rather than an extra lets ensure engagement is woven into the fabric of work with small, simple, strategic, structural, and sustainable actions.

I am currently working on 11 simple rules of employee engagement based on the 5 S’s stated above and derived from the 10-block pyramid of employee engagement.

Pyramid of Employee Engagement and Engaged Well-Being

David Zinger is an employee engagement speaker and expert who uses the pyramid of employee engagement to derive simple rules for leaders, managers, and employees to improve engagement for the benefit of all.

Employee Engagement: Take One Small People Artist Step Right Now

Draw out the best in someone before we reach August.

Peter W. Hart

People Artists Draw Out the Best in Others

People Artists draw out the best in others. I think sometimes we can make this too big, too complex, and too unwieldy. I am writing this at 8:47 AM on the last day of July. If you read this before August hits I encourage you to engage in one small action to bring out the best in another person at work.

Be an ARTIST. Don’t follow a script. Don’t paint by numbers. Just say something or do something that you think can bring out the best in another person and see what happens.

For my friends and readers in London, Singapore, Pune, and other great locations around the world, you might not read this until August but I won’t let you off of the hook, I challenge you to do this in the first hour you get back to work in August (By the way, I would love to hear what you did and what the impact was on both the other person at work and yourself).

If you are interested in purchasing People Artists as soon as it is published (before the official launch) email me ( and I will put you on the growing list.

David Zinger is an employee engagement expert and speaker. Peter W. Hart and David Zinger wrote People Artists: Bringing Out the Best In Others at Work. The book will be launched in October but you can start now and learn a whole lot in October when the book is formally released.

People Artists Coming in October: Catch the Fire

People Artists: Drawing Out the Best in Others at Work will be released this October.


Peter W. Hart and I will be releasing our new book on People Artists in October. The picture in this post, painted by Peter, was used for our cover. Watch for updates, ideas you can use, and other material as we approach the launch in a couple of months.

David Zinger is an employee engagement speaker and expert from Winnipeg, Canada.

Employee Engagement: Just Another Brick in the … Pyramid

Here are 10 “bricks” I use for employee engagement.

Pyramid of Employee Engagement and Engaged Well-Being

The bricks from top to bottom and left to right are: results, performance, progress, relationships, recognition, moments, strengths, meaning, wellbeing, and energy.

They were unstructured bricks until one day I played with them and they rearranged themselves into a pyramid.

I like the 10 bricks and the pyramid but you can use your own bricks or another structure for employee engagement. Perhaps you can use my bricks or structure as a foundation or a launching pad. Or maybe in rejecting my bricks and structure you make a stronger declaration of your own approach. They key is that it has to work for you and who you work with.

What are your “bricks” and how are they structured for engagement?

Here is a short video made by m ss ng p eces (love their name) in conjunction with MIT Media Lab Knotty Objects to inspire you to think differently about your bricks for engagement:

MIT Media Lab Knotty Objects: Brick from m ss ng p eces on Vimeo.

This video is one of a series of videos in collaboration between m ss ng p eces and MIT Media Lab for the Knotty Objects Summit, the first MIT Media Lab Summit devoted to design.

David Zinger is a Canadian employee engagement speaker and expert who believes we need to be more playful in how we approach engagement.

Employee Engagement Calling in Winnipeg

If you are in Winnipeg on September 24th (my 61st. birthday). I invite you to join me for an employee engagement session for Manitoba Customer Contact Association.


Employee Engagement Calling

How You Can Change Engagement from a Busy Signal into a Vital Way of Working?

with David Zinger

At times, employee engagement seems to be a bunch of noise and management jargon. Yet employee engagement makes significant contributions to both individuals and organizations. Engagement improves customer service, performance, and profits while increasing employee retention, happiness, and well-being.

David Zinger removes the jargon of employee engagement with a simple eight-word definition of employee engagement: good work done well with others every day.

Join with David for an engaging morning that will improve work for both you and your organization. Learn how work can make you well and how you can improve your own engagement while influencing other people’s engagement. David will have us focus on the small, simple, significant, strategic, and sustainable behaviors that make a difference in our work so that our work makes a difference for us. David will also help participants look at the principles and practices of work gamification.

David applies the 10 building blocks from the pyramid of engagement to improve: results, performance, progress, relationships, recognition, moments, strengths, meaning, wellbeing, and energy.

His approach is engaging, evidence-based, current, informative, interactive, and practical. The morning offers an inspiring and informative mix of the latest information on engagement, fused with interaction to examine and improve engagement, finishing with practical and tactical behaviors you can start using during the workshop and on your next shift.

As an added bonus David will be looking at gamification. The application of gaming principles and practices to work and organizations, has been gathering momentum over the past 5 years. Game designers know how to keep players engaged and we have much to learn from them. During the workshop we will look at four key principles for games and how simple gamification can be used to make work more engaging. For example, David has gamified his work and wellbeing actions for the past 3 years and it has improved work productivity, overall wellbeing, and social contribution.

David Zinger is an employee engagement speaker and expert who works around the world on employee engagement and resides in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.

Employee Engagement Survey: Black Hole or Portal?

Does your survey shed new light on work and the organization?

Employee Engagement Black Hole

Employee engagement surveys are instruments to penetrate the blackness of our knowledge about our employees’ attitudes and perspectives about work. They should offer insight leading to action leading to increased employee engagement leading to real improvement in other key metrics we want for our organization and for our employees.  Yet often the results seem to get sucked into a black hole, employees are poorly informed about the survey results, and even employee comments made on the survey are kept secret. I encourage you during July and August to determine how you can ensure your survey is a portal to better engagement rather than a black hole that in the process of measuring engagement actually disengages employees.

David Zinger is an Employee Engagement Speaker/Expert from Winnipeg, Canada.

Employee Engagement Micro Lesson: Put Your Heart into Stopping

Employee Engagement Micro Lesson: Stop before you Start

I loved the heart shaped stop signal traffic lights in Akureyri, Iceland. I believe we can all benefit by putting our heart into what we can stop before we launch our next employee engagement survey, program, or initiative.

Stop for Employee Engagement

David Zinger, from Winnipeg, Canada, is an employee engagement expert and speaker striving to make engagement simple, small, strategic, and sustainable by engaging with daily behaviors that build engagement.

If You Are Stuck in Employee Engagement, Get Sticky.

Are your employee engagement ideas sticky?

David Zinger - Employee Engagement Speaker

Is 15 Minutes of Employee Engagement Sufficient?

What is your engagement time zone?

Reading time = 2 minutes and 15 seconds


Why should you read this post? We often ask too much of engagement and find that there are many times we postpone, procrastinate, and struggle to get going with a specific element of work or well-being (right now, I am writing this rather than completing some tax work). The solution is to find and dwell in your unique engagement time zone.

Our work occurs in moments and our well being is also to be found in moments. Yet how well do you show up to, and use your moments? How long can you stay engaged with your work or a given task? I think it is vital to know our engagement time zone. The way to do this is to start working with a timer and to set a specific time period for work. This work can be project work, writing, exercise, cleaning, or another task. Perhaps start with 15 minutes and see if you can both engage and sustain work in that zone. If you can’t stay engaged – lessen the time. If it is simple to lengthen your time zone if you find the current duration too easy.

You may also find your time zone varies for different tasks or because of external events in your life. I often catch myself drifting away from my 15-minute time zone into a flurry of non-productive activity. Rather than looking for some underlying psychological reason or trying to sort out the neurology of work, I simply set my timer for the next 15-minute period and begin. Starting my watch timer for 15 minutes triggers engagement.

Last year, I conducted personal experimentation with the gamification of work and well-being. I worked in 24-minute time zones. Two of the most significant lessons from that year long experiment was to make my engagement periods briefer and simpler. It is easier for me to start and maintain engagement for 15 minutes versus 24 minutes and I had an elaborate game mechanism that I reduced to using a notebook and simply recording each 15 minute period I completed. My 15-minute periods focus on both work and well-being. In addition, each 15-minute period completed results in a 15 cent social donation. The amount is deliberately small yet adds up as frequent engaged time zones are completed.  My last donation was for $600 based on 15 cents for each 15 minute period of engagement. This went to the Red Cross for the victims of the Nepal earthquake.

I encourage you to enter and keep re-entering your engagement time zone and I believe you will find 15 minutes, repeated many times in any given day, is more than sufficient for achieving engaged results.

David Zinger is an employee engagement speaker and expert who uses the pyramid of engagement to increase engagement for organizations, departments, teams, and individuals. This post was based on the sixth block of the pyramid of engagement: mastering moments.

Employee Engagement Speaker - David Zinger

Employee Engagement: 10 Ways You Can Flourish with Nourishing Work

Work can make you well – Really!

10 Ways to Flourish with Nourishing Work

(The reading time for this post is 5 minutes and 30 seconds)

Here are 3 reasons why you should read this post :

  1. You will build your wellbeing toolkit by developing familiarity with 10 ways to flourish at work.
  2. You will be given helpful links and resources to go further into learning about wellbeing.
  3. You are one of the first people to gain access to the free illustrated e-book on 22 Tools to Overcome Grumpiness.

Introduction. Here are 10 ways you can flourish by creating nourishing work. Embrace these ways as invitations to flourish. They are not rules or tips you must follow. You are the expert on your own wellbeing. I trust these ways will give you a nudge in the right direction. The 10 ways offer a pathway to wellbeing through well-doing because specific actions are strong triggers to install and sustain wellbeing at work. This post was created in conjunction with a one hour session I facilitated for Nurses Week at Winnipeg’s Heath Sciences Centre on May 11th.

Start your day off right. Establish a solid morning routine that gets you out of bed on the right foot. Perhaps you go for a jog first thing in the morning. Or you sit by the fireplace and hug a cup of coffee. Maybe you write for 20 minutes. Or you help your children pack their lunches for school. The specifics of your routine matter less than having a routine that effectively and efficiently triggers engaged wellbeing for you. I encourage you to read a post on my morning routine and follow this up by reading a new morning routine from someone each week at My Morning Routine.  Other people’s routines give clues and cues on how to construct a morning routine that works for us.

Begin each day at work with the double endings in mind. Stephen Covey said, “begin with the end in mind” while William Bridges said that all transitions begin with an end. Know the results you want from your work and also determine what must end for those results to be achieved. Take one or two minutes every day to determine the results you are working towards that week while also attending to what must end for wellbeing at work to begin. Perhaps you want to finish a project this week and you must stop focusing on a nonproductive task. Perhaps you want to improve patient safety and what must end is a strained relationship with your manager. Know your end (result) and your endings (what must stop).

Install PERMAnent wellbeing. I don’t care for the term positive psychology, it sounds too much like saccharine and pop psychology. I know that is not the case but I know many people are dismissive of positive psychology because of this. I appreciate the research behind this discipline, especially the work of Martin Seligman. Work offers opportunities for both happiness and wellbeing right inside the very work itself. Focus your work on building and sustaining PERMAnent flourishng with:  Positive emotions, Engagement, Relationships, Meaning and Accomplishment.

Create meaning and purpose for your work. Know why you work. Perhaps you work because you love your hospital. Perhaps you work because you care about patients. Perhaps you work to give your family the best life possible. Perhaps you work because work enriches you with relationships and achievement. We do not necessarily share the same why of working. I encourage you to determine your meaning. Here is my response to the meaning of life and here is the response of so many others. Use these sources to create a strong scaffold of meaning to support you and your work. As the Dalai Lama declared, “The question is not to know what is the meaning of life, but what meaning I can give to my life.”

Don’t forget to wear your SCARF at work. David Rock knows about your brain at work. When we align our work with SCARF (Status, Consistency, Autonomy, Relatedness and Fairness) our work – works better. Here is a brief article outlining the SCARF model at work. Rock’s book on Your Brain at Work is an insightful book on how to improve your day with your brain in mind by following one couple as they proceed through their day and how they could improve their day if they made better use of their brains.

Pair Mindfulness-East with Mindfulness-West. Mindfulness has been sweeping through workplaces around the globe. Did you know there are two types of mindfulness? Mindfulness-East is the perspective of being aware in each moment of what you are doing without judgement. Mindfulness-West, developed by Harvard psychologist Ellen Langer teaches how to engage by actively noticing novelty and distinctions. Noticing novelty and distinction engages you and brings new life to your day.

Eliminate the negative. Baumeister and others have shown that bad is stronger than good. Before you get busy trying to add additional things in your day as the pathway to wellbeing ensure you address your challenges and bad events. Some researchers suggest that bad is 2 or 3 times stronger than good. When something bad happens do not be surprised at how it can knock you off kilter and how it begins to feel so permanent, pervasive, and personal. Remember to eliminate the negative before accentuating the positive.

Take the 90 second pause. Jill Bolte Taylor a neuroscience researcher, who also suffered a stroke, suggested that the shelf life of an emotion is 90-seconds. This would mean that upset or negative emotions last only about 90 seconds, yet for many of us they seem to last a lifetime. Give yourself 90 seconds from the moment you feel a negative emotion before you act on that emotion. Also know that you must feed negative emotions every 90 seconds to keep them alive. We feed it with fragments of tragic stories, feelings of being wronged, and a multitude of tiny, almost unconscious mechanisms, to keep being upset. If you remain upset ninety seconds after the initial emotion it is essential to ask yourself: “How am I feeding my upset to keep it alive?”

Sharpen progress while making setbacks dull. Most of us fail to maximize the benefits of progress and minimize the impact of setbacks. Progress and setbacks are so pervasive at work and daily life that we often fail to fully notice their impact. End each day by taking a minute to notice what stood out for you that day. When progress stands out ensure you let it soak in, celebrate it, and determine ways to extend it. When setbacks stand out ensure you determine what you can do next, how you might learn from it, or what you can do to let it go. Know that work and life often resemble a real-life game of snakes and ladders and our job is to climb ladders and squish snakes.

Use 22 tools to exit from grumpiness. Does work make you grumpy or do you find yourself surrounded by grumpy people?. I just completed an e-book, illustrated by John Junson, on 22 Tools to Overcome Grumpiness. Click on the cover below to enjoy this short, yet engaging, book.

22 Tools to Overcome Grumpiness Cover

A Short Reading List. Here are 9 books that can improve your motivation and skills to flourish with nourishing work:

  • Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer, The Progress Principle.
  • Ellen Langer, Mindfulness.
  • David Rock, Your Brain at Work.
  • Steven Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.
  • Tom Rath, Are You Fully Charged?
  • William Bridges, Transitions: Making Sense of Life’s Changes.
  • Viktor Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning
  • Martin Seligman, Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-Being
  • Jon Kabat-Zinn, Wherever You Go There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation is Everyday Life.

David Zinger is an employee engagement speaker and expert from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada who works around the globe helping organizations and individuals improve work engagement and engaged wellbeing.

Employee Engagement Speaker - David Zinger

Employee Engagement: Start Your Day with an Engaging Morning Routine

Can you say “good morning” and really mean it?


A few years ago, the morning I spent at the Taj Mahal, with my wife, was completely engaging. The picture I took above was just one of many that reflected my wakeful and blissful awe inspiring morning. It was an incredible way to start the day and the beauty was even better than described or anticipated. Unfortunately, this was just one of 365 mornings that year – I can’t start each day with a trip to the Taj Mahal (although I wouldn’t mind).

I focus on starting my day in a way that sets the stage for meaning, progress and relationships for the rest of the day.

My routine involves getting up around 5:00 or 5:30. I put the coffee on right away. I do a very quick scan of emails and then move into 15-minute periods of focused and engaging work. I work at completing fifteen 15-minute periods as early as possible in the day. After that batch of very focus work I often feel the rest of the day is bonus time. The vital key, for me, is to START. Once I click my timer to start a 15-minute period I am away at the races.

How do you start you day? Do you have a routine or ritual? Do you know the keys to setting the stage for an engaging day or what can happen in the first few hours that derails you into disengagement for the rest of the day?

Learn how others start their day. I encourage you to visit My Morning Routine and read each week how one person starts their day. Use their stories as a stimulus to create your personalized morning routine that fosters engagement for the rest of your day. Develop a routine that awakens you, engages you and enlivens you.

After you develop a good morning routine, you will be able to say, “Good morning” and really mean it.

Employee Engagement Speaker - David Zinger

Employee Engagement: Get Connected

Michael Lee Stallard released the book, Connection Culture, today. Congratulations to Michael, Jason, and Katharine on this wonderful book. Below is an image and quotation I created based on the book. I encourage you to get connected by reading Connection Culture.

Connection Culture

21 Tools and Concepts for Employee Engagement

One of my most popular posts was on 21 tools to improve employee engagement. I have create a slide presentation on the subject.

David Zinger
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

Employee Engagement Speaker - David Zinger

Employee Engagement Flavors: Find Your True Vanilla

Find Your True Vanilla

Vanilla Ice Cream

I think employee engagement is simple. Please notice that I did not say that employee engagement is easy. We seem to keep expanding employee engagement with hundreds of survey questions and more approaches than you see in a desperate single’s bar on a Friday night. If you are not successful with employee engagement your approach might be part of the cause for a the lack of success.

In my ideal world employee engagement is good work done well with others every day. We don’t have a million statistics and accompanying pie charts — pies should be for eating not representing employee engagement levels. We work with the verb of engage and place the passive noun of engagement into the deep freeze of inertia-laden words.

We are each responsible for our own engagement while being fully cognizant of how what we do impacts other people’s engagement.

We can transform disengagement into engagement in about 12 seconds when we immerse ourselves in the work in front of us and connect to the people around us.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the 10,000 flavors of engagement but it you are stuck and not producing the engagement you would like to see, abandon all the flavors, find your true vanilla, and work with that every day. And if you are successful you can add some sprinkles or branch out into other flavors.

David Zinger employee engagement speaker, consultant, and coach.

Employee Engagement Speaker - David Zinger

Employee Engagement in Winnipeg Manitoba Canada

I have lived in Winnipeg for 48 years or 80% of my life. I love the community and the terrific people I have become friends with.

For the past 10 years I have been focusing on employee engagement and seem more likely to work in Singapore, Doha, or London than Winnipeg. It is always a pleasure to work at home and I look forward to conducting an employee engagement session this month.

I feel honored to work with the Canadian Institute of Management, that has been around since 1942 (that’s 12 years older than me!). I plan to bring the best I have learned about employee engagement from around the world centered by being in my home city in the center of Canada. If you are in Winnipeg on April 23rd I would love to engage with you at the session.

Employee Engagement Speaker - David Zinger

We invite your contributions to a second book on People Artistry

We want your help with the next book on People Artistry at Work

People Artistry Cover

We need your help. As part of the project, I am creating portraits of People Artists in one week. I am requesting 11 minutes of your time this week to either interview you by phone or have you respond to the 5 questions below by email for a book about People Artistry.

Peter Hart, the co-author, and I are very interested in the human artistry of drawing out the best in other people at work. To understand People Artistry better, here is a link to a copy of the first book on People Artistry.

We invite your responses to the following 5 questions:

  1. How would you define a People Artist at Work in your own words?
  2. What makes you or the person you are thinking of a People Artist?
  3. Can you offer one or two specific examples of where and how People Artistry was demonstrated?
  4. What did you see as the results of the demonstration of People Artistry?
  5. Is there anything you would like to add about the topic?
  • Include your name and work position or title.

If you are willing to contribute, email me with answers to the questions above or let me know your willingness for a phone interview this week.

We welcome your thoughts, stories or examples for possible inclusion in the book. Thank you in advance for your assistance on this project.

David Zinger