Two-Way Communication: Essential to Employee Engagement

April 8, 2015 2:00 am Published by

Doug Conant, former turn-around CEO of the Campbell Soup Company, and Keven Kruse, a serial entrepreneur and popular keynote speaker, have something in common. Both believe that two-way communication is essential to employee engagement. Since employee engagement drives job satisfaction, high productivity, and low turnover, it is worth taking a minute or two to consider their perspective.

What is employee engagement? It is the emotional connection that an employee has to the organization and its goals. A 2011 Gallup poll found that only 29% of the workforce is engaged at work. That means that more than two-thirds of people are disengaged, and thus, unhappy at work. Research has shown that unhappy people are twice as likely to have a stroke and more likely to divorce. A 2009 study by Kenexa found that companies with high levels of engagement have twice the customer loyalty and five times the shareholder return compared to the average.

A 2013 Deloitte study found that in some companies as many as 70% of staff are engaged. Compared to the average, this sounds pretty good, until you discover Conant’s and Kruse’s experience. Doug Conant focuses on winning in the workplace as a precursor to winning in the marketplace. “By being obsessed with keeping employee engagement front and center”, Doug Conant brought the Campbell Soup staff from the poorest employee engagement levels ever seen among Fortune 500 companies to 96% staff engagement. By being people-centric and communicating with direct reports in a weekly team meeting and one-on-one for 15 to 30 minutes each week, Kevin Kruse has won both Inc. 500 and Best Places to Work awards.

You might be thinking that individuals need to take responsibility for motivating themselves. An IDG Research study has shown that internal motivation is responsible for 43% of engagement. However, the company and managers set the tone for the other 57%. Quality communication between management and employees is necessary for high levels of engagement.

Now that you are aware of the impact that quality two-way communication can have in the workplace, do you still think you are too busy to take the time to talk to each of your direct reports for at least 15 minutes every week? I encourage you to determine one thing you are going to do this week to enhance communication in your organization. May you and your staff be rewarded with increasing employee engagement and enjoy the emotional and financial benefits!

Cathie Leimbach is an authorized Premiere Partner of Appreciation at Work and the President of Agon Leadership in Cleveland, Ohio.

To learn more about Cathie Leimbach, please visit

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April 8, 2015 2:00 am

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