Improve Employee Engagement Tools and Resources

...solve thorny business challenges in the time it takes to drink a cup of tea


How do you turn stressed, disengaged employees into an engaged and productive team?

Employee engagement is paramount to the success of your business.

Engaged employees are not mere cogs in the machinery of your business – they are active contributors and emotionally invested in the purpose and vision you have for your business. They are dedicated to working with you to see the business succeed.

This dedication translates into heightened productivity, greater profits, enhanced customer focus and greater retention of your best people, all of which are crucial for sustainable growth and success.

So, think about your team right now and ask yourself this one question


On a scale of 1 to 100, how engaged do I think my team is in our business?

STOP ignoring your team’s opinion of your leadership and management skills and processes.

START working on 1 or 2 of the Q12 levers of team engagement to improve your score – and thus your business results.

The one ‘BREAKTHROUGH QUESTION’ you must ask to help yourself…


On a scale of 1 to 100, how engaged do I think my team is in our business?

Whether you employ 1, 10 or 100 team members, you’ll want your business to improve on 4 fronts. You’ll want to be more productive, more profitable, more customer-focused and more able to retain your most talented people.

Productivity: When your employees are engaged, they are more productive and more emotionally invested in their work, and they tend to put in more effort and focus on achieving the goals of your business.

Profitability: Ultimately, employee engagement will positively impact your bottom line. Create a business with engaged employees and the natural result is a more profitable one, because of higher productivity, lower turnover costs and increased customer loyalty.

Customer Focus: Engaged employees are more likely to provide excellent customer service. When your employees are confident and motivated, they are more inclined to go the extra mile to ensure your customers are highly satisfied, leading to better customer experiences and loyalty.

Retention: If your team are highly engaged in the work they do, they are more likely to stay with your business. High turnover rates can be costly and disruptive to business operations, so retaining top talent is essential for your long-term success.

Gallup Q12 - why employee engagement matters...

“Be as open with your people as you can, as early as you can. Employees are much more likely to go to bat for something they understand.” Helen Craik, Reward Gateway co-founder and architect of the early culture

Source of image:

Over 25 years, the research company Gallup asked over 1 million employees hundreds of different questions. They have built a ‘haystack’ of data. They combed through 100 million answers trying to discover the ‘needles’ within that haystack, needles that signpost the best way to build and maintain the engagement of your team.

Gallup discovered that table stakes – in this case, fair pay and benefits, good senior leadership and an effective organisational structure – aren’t enough when it comes to ensuring you have an engaged team.

The Gallup research determined that if these table stakes are absent, there is no chance of engaging your team. They are critically important and must be there as the foundation. They get you in the game, but they do not help you win the game.

If you want to use the Gallup Q12 to provide you with insights, skills and strategies to ensure you attract, properly manage and retain the best talent in your business, the table stakes must already be in place, so the next question is:

‘How do you build the engagement of your people so that your business wins?’

Before we go into the details of the Gallup Q12 survey, it's crucial to understand what it is and how it works.

The Gallup Q12 survey is an essential tool for measuring employee engagement and understanding what is going on within your business.

Gallup cross-referenced 100 million answers with the performance results of 2,500 business units across 24 companies in 12 industries.

Gallup has worked out the elements that contribute to a highly engaged team in the form of 12 questions.

The importance of these questions lies in several key aspects:

  1. The Q12 survey provides valuable insights in critical areas that affect your levels of employee engagement, including leadership, communication, recognition and development opportunities – it can therefore highlight areas of strength and areas where improvements are needed.
  2. The survey provides quantifiable data on your employee engagement levels, allowing you to track progress over time, enabling your leaders and managers to make informed decisions, decisions that will directly affect engagement.
  3. The survey is designed to assess factors linked with the success of your business, such as productivity, customer satisfaction and profitability, by aligning employee engagement efforts with your business purpose and goals.
  4. The survey demonstrates a commitment to actionable feedback and wellbeing, asking questions about personal growth, empowerment, ownership and employee development. If the survey is done more than once a year, this can create a process of continuous improvement.
  5. When you have a team of highly engaged employees, you retain your best people and recruit effectively. By using the survey, you can improve engagement levels, enabling you to attract top talent, to keep your key employees and ensure that all have room to learn and grow.

The Gallup Q12 survey is a powerful tool for assessing, measuring and improving employee engagement, ultimately driving up the standards in your business by fostering a positive work culture, and empowering your employees to reach their full potential.

The Gallup Q12 Questions

“Questions are never indiscreet, answers sometimes are.” – Oscar Wilde

With research showing that global employee engagement is at 23%, and that only 10% of the UK workforce is engaged, it's clear that most people go through their working life on autopilot – what a waste!

The Gallup Q12 employee engagement survey aims to identify the 12 elements that contribute to a highly engaged team.

The key finding before we get to the questions is:

Rather than better results being a company thing, Gallup discovered that better results were a business unit thing, meaning, it was the manager of the people who had the greatest influence over team opinion and business performance.

This survey gives you the information about where you need to focus your efforts, and it's invaluable for building high-performing teams and positive working environments – and who would not want a best friend at work?

Here are the twelve questions included in the Gallup Q12 survey:

  1. Do you know what is expected of you at work?
  2. Do you have the materials and equipment to do your work right?
  3. At work, do you have the opportunity to do what you do best every day?
  4. In the last seven days, have you received recognition or praise for doing good work?
  5. Does your supervisor, or someone at work, seem to care about you as a person?
  6. Is there someone at work who encourages your development?
  7. At work, do your opinions seem to count?
  8. Does the mission/purpose of your company make you feel your job is important?
  9. Are your associates (fellow employees) committed to doing quality work?
  10. Do you have a best friend at work?
  11. In the last six months, has someone at work talked to you about your progress?
  12. In the last year, have you had opportunities to learn and grow?

How do you think your team would score these 12 questions from 1 to 5, where 1 = strongly disagree and 5 = strongly agree?

How many questions do you think would score a 5 (strongly agree)?

Climb your mountain in your own time...

Twelve questions might seem like a lot to contend with, especially if this is your first time assessing the engagement of your employees.

It can seem overwhelming for your team as well as, if you have a large team, there is a lot of data to assess. It is important not to get too bogged down early on. You want some quick wins so that your team can see the purpose of the survey and the changes that are happening as a result of the answers they have given.

Gallup therefore suggests you divide the survey into 4 sections – camps, if you like. Imagine you are climbing a mountain – start with Base Camp.

Breaking it up like this means you can look at the results of the first 2 questions effectively and then specifically identify the areas for change or improvement before you move onto Camp 1.

Here is a quick breakdown of each section:

1. Base Camp – “What do I get?”

The questions in the Base Camp section typically focus on basic elements of employee engagement, such as clarity of expectations, access to necessary resources and alignment with individual strengths. These questions assess the fundamental conditions necessary for your employees to perform at their best and to feel motivated in their roles.

  • Do you know what is expected of you at work?
  • Do you have the materials and equipment to do your work right?

2. Camp 1 – “What do I give?”

The questions in Camp 1 explore the relationship between employees and their immediate managers. These questions evaluate the quality of leadership and support your team experience, as well as the level of recognition and feedback they receive for their contributions. A positive relationship with one's manager is crucial for fostering trust, motivation and engagement in the workplace.

  • At work, do you have the opportunity to do what you do best every day?
  • In the last seven days, have you received recognition or praise for doing good work?
  • Does your supervisor, or someone at work, seem to care about you as a person?
  • Is there someone at work who encourages your development?

3. Camp 2 – “Do I belong here?” 

These questions explore the dynamics of teamwork and collaboration within your business. These questions assess the degree to which your employees feel supported and valued by the other members of your team, as well as the level of camaraderie and cooperation that exists within the team. Strong relationships with peers can enhance job satisfaction, performance and overall engagement.

  • At work, do your opinions seem to count?
  • Does the mission/purpose of your company make you feel your job is important?
  • Are your associates (fellow employees) committed to doing quality work?
  • Do you have a best friend at work?

4. Camp 3 – “How can we all grow?”

Camp 3 questions focus on broader business factors that impact employee engagement, such as its purpose, vision and values, opportunities for growth and development and the overall health of your workplace, including its culture. These questions examine the extent to which your employees feel connected to your business goals and values, and their perceptions of fairness, autonomy and opportunities for advancement.

  • In the last six months, has someone at work talked to you about your progress?
  • In the last year, have you had opportunities to learn and grow?

By organising the Q12 questions into these four distinct sections, you will gain a comprehensive understanding of the different drivers of employee engagement within your team. This structured approach facilitates targeted interventions and action plans to address specific areas of concern and enhance overall engagement levels, increasing your overall performance and success.

Use the Gallup Q12 questions for better interview questions!

Here are a few example interview questions to help you get started. What else could you ask of interview candidates? And what can you share with them to demonstrate your commitment to high engagement?

As you go through the example interview questions below (in blue), you may well come up with better ones, but you’ll also discover areas where there may be room for improvement and find encouragement where you’re already doing some things well.

Recruiting talented people has a positive impact on every business. Shaping your interview questions effectively will enable you to obtain meaningful data and will create opportunities to share with candidates how you build engagement in your firm, helping you to attract good people.

Base Camp – “What do I get?”

1. Do you know what is expected of you at work?

How do you and your line manager set expectations for your work on a daily, weekly or monthly basis in your current role?

What do you believe works best when agreeing work expectations with the way you like working?

2. Do you have the materials and equipment needed to do your work right?

What materials and equipment do you think are essential to ensure you can do your work to the best of your ability?

Camp 1 – “What do I give?”

3. At work, do you have the opportunity to do what you do best every day?

In your current role, what is that you do best, most enjoy and are most proud of? What do you like least (because it doesn’t suit who you are)?

4. In the last 7 days, have you received recognition or praise for doing good work?

What sort of recognition do you get in your current role that helps you see you’re doing a great job? How often does this show up?

5. Does your supervisor, or someone at work, seem to care about you as a person?

How well-cared-for do you feel in your current role? Think about the best manager you’ve worked for – how did they work with you?

6. Is there someone at work who encourages your development?

What sense of progress and learning have you experienced in your current role? What are you hoping for in your next job role that will help you progress?

Camp 2 – “Do I belong here?”

7. At work, do your opinions seem to count?

Does your current employer encourage you to speak up and share your thoughts and opinions about the work you do? How do they do this?

8. Does the mission or purpose of your company make you feel your job is important?

What gets you excited about the work you do and the work you’d ideally like to do? What grinds your wheels or, on the flip side, gets you excited outside of work?

9. Are your associates or fellow employees committed to doing quality work?

In your current role, is there a strong sense of camaraderie amongst your team? Are you able to share constructive criticism? How is that carried out?

10. Do you have a best friend at work?

In your current job (or previously) have you worked where you felt as though you could build great working relationships? If so, how did your manager encourage these working relationships?

Camp 3 – “How can we all grow?

11. In the last six months, has someone at work talked to you about your progress?

What sort of progress and personal development are you looking for in your 'ideal’ next role? How would you describe the career path you want for yourself?

12. This last year, have you had opportunities at work to learn and grow?

In what environment have you worked where you felt that you learned and progressed in the best possible way? What happened to make this work?

A case in point...

(Taken from Gallup’s book, First Break All The Rules -What the World's Greatest Managers Do Differently)

“What do these discoveries mean for one particular company?” Don Clifton

In 1997, a successful retailer asked Gallup to measure the strength of its work environment.

This business employed 37,000 people across 300 stores, with about 100 staff in each store.

Each store was built and designed to provide the customers with a deliberately consistent shopping experience, i.e., the layout, branding, design, colouring, etc., was the same whether you shopped in Atlanta or Phoenix.

Each of the 37,000 employees were asked to answer the Gallup Q12 questions – 75% said they would, or approximately 28,000.

The table below is what the survey revealed about 2 stores at opposite ends of the scale. Responses were on a 1 to 5 scale, where 1 = strongly disagree and 5 = strongly agree.

The numbers in the table below show the percentage of employees who responded 5 (strongly agree) to each Q12 question:

The differences are striking – particularly when you focus on the Materials and Equipment question. Each store had the same materials and equipment, but in Store B only 11% of people scored this a 5 – which comes down to perception and their feelings about their physical environment.

It was also clear that, although the stores might look the same, their culture was not the same. There were many cultures at play, as each store was a unique creation of the managers and supervisors who worked there. Some cultures were fragile and hampered by mistrust and suspicion; others were strong, meaning that they could attract and retain talented employees.

This business took these results as an overall positive, as they knew exactly which areas needed improvement and could use the stores that performed the highest as the example on which to build. They worked on creating one culture across all stores, with managers being trained by the managers in the stores performing well.

What the Gallup Q12 survey gave them was a place to start and something to build on. They now run the survey 4 times a year.

Is it time for you to make a start?

Other employee engagement surveys

“The smart ones ask when they don’t know. And sometimes when they do.”  Malcolm Forbes

There are several other reputable employee engagement surveys available, each with its own unique features and focus areas. Here are a few:

Culture Amp: Culture Amp offers a comprehensive employee engagement survey platform that includes customisable survey templates, advanced analytics and actionable insights. Their surveys cover a wide range of topics, including leadership, communication, career development and diversity and inclusion. Click here to access the Culture Amp survey.

Qualtrics Employee Experience: Qualtrics provides a versatile employee experience platform that includes employee engagement surveys as well as pulse surveys, 360-degree feedback and exit surveys. Their surveys are highly customisable and can be tailored to specific organisational goals and priorities. Click here to access the Qualtrics website.

Workday/Peakon: Workday offers an employee engagement platform that uses AI-driven insights to measure and improve employee engagement in real-time. Their surveys are designed to gather feedback on key drivers of engagement, such as leadership, culture and career development, and they provide actionable recommendations for improvement. Click here to access Workday.

Leapsome: Leapsome offers a simple and user-friendly employee engagement survey platform that focuses on gathering frequent feedback from employees through short pulse surveys. Their surveys cover a variety of topics, including job satisfaction, recognition and communication, and are designed to help organizations identify areas for improvement and track progress over time. Click here to access Leapsome.

The book and other resources

Built it - The Rebel Playbook for World-Class Employee Engagement

Glenn Elliott and Debra Covey

Build it has found those rebels and the rulebreakers, from small startups to global powerhouses. This book shows that courage, commitment and a people-centric mindset, rather than money and resources, are what you need to turn an average business into a category leader.

Buy the book here.

What people are saying about this book:

"Your all-things-necessary guide to employee engagement. Packed with some terrific case studies, Build it will help you transform your workplace.”

Daniel H. Pink, New York Times bestselling author of DRIVE and WHEN

"Every company in the world is trying to disrupt itself before it is disrupted by newcomers. Everyone knows why but most struggle with how. Here is a book bursting with great examples, concrete actions, real success. It'll give you ideas, debates, great arguments and, most of all, hope."

Margaret Heffernan, CEO and bestselling author of Wilful Blindness

First, Break All The Rules

From Gallup

Gallup presents the remarkable findings of its massive in-depth study of great managers across a wide variety of settings. Some were in leadership positions; others were front-line supervisors. Some were in Fortune 500 companies; others were key players in small entrepreneurial companies.

Whatever their setting, the managers who ultimately became the focus of Gallup’s research were invariably those who excelled at turning each employee’s talent into performance.

There are vital performance and career lessons here for managers at every level and, best of all, the book shows you how to apply them in your own business.

Buy the book here.

What people are saying about this book:

“If you're a great manager, read this book and be affirmed you're doing the right thing. You will still learn something new as well most of the managers who read this book, because managing people effectively is hard and requires immense skill and personal qualities. This incredibly readable fascinating and entertaining book will give you the tools and ideas you need to be a better manager and become more effective in your business.”

– Harvard Business Review

Here is a great 5-minute video on employee engagement called Who's Sinking Your Boat?, by Bob Kelleher.

In 2013, Gallup claimed that approximately 7 out of 10 employees were disengaged. Despite billions being spent on engagement initiatives, there have only been minor gains.

This video will define engagement and make a business case for it, BUT it will also provide a 'call to action' by introducing 8 key focus areas on which organisations need to focus to keep employees 'afloat'.

And here is the follow-up to the video above, Why is Your Boat Still Sinking?, also by Bob Kelleher.

Only 32.5% of employees could be said to be engaged and close to 2 out of 10 are actively disengaged, according to 2016 Gallup research. Since the 2014 YouTube video, Who's Sinking Your Boat?, there simply hasn’t been much improvement in employee engagement in the workplace – in spite of billions of dollars being spent on employee engagement in the workplace, as well as a vastly improved economy. Why?

Watch this latest video, Why is Your Boat Still Sinking?, and you might just find the secrets to engagement.

And finally – here is a very crisp and clear definition of employee engagement, by Kevin Kruse.


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