The 7 Keys of Engagement with Paul ter Wal

The 7 Keys of Engagement with Speaker, Consultant and Trainer, Paul ter Wal

On this week’s episode of The Leadership Habit, Jenn welcomes Paul ter Wal to the podcast to discuss employee engagement. Together, they explain the importance of having an engaged workforce– from increasing employee satisfaction to increasing the bottom line. Be sure to listen to the full episode to learn about Paul’s free engagement survey

Meet Paul ter Wal, International Employability Researcher

Paul ter Wal is an international employability researcher. He has been working as a speaker, consultant and trainer for managers, HR directors and employees for more than 25 years. He was President of the Global Speakers Federation 2019-2020.

As a speaker and consultant, Paul helps organizations improve their results by implementing sustainable employability strategies based on enthusiasm, shared core values and a clear mission and vision. Enthusiastic employees are more innovative, creative, and productive and make a major contribution to your results.

What Does Engagement at Work Look Like? 

As the episode opens, Jenn welcomes Paul ter Wal to the show and asks him to tell the audience about himself. He explains that he actually started his career as a lawyer working in labor law. In that career, he found himself wondering why business leaders were not taking care of their employees. Instead, they just wait until things are so bad lawyers are involved! So, he quit his job and became a consultant to help organizations drive employee engagement. 

Then, Jenn and Paul discuss the struggle with employee engagement. Paul explains that first, leaders must know what it is. He breaks it down into 4 components: 

  1. Energy – If your work is draining, and you feel tired and mad all the time, you are not engaged at work. 
  2. Belonging – When you are engaged at work, you feel like you belong to a team and that your work matters to someone else. 
  3. CompetenciesTo be engaged at work, you need to have the right skills, and you should be learning and training throughout your entire career. 
  4. Purpose – You must find purpose in your work to be truly engaged. If you can’t find any meaning or purpose in your job, you will not be engaged. 

Why are People Quiet Quitting?

Then, Jenn cites the 2023 Gallup State of the Workforce Report , which revealed that 59% of people are quiet quitting at work. She asks Paul why employee engagement is so prevalent. 

Paul explains it comes down to core values or non-negotiables. “That’s those gut feelings that are part of your decision-making. So you have that feeling, this is right for me. 

And what I see is that a lot of human beings have lost that connection with their core feelings, with their core values. So if you start working for an organization and you see their core values, and you are not aligned with them, then it’ll go wrong.”

The 7 Keys of Engagement

Next, Paul explains the seven key indicators of employee engagement. 

  1. Sick Leave: When people are disengaged at work, they tend to call in sick more often. However, when engagement improves, employers can see sick leave reduced by 81%. 
  2. Attrition: If there is an engagement issue within an organization, employee retention will suffer. However, if employees are engaged, attrition can go down as much as 43%. 
  3. Wellbeing: Individual well-being increases when someone is engaged at work. When employees feel supported at work, they will be more engaged.   
  4. Productivity: Productivity falls when employee engagement is low and increases when it improves. 
  5. Profitability: When employee engagement is high, productivity goes up, and that will lead to better profitability throughout the organization. 
  6. Customer Loyalty/Satisfaction: A business with a high level of engagement will enjoy more customer loyalty. The customer experience and the employee experience are intertwined. Employees who are engaged are more professional, helpful and pleasant to customers. 
  7. Mistakes: Mistakes are another key indicator of employee engagement. When employees are disengaged at work, they are less careful and more likely to make mistakes. Depending on the job, mistakes can cost money or even cost lives. However, an engaged workforce will see mistakes reduced by as much as 60%. 

How Can Leaders Improve the Employee Engagement? 

Later, Jenn and Paul discuss employee engagement strategies. Paul suggests starting with his “traffic light” method. He explains that leaders should determine if employees are red, yellow or green.

Red Light Employees

 A “red” employee is one who is fully disengaged. They may be constantly complaining, calling in sick, or worse. He advises having a frank discussion with these employees to determine if there is a path forward. Otherwise, it is best to part ways.  

Yellow Light Employees

However, you may have employees that are “yellow” on the traffic light scale. Paul suggests reaching out to these somewhat unengaged employees by asking questions. 

He explains, “The question is, are you okay? How can I support you? Start asking questions. Instead of telling people what to do, ask them, as a leader, how can I support you? And I love the story that I heard that a leader went outside with his employees.

If he had to do a tough conversation and they said, let’s drink a coffee somewhere in the neighborhood. And then they walked outside, and they were walking side by side. And then the leader asked, are you okay? And the employees started talking because you don’t have to look in someone’s eyes. 

Ask that question. So don’t make it a high-level conversation. Keep it simple. Just say, let’s have a coffee, let’s have a chat. How are you doing, doing? That’s the first step. You can do it tomorrow.

We don’t need to change the organization. We need to develop the organization. If you want a culture change, well, you need to start asking questions. 

It doesn’t cost you any money. It’ll give you a lot of information. And we hope that you inspire and motivate people so that they’ll be more engaged. Right. And it’s free!”

Final Thoughts about the Keys of Engagement

As the episode closes, Jenn asks Paul for his final thoughts about increasing employee engagement. He closes by asking leaders to take a close look at their organizational values. Are those values on your website where people can find them? Do your employees know what those values are? He reminds the audience that it is important that the leaders’ values align with those organizational values. 

He closes by saying, “If you don’t work from your core value as a leader, people are not going to trust you. So take a step back, take a deep breath, and look at your core values and those of the company. That’s the first step.”

He then tells the audience that if they would like to learn more, he has a free engagement benchmark tool with 16 questions that can help leaders asses how their team is performing. If you answer the questions, you will receive a free report with insights into your team’s engagement. 

Where to Find More From Paul ter Wal? 

Thanks for listening to The Leadership Habit!