September 24, 2018

Employee Engagement Isn’t a Survey

Before joining Kenway in the summer of 2016, I spent the previous year and a half working as an outside sales representative and solution engineer for a multinational software company. As part of that company, I sold enterprise feedback software that captured market research, consumer insights and employee feedback, and easily integrated back into the existing data systems of our clients. In other words, I was selling a robust survey tool. My particular area of focus was working with C-Suite executives to help them improve their organization’s employee engagement.

A typical sales cycle was 6-12 months and involved several in-person workshops to help define the objectives of the client and create a strategic roadmap of our software that could help them achieve their goals. Inevitably, almost every engagement started with the customer asking a version of the following set of questions:

  • How will your software help increase employee engagement?
  • Will this work on millennials? We have a problem in that area.
  • Will this work on our company? We are big and old, and we can’t do much to change how we interact with our employees because the market is tight.
  • Will I be able to get actionable insights from the results?


While I wish I could have answered all of these questions with a simple, “Yes, this survey software is the equivalent of the Staples ‘Easy’ button for employee engagement,” in reality, that wasn’t the case. The survey software tool wasn’t going to instantly improve employee engagement, reduce employee turnover, and increase profits. Instead, it helped clients jump start a path towards realizing their employee engagement goals by enabling them with a tool that captured and blended data in a more efficient and effective way.

Increases in employee engagement require an organization to fully embrace a culture that facilitates team building, personal growth, and mentorship. Employee picnics, Cubs games, and ice cream socials alone will not increase employee engagement. To truly see the benefits of having engaged employees, a company and its leadership must live and breathe the same values and company direction, 24/7. This will help create an environment in which employees are truly passionate about their company and the work they are performing.

Ironically, it wasn’t until after I left the software company that I fully realized all the pieces that needed to be put in place in order to create a culture of engaged individuals. And it is only after my past two years at Kenway that I have come to fully appreciate how powerful it can be to have an engaged employee base.

It’s been nothing short of amazing to witness an organization wherein every member has an “owner mentality” and holds themselves and everyone else to the same high standards day in and day out. A truly engaged team isn’t about singular events, it’s about the continual and consistent culmination of repeated positive behaviors and actions.

At Kenway, we believe that focusing on the proper means as opposed to outcomes is the best way to ensure alignment with our employees’ and clients’ needs. Put simply, if we do the right things and we do them every time we interact with ourselves and our clients, we are comfortable with whatever outcomes result. That said, our track record has shown that great outcomes tend to be a natural and consistent by-product of the right means.

At Kenway, we call them our Guiding Principles and they go way beyond words written on a website. They describe how we operate as an organization, both in and out of work scenarios. And they help us ensure an engaged employee base, 24/7.

To learn more about our philosophy and Guiding Principles, visit our website at

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