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You can play a role in improving employee engagement

By Kim Harrison,

Consultant, Author and Principal of

One way to look at workplace success is to consider it in terms of employee engagement, which is defined as the extent to which workers identify with, are motivated by and are willing to make an extra effort for their employer. The Gallup Organization, famous for its Gallup Polls, uses the concept of employee engagement – which they define as a combination of support, recognition, belonging and growth.

Using the results of research among 200,000 employees in 8,000 business units in 21 industries around the world as a reference, Gallup came to the view that when organisations satisfy certain basic human needs in the workplace, they increase their organisational productivity and profitability. In most situations, the needs of the employees and the organisation can be met simultaneously. The research also found that employee engagement is a leading indicator of intention to stay in the job.

“Positive emotions are facilitated by actions within organisations that support clear outcome expectancies, give basic material support, and encourage individual contribution and fulfilment, a sense of belonging and a chance to progress and learn continuously. All of these elements together can be called employee engagement.” 1

These elements are measured by the simple, but fundamental, 12 statements listed below, which comprise the Gallup Workplace Audit. Each statement taps into one of the elements:

  1. I know what is expected of me at work.

  2. I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right.

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

  4. In the last seven days, I have received recognition or praise for doing good work.

  5. My supervisor or someone at work seems to care about me as a person.

  6. There is someone at work who encourages my development.

  7. At work, my opinions seem to count.

  8. The mission/purpose of my company makes me feel my job is important.

  9. My fellow employees are committed to doing quality work.

  10. I have a best friend at work.

  11. In the last six months, someone at work has talked to me about my progress.

  12. In the past year, I have had opportunities at work to learn and grow. 2

Employees are asked about the extent to which they agree with each of the statements on a five-point scale, with an optional ‘don’t know/not applicable response to each one. Most of the statements are about issues that are influenced by a supervisor or manager, but as other people may also be relevant, there is only one direct reference to a supervisor or manager in the 12 statements.

Although employee wellbeing is mainly an HR responsibility, the 12 elements are significant to public relations practitioners because good communication and effective workplace relationships are inherent in all the elements.

Even if you work in an organisation that hasn’t subscribed to the Gallup system, you can use each of the statements as an unwritten guide for discussion with managers and supervisors (including your own boss) and possible follow-up action in association with HR staff. You can set in motion an initiative to improve the interpersonal communication of managers and supervisors because good communication is essential to a successful workplace.

The results of the Gallup Workplace Audit were used to guide the ASB Bank of New Zealand to produce significantly better results. After a comparatively disappointing initial average score was recorded in 2001, the bank’s senior management realised that better care of staff would produce better results, and they acted to remedy problem areas revealed by the audit. Consequently in the period from 2001 to 2003, the bank increased its profit by 20% annually and increased its overall assets by one third. By making employee and customer engagement a priority, the bank dramatically improved its performance. 3


  1. Harter, James K., Schmidt, Frank L., Keyes, Corey L.M. “Well-being in the workplace and its relationship to business outcomes – a review of the Gallup studies.” Retrieved from
  2. As above.
  3. 3. Robison, Jennifer. “ASB Bank: good isn’t good enough.” Retrieved from


About the Author

Kim Harrison is a recognized authority in the public relations field. His website,, provides a wealth of informative articles and resources on public relations techniques and management.


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