Exaqueo’s Susan LaMotte on the Importance of a Holistic Approach to Employee Engagement

Exaqueo’s Susan LaMotte on the Importance of a Holistic Approach to Employee EngagementSusan LaMotte is the founder of exaqueo, a workforce consultancy that helps organizations develop and implement cultures, employer brands and talent strategies. She has a strong history of culture, brand and talent work both in-house and consulting, and her recent article in HBR about employee engagement caught my eye. In it, Susan talks about the effect life outside work can have on employee engagement, and how employers can measure it through the Whole Self Model her firm developed.

We reached out to Susan to learn more about this model. Here’s what she had to say.

Tell us about the Whole Self Model.

The Whole Self Model is designed to draw a complete picture of the individual employee. It’s important to really know your employees when trying to understand the workforce or when making workforce decisions. After all, we don’t shed parts of ourselves at the door when we come to work.

The model is comprised of four quadrants:

  • Internal Self: What we personally value in life.
  • External Self: Where we get our energy outside of work.
  • Relationships: Who in our lives influence our decisions.
  • Work: How and why we’re engaged in our work and workplace.

When we do workforce research, we use this model to gain insight in all four areas for a specific employee population. This gives us a complete picture of that part of the workforce.

What prompted your team to develop this model?

Organizations are constantly trying to understand how engaged employees are in the workplace, but most employee engagement surveys and models only look at work data. That data is important, but it’s only part of the picture.

To truly understand why and how employees are engaged and to make the best employee-related decisions, you have to have a perspective on the whole of the employee: Who they are, what matters to them and how they live their lives.

When trying to understand engagement, what types of questions should companies be asking their employees that they aren’t asking now?

Companies should be asking questions to get a better sense of an employee’s life. They should include things like hobbies, families, values, relationships, burdens and what makes employees happy. Some people bristle at this, considering it an invasion of privacy. But employees are never required to participate or forced to answer any questions. All data points are kept confidential. The client only sees the aggregated themes, not individual attributions.

We find that in focus groups, employees open up like never before. They’re excited that someone has taken an interest in them as a whole and that their employers care enough to want to know what life is like outside work.

What are some simple steps employers can take to incorporate the Whole Self Model into their employee engagement efforts?

Companies should look at their existing data sets and evaluate the data that’s collected. Engagement scores don’t mean anything unless you have a sense of why people are or are not engaged. Comments can be helpful, but you really need trained facilitators to be able to probe into the “why” of the ratings and comments. It is the same reason consumer marketers rely so heavily on qualitative research—the insight, emotion and details provide the real understanding you need to affect real change and growth.

What would you say to company leaders who say it’s not their problem to worry about employees’ lives outside the office?

I’d tell them to find me one employee who sheds their outside life, values and problems at the office door. It’s impossible. So employers and leaders who endeavor to understand the whole of the employee will see much stronger engagement and retention in the long run.

Talmetrix is an employee feedback and insights solution that helps organizations better attract and retain talent to achieve business goals. Our solution makes it easy for organizations to capture employee feedback (feelings) and organizational data (facts) to discover actionable insights. With a unique combination of software, content, data, and advisory support we can help you measure and improve your employee experience. Contact us today to learn how your company can start achieving better business results.

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