David Zinger on Employee Engagement: A second interview by Bob Morris


David Zinger connects the strength of one with the power of many as an engagement speaker, coach, and consultant. He founded and hosts the global Employee Engagement Network, with more than 6,400 members and counting. He fuses a down-to-earth prairie upbringing with a global reach. He has worked on engagement in Canada, United States, Poland, Wales, Germany, England, India, Spain, and South Africa. He is a prolific author. He wrote Assorted Zingers: Poems and Cartoons to Take a Bite Out of Work and Engage: How to Get More Into Your Work to Get More Out of Your Work. He has written more than 2500 blog posts on work, engagement, management, and leadership. He has also co-created 10 exceptional free employee engagement e-Books in conjunction with the Employee Engagement Network.

He is also an educator. He taught Educational Psychology and Counseling Psychology at the University of Manitoba for 25 years. David’s specialties were work, humor, career development, well-being, engagement, management and leadership. He created the popular “Ten Building Blocks” pyramid of employee engagement to help clients focus on practical and tactical engagement. David believes that small is the new significant and that small, simple, strong, significant, scalable, and sustainable actions within the context of good work will make the biggest difference in engagement for the benefit of all.

Finally, David is innovative and experimental. He worked for three summers making connections between engagement, honeybees, work, and community. David believes honeybees provide an insightful and living model of the social elements of work and the importance of thinking differently inside our hives (organizations). To receive a free copy and learn more about his finding click on the title of David’s eBook, Waggle: 39 Ways to Improve Human Organizations, Work, and Engagement.

Here is an excerpt from my second interview of him. To read the complete interview, please click here

To read the first interview, please click here.

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Morris: A great deal has happened since our last conversation in January, 2012. It’s good to get caught up. Of all the changes that have occurred in employer-employee relations since then, which do you consider to be most significant? Please explain.

Zinger: I think mobile work combined with new technologies is significant but will grow immensely in the next 24 months. I see so many people using Fitbits and other ways to get metrics on their fitness and sleep and with the new Apple watch I see a lot more workplace applications coming out very quickly. Employee engagement needs to reside more in mobile.

Morris: At which point in your life did you become passionately interested in employee engagement? Please explain.

Zinger: Hearing my Dad, an executive, complain about his job when I was young made me wonder about work and relationships. Having a job early in the railway where people did their best to avoid working. But primarily working as an employee assistance counsellor for 15 years with Seagram let me know the workplace from the inside out. I want work, to work, for everyone.

Morris: To what extent (if any) are the dynamics of employer-employee relations in Canada significantly different from those in the U.S.? Please explain.

Zinger: I travel the globe and I don’t study the macro elements. I am interested in the day-to-day. I redefined employee engagement a few months ago as good work, done well, with others, every day. I don’t care if you are in platinum mine in South Africa, the government in Singapore, or an office worker in Vancouver — we can all achieve good work. For too many people work is hell when I believe work can make us well!

Morris: Recent research by highly reputable firms such as Gallup and Towers Watson indicates that in a U.S. workplace today, on average, less than 30% of the employees are actively and productively engaged; as for the others, they are either passively engaged (“mailing it in”) or actively disengaged, undermining the given company’s success. Why are so many employees either indifferent or hostile?

Zinger: Still not sure I believe the numbers. It often is just the classic bell curve and so given the bell you would expect about 20% disengagement. I think there is a lot of iatrogenic disengagement, meaning what we do around engagement may cause disengagement. I think it is tragic, on a small scale, when we don’t have open, honest, trusting, and respectful dialogues at work with everyone at work and that we need to rely on anonymity and outside consultancies to learn about our own workplaces.

Morris: Here’s a follow-up question. How to increase the percentage of those employees who are actively and productively engaged?

Zinger: That’s a book or two. I think it is small, strategic, significant, and sustainable behaviors done daily. I think culture and strategy and climate are way too large to handle. I want three or four key engaging behaviors done every day. This can range from meaningful conversations to beautiful questions, to ongoing conversations about performance, progress, and setbacks, etc.

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To read the complete interview, please click here.

David cordially invites you to check out the resources at these websites:



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