15 steps to better employee engagement

propellernet, business manifesto, brighton, engagement

You might have spotted that our sister office design company Love Your Workspace recently spoke to Co-Owner and Managing Director of Propellernet Nikki Gatenby on how they created an engaging office space where people really want to work.

However, the physical workspace is only one factor that contributes to a successful business model. Having worked from their co-working floor ‘The Foundry’ ourselves, it made us even more curious about how Propellernet have achieved their engaging company culture. With 90% of Propellernet staff ranking as ‘fully engaged’, an average 1 day off sick and just 7% staff turnover, there’s surely something we can all learn from Propellernet.

Following the international success of her book ‘SUPERENGAGED’, we asked Nikki to share Propellernets‘ 15 point plan for a super engaged workforce.

  1. Make engagement a priority  

If you’re looking to drive your business’ performance and profits, treat your engagement levels as seriously as your margins. The more engaged your teams are, the more ingenuity they will bring into the heart of your business, and the higher your commercial gains will be.  

  1. Know why you exist

Have a clear purpose. It enables you to make sound, coherent decisions, for the overall good of the organisation, rather than focusing on short-term business gains. In the same way that music without soul is just noise (© funkmaster Nile Rodgers), business without purpose is just admin.  

  1. Bring your values out to play

If your purpose is what you’re working towards, your values are how you’ll get there. Choose ones which create a strong cultural force that will drive your organisation forward. People have well­ honed bullshit detectors, so values need to be worth the brain-space they occupy, and to be lived to be believed.  

  1. Get your people happy

Very simply, happy people do better work than miserable people. It’s not rocket science – but it’s surprising how rarely it’s factored into the business plan. So, make sure you make them feel welcome both before they arrive and on their first day, set them up to succeed, celebrate their achievements and support them through any tough times.  

  1. Be clear about your expectations

Putting your people first doesn’t mean letting them do whatever they want; they aren’t assets to be sweated, but they do need to add value. Make it clear what you expect from them, both in terms of business performance and social behavior. Then put the tools, culture and support in place to help them deliver.  

  1. Encourage your people to switch off

As well as giving people the tools to succeed, you need to help them feel free to unplug; your P&L will thank you for it. Check that they’re managing their workload; be flexible around working hours; help them keep their free time work-free and insist they take their holidays. In return, you’ll get inspired, energised colleagues who might just light up the world.  

  1. Recruit slowly and personally

Recruit at haste, repent at leisure. If you employ the wrong person, it can cost you 15 times their salary to put right. Instead, view recruitment as an ongoing activity, and build relationships today with people who might be a great fit in the future. You never know when the time will be right.  

  1. Plan to lose your best talent

People will leave, life will go on, the world will keep turning. It’s better to plan for it than ignore it and end up in a panic replacement scenario. People who say goodbye on friendly terms become a powerful part of your alumni, and act as advocates for your brand and business. The good ones never really leave you, anyway.  

  1. Don’t be afraid to be transparent

Honesty really is the best policy. If you’re open about everything, right down to your profits, rumours don’t have space to breathe. And the more information you share, the more people can grab opportunities and tackle any problems together. It’s surprising, perhaps, but there’s safety in sharing numbers.  

If you’re working on something you can’t engage with, it’s hard to produce brilliant work.  

Fortunately, the opposite is also true. So, ask your people if there are clients or sectors they’d like to work with, then enlist their help with making it happen; it’s a shortcut to enthusiasm and commitment.  

  1. Say no to bastards

Never put toxic client revenue before your people. Unreasonable, demanding clients who want the moon on a stick for free are not worth having. They will drive value out of your business, suck the life out of your strategy, take their toll on your team and take your attention away from more  

worthwhile clients. Don’t think “How can I afford to be so picky?” Think “How can I afford not to?” 12. Build climbing frames instead of career ladders 

In traditional hierarchies, senior roles are scarce, which makes career progression difficult for all but a few. Instead, create innovative, flexible career paths, which are open to non-traditional growth as opportunities arise. By enabling people to blaze their own trails and bring in their side hustles, you’ll create an inspiring group of entrepreneurial thinkers and doers, who will grow your business as they grow their careers.  

  1. Create something bigger than yourself

Community matters. Yes, you need to focus on the business at hand, but it’s also worth lifting your head up from time to time and thinking about how you could contribute to the world outside your window. It will enthuse and engage your people and is likely to be some of the most rewarding work you do.  

  1. Build a bucket list business plan

Put any scepticism to one side and try to imagine the spirit of teamwork and loyalty that you could unleash by making your team’s dreams part of your business plan. Not to mention the new  

commercial opportunities that you could generate along the way. Don’t believe us? Prepare to be amazed.  

  1. Act like there’s no exit

Whatever your plans for the business, try approaching it as if you will never leave; as if there were no exit, no prospect of a sale and no retirement date. It will transform the way you work day-to-day and will help you build a brilliant future, and Make Life Better, for everyone.  


You can learn about how Propellernet built a purposeful and profitable business in Nikki’s international best selling book SUPERENGAGED. Take it from our well worn and dog-eared copy….it’s well worth a read.

superengaged, nikki gattenby, propellernet



No comments yet.

Leave a Reply