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Date posted: 09th April 2017

09th April 2017

Interview: Bruce Bolger – The Enterprise Engagement Alliance

Interview: Bruce Bolger – The Enterprise Engagement Alliance

This interview can also be found in our eBook Creating the best workplaces: Insights from global #EmployeeEngagement Influencers which features 25+ interviews and much more. Download now.

Today, we at the Engagement Zone sit down with another of our #Engagement101 Influencers – Bruce Bolger. He is the Co-Founder and President of the Enterprise Engagement Alliance, a network of business professionals and academics focused on the development of employee engagement in enterprise. With over 25 years of experience employee engagement, Bolger spreads employee engagement practices through consulting, speaking programs and articles. We spoke to Bruce about his vision of Employee Engagement as well as some examples of initiatives that he has seen.

EZ: What does employee engagement mean to you?

BRUCE: The EEA (Enterprise Engagement Alliance) formally defines engagement as fostering the proactive involvement of the people critical to success.

EZ: What are your three tips to companies looking to drive engagement in their organisations?

BRUCE: Define the mission, goals, and objectives. Develop a formal plan that addresses and integrates all of the key levers of engagement. Use analytics to measure the results to continually enhance the process.

EZ: What do you feel are the biggest pitfalls that companies should look to avoid when executing their engagement strategy?

BRUCE: The biggest pitfall is taking an ad hoc approach, focusing on the use of bright shiny objectives and also a failure to better integrate key engagement tools: branding, leadership coaching, assessment and feedback, communications, learning, innovation, analytics, rewards and recognition.

EZ: Why do employees fail to buy in when companies try to ramp up engagement?

BRUCE: Employees fail to buy in usually because they are skeptical that management is sincere, or they see engagement as another bright shiny object that will go a way in a year or two.

EZ: What skills are most useful for everyone to have when trying to move towards a culture of engagement?

BRUCE: The big challenge is that engagement requires the ability to integrate a wide variety of tools that are now almost always siloed in organizations: branding, leadership coaching and assessment. Therefore, it really requires people with both internal and external engagement skills who understand the formal framework and implementation tools of engagement, and people with a lot of practical experience they can apply to developing a formal strategy.

EZ: You’re a judge for the Employee Engagement awards. What will you be looking for in the entries?

BRUCE: What I would look for is strategic approach with a clear vision, process, and proper integration of engagement levers to achieve a clear result.

EZ: How important do you think it is to connect Employee Engagement to Customer Engagement and why?

BRUCE: Mission critical: This is why our organization is known as Enterprise Engagement. In fact, all of the research we have seen demonstrates the benefits of connecting engagement across the organization. There is no way to create a great customer experience unless everyone connected to the organization is clear on what’s being promised in marketing and sales.

EZ: What’s the best EE idea you’ve seen a company roll out/attempt and wish you’d had that idea yourself?

BRUCE: I admire these programs because they are strategic and specifically address all of the key levers of engagement in an ongoing process:

  • Fifth Third Bank’s Diversity Engagement Strategy
  • Northwell Health Rebranding
  • Brand Hospitality strategy at Hilton’s Focused Service Brands


EZ: What’s the worst and glad that you didn’t?

BRUCE: Wells Fargo.

EZ: Since you entered the world of work, what’s the best experience you’ve had?

BRUCE: The ability to travel the world to meet with engaged people representing dozens of cultures and perspectives.

EZ: What’s the worst?

BRUCE: Having to clean 24 rest rooms in a New York Skyscraper as a young college student.

EZ: If you could only roll out only one programme, which of the following would you choose and why? 

BRUCE: In my case, my goal is to see through the development of ISO (International Organization for Standardization) standards on engagement that reflect the findings of science and the needs of organizations worldwide.  The recent decision by ISO to approve the creation of a working group to create such standards will be a great opportunity to work with Great Britain and other countries passionate about the connection between engagement and long-term organizational results and the satisfaction of customers, employees, distribution partners, vendors, communities, and shareholders.

EZ: Which person (dead or alive) would you love to be able to come in and speak to your workforce/colleagues?

BRUCE: Abraham Lincoln.

EZ: Favourite song to crank up after a tough day at work?

BRUCE: My taste is too varied to answer but would be either alternative rock, folk, or classical.

EZ: Best place in the world you have visited?

BRUCE: The big lesson of traveling the world is that almost every place has something magical and special if you have your eyes open.

EZ: The place you’d most like to visit?

BRUCE: Every place I’ve never been.

EZ: Thank you, Bruce.

NOTE: Entries for the UK & European and ANZ  Employee Engagement Awards are now open. For your chance to be recognised as a great place to work, click the link here.

Read other insightful interviews on the Employee Engagement Zone