Matt Manners
Written by
Matt Manners


As we get underway with the launch of our 2018 UK & European Employee Engagement Awards, we at the Engagement Zone sit down with Sean Trainor – Founder of Uber Engagement.

EZ: What does employee engagement mean to you?

SEAN: For me, employee engagement is the art and science of influencing people to enable key business outcomes. I view engagement as a verb (not a noun) and I view employees as colleagues (not resources).

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


If you want to ‘drive’ anything in an organisation you need to understand what ‘drives’ people. Read  Daniel Pink, he summarised it beautifully.

  1. Purpose
  2. Autonomy
  3. Mastery

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

SEAN: Not having a clearly articulated purpose. You can engage anyone in anything but unless you understand why, what’s the point?

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

SEAN: I don’t believe that any employees fail their companies by not buying into their efforts to “ramp up” engagement. I actually believe that companies are failing their employees if they believe that employee engagement is measurable outcome that can be “ramped up”

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

SEAN: If you want to encourage a positive culture (I’m carefully reframing the question here as I don’t understand what a “culture of engagement” is, never mind how you “move towards” it) then you need to provide a psychologically-safe environment where it’s ok to fail, it’s ok to speak up and it’s ok to think (and be) different. I like to call that a “just culture” not a culture of engagement. The greatest skill to encourage that is empathy.

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

SEAN: Honest outcomes based on insightful interventions.

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

SEAN: If I thought there was actually a way to disconnect them, I might be able to answer this question.

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

SEAN: Demonstrating that an engagement strategy I developed and delivered averted a national strike for a large national utility company.

EZ: What’s the worst?

SEAN: Uprooting my family for a three-year international secondment from the UK to the US that lasted a week!

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

SEAN: Ethics, politics, economics and rhetoric. What else is there to know about in business?

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

SEAN: Piano Man, Billy Joel

EZ: Best place in the world you have visited?

SEAN: Madain Saleh, Saudi Arabia

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

SEAN: Machu Picchu, Peru

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.


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