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Six Ways to Engage the Spirit at Work
Debbie Garr

On Friday, November 9, The Center for Spirit at Work featured Leigh Branham, who enlightened attendees with Six Ways to Engage the Spirit at Work. Mr. Branham has dedicated his career to assisting organizations in the management and retention of people and to helping individuals in managing their careers. He is a strong proponent of the idea that investing in people is the surest path to business success and profitability. 


Mr. Branham holds Master’s degrees in Counseling/ Personnel Services and Journalism from the University of Missouri–Columbia, and a Bachelor’s degree in English Literature from Vanderbilt University. He has held senior leadership positions with Right Management Consultants and with Lee Hecht Harrison.  Mr. Branham is the author of several books, the latest entitled Re-Engage: How America’s Best Places to Work Inspire Effort in Extraordinary Times. He has been widely quoted in the media, including Fortune, Business Week, and The Associated Press, as an expert on employee retention. He writes a regular commentary on managing talent for The Kansas City Star.


Starting his presentation with the question, “Is work something you’re supposed to enjoy?”, Mr. Branham went on to describe just how that can happen when you’re using your best talents and are engaged at work. He described employee engagement as: “A heightened emotional and intellectual connection that an employee has for his job, organization, manager, or co-workers that influences him to apply additional discretionary effort to his work.”   ~~The Conference Board


He said any one of the 4 above can be enough but if all 4 are there, it’s an optimal situation for employees to be engaged. He cited five payoffs of employee engagement:

·        86% higher customer ratings

·        70% less turnover

·        70% higher productivity

·        44% higher profitability

·        78% better safety records


He suggested it’s possible to tell if someone is engaged by observing  their body language and facial expressions, and he went on to relate that 54% of employees are not engaged, 18% are active trouble makers; and only 28% are engaged. Additionally, his 2012 research found that 38% of employees believe senior leaders care; 50% want to leave; and 57% believe their employers are exploiting the recession. 


Mr. Branham described how employees disengage and ultimately leave, and then he identified 6 drivers of engagement, based on analyzing the results of the largest survey ever performed on the best places to work, conducted by the KC Business Journal.


Highly engaged workplaces score high on all 6 and have “signature” drivers.  Below are the 6 drivers of engagement:

1.      Senior leaders are competent, caring, and engaged.

2.      Effective managers are engaged and aligned with performance management.

3.      Teamwork is effective at all levels.

4.      Job enhancement and personal growth are provided.

5.      Employee contributions are valued.

6.      There is concern for employee well-being.


Starting at the top with caring, committed senior leaders makes a significant difference in employee engagement, according to Mr. Branham. It’s all about culture. 


For more detail, see Mr. Branham’s PowerPoint Presentation at



About the Author:

Debbie Garr, Center for Spirit at Work Communications Volunteer is a Human Resources consultant, facilitator, and author in Kansas City, MO.