The Faces of Employee Engagement are Global

August 14, 2014 by

Employee Engagement in Croatia

My wife and I just spent two weeks in the wonderful country of Croatia. As much as I wanted some downtime during vacation, I could not escape the signs, behaviors, and outcomes produced by the archetypical “faces” of employee engagement. These emblems of engagement were extremely vivid to me for two reasons. First, after dedicating over 25 years of my career to learning about, and helping organizations build employee engagement, I realize that the topic runs deeply through my mind, heart, and lifeblood. Second, employee engagement is global, omnipresent, and most of all, inescapable. There is no doubt you fellow world travelers out there can relate to these facts.

Upon arriving in Rovinj, Croatia, one of the first locals we met was an all-purpose multi-functional worker named Robert of The Casa Garzotto. His passion for helping us was enormous. He was a waterfall of positivity while giving us guidance on what to see, lugging three heavy pieces of luggage to our third floor room, and driving us to rent our own car. As exhibited by all engaged employees, Robert genuinely cared. We showed our appreciation for his extra effort and attention though kindness and a generous tip.

Your call to action: Celebrate your best employees and make sure they are both recognized and rewarded fairly.

In the city of Split, we next encountered the second face of engagement; “The Pacing Hostess.” We chose to eat dinner at a patio restaurant inside the famed Diocletian Palace, named after the Roman Emperor who built it for his retirement. We sat ourselves at a table near the then-empty Hostess stand. At some point, the tall blonde hostess appeared. Throughout dinner we watched her “greet” prospective customers with an extremely unengaging and monotone “How can I help you?” Many of the prospective customers responded with a look like, “I did not know that I needed help!” All of them walked away. She could have tried saying something much more engaging and enticing to customers such as, “Want to try the absolute best mussels served in Croatia?” or “Today we are offering a special discount on one of Croatia’s national dishes. Interested in hearing more?” The fact is, she was mentally checked out and the restaurant lost customers and income because of that.

When no prospective customers were nearby, she paced back and forth in front of the restaurant with her head held down, exhibiting sheer boredom. Intermittently, she would vanish from her post entirely, walking across the piazza (this part of Croatia was/is heavily influenced by Italy), to chat up what looked like a prospective date for later that night. When I asked her if she could please get me change for a 50 Kuna currency note, she refused, saying that our waiter would do it when he returned. Like many employees who are ambivalent to their job, she was obviously afflicted by the INMJ workplace disease – It’s Not My Job.

Was she doing the job? Yes. Was she conducting the job well or as an engaged employee would? Absolutely not. In essence, she lacked what I have always referred to as the two Ps of employee engagement: Passion for what she did, and Pride in where she worked. Indeed, the Hostess was the “face” of the ambivalent employee or what is commonly called the “Quit and Stay” employee, who consciously quits the job but continues to accept future paychecks. Since these employees constitute roughly 60% of the overall workforce, they are the biggest thief of productivity and great business outcomes.

Your call to action is to reengage your employees who fit this description by:
• Raising the customer service and outcome expectations for their job
• “Voluntelling” them for extra effort and new responsibilities
• Assigning a wonderfully infectious and fully engaged employee to act as their mentor, coach, and guide toward workplace excellence

Thankfully, our trip to Croatia did not produce one incidence of the insidious disengaged employee, a very positive sign for a country hoping to build an even larger and attractive tourist industry. As such, we’ll save our call to action on the actively disengaged employee for a future blog.

Puna Hvala (many thanks) and do sljedećeg puta (until next time),



Kevin Sheridan is an internationally-recognized Keynote Speaker, a New York Times Best Selling Author, and one of the most sought-after voices in the world on the topic of Employee Engagement. For five years running, he has been honored on Inc. Magazine’s top 100 Leadership Speakers in the world, as well as Inc.’s top 100 experts on Employee Engagement. He was also honored to be named to The Employee Engagement Award’s Top 101 Global Influencers on Employee Engagement of 2017.

Having spent thirty years as a high-level Human Capital Management consultant, Kevin has helped some of the world’s largest corporations rebuild a culture that fosters productive engagement, earning him several distinctive awards and honors. Kevin’s premier creation, PEER®, has been consistently recognized as a long-overdue, industry-changing innovation in the field of Employee Engagement. His first book, Building a Magnetic Culture, made six of the best seller lists including The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today. He is also the author of The Virtual Manager, which explores how to most effectively manage remote workers.

Kevin received a Master of Business Administration from the Harvard Business School in 1988, concentrating his degree in Strategy, Human Resources Management, and Organizational Behavior. He is also a serial entrepreneur, having founded and sold three different companies.