The Employee Engagement Model

Successful hospitality businesses understand how critically important the contribution of each individual is toward the businesses’ expectations and outcomes. Individual employees, meanwhile, need to find purpose and satisfaction in their work. Consequently, SHG’s engagement model focuses on two factors:

  1. individual’s contribution to the company’s success
  2. personal satisfaction in their role

We believe that aligning employees’ values, goals and aspirations with those of the business is the best method for achieving the sustainable employee engagement required for both individual and business success.

Full engagement represents an alignment of maximum job satisfaction (“I like my work and do it well”) with maximum job contribution (“I help achieve the goals of my business”). The index we use to determine engagement levels contains items that reflect the two axes of contribution and satisfaction. By plotting specific feedback and results against the two axes, we identify 5 distinct employee segments:

E, The Newlyweds

The Newlyweds are new to the business and/or their role — and happy to be there. They have yet to find their stride and clearly understand how they can best contribute. It should be a priority to move them out of this temporary holding area to full alignment and productivity.

Hamsters may be working hard, but are in effect “spinning their wheels,” working on non-essential tasks, contributing little to the success of the organization. Some may even be hiding out, curled up in their cedar shavings, content with their position (“resting in place”). If leaders don’t deal with them, other employees may grow resentful or have to pick up the slack.

D. The Crash & Burners

Disillusioned and potentially exhausted, these employees are top producers who aren’t achieving their personal definition of success and satisfaction. They can be bitterly vocal that senior leaders are making bad decisions or that colleagues are not pulling their weight. They may leave, but they are more likely to take a breather and work less hard, slipping down the contribution scale to become Disengaged. When they do, they often bring down those around them.

C. The Anti-Engaged

Most Anti-Engaged employees didn’t start out as bad apples. They still may not be. They are the most disconnected from the businesses priorities, often feel underutilized, are clearly not getting what they need from work and engage in behaviors that are detrimental to themselves, other employees and the business in general.

They’re likely to be skeptical and can indulge in contagious negativity. If left alone, the Anti-Engaged are likely to collect a paycheck while complaining or looking for their next job. If they can’t be coached or aligned to higher levels of engagement, their exit benefits everyone, including them.

B. Wannabe Engaged

A critical group, these employees are among the high performers and are reasonably satisfied with their job. They may not have consistent “great days at work,” but they know what those days look like. You should invest in them for three reasons:

  1. they are highly employable and more likely to be lured away;
  2. they have the shortest distance to travel to reach full engagement, promising the biggest payoff.
  3. the fire is there but needs you to stoke the flames a little bit.

A. The Engaged

These employees are at “the apex” where personal and business interests align. They contribute fully to the success of the business and find great satisfaction in their work. They are known for their extra effort and commitment. When recruiters call, they cordially cut the conversation short. Leaders need to keep them engaged, because they can transition over time to any of the three adjacent segments, a move that would likely impact morale and the bottom line.

For four decades, my Coaching, Consulting, & Learning Events have helped thousands of hospitality leaders worldwide, build successful businesses. Call or text me at +1-817-797-2929 or email me at