Keys to Engaged Staff and Volunteers


What can we learn from Gallup’s research of 10 million employee and manager interviews spanning 114 countries and conducted in 41 languages?

Takeaway number one from Gallup’s 12 The Elements of Great Managing is that employee (and volunteer) engagement matters. Greater employee engagement leads to dramatically reduced turnover, absenteeism, product loss and workplace accidents. In addition, greater employee engagement translates into significantly higher positive customer feedback scores on service as well as substantially greater productivity, creativity, and profitability for teams and the organization overall.

Takeaway #2 – Great managers are the ‘glue’ holding together the people who make their organizations dramatically more effective than others. These great managers are leading teams and working with front-line staff and their influence has a profound impact on employee engagement.

What makes these managers great? What leads to greater employee engagement? How does this research impact ministry leaders?

12 Keys to Greater Employee Engagement

Building on the research from First, Break All The Rules, Gallup has identified twelve keys that significantly and statistically contribute to dramatically greater levels of employee engagement. The twelve are listed below in the form of questions:

1. Do I know what is expected of me at work?

2. Do I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right?

3. At work, do I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day?

4. In the last seven days, have I received recognition or praise for doing good work?

5. Does my supervisor, or someone at work, seem to care about me as a person?

6. Is there someone at work who encourages my development?

7. At work, do my opinions seem to count?

8. Does the mission/purpose of my company make me feel my job is important?

9. Are my co-workers committed to doing quality work?

10. Do I have a best friend at work?

11. In the last six months, has someone at work talked to me about my progress?

12. This last year, have I had opportunities at work to learn and grow?

Application to Ministry Leadership

While Gallup’s study didn’t focus on the Christian ministry sector, I believe that ministry staff AND volunteers long to answer ‘yes’ to these same twelve engagement questions.

The good news is that this isn’t rocket science. This list isn’t complicated nor does it require great (or often any) financial resources. It’s within reach for any organization and most managers.

In the Christian ministry context – where volunteer engagement is critical and Ephesians 4:12 calls for God’s people to be equipped for works of service – pastors and ministry team leaders (paid and volunteer) are the primary difference makers for employee/volunteer engagement.

Here are three practical questions to help you apply this research and grow your employee/volunteer engagement:

  1. As you think about your staff team and volunteers, how would they answer each of the twelve questions? (If in doubt – ask)
  2. What’s your next step in being more intentional as a leader in growing the engagement level with your staff, team and volunteers? Which question(s) do you need to work on?
  3. How will you share the importance of the manager’s role and this list with others in your organization? Be sure to remember that volunteer team leaders have a huge impact on volunteer engagement.

What practical steps have you taken (or seen others take) to grow employee/volunteer engagement? Please share your ideas and experiences….