Engage your employees — and help your profitability

Engagement starts with the right culture, and the right culture starts with engagement … the chicken or the egg scenario, right? The dilemma can be a challenging one. If you put too much thought into what to do first, you won’t take any action at all. Getting stuck in this cycle will get you nowhere, while your employees disengage or leave, seeking an employer that has a stronger culture.

The following suggestions have been put into practice at my company, COE Distributing, and are inclusive with all 100-plus team members.

Simple, but effective

What better way to engage your employees than to ask them for feedback? After all, the employees are closest to your clients, operational processes and the issues that have an impact both in a positive or negative manner.

The most effective method I’ve found to generate meaningful, actionable employee feedback is the START, STOP, CONTINUE Survey. This tool asks employees three very direct questions: What should the company START doing? What should the company STOP doing? What should the company CONTINUE doing?

The survey feedback will range from the obvious to the deeper and less clear aha moments. The beauty in getting information in this manner is many suggestions will be immediately actionable, which shows your employees you’re listening to and value their feedback. This, in turn, encourages them to provide feedback even when not prompted.

This engagement tool can be administered via hard copy, when working with a small group, or via an online/email platform, such as Survey Monkey, which allows you to efficiently reach employees who work remotely or at another facility. Doing so will increase the connectivity of your organization.

Respond quickly

The most important step in this employee engagement tool is the last one — take action.

If your group is small, this should be pretty easy and happen within hours of receiving the surveys. However, if you have a larger group participating, the task can be daunting and feel burdensome.

I suggest looking for the low-hanging fruit you can take action on immediately (START or STOP), so your employees will see you’re listening, value their input and are willing to implement their suggestions. Then, take time to work through the balance of the suggestions.

However, it’s important to always acknowledge all responses right away in some form, i.e. take visible action, provide feedback asking for more details on general suggestions, reaffirm that you/the company are continuously reviewing and evaluating health care plans to assure the best possible options are available.

The START, STOP, CONTINUE Survey has been extremely helpful for me to understand what I may be missing, so that I and the leadership team can start to correct these areas and make the team members feel appreciated and heard. I’m confident you’ll experience similar results.


J.D. Ewing is the president and CEO of COE Distributing is the nation’s largest wholesaler/distributor of office furniture, specializing in forward-thinking products that fit perfectly in any environment. With more than 30 years of experience, J.D. has grown this third-generation, family-owned business to extraordinary success by staying true to the most valuable business lesson he’s learned — people are the difference-makers. His business model encourages collaboration among himself, employees, customers and vendors to create a culture of empowerment and satisfaction.