A friend recently told me about the work of Gever Tulley, a San Francisco-based tinkerer, educator, and entrepreneur. Tulley has worked in fields from tech to education and has written such books as 50 Dangerous Things (You Should Let Your Children Do).  Tulley’s theory is that kids need three things for an engaging learning experience: time, autonomy, and a story. Of course, that got me thinking of workplaces and employee engagement. So… what’s your story?

As quoted in the NY Times, Tulley said, “There are not enough opportunities in a child’s life to be taken seriously, to be given autonomy and to learn authentically. I think they need learning opportunities that respect and incorporate their ideas.” That sounds familiar…

Right here in our own organization and in our work with client companies, we can see that people need:

  • To work with people they respect
  • To do interesting and challenging work
  • To work for a company that has values they believe in
  • To work for a company that does something of value
  • To be recognized and appreciated for the contributions they make

We’re not that different from kids after all… If we give people the time and resources to do their jobs, provide them with autonomy and respect to encourage their contributions, and provide a story or joint purpose so that they can get behind, people will excel.  We help people rise to the occasion and meet the need. That’s what employee engagement is all about.

Employee engagement is an elegant solution to surmounting company challenges. By creating the right conditions and allowing people the room to think, innovate, and act, we inspire their best efforts and drive results. It benefits them individually and it benefits the organization. Yes, it takes planning and communication to bring it to life across an entire company, but managers and colleagues can make day-to-day differences to encourage people and help them deliver their best work.

Our story – our purpose – at Next Level is that “We help people and organizations dig deeper, reach higher, and attain the next level of performance.” What’s your story?

If you’d like to talk about how employee engagement can make a difference in your organization, we’re here to help.


About the author

As Vice President of Travel & Engagement at Next Level Performance, Susan serves on the board of the Incentive Research Foundation (IRF), and chairs the IRF Research Committee. She has also served on the board of the Incentive Marketing Association (IMA) and is a past president of the Recognition Council, and a past member of the Performance Improvement Council and the Incentive and Engagement Solution Providers (IESP). She is interested in the strategies and benefits of employee engagement, incentive, and recognition programs. An avid traveler, she is also passionate about the art and science of incentive travel. Favorite travel destinations: Costa Rica, Iceland, Switzerland, and Maine.

Susan Adams
Vice President of Travel & Engagement