What is the employee engagement funnel?

Posted on Sep 29, 2014

Put simply, the employee engagement funnel is a symbolic visualisation of how workers become engaged with their job and ultimately the goals of the organisation. Importantly, it’s not about reviewing employees’ performance or screening their work, but rather about engaging them with the overall objectives of the company.

‘Funnelling’ is an oft-used business term. When you use a real funnel, what you are doing is moderating the flow of a liquid so that it can be more easily controlled as you pass it from one container to another. In business, you will often find the funnel being used as a metaphor for the sales process – leads come in through the top, go through the various processes of sales people and then hopefully emerge from the bottom as actual sales. For employees working along the sales funnel, as they oversee the sale passing through each stage of the process, their own value to the business that they are working for becomes higher.

The employee engagement funnel works in a similar way – or rather has a similar outcome. The further along the process of the funnel the employee progresses, the more valuable they become to the company as they becomes more engaged with the company’s goals.

So let’s take a look at the funnel and what each stage entails:

The Employee Engagement Funnel

  1. Awareness
  2. Onboarding
  3. Engagement
  4. Leadership
  5. Ambassadorship

Employees initially enter a company and start to become aware of what the organisation is trying to achieve. Soon, they begin to take on board exactly what the organisation wants and just what they need to do to participate in it. They engage with the company’s products, understand them, and begin to put together a sales strategy. Now halfway through the funnel, they can start to lead others through the initial stages, eventually becoming ambassadors and role models for the company and advocates of its processes and goals.

In a (funnel-shaped) nutshell, that’s it, but let’s take a closer look at each stage to get a more detailed understanding of the concept.

1. Awareness

The first thing that employees need is to be made aware of exactly what the corporate goals are, or sometimes changes that will require their attention. At this first stage, it may simply be making the employees aware of exactly what the company sells – whether it be goods or services – and that is how it turns a profit and makes money. The awareness stage of the funnel is about the company’s message, its culture and how it engages with its customers.

When tailoring specific elearning courses for managers, it would also be wise to consider segmenting the employees into groups – sales people, administrators, solution engineers etc.

2. Onboarding

The onboarding stage moves employees beyond the simple awareness of the company’s objectives. Now they begin to take on board and understand any new products and their features, how they may be integrated with other products, the advantages of the product over competitors’ offerings etc.

The idea of this stage is to integrate great corporate training so that employees have all the tools to do an excellent job.

3. Engagement

This is the stage where the employee’s new-found knowledge gets put to work in trying to achieve one of the company’s goals – usually sales. The engagement with the job role should hopefully be now an emotional and committed one, but it’s in the employee’s actions now that their engagement is measured.

Gamification is a great tool to use at this stage as the elements of the game can motivate employees to do well and achieve individual targets and goals.

4. Leadership

By now, fully engaged with the company, its goals and services, the employee can begin to act as a leader for those coming up through the awareness, onboarding and engagement phases, helping them to integrate their new knowledge and learning into their everyday work.

Again, gamification is a good method of encouragement at this stage, as it will detect those that are engaging most readily, so that they can be picked out to start acting as leaders for others.

5. Ambassadorship

After a period of leadership the true ambassadors of the company will emerge as evangelists of the company message. They will communicate and act upon the company vision at work and outside of work. They will be the ones pulling any new employees through into the engagement stage of the funnel, making sure that the company is well fitted out with a strong workforce of engaged employees, and they will be picking the new leaders out of them.

Not all employees will become ambassadors, but a lot will make it to the leadership stage on at least some level. The employee engagement funnel is essentially all about corporate culture. By encouraging employees to learn more about the company and how it operates, and essentially changing the way they think about their job role, and indeed how they do their job, they will ultimately help to install that change in other employees’ attitudes too. It is a process that empowers employees and makes for a better culture and better relations and work practices for all.

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