Start the Conversation: “What Engagement Means to You”

Kyla Holcombe, Ph.D., Insights Consultant & Organizational PsychologistEmployee Engagement, Strategic ListeningLeave a Comment

Many employees are asked to fill out engagement surveys, but they aren’t often asked what engagement really means to them. As part of an ongoing effort to focus on and improve the experience of their workforce, Border States Electric (BSE) has stepped back to fully understand this important perspective.

BSE has over 2,300 employee-owners across 98 locations in the U.S., responsible partnering with companies to streamline their supply chains and increase efficiencies. As a 100% employee-owned company, asking for feedback and using employee-owner input is viewed as critical to the success of business and serving customers well.

Facilitating a Conversation on Engagement 

To start the discussion, the survey team identified engagement champions from each of their five regions and reached out to learn:

  • What does engagement mean to you?
  • Why is it important to share feedback during the engagement survey?

Responses are compiled bi-monthly and shared across the organization in “What Engagement Means to Me” articles, which are published using BSE’s internal communications system, Borderline. Feedback on the initiative has been overwhelmingly positive and the insights are helping to further shape a culture of listening and drive active participation in engagement efforts.

What Employee-owners are Saying:

Taking risks and being bold helps separate us from others, and that makes our team more engaged.


South Carolina

To me, employee-owner engagement is promoting the seven ‘Ownership Essentials’, especially "Set the Standard" and "Be Brave." They bring a creative mindset into our industry and give employee-owners a sense of accomplishment. I always challenge people to learn something new every day. Taking risks and being bold helps separate us from others, and that makes our team more engaged.

It's important to share our feedback during the employee-owner engagement surveys because, for a company we all work for and own, it's beneficial to have candid feedback - especially on what's going well and what's not. We cannot continue to strive for excellence if we cannot fix or work on key issues. Always striving to get better and wanting more creates greater opportunities and doing it as a team benefits us all.

When you feel trusted, valued and encouraged, you are more likely to be excited about work and to look for ways to improve yourself and your company.


North Carolina

Simply put, employee engagement is the level of enthusiasm and connection employees have with their organization. It is a measure of motivation and commitment to your organization. When you feel trusted, valued and encouraged you are more likely to be excited about work and to look for ways to improve yourself and your company. Engagement is a reflection of happiness and stability. You give your best and exemplify the goals and values of your company in everything you do.

Feedback provided through the engagement survey helps management understand how each employee-owner perceives their role, impact and value in the company. It is crucial to be aware of employee-owner perceptions and how they see these fitting in with the current and future plans of Border States. We are better together and must seek and encourage engagement wherever possible.

When you are fully engaged, you don’t feel like you’re just going through the have a sense of pride about everything you complete.



Being engaged is more than just committing yourself to doing something, it’s about how much effort you put in and the level of enthusiasm that you bring with you every day. When you are fully engaged, you don’t feel like you’re just going through the motions trying to get through the day, you have a sense of pride about everything you complete, which will give you more satisfaction from your job. When you have that satisfaction at work, you’ll find that it will make your personal life more enjoyable as well.

It’s important to fill out the engagement survey because it gives you the chance to really speak up and give your opinion about what is going well and what the company could be doing better. Giving honest feedback, both good and bad, is the best way to make sure that we maintain our culture at work. The culture at Border States is a point of pride for our company and the engagement survey provides crucial data to make sure that we continue along the correct path and keep our employee-owners happy. If we want to be better together, then we must make sure the culture continues to be one of our top priorities!

Impact of Sharing Engagement Perspectives

Not only have these articles given visibility to employee-owners across BSE and what matters to them, they remind people of the hard work going on across the organization. People who’ve submitted responses receive multiple ”likes” for their featured stories and often reach out to the survey team to share how empowered they feel because of the experience. People had no idea they could make such an impact by sharing their perspectives.

Furthermore, this effort underlines the importance of engagement to the organization and demonstrates that BSE values feedback. Giving transparency to this topic reinforces participation and allows everyone to have a voice in shaping company culture.

BSE brands their employee-owner survey to increase awareness and participation. The title "Speak Up: Inspire Change" was used to encourage open feedback and reinforce the impact and change that would result.

How to Explore ‘What Engagement Means’ at Your Organization 

Do you know what employee engagement means to you? Your team? To others in your organization? If not, now is the time to ask. Powerful reflections and conversations can come out of this simple prompt: What does engagement mean to you?

Content included in this post was provided by Border States Electric (BSE), who partners with Newmeasures to support their employee listening strategy. Specific thanks to the following team members for their contributions to this story and initiative:

  • Bonnie Herald, Distribution Leadership Program Trainee
  • Brandon Sem, Regional HR Manager – NW Region
  • Christian Keator, NW Region Operations Coordinator
  • Clay Lovelace, Branch Manager
  • Justin Hankner, Regional HR Manager – SW Region
  • Kelli Bohn, HR Recruiting Specialist
  • Lindsey Cernik, Organizational Development Consultant
  • Talia Nelson, Sr Human Resources Manager