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The Spark: Stop overcomplicating employee engagement

The Spark: Stop overcomplicating employee engagement

Words like “employee engagement” have become white noise to most of us. The phrase is usually paired with incentive programs and teambuilding activities, Friday lunches and ping pong tables.

But here’s a crazy idea: What if you could create engagement at work… by making the work engaging?

A metal fabrication company, Solid Form was no stranger to the talent crisis in the skilled trades. Nationwide recruitment campaigns notwithstanding, some industries just couldn’t shake the enduring stigma of the blue collar… and often struggled to attract and retain employees. So how did we help transform this little shop in rural McMinnville into one of the most sought-after employers in the region?

Simple: By asking the team, “What work do we love doing?

Solid Form Employees Leveling Material

Solid Form had historically focused on small, residential fabrication projects — which had low profit margins and were notoriously difficult to manage. But when Kinesis interviewed the team, it turned out they were most energized by larger structural work that required them to flex their creative muscles. Not only did these projects excite and inspire, they also brought in substantially more revenue. (How’s that for a win-win?)

Bigger projects were the missing ingredient in their employee engagement formula. Leveraging those insights, Kinesis got to work re-positioning Solid Form toward a larger customer base. This meant examining their sales process, developing new proposal materials, and creating an event strategy to target larger fish. We also restructured their portfolio to showcase larger projects and partnerships, and created recruitment materials that focused on the ingenuity this work required.

Solid Form Employee Inspecting Catwalk

And it’s paid off: Solid Form is now known throughout McMinnville as a structural partner, and has been landing more and more high-profile jobs. Their average customer spend is up 64%, and average project size up 49%... but the most important metric is that they’ve retained their team and even grown it by 30%. Why? Because every Solid Form team member gets to do what they love every day. And not by some random coincidence, but because they had a say in what that work looks like.

When was the last time you engaged your employees that way?

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