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Is saying ‘good morning’ to a colleague a dying interaction?

By Kace O'Neill | |6 minute read

We may be lacking the fundamentals when it comes to employee engagement. What can leaders do to turn this around?

HR Leader recently sat down with Joe Pane, an emotional fitness expert, who proclaimed that workplaces are missing those fundamentals when it comes to employee engagement.

Gallup defines employee engagement as “the involvement and enthusiasm of employees in their work and workplace”. It helps you measure and manage employees’ perspectives on the crucial elements of workplace culture.


Relationships in the workplace are crucial for business outcomes and productivity. They also are a big part of how our experience goes throughout our daily endeavours. If relationships are corrosive, the impact can be extremely detrimental.

“Relationships are an amplifier or a minimiser of how we experience everything. So, the quality of our career is impacted by the quality of our everyday experiences. The experiences that we have in our work environment are impacted by our relationships, meaning that if the relationships and the connection and the culture are great, it amplifies and beautifies our experience of work,” Pane said.

“But if, on the other hand, the relationships in the work environment are toxic or unhealthy or unresourceful, it’s going to minimise the quality of our experiences, which is going to impact and ripple effect across the board with our performance.”

Controlling employee experience and engagement should be a paramount priority for leaders. Creating a positive and inclusive culture is a crucial part of it, and leaders should set the standard by committing to engaging with their employees.

“One is that to a certain degree, it’s our responsibility as leaders as to how our team feels. And I’m not talking about how they feel about us; I’m talking about how they feel in general, because how they are feeling is going to impact how well they embrace or don’t embrace the challenge of the day,” Pane said.

“If they feel supported, seen, acknowledged, validated and respected, they feel great about themselves. They’re now able to impact the change or whatever that particular day has planned for them, or whatever performance they need to deliver on that day will significantly increase with that.”

It can be as simple as reinforcing those basic fundamentals of human interaction, that quite frankly, a lot of businesses are lacking. Basic greetings, politeness, and etiquette are important for building relationships, and it’s up to leaders to reconfigure this and set good examples that can be adopted by employees.

“A lot of workplaces are missing basic fundamentals. I’m talking basics like greeting everyone, saying good morning and hello and acknowledging people’s existence when you walk into the office or walk into that space and you’ve got team members,” Pane said.

“Even though these team members don’t have the professional capacity to impact you, it’s important to value and acknowledge them as much as you value and acknowledge a person who can impact you.”

At the end of the day, having an enjoyable experience at work instead of feeling uncomfortable, unwelcomed, and even excluded, can be all the difference between residing at an organisation long term, or leaving.

Retention and employee engagement are both imperative factors that a number of Aussie businesses are struggling with at the moment. If leaders realign their strategies to a more fundamental approach, it could make all the difference.

The transcript of this podcast episode was slightly edited for publishing purposes. To listen to the full conversation with Joe Pane, click below:



An employee is a person who has signed a contract with a company to provide services in exchange for pay or benefits. Employees vary from other employees like contractors in that their employer has the legal authority to set their working conditions, hours, and working practises.

Employee engagement

Employee engagement is the level of commitment people have to the company, how enthusiastic they are about their work, and how much free time they devote to it.

Kace O'Neill

Kace O'Neill

Kace O'Neill is a Graduate Journalist for HR Leader. Kace studied Media Communications and Maori studies at the University of Otago, he has a passion for sports and storytelling.