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The Engagement Crisis Hits Home

August 21, 2018 Joe Mechlinski

Engagement Crisis

We need to be engaged at every level. When we're not, society suffers.

West Baltimore. April 2015. Riots break out after the death of Freddie Gray.

Businesses destroyed, hundreds arrested, the Maryland National Guard deployed. The hopelessness triggering this chaos is familiar to me.


I grew up in East Baltimore, several miles away. Freddie Gray hailed from Sandtown-Winchester (West Baltimore), where the unemployment rate sit at 20%. Those that do work, are barely making it by, with half of the community falling below the federal poverty level for a family of four.

These people are on the bottom rung of Maslow’s pyramid.

maslow hierarchy of needsImage source: Simply Psychology

Every day is a fight to obtain the basic needs of food, clothing, and shelter.

Rising to the pyramid’s next tiers—to satisfy psychological needs like safety, esteem, and belongingness—is a pipe dream. The people in these communities struggle to find a purpose beyond survival. Employee engagement is directly tied to our basic needs.

Environments of despair have a clear mental effect on people, but they also—as this series of blogs will demonstrate—impact the body’s physiology and biochemistry.

What if these workers had jobs that lit them up?

What if these workers enjoyed environments with equity, equality, and justice?

What if the companies they worked for could bring the best out of their employees?

What if the 70% of the workforce that feels disengaged succeeded in positively shifting their work?

The brains and bodies of these workers would change.

The entire country stands to gain if we can engage the workforce. In fact, the entire world does.

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