Increase engagement with The FISH! Philosophy

Danielle Peters

According to a Gallup poll, 87 percent of workers worldwide are “not engaged” in their work. Almost 20 percent are “actively disengaged.”

As a result, organisations lose billions of dollars to low productivity, excess sick days, and turnover—not to mention the customers who don’t come back because of uninspired, robotic service.


Studies show a strong connection between a company’s level of employee engagement and its performance. Higher engagement equals better results.

Building internal motivation

So what can you do to boost engagement? Salary and benefits matter, but they’re not the whole story. Disengagement is similar across all salary levels.

Engagement can’t be imposed. You can make people do their work, but you can't force them to love it—and passion is one of the big differences between a mediocre organisation and a great one.

The difference-maker is your culture. Many workers don’t feel their organisation listens to or cares about them. That’s why the best companies know they can’t just meet people’s economic needs. They must also meet their emotional needs.

One of the best ways to create a culture of support and appreciation is with The FISH! Philosophy.

A model of engagement

The FISH! Philosophy was inspired by the World Famous Pike Place Fish Market in Seattle, Washington. If you were to visit this Fish market you will witness fishmongers tossing crabs and salmon to each another, while a crowd applauds each spectacular catch.

These fishmongers greet strangers like old friends. When a fishmonger serves a customer, it was like they are the only two people in the world.

Although selling fish is cold and exhausting work. They choose to bring passion and engagement to what they do everyday. This behaviour resulted in a world famous training program called The FISH! Philosophy—anyone can use it to be more successful. First there was the FISH! film which spawned a bestselling book and now a new self-paced elearning course.

Organisations around the world use The FISH! Philosophy to build teamwork, increase retention and boost performance. Here are some tips on how you can apply these practices to boost engagement:

Be there

No one wants to work in a place where everyone is out for themselves. Be There starts with being present—emotionally and physically—for the people who need you.

It’s easy to find reasons to not Be There, like the restaurant manager who never turned around and kept typing when employees came to her office. “I thought I was multi-tasking,” she says. “But I was really alienating them.”

So what does Be There look like? It’s turning off your computer or phone temporarily to give your total attention to the other person. It’s covering for a colleague for a few minutes so they can deal with a customer who needs extra help. It’s offering a kind word  to a coworker who is feeling down.

Studies show people are more likely to be engaged and less likely to leave a job if they have good friends at work and feel appreciated.


People often think of play as the opposite of work. But Play isn’t a specific activity. It’s a state of mind you can apply to any task.

In a playful workplace, people have fun in a way that lifts people’s spirits. They are open to “playing” with ideas—about how to do their jobs better and improve the business.

Fear—of making mistakes, of looking foolish—kills a playful workplace. If people don’t feel safe, they will avoid doing anything that might get them into trouble, including coming up with creative ideas. Instead of serving others in a lighthearted, genuine, “be yourself” way, they can seem robotic and scripted.

It’s important for everyone on the team to be clear about what the team is trying to achieve. Once you know what your “playing field” is, give people freedom to play within those boundaries in a way that boosts energy and enthusiasm.

Make their day

You can’t always fall back on money to make the day of your employees. But you can let them know how much you value them. Simple gestures go a long way. Thank people for what they have accomplished. Ask them what they think and listen to their ideas.

Recognition is most meaningful when it comes from a peer who has taken the time to notice what you do. At Ranken Jordan Hospital in St. Louis, when you want to acknowledge a coworker, you give them a plastic fish. The fish have a small slit cut in the tail so they fit on employee badges.

When you give a fish to a coworker, you are telling them: You are living what we stand for. “A plastic fish may seem silly,” says one employee. “But to know that your peers sees what you’re doing for others, it feels so uplifting.”

Choose your attitude

You can’t control everything life throws in your path. But you do get to choose how you deal with it.

It helps to remember that your choice not only affects you, but everyone around you. You may feel justifiably upset about an unpleasant interaction, but should you take it out on the next person who needs you?

Trust takes a long time to build but can be destroyed in a few seconds. Is the reaction or criticism you are about to unleash on someone worth more than the relationship that will be affected by it?

Ask yourself, “What is my attitude right now? Is it helping my coworkers and customers? Is it helping me be the person I want to be?” If not, you can choose an attitude that is more satisfying—for you and for everyone whose life you touch.

The FISH! Philosophy is used to help inspire teams to reach new heights with customer service by Making Peoples Days and also helps employees learn how they have the ability to Choose Their Own Attitude.

You can access training from FISH! as a part of your Go1 Premium subscription for no additional costs, as well as being able to purchase their courses individually through the Go1 Course Marketplace and Training Assist.

About the author:

Danielle Peters is the Director of FUN at FISH! eLearning. Danielle is passionate about The FISH! Philosophy and helping businesses improve their workplace culture.

Go1 helps millions of people in thousands of organizations engage in learning that is relevant, effective and inspiring.
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