[Video] Let’s Define… What is “Hollowed-Out Engagement”?

Connecting with employees, customers, and other stakeholders requires us to see life from their point of view. In this Let’s Define episode, I share my “Needs, Fears, and Expectations” concept and simple ways to fix disengagement.

Read my definition of “Hollowed-Out Engagement

Watch the video, or read the transcript below:


Audio Transcript

Hi, I’m Grace LaConte, the Strategic Risk Expert. This is Let’s Define, a video series where I explain terms from the strategic planning and risk management industries, but I give them a twist using phrases that I think are helpful in running a successful business.

Today, I’m going to define “Hollowed-Out Engagement.”

Engagement is:
The process of creating, nurturing, and managing relationships with stakeholders (customers/patients, investors, managers, employees, volunteers, and the community you serve) for whom you meet needs, fears, and expectations.

When engagement doesn’t go well, and I call this “Hollowed-Out,” just like a landslide. We’ve recently had a number of fireshere on the West Coast of the United States… in the Columbia River Gorge, in northern California, and elsewhere in the United States).

After a forest fire or flood, trees die and their root systems aren’t able to hold onto the dirt. Often the trees will fall over, and the the force of gravity will cause the dirt to slide, and eventually curve in a hollow shape.

Mudslide in West Virginia (courtesy TriState Update WOWK)


Without strong roots and connections, engagement in business falls apart. I define Hollow Engagement like this:

The erroreous (wrong) belief that stakeholder relationships are healthy, but where in reality the organization fails to adequately meet those stakeholders’ needs, fears, and expectations.

It’s important to recognize all the aspects of how our customers and staff experience our company culture. Psychological research such as Dr. Abraham Maslow’s “Hierarchy of Needs,” Dr. Fredrick Herzberg’s theory on Motivation-Hygiene, and a variety of other frameworks are described in my Needs, Fears, and Expectations.

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, Maslow's hierarchy, fears, Expectations, Physiological, Safety, Esteem, Belonging, Self-Actualization
Part 1 of Grace LaConte’s Hierarchy of Needs, Fears, and Expectations

In the image above, I combined Dr. Maslow’s needs hierarchy and Dr. Herzberg’s motivation concepts with Dr. Karl Albrecht’s five fears we all share (Extinction, Mutilation, Ego Death, Separation, and Loss of Autonomy), and The Lustgarten Foundation’s Patient Bill of Rights (Access, Choice, Respect, Participation, and Confidentiality).

Below, I added Engagement Needs based on UPMC’s “Patient Engagement Model” and Social Needs from Stephen Anderson’s work “Creating Pleasurable Interfaces.”

Maslow's Hierarchy, hierarchy of needs, Needs, Fears, customer expectations, Engagement
Part 2 of Grace LaConte’s hierarchy of Engagement Needs, Fears, and Social Needs

This gives us a multi-dimensional perspective on what people need and fear, and what they expect, and how they are motivated.

When our engagement with a customer, patient, or employee is “hollow,” it means that we don’t have a clear idea how those individuals are suffering.


The Solution

We can remedy this by becoming more aware of our customers’ experiences, what makes them afraid, and how they perceive value. It also helps to be more empathetic of what they go through, rather than judging or having a black-and-white perspective. We can “sit in the seat” of others.

One way to do this is by becoming an Employee For a Day, which you can read more about here.

Check out more Let’s Define videos, or leave a comment below to share your thoughts!


Interested in hearing how you can reverse a toxic workplace? Find out more here.


Grace LaConte is a business consultant, writer, workplace equity strategist, and the founder of LaConte Consulting. Her risk management tools are used around the globe, and she has successfully reversed toxic work environments for clients in the healthcare and non-profit fields. Grace specializes in lactation law compliance & policy development, reducing staff turnover after maternity leave, and creating a participatory work culture.

Find more at laconteconsulting.com, or connect with her on Instagram and Twitter @lacontestrategy.

Grace LaConte is a profitability expert, writer, and speaker. She is the founder of LaConte Consulting, which provides business owners with practical ways to improve their company's profit, growth, and value. Grace also shares her thoughts about marketing strategies and the dangers of predatory tactics used by MLM (multi-level marketing), which you can find at https://laconteconsulting.com/blog. She is based near Houston, Texas.

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