Insight article

Want more engaged employees? Tell a story

Every leader wants the best from their team. We know of a way to engage and unite your team, accelerate performance, and inspire your employees all at the same time. We are watching companies become the best versions of themselves every day and it starts with something simple that requires your attention. We’ve seen organisations rally behind seemingly impossible journeys.

With turnover rates and the cost of turnover rates higher than ever1, as leaders we must do more than foster a culture that stays engaged. We have to create it. We have to shape our story around it. It is no secret that it can be difficult to shift the culture of a company. To do so requires a change in the mindsets of our employees. Just take the recent moves at Microsoft to engender a growth mindset into the company’s DNA.2

We’ve found that it takes the power and influence of storytelling to make a real shift and create lasting change. Yes, story, the thing that tucked us in at night, entertains us when we tell ourselves, “just one more episode and then I’m going to bed.”

Did you know that storytelling is good for our bodies, too? It both physiologically and psychologically makes us happier. According to multiple studies of the mind, good stories can physically release the ‘love’ and ‘happiness’ hormone oxytocin in our brains.3 In one particular study published by the Harvard Business Review, Dr. Paul Zak and his lab studied the oxytocin levels of their participants as they were exposed to different forms of narrative storytelling and found that a character-driven story did cause more happiness hormone synthesis.4 The study also revealed that oxytocin production was directly correlated to how much a participant was willing to help others. This means the better the story – particularly where there is an element of struggle or endeavour that’s been overcome – the more engaged your employee. And leaders can use this tool to great advantage, to build empathy and trust amongst their teams in order to bring them with them on challenging journeys of change and performance improvement.

What would this be like? To experience work like we were living a great story? Like we were a part of something bigger than ourselves? A happier employee is far less likely to leave during your next wave of changes, dropping those turnover rates and their many costs. It also brings a renewed energy into your business and that impossible journey seems possible. One of our key learnings has been that authentic leaders, equipped with the the right story for their goals, their strategies, and their business, have a huge impact. We’ve watched teams achieve goals that only months before were discounted. We’ve seen people retract their resignations. We’ve seen attrition drop – often dramatically – together with absenteeism levels that are so often a symptom of disengagement.

Most importantly we’ve seen leaders embrace change and inspire truly remarkable stories. Because the secret is that its not always a culture problem or an operations problem, but a story problem. Indeed, our professional culture is a collection of stories our employees believe about our company.

At The Storytellers, we are watching renewal as our crafted storytelling inspires sustainable productivity, unites disparate teams, and accelerates individual and team performance alike. The change a good story makes sticks. Because, the simple truth is that people remember stories before facts.5

What could you accomplish if your employees really knew what you were building, how you were building it, and why? What could be created if everyone was inspired by what you were working towards? At The Storytellers this is the change we are creating for our clients. We are helping people make the impossible possible by telling a better story. We’ll help you give your employees the journey they need to give you the results you want.

At The Storytellers we build those journeys.



1. Hinkin, T. R., & Tracey, J. B. (2000). The cost of turnover: Putting a price on the learning curve. Link

2. Weinberger, Matt. (2017). How Microsoft’s CEO Showed His Employees Tough Love. Link

3. Stillman, Jessica. (2016). The Fascinating Thing That Storytelling Does to Your Brain. Link

4. Zak, Paul Dr. (2014). Why Your Brain Loves Good Storytelling. Link to source. Link

5. Callahan, Shawn. (2015). The Link Between Memory and Stories. Link

Jack Roberts