It’s the ________, stupid.

Jan 24, 2024
Kate Walton

Hello from Steyer!

If you were of news-watching age in 1992, you might remember the phrase, “It’s the economy, stupid.” It was a slight misquote that grew into a “snowclone,” the linguistic phenomenon that allows me to do this:

It’s the engagement, stupid.


And by “stupid” I mean me. I’m feeling stupid. (Slight detour to share that ever since my then-kindergartener breathlessly reported that “the s-word”—yes “stupid”—had been used on the playground, I’ve been extra careful to apply it only to myself and, even then, to do so sparingly. I mean: it *is* a pretty bad word.)

Anyway, I’m feeling stupid because in my fervor (here, here, and here) to defend remote workers and remote workplaces against last year’s RTO backlash, I fell into a debate that isn’t that useful. What really matters to the performance of a business is not where, when, or how people work but how engaged they are—how connected they feel to the company’s goals, to each other, and to the tasks they are personally tackling.

Engagement can rise—and engagement can stagnate or plummet—in *all* kinds of workplaces, for *all* kinds of reasons. Furthermore, intentionally improving engagement is HARD: Gallup has released data showing that over the last 20 years, the rate of engaged employees in the U.S. has remained at only about a third, and that somewhere between 15 to 20% of all U.S. employees are actively disengaged.

::reaches for the smelling salts, but all the other business owners have already grabbed them::

So, if you would, give us a hand (and by us I mean Katelyn and Tony):

Tell us: what should Steyer’s leadership focus on in 2024 to buck these engagement trends? Please email your thoughts to me or—if you love what the veil of anonymity does to your eyes—please feel free to share via Suggestion Ox.

Either way, we’ll be very grateful for your input!


P.S. Speaking of engagement, here are a few ways to connect with us in the coming days, weeks, and months:
1. Our recruiters will be fielding questions from job seekers in an Ask Me Anything session on Wednesday, January 31st, a week from today.
2. We are continuing to host an AI Chat every Tuesday morning. All are welcome!
3. Throughout the year, I’ll be facilitating a series of small group discussions focused on leadership communications. If your current role involves speaking on behalf of an organization (large or small) and you think you might want to participate in one of these sessions, please email me at See this LinkedIn post for more context.

Photo by Matt Seymour on Unsplash