Employee Engagement: Mat Talk Monday with Jerry from Netflix's "Cheer"
Lessons in Employee Engagement from Cheer’s ‘Jerry’

It’s no secret, the most motivated and engaged teams are happier and achieve more at work. Employee Engagement and well-being are taking centerstage in the corporate world. With a war for talent and low unemployment, employers realize that prioritizing employee satisfaction is no longer an option, it’s a necessity. A recent study by Gallop shows that highly engaged teams show 21% greater profitability and 59% less turnover, and disengaged employees cost the U.S. $550 billion a year. Best-in-class employee engagement requires consistent effort from the employer to promote a culture of positivity, individual and team recognition, and the support to help teammates grow to their best potential. Today we’re going to examine these practices through pop-culture’s latest sensation: Jerry Harris.

Jerry’s enthusiastic ‘mat talk’, (e.g., shouts of encouragement for fellow squad members as they tumble, cradle, and hit their pyramid on the cheer mat), has won the hearts of many on Netflix’s docuseries “Cheer”. Below we’ll break down why every office needs a Jerry to win their Employee Engagement.


Create a Culture of Positivity

Employee Engagement is ultimately about culture. A positive, uplifting culture results in happy workers, and happy workers result in more productivity. Studies find that happy workers are 12% more productive than the average worker, and unhappy workers are 10% less productive. It can be challenging in intense environments to remember the power of injecting positivity into the team, but finding even the smallest opportunities can make a big difference. HINT: You don’t have to wait for that elusive “Team Outing” to do so.

Even though he doesn’t have the traditional physique for cheerleading and struggles to ‘make mat’ on the season, he never loses his positive attitude and optimistic spirit. The power of his positivity is evident, especially when his teammates are experiencing frustrations. His contagious optimism lifts the spirits of the whole team, pushing them to perform their best.

Take 5 minutes each day to create a culture of positivity within your team by giving a quick compliment, chatting about weekend plans, or simply send a video clip of Jerry. Finding even the smallest opportunities to create positivity in the office through can make a big difference in the  team’s performance.

Remember Heroes Aren’t Always “On Mat”

Building a strong culture comes from the top, but you don’t have to be “The Star” to be a True Leader. It can be difficult for teams (and individuals) to stay aligned around collective success when it feels like they’re on the sidelines. Most employees want to be involved in their company strategic goals, in fact, 80% of employees say they are committed to doing their best to execute the company strategy, even though they would like more clarity on what the strategy actually is.

Jerry shows firsthand how a true teammate is committed to a collective success even when they’re not at the top of the pyramid. Even though he  spent most of the season on the sidelines cheering his team on, he emerged as one of the biggest stars of the show. Regardless of his role, he was still (loudly) passionate about the end goal that the team was working toward.

Empower your employees to work towards common success by inviting broad feedback or hosting collaborative cross-functional sessions for important projects. In this kind of environment, all employees will show up ready to contribute regardless of their role. Make it clear that everyone needs to be ready to step into the spotlight and that their attitude plays a role in their upward mobility.

Not the boss yet? Lead by Example with Positivity and you will probably find yourself in a leadership role faster than you think.

Recognize The Individual

Workplace relationships have a significant positive impact on a company’s success. While many people tend to think of leader-to-employee recognition as the only valid form of positive reinforcement, peer-to-peer recognition is actually 36% more likely to have a positive impact on financial results than manager-only recognition.

Every time Jerry recognizes someone on mat, he does it with a direct recognition of something personal to that teammate.  He takes the time to call a teammate out by name and mat talk the hell out of their performance.

Invest in getting to know your team (as people, not just employees),  their aspirations, motivations, and development areas so you can authentically root for them. Use peer-to-peer recognition to build a culture of support, collaboration, and success. Set up spaces where employees can “mat talk” one another and send words of encouragement on Slack, intranets, or even a company bulletin board.


Organizations must adjust to changing workplace attitudes as Employee Engagement and well-being become a priority. Employee engagement starts with culture, specifically a culture that promotes positivity, collaboration, and individual recognition. It will become increasingly important for organizations to ensure their culture aligns with today’s employee expectations.

And if you feel your company needs some inspiration, just take a lesson or two from Jerry Harris.

We love helping our clients build company culture and improve employee engagement … so if you’ve found a way to build a great culture (or you’re struggling with it) we’d love to hear from you!