Building Employee Engagement: 7 Myths
Employee engagement in the workplace is the level of commitment employees have toward their work and their employer. We value employee engagement for many reasons. Companies actively pursue this objective for morale, team culture, career and professional goals, overall performance, better service and products, productivity boost, and, of course, profit. Making use of proper, well-defined and thought-out strategies to build employee engagement in an organization will lead to promising results. But building employee engagement the wrong way will prove disastrous. Let’s debunk seven falsehoods that steer you away from building employee engagement.
Myth #1. Equating employee engagement with employee contentment
That they spend 100% of their time at work doing their job doesn’t necessarily make them happy employees. They might stick to deliver the minimum and not go the extra mile. In the short term, they might find their current work tolerable. But they might not stay for long and quit to find something more satisfactory.
Conversely, trying to make them happy with various incentives is not a solution to their full commitment at work. Having a pool table in the break room or a free lunch on Thursdays are nice perks that positively contribute to team culture and employee appreciation, but keeping people engaged in their work requires company goals to be aligned with professional ones on an individual level. We are more emotionally and mentally invested in doing good work and root for the organization to do well when we easily understand the purpose behind what we do on a daily basis. One way is to specifically communicate what makes a particular job or task important.
Myth #2. Thinking that this is an HR issue
Employee engagement concerns everyone, not a responsibility that should solely fall on human resources’ shoulders. Making lasting changes within an organization comes from the ground up as opposed to a top-down approach without staff input. Finding solutions to what makes employees engaged starts with a bit of investigation with the participation of managers, HR, as well as employees. Looking into a specific job position, available tools and environment, approaches, asking questions, holding a feedback meeting… it is worth seeking out what works, what doesn’t, and what could be improved upon. For example, why not consider an app to handle repetitive and time-consuming tasks.
Myth #3. Thinking that a disengaged employee is a terrible employee
Expecting everyone to show up with enthusiasm on the job at all times is unrealistic. Enthusiastic workers most of the time is a good indicator of engagement. But disengaged employees should be quickly addressed. Have a private face-to-face chat and see what’s going on. Could be a number of reasons. It could be personal. Could be a temporary issue. Yet, it might be a difficult task they don’t understand, which can be quickly resolved. Could be a not challenging enough task, which can equally be quickly resolved. Find out. Show empathy.
Myth #4. Assuming that a survey holds all the cards
A well-designed survey is certainly another good strategy. Distributing it and make it mandatory it to gather valuable information. Data analysis seems like a sound approach and presents as suitable first steps to build employee engagement. However, don’t expect everyone to tell the whole truth. Depending on the relationships established between employers, managers and employees, the latter may not feel entirely comfortable speaking out honestly and provide feedback.
They might keep important criticism for themselves from fear of losing their jobs. They might not take the survey seriously if their answers will not be taken seriously. If no tangible action will be taken in a timely manner to improve their immediate situation, they might get discouraged. Or, they might simply skip it because it takes hours to complete. To help ensure their participation, consider involving them in the process of designing the survey (e.g., what questions would you like to be asked), or give more reassurance by taking the time to explain the importance of the survey and stress how valuable their contribution is.
Myth #5. Throwing money at the problem is a problem solved
Yes, financial incentives like higher salaries and bigger bonuses are always welcome and is a motivator to most but not the only factor to keep employees fully committed to their work. That’s right, other things are at play, that are just as, if not more important than money, like meaningful work, work experiences, learning opportunities and coworker relation.
Myth #6. The bigger the better
Employee engagement concerns any organization no matter the size. In fact, smaller, tight-knit organizations might have an even harder time building engagement, whereas big organizations could excel. It’s truly a matter of approach.
Myth #7. Employees don’t care for more responsibility
They actually do. Furthermore, they take pride in their work and want to see the company they work for succeed. They might not voice it to take on more challenging tasks, or they might need a little nudge. And with more responsibility comes better engagement.
Shirley is a Vacation Tracker occasional contributor. She’s held a few positions in communications, marketing and copywriting. When she’s not at her laptop, you can find her daydreaming about her laptop and chasing the sun while people watching.