I have recently started offering an employee engagement survey for companies. There is a plethora of data available detailing the impact an engaged workforce has on a company including employee productivity, employee retention, improved chances of success, and profitability. I often run into people that have some misconceptions about what employee engagement really is. This article is going to talk about some of the myths about employee engagement.
Myths About Employee Engagement
Most major companies in the US have some sort of employee engagement survey for their employees. Honestly, it was that focus on engagement that led me to develop a company to help other leaders develop an engaged employee base. Unfortunately, what I’ve experienced is that the leaders responsible for creating an engaged workforce don’t understand what it means, and most of the employees didn’t really care about it either. Employee engagement became a buzz word, or even worse, a punchline to a joke. Here are some common myths about employee engagement and examples of how others have overcome them.
Myth 1: Engaged Means Happy
Sometimes a company makes a decision that doesn’t make everyone happy. A business is in existence to make money, and if it is not, it is going out of business. Besides, you can’t always make everyone happy. I was involved in a group discussion where a company changed a policy and there was resistance. Someone in the group was upset and said something like, “That isn’t very engaging.” Employee engagement doesn’t mean making employees happy. If that is the goal, give them more money or benefits and more time off! That would make most people happy.
If you want to make an employee more engaged, start by reminding them of why they come to work. What is their favorite part of their jobs? What drove them into this particular profession? Asking these questions gets people emotionally involved in their work. People start thinking about what they really like about their job, and that is inspirational. If you want to create an engaged workforce, inspire them. Find out what your team likes best about their job and help them do more of it. When they are inspired, that they create an emotional attachment to their job, and that creates true happiness, engagement and drives results!
Myth 2: One Size Fits All
When I first got into management, I was required to put together an engagement action plan. The guidance I was given was to find something important to the group and work on that. So, I got my team in the room and we talked through what our plan was going to be. Inevitably I had six people who wanted to work on one thing, three on something else and the remaining three each having their own ideas. We went with majority rules.
What I realized afterwards was that I alienated half my team from the start! Each of the twelve members had their own perspective. They had their own problems, and their own reasons to come to work. I was only helping half the team with their problems and basically saying the struggles of the other half weren’t as important. But, they are important, if they are your struggles! In the years following, we ended up creating several different action plans. I’d have a team that were experiencing similar struggles work together to solve their problem. By doing this I validated all their concerns, and we saw our results improve!
Myth 3: Let’s Be Friends
This one actually seems to make sense. People prefer to work with their friends. People trust their friends. If you were friends with the people you work with, then you’ll be more engaged. While this does foster friendships, it does not bring engagement. Again, maybe you’ll be happier, but not necessarily inspired. Working with your friends is great, but your job isn’t a social club.
Some of the deepest and longest lasting relationships come from working with each other on a team towards a common goal. If you talk to veterans that served in a combat situation, they weren’t necessarily friends before that experience but formed a bond in the process. Talk to any team that went through a trying experience and you’ll find a friendship bond. Friendships are formed through common experiences and challenges. By creating an engaged workforce, that is inspired and emotionally involved in a goal, the friendships will be formed.
This Week’s Challenge
Whether you’re a team of seven, seventy, seven hundred or seven thousand employee engagement will help your team succeed. Are you struggling with retention? Are you struggling with employee productivity or flat profits? How does your company approach employee engagement? Are you treating symptoms or do you understand the root cause? Avoid some of the common myths of engagement and work on creating an engaged workforce and you’ll begin to see your company grow!
If you would like to discuss employee engagement in more detail or if you feel you have a specific problem that needs to be addressed, please contact me!