Employee engagement myths, busted


Businesses are focused on employee engagement more now than ever before. It’s not only because they long to maintain and improve their competitive advantage after a tumultuous financial year, but also because teams are dispersed – the ways of managing and communicating with employees have changed. Wellbeing has been proven to have a great impact on employee performance, and businesses want to do what they can to retain and attract the best talent in a new era of work that’s competitive and honestly difficult to thrive in. 

We’ve seen a huge surge in the number of companies looking to improve employee engagement, communicate better with their people and become better aligned with the needs and feelings of their workforce by conducting emotion-driven pulse surveys. For most leaders, it’s top priority as they move into this new era.

With that said, it’s been interesting discovering the myths about employee engagement. Myths like “I pay my people well, so they must be engaged”. 

These are the most common employee engagement myths, busted.

MYTH #1  A good paycheck will boost employee engagement

Think again. Every employee has different needs; not all of your people will be motivated by money. For years, company’s have tried to solve poor employee engagement through monetary rewards and incentives. Studies show that this only works for 22% of the working population. 

For almost 80% of the working population, money does not make them feel more engaged at work. And this is because engagement is not improved by just one factor, or even by having a singular need met. To feel engaged an employee often needs to feel positive about their overall working experience, it’s very seldom that it applies to a single area like pay. Employees are more likely to feel engaged if they feel positive about their working relationships, their ability to grow, believing in the company’s vision, diversity and inclusion at work, leadership, acknowledgment and being valued, etc. That’s why companies are better off establishing a well-rounded employee experience rather than focus on one area that may not even meet the needs of most of the workforce.

MYTH #2 Employees should feel happy to be employed (the fear of being laid off will increase engagement)

Many companies and managers operate under the false guise of the idea that being employed should be enough to satisfy their workforce, especially in the current climate. Well, if you’re hiring good people (which you should be), they won’t be lacking for opportunities elsewhere. If you think businesses aren’t hiring right now, think again. Recruitment of talent has seen a resurgence. Recruitment experts, Networx Solutions says a rising recruitment trend this year is building a strong talent pool to maintain competitive advantage. 

And again, employee engagement is not determined by one factor or feeling, but rather an employee’s overall feeling about their job. An employee can be grateful to have a job but can still feel unhappy within their organisation, feel unsatisfied or undervalued etc. An employee who’s core needs aren’t being met, is an employee who’s going to be disengaged and unmotivated, regardless of whether they’re happy to have a job. Plus, for many employees, a new opportunity is just a Google search away, and as mentioned, companies are still very much hiring talent. Companies need to make sure they’re not just speaking to their people, but hearing from them too. What do they feel? What do they need? Millions of companies around the world rely on pulse surveys to build this vital channel of communication with their people in order to keep engagement, performance and profits high. 

MYTH #3 If everyone is similar to each other, culture is strengthened 

This could not be further from the truth. Diversity and inclusion is one of the key components for building a strong culture and improving employee engagement. It’s also the way to retain and attract talent. Whether your company is made up of thousands of people or just a handful, diversity is essential. Diversity in race, cultural background, gender, skill and ability is crucial if you’re serious about creating a culture that not only reflects your company values on diversity and inclusion, but is also innovative, skillful, resourceful, well-rounded. This is the secret to a winning team and a successful company culture (and a healthy bottom line). And as mentioned, D&I is essential for keeping and attracting strong talent. In fact, in a recent study by Deloitte 75% of executives who responded, said they would consider leaving jobs for more diverse and inclusive organisations.

MYTH #4 The company is enough to keep the employee

Many leaders believe their people will feel engaged and loyal because of the company – especially if it’s a big brand and well known or respected in the industry. Leaders of companies are often blinded by their own goals and perceptions of the company they’ve had a hand in building. It’s important that leaders separate their feelings and emotions to the company, from the feelings and needs of their people. The truth is, people aren’t any more loyal or feel any more engaged because of a company name. People don’t leave companies, they leave managers. They leave organisation’s that are managed poorly, where people are not considered. It’s management, the working experience and their feelings towards them that make employees either engage or disengage.

The first step to engaging your people is making sure they feel appreciated, respected, acknowledged and heard. 

A conscious, emotion driven employee engagement program considers who people are as individuals and human beings, and allows for customization in the approach to assigning work and giving feedback. Individualization is the modern shift from the one-size-fits-all management of the old-school working environment.

Master Engagement Throughout the Employee Lifecycle