Debunking Common Employee Engagement Myths
- Written by Kyle Kalloo
In today’s competitive marketplace, employee engagement has emerged as an important component of business success
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Employee engagement is much more than a buzzword for modern business. In today’s competitive marketplace, employee engagement has emerged as an important component of business success; fostering customer loyalty, promoting retention and improving organizational performance.
Engaged employees are fully involved, enthusiastic and committed to their work. Engaged employees are willing to do their best for the success of their organization. Recent studies have shown that companies with engaged employees outperform those without by up to 202%. The United States alone loses an estimated $11 billion on employee turnover, with Canada ranking the 4th globally for highest employee turnover rate at 16% (United States rate at 13%, 5th place, and France being 21% in first place). Employees are more likely to leave the company they work with if they do not feel engaged by or committed to the organization’s cause.
Employee engagement is an important element of a holistic business and is best experienced when the goals of the company align with the ambitions of the employee. This is often achieved by a combination of workplace initiatives, effective communication strategies and with the right tools. Employees generally spend more time in the work environment that they do with their families, so it’s not surprising that employees want to be engaged and passionate about their jobs, which leads to fulfillment.
In 2018 we surely have the tools, strategies, and techniques to expand the paltry global average of 15% of employees that feel engaged at work. Employee engagement across the US and Canada combined stands at 31%, the highest of any region, while in Western Europe the figure is below the global average at just 10%.
There’s an incredible opportunity to enjoy the many benefits of a more committed workforce. So why aren’t organizations doing more, or are they? Where do you begin?
Common Employee Engagement Myths
Myth 1: Employee Engagement can be achieved by Higher Pay
Most employers wrongly presumed that employee satisfaction and employee engagement mean the same thing. To clear things up, when you offer your employee the right amount of money and compensation for their hard work, they generally feel “satisfied,” but it doesn’t generally mean they are engaged or happy. Employee engagement is an emotional state where your employees feel fulfillment and commitment to the cause of the company.
Myth 2: Hands-on Management Harms Engagement
Another common misconception about employee engagement is that employees need space and freedom if they are going to feel engaged. Although it’s true that employees require freedom to grow and express creativity, great leadership could actually be a great motivator in the workplace. Employees need mentorship, guidance, and support to perform at their optimum best.
Myth 3: Benefits are the Key to Engagement
A third myth that many employers believe is that the best way to create employee engagement is to make the workplace relaxed and fun as much as possible. While these incentives might make your employees happy, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re engaged. The truth is that meaningful work is usually the most effective way to improve employee experiences and get them engaged. Employee engagement is much more than benefits and perks, it involves getting your employees to feel fulfilled and committed to their work.
The Cost of Disengagement
Figures from a Gallup poll revealed that an estimated 85% of employees are classified as either ‘not engaged’ or ‘actively disengaged’ at work. Disengagement can take several forms; employees just doing enough to get by, avoiding their manager, not recommending their employer to others, and making excuses for their mistakes. Such behaviours can result in a significant loss of productivity.
Disengaged employees are unlikely to perform at their best. Furthermore, they are less likely to foster teamwork and tend to feel little to no enthusiasm for team activity. Disengaged employees are more likely to be stressed as a result of work overload or lack of sufficient resources to get the job done. And more harmfully, a disengaged employee is not always known as disgruntled.
Strategies to Improve Employee Engagement
There are specific strategies that companies are working on to better employee engagement. Here are some tips you can follow.
- Look for opportunities for Development
All employees want a chance to grow and thrive in their respective careers. Investing in employee career development training can improve employee retention and enhance productivity. Furthermore, companies that invest in career development training for their employees achieve a 24% higher profit margin compared to those who don’t. Implement individual development, deliver training regularly (leadership and teamwork), offer training and mentorship programs to employees. Although most organizations do technical development and training, they are often missing the opportunity for soft-skills development and training to bridge the gap. Soft-skills development and training focuses specifically in the areas of self-motivation, communication, teamwork, problem solving, ability to work under pressure and time management, as well as negotiation and conflict resolution.
- Deliver Transparent Leadership
To create a transparent leadership, keep the following tips in mind.
Deliver good benefits and compensation
Deliver on promises
Provide job security
- Promote Work-Life Balance (flow)
Studies have revealed that a lack of work-life balance is the primary reason why more than 30% of employees leave their company. You have to help the employee connect the work they are doing to their own personal goals as well as the goals of the organization. A crucial component to implementing better work-life balance involves committing to things like flexible schedules, working remotely and investing in health strategies.
Sometimes adapting to a work-life flow model instead of work-life balance would be more effective. Work-life balance implies that if you spend a set amount of time on your work, you’ll have to spend that same amount of time on whatever else makes up your life – personal time, physical fitness, family, parenthood, hobbies, etc. Work-life flow is knowing what you want in each quadrant (part) of your life (set goals) and appropriately flowing between them. Because, sometimes the other parts (quadrant) of your life will need more of you than work and knowing when to flow to that will be key to fulfillment and “balance”. Find out what your employees want and try your best to give it to them.
- Offer Customized Incentives
One of the most effective ways to engage your employees is to provide them with the kind of incentives that they really want. A Gallup poll revealed that an estimated 70% employee’s feel disengaged because of a lack of benefits. However, for incentives to be effective, it must be customized to suit the specific needs of your employees. For instance, you can invest in health and insurance schemes, as well as reduced work week.
- Commit to a Social Cause
A social cause can create a feeling of purpose within an organization, which leads to a much more productive team and company-wide pride. It’s the feeling that they are part of something much bigger that motivates some individuals, being an ambassador for the cause which goes beyond monetary compensation.
Find a social cause that employees will care about. Not just what most companies are currently doing, only allowing employees to match donations. Instead, find a few causes that provides options to the employees so they can rally around or even just one cause that impacts all of the employees in the organization (environment, children, etc.). Something that lets employees get their hands dirty and not just lip service.
- Enhance the Hiring and Onboarding Practices
Employee engagement can be addressed during the hiring and onboarding process. It’s critical that you start by employing the right people; individuals who can embrace your business and contribute to your company culture. Cultivating engagement right from onboarding involves implementing mentorship throughout the business hierarchy. New hires should understand the company’s goals and values AND how it connects with their personal goals and values. Without the emotional connection established between employee and company, engagement is off to a bad start.
- Have Some Fun!
One of the easiest ways to improve employee engagement is to create an avenue for fun. Creating a culture of having fun doesn’t mean being silly or unprofessional. Traditional team building activities, such as, going bowling, etc, isn’t as effective as people believe. Sometimes employees can feel a strong sense of anxiety from being competitive and having to participate in a physical activity that they might not be overly confident with. Look for practical ways for your employees to have fun as a cohesive unit, this will not only improve performance but also build up engagement too. You could arrange a business lunch where co-workers can talk about how they’ve grown in the company or a fun trip for top-performing employees. Give your employees the support they need to thrive.
The Bottom Line
Increasing a company’s engagement by just 10% can increase profits by $2,400 per employee annually. Furthermore, companies with highly engaged employees enjoy a higher retention rate and they consistently outperform their competitors as a result of higher productivity. Highly engaged employees are also 87% less likely to leave their company, saving costs that may be incurred in finding replacements. So, yes, your employees can truly be engaged!
Share with me your comments on what you are doing to engage your employees. 3 Questions
About the author: Kyle Kalloo is the Chief Executive Officer, Business Coach with Change My Life Coaching and Strategic Leader. Through his management training and experience with McDonalds, Famous Players (Paramount) and WestJet, and all of the ongoing learning and development he’s completed, Kyle has refined and perfected skills and processes and is eager to share how to execute them efficiently to help individuals and companies achieve even more of their dreams. 83% of Kyle’s business comes from referrals. https://www.changemylifecoaching.ca and https://strategicleader.ca