Employee Engagement: 6 Mistakes Even Smart Companies Make

Last week, we talked with Sri Chellappa, the president of Engagedly, about how mentoring can help boost employee engagement.

A quick refresher—employee engagement involves the following three facets:

  1. Engagement with the organization
  2. Engagement with the manager
  3. Engagement with the job

If there are issues within any area (or multiple areas), employee engagement can plummet.

Today, Sri is going to discuss the biggest mistakes companies make when it comes to employee engagement.


Mistake #1: Addressing only one or two areas, not all three.

One of the reasons only 34% of US employees feel engaged at work is likely because of the unpredictability of those three moving parts. If only one facet were in play, the percentages would probably be different.Untitled design (13)-2

Unfortunately, too many companies only focus on one or maybe two areas of employee engagement—not all three. But in order to have an engaged workforce, you need all three pieces working in harmony.

Keeping all three areas in balance takes time and effort, of course, which is why so many companies fail to keep employees engaged.

For example, your overall workforce might believe in the organization's mission, but if a good chunk of them hate their day-to-day tasks and another bunch dislikes their manager, well . . . they're going to be unhappy. The organization's wonderful mission alone won't be enough to sustain them.


Mistake #2: Not solving or understanding the core issue that's leading to disengaged employees.

If you attempt to "fix" the problem, but you're not addressing the core issue, you won't move the engagement needle much.

For example, we see many companies offering office perks—free coffee, pool tables, things like that—in the hopes of boosting employee engagement. But if the core problem has to do with a certain manager and the employees who feel disengaged with that manager, not all the free coffee and Snickers in the world is going to solve the problem.

But perhaps if you focus on helping the manager—maybe through coaching, training, or even mentoring—the manager might evolve and become a more effective manager. And then the employees might start to feel more engaged.

The challenge for companies is figuring out the core issues affecting all three facets of employee engagement, which can be a daunting task—and even more so for large organizations. If you have 5000 employees, hundreds of managers, and dozens and dozens of different jobs, for example—well, you have to consider ALL those areas and all those people. This leads to the next mistake we see.


Also read: Improve Your Workplace Culture With A Mentoring Program


Mistake #3: Not streamlining the process, particularly as your organization grows.

You might think it's easy for me to make the argument that a company has to invest in software to help manage employee engagement and performance, but the truth is, if your organization is big enough and you want to do it right, you don't really have a choice. A good online system will allow you to keep your finger on the engagement pulse across the organization.

And the initial investment will pay for itself because it will ultimately save your organization time and money. This article in Forbes has a wealth of interesting statistics that support my claim. One I like: "Highly engaged teams show 21% greater profitability."


Mistake #4: Treating employee engagement like it's a task on a to-do list.

Employee engagement isn't just a box that the HR department needs to check off. Employee engagement isn't static, either. The engagement your employees feel will shift over time. The goal is to keep all three facets in balance and working together, even as shifts occur.

HR departments need to be thinking about engagement regularly—assessing what's working and what isn't, identifying potential issues before they explode into full-blown problems, and so forth. And they need to do this on a regular basis, not just during an annual performance review or annual employee survey. This brings me to the next point.


Mistake #5: Thinking it's a one-and-done issue.

You're never "done" with employee engagement, which is precisely why you can't approach it like a box you check. The most successful companies with the most engaged workforces are constantly working at keeping their people engaged. Engagement is an ongoing effort.


Also read: How to Set Mentorship Goals for Your Mentee


Mistake #6: Not involving every level of management in the effort.

For employee engagement initiatives to work, you need buy-in at every level of management. If the C-suite talks about employee engagement in board rooms and "gets" the financial implications regarding reduced productivity due to a disengaged employee population, none of that will make any difference unless all managers understand its importance—and implement the relevant initiatives.

Forbes notes that approaching employee engagement as a "feeling" rather than a tactical part of your business strategy is why so many organizations fail at truly improving engagement. Talking about employee engagement from a philosophical perspective isn't enough. You need solid plans and resources dedicated to engaging employees. It needs to be an all-hands-on-deck effort across all levels of management.

Thanks, Sri! Learn more about Engagedly's approach to employee engagement here. And, of course, keep in mind that mentoring is a great way to enhance employee engagement across all three areas: with the organization, the manager, and the job.


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Topics: Talent Development and Retention