Big Mistake: Why Organisations Have Been Looking At Employee Engagement All Wrong

14 October 2022 | 4 Minute
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Big Mistake: Why Organisations Have Been Looking At Employee Engagement All Wrong

You've heard of employee engagement, and undoubtedly, you've heard of many different ways to improve engagement within an organisation. 

However, are these methods really enhancing engagement on a consistent basis through the organisation?

A few work social events or a competitive benefits package are unlikely to raise engagement throughout your organisation; you need to think (and act) more broadly than that.

So, before you start reviewing or implementing an engagement strategy consider what organisations may have been doing wrong.


1. There’s no one size fits all approach

You may have seen or read about a company that rates high employee engagement. But just because they did a specific survey or action plan to measure and improve employee engagement, it doesn’t mean the same will be applicable to your organisation.

Quite simply, there is no confirmed set of engagement drivers that apply to every organisation. 

Therefore, when you look to measure engagement in your organisation, you can't do it in the same way as other organisations. So, whether it's designing an employee engagement survey or looking at other ways to measure or enhance engagement, you need to do what's right for your organisation.

For instance, different industries are likely to have different engagement drivers. So, if you take a fast-moving technology company, the actual technology provided to employees may be a strong engagement driver, whereas technology may not be so important for those working in a different industry.

Don't make the mistake of copying or replicating what others have done just because they appeared to be successful in the engagement area.


2. Utilise survey results

Sometimes carrying out an employee engagement survey is the easy part, but actually reviewing and acting on the results is the part that can be neglected. When you design a survey, you need to be able to break down results as much as possible so that they are useful.

For instance, if one of the low-scoring areas is dissatisfaction with pay or management feedback, if you can drill down to find out which department or team this is particularly bad in you can set more specific action plans. You don’t necessarily want to focus on improvements if they aren’t relevant to all areas of the business.

It's also really important for engagement that you act on engagement feedback. If employees have taken the time to give their feedback to the survey, engagement could decline if you as an organisation ignore the feedback or never get around to doing anything about the results.


3. Don’t limit feedback

While annual employee engagement surveys are a brilliant way to gain feedback from your people about what it's like to work at your organisation, be careful not to limit employee feedback to only one or two surveys.

You need to ensure that you build a continuous feedback culture involving many different ways to give and receive feedback. This may include online suggestion boxes, company schemes where employees can give awards or shout-outs to others for exceptional performance or 360-degree feedback. Sorwe allows organisations to build this feedback culture using a variety of feedback options via the app.

Within this feedback culture, you also need to encourage feedback to go many ways rather than just from manager to employee or employees to the organisation via a survey. A feedback culture may encourage peer-to-peer feedback, a culture of team meetings that celebrate a team member of the month or other schemes that encourage ongoing feedback across teams and throughout the organisation.


4. Ask don’t just tell

Although as the employer it's your responsibility to set the organisational values, mission and goals and you need to clearly communicate these to your people, there are other areas where it's vital to ask not to tell.

For example, by carrying out employee engagement surveys or smaller pulse surveys, you ask for their opinion and input, which in turn should develop trust and engagement. You can also ask for feedback from your people when you carry out new initiatives, or you can do many surveys around specific areas like benefits or performance management.

According to a study by Salesforce, 73% of employees feel like when they are heard, belong to the organisation and are able to be themselves at work they are empowered to perform at their best.

This sense of asking applies to many different areas of the employee life cycle, including personal development and individual opportunity. You can never assume that all employees think the same or all want the same and this is key to building trust and creating a culture of employee fulfilment.


5. Don't neglect manager engagement

It's easy to focus on ensuring all employees are engaged but if you are asking your managers to build a culture of engagement within their teams don't forget to find ways to assess their engagement and boost it. It might be that you gain feedback via specific manager surveys or host feedback meetings with managers to understand how their engagement levels are as well as their teams.

Managers need to feel supported by the organisation so that if they are trying to build engaged teams, they have the support to do so. For example, if it's proved that the organisation is underpaying a team, there's only so much the manager can do to engage them if the team know they are underpaid. This is where the company must support the manager and play its part in engaging its people.

Don’t let your organisation fall into the same engagement trap that other businesses have. Ensure that you use different ways to encourage and measure engagement and be inclusive of your entire workforce and you need to engage them all! 

And although you can look to other organisations to see what they are doing well, don’t forget that your organisation and people are unique and may possess different engagement drivers.


Make sure your team has access to feedback and engagement tools like Sorwe. Employees can capture notes from feedback sessions, conduct two-way feedback dialogues, ask for 360° feedback, give praise via recognition, and collect feedback via surveys with the help of a technology partner like Sorwe. 

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19 Takeaways from the Sorwe Employee Experience Summit 2022: Transforming the Employee Experience Inside Out
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