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12 Misconceptions Managers Have About Employee Engagement

12 Misconceptions Managers Have About Employee Engagement


A Gallup study published last August involving 32,400 business units found that those with employee engagement scores in the top quartile had 18 percent higher productivity, 16 percent higher profitability, and 49 percent fewer safety incidents compared with those in the bottom quartile.

Some company leaders will jump on the engagement bandwagon by conducting their first employee engagement survey, but will fail to take action on the difficult issues it brings to their attention. Others will fail simply because they misunderstand the nature of employee engagement-what it is, what drives it, what puts the brakes on it, what part of it must originate with the employee, and what portion employers must inspire. Those who succeed will be free of these misunderstandings and will be committed to take action.   Misconceptions undermine successful employee engagement initiatives before they can even begin.   Here are just a few:

  1. It's the same as satisfaction.

      No, it's productivity, commitment, and enthusiasm
  2. Employees don't want to be engaged.

    Most employees begin jobs with enthusiasm, then become disenchanted either through lack of trust or an ineffective, de-motivating supervisor.
  3. It's all about hiring engaged employees.

    Too often after making the hire, many managers abdicate their responsibility to coach and manage well.  Hire well AND manage well
  4. Once engaged, always engaged.

      Engagement is fluid, elastic, and changeable, not static.
  5. It's all about the immediate manager.

    Senior leadership practices are even more critical since they create the culture from which middlemen take their cues
  6. Engagement is enough.

    Managers must also make sure they clearly understand organizational and team objectives so they can tie them to the individual talents, expectations, and objectives
  7. Fear promotes engagement. 

    Most employees these days don't need reminding that they could lose their jobs.
  8. Paying more increases engagement. 

    Often, employees experience pay as a de-motivator when there is no link, or pay inequity, or there's excessive secrecy about pay decisions. "The most effective drivers of employee engagement have to do with the trust, challenge, respect, recognition, understanding, and honest communication we nurture daily."*
  9. All employees are engaged equally by the same drivers. 

    There are six universal drivers of employee engagement that all employees need and seek (see the new book Re-Engage! by Leigh Branham, McGraw Hill Feb. 2010). 
  10. All organizations need to focus equal efforts on the same drivers. 

    Different employees need different levels of each driver.
  11. Those who stay are more engaged. 

    Those who stay may be the least engaged. The best performers have the most options and are more likely to move on.
  12. Benchmarking engagement scores with other companies is the most meaningful and actionable way to assess and track your progress. 

    Comparing your scores to other companies in your industry is worth doing, but what really matters is comparing this year's scores to next year's and noting the impact on business results.

*direct quote of Leigh Branham