3 more myths about employee engagement
Much has been written about employee engagement and little changes
“Slipshod assistance, foolish inattention, dowdy indifference, and half-hearted work seem to be the rule; and no man succeeds, unless by hook or crook or threat he forces or bribes other men to assist him.” Elbert Hubbard, A Message to Garcia, 1899.
In many businesses today, managers are still living by this philosophy, or something close to it, even during these stressful times when employee engagement should be high on the priority list.
KPMG recently reported that if employee engagement is not your first or second priority, your business is likely to be slow coming out of the Covid crisis.
Headlines shout that only 30% of employees are engaged and then try to connect that number to the economy, terrorism, climate change, Millennials, or whatever the fear of the moment is.
Except that engagement, as measured by Gallup, has held very steady between 26% and 30% since they started measuring it in 2000 (Gallup). Lots of concern and money thrown at the issue and there’s been very little change over the years.
Maybe part of the problem is all the myth and hype that’s built up around it. In our experience, there are six prevalent engagement myths I routinely come across although there are surely more. In part 2 of this blog, we cover the last three myths.
Myth 4: Engagement. I hear managers complain that they can’t motivate or get their employees engaged because they don’t control wages. It does seem like increasing pay would increase engagement, but the research of Fredrick Herzberg and others suggests otherwise. Money creates lots of things but it doesn’t seem to cause people to give a damn over the long haul. Yes, being underpaid is demotivating and disengaging, but being overpaid doesn’t fuel super engagement.
Consider yourself as an example. I’m going to assume that if you’re reading this post you’re a pretty engaged person and you care about the results you’re creating in your life and at your job. Do you give your all right now? Do you do an honest day’s work? Are you consistently considered a high performer? (Yes!) If your company doubled your pay could you create double the results you do now? Would you do twice as honest of a day’s work? Would you give your all twice as much? No, it’s not possible.
Flip this around and think about that actively disengaged toxic co-worker dragging the team down (you know who I’m talking about). Would paying them more change their personality, work ethic, or the amount they cared about the results they are creating? Exactly. (NOTE: I’m not saying people shouldn’t be paid more, I’m saying that increasing wages above market rate won’t magically cure disengagement).
Myth 5: Engagement is a survey, program, or initiative. Lots of times HR or management focuses on measuring engagement with surveys or doing a program to increase engagement. That’s fine as long as everyone remembers that engagement is NOT a number from a survey and doing a program doesn’t necessarily equal engaged employees.
Engagement isn’t posters, slogans, training, or perks. All those things have their place but all the dry cleaning, free soda, and foosball tables in the world won’t make people care more about their jobs. And, hopefully it’s not a surprise, but different people are, well, different. There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to engagement. Oh, and people sometimes put their happy face on when taking surveys and don’t respond with their true thoughts and feelings (shocker!).
Myth 6: Engagement is only an HR issue. This ties back to the myth that engagement is a survey or program. Disengagement is branded a “people problem” and handed to HR as though engagement is a thing that is separate from the business. Engagement is not something that can be delegated to a specific department. It’s not something we can purchase.
Engagement is not separate from the business and it’s not separate from the people. Business gets done for, through, and by people so engagement is a BUSINESS issue through and through. People touch every aspect of business so people problems affect business results.
What if the whole idea of engagement is simply a well-meaning red herring? What if it’s not the real problem at all? What if it’s an indication of something bigger and we’ve been treating symptoms rather than the real issue?
At Brownie Points we are trying to help our clients dispel these myths, by helping business managers move out of the Dickensian mentality.
We believe that recognising performance and giving positive feedback really makes a difference, and we can make it work for you.
We are working with thought leading organisations around the world to tailor employee feedback and recognition programs that have a positive impact on the bottom line and with our growing network of national and international alliance partners we are able to help our clients deliver cost effective employee recognition programs for their business.
To learn how Brownie Points could make a difference in your business, call the team today on + 61 (3) 9909 7411 to discuss your plans, or for more information or to arrange a free demonstration email us at firstname.lastname@example.org