Myths about employee engagement

Employee engagement probably wasn’t a major focus of your studies in business school. It may not be the primary focus of your job or duties. It isn’t always easily quantifiable. But it is critical to building the reputation and industry advantage for your business.  Yet there are many myths about employee engagement.  Yet for a subject which is so important and critical, employee engagement is underused and poorly applied.

What is employee engagement?

Employee engagement is an intentional focus on building trust, collaboration, morale and active participation with employees. An engaged employee will speak highly of your company to others, producer higher than average results, and be emotionally attached to the values and purpose of the organization.

You might be thinking by now, “Yes! That is the type of employee I want!“. This thought is also typically followed with, “Why aren’t my employees this committed to my business?” and “What can I do to make them get there?” In order to answer those questions, you must first break down the myths about employee engagement.

Intentional employee engagement

The key here is about intentionality. You may desire engagement, but are you actively pursuing engagement?  Engagement must be fostered and developed at every stage and in every level of your business. If you aren’t being this intentional, you aren’t reaping the results. Worse, you may have fallen prey to one these four myths about employee engagement.

1. It’s about happiness

Employee engagement is just singing Kumbayah, group hugs, trust falls and making people happy. No. Not at all. Employee engagement is about people being passionate and proactive in their work for your company. Engagement is not necessarily about making people happy. Engaged workers are more careful, more thoughtful and more creative, and they take more initiative. Yes, many people will respond as simply being happier in their role. However, some may become so focused and passionate that they may become more outspoken in meetings and more determined to do things a certain way. They have traded apathy for purpose and passion, not necessarily happiness.

2. It takes too much time

I don’t have time or resources for employee engagement. You do not have to pay to begin behaving in ways that increase engagement. Yet, the price of turnover is very costly. After recruiting, interviews, background checks, possible relocation and training a new employee can cost you an average of $7645 per hire, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers. That is a steep price to pay for turnover. Certainly, you can hire someone to consult or champion engagement. Yes, you can spend money on training, perks, and other things, but that spending isn’t required. You can begin today. Engagement will require some time and energy, but it can be the difference between being a top-performing team and a low performing team.

3. It’s only for big companies

Employee engagement is only for big corporations. Large companies and corporations may have deeper pockets than smaller businesses, but many give employee engagement the same priority as given in a smaller business. Is it needed for large organizations? Absolutely! However, introducing it at this stage requires considerable resources, a culture change and management of the change, which can be difficult to implement. Incorporating principles of engagement in the early stages of the business allows it to become a natural part of the culture and creates results and increases revenue more quickly for the business.

4. It’s management thing

That’s a job for an office manager or human resource professional. Engagement cannot be outsourced. Responsibility in this area cannot be passed off. Certainly, an office manager or human resource professional can support this and provide crucial insight. However, executives, managers and other leaders must carry the flag of engagement. It’s like a game plan for a sports team if the managers (the players) aren’t committed to the game plan, it just won’t work. It’s not enough for the owner of the executive team to decide engagement is good, everyone must buy-in, understand their role, and put it to use.
If you don’t have an intentional plan to engage and invest in your employees, you may want to consider if these myths about employee engagement are at work in your thought process.

Remove the excuses. Begin to be intentional. Commit to excellence. Overcome the challenges. Start building your advantage. Produce greater results.

What myths have you bought into? How might they be impacting your business?

Lora Schafer combines best management practices with behavioral psychology principles to assist business leaders produce high performing teams. Her company, GrowStrong Consulting, is dedicated to educating and training small business leaders to develop a healthy teams and dynamic culture. She is the author of the free eBook, “The Bootstrapper’s Guide to a High Performing Team”. Her experience and education includes strategic planning, leadership and team development, human resources and recruiting, conflict management and organizational communication and psychology.