Challenges & Solutions for Employee Engagement

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In a previous post, we discussed those benefits that stem from efforts to engage employees. But even the best efforts to do so can result in making some commonly-made mistakes. Here are a few of them:

  1. Most organizations make the mistake of assessing employee engagement once a year, typically followed by some weak and empty academic response many months later – wondering why their “numbers continue to be low”. Part of the reason for this futile approach is that they are focused on the assessment numbers (outcome) rather than the workforce (who determines the outcome).
  2. The next mistake typically made is to inundate the workforce with action planning meetings and task forces to address a tsunami of issues to resolve. This cycle is often referred to as the “program of the month” and, predictably, the cycle quickly fades away – because it is not a “normal” part of the operation. Essentially, it is “just another thing they put on my plate” in addition to their everyday work responsibilities.

So, what’s the solution? A far better way to get real sustainable results is to weave the engagement effort into the real life workday of the employees. Instead of having a team meeting about the entire engagement survey list, perhaps tackle the issues the team selects as most relevant/pressing? Dividing up the numerous topics into manageable pieces can often create an environment where the team feels less overwhelmed. Having a smaller scope also allows the team to realize successes earlier and more often – a vital part of developing hope and momentum.

One example is how Facebook has shown sustained agility over the past 10 years. According to Bret Taylor, former CTO of Facebook, “Most of our (team) conversation was about long-term strategy, and then we’d backtrack from there to what we should do over the next month. That manageable focus is one of the main reasons Facebook is where it is today.”

The people at world-class companies frequently describe engagement as “just how we do things around here”. Making employee engagement a part of your culture requires attending to the many facets of engagement on a regular basis. You’ll find it will be a real-life benefit rather than just overwhelming theory.

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