8 Employee Engagement Myths

Leaving the Lore for Fairy Tales and Out of the Workplace

“Making money is art and working is art and good business is the best art.” (Andy Warhol)

With so much literature and information about employee engagement, we’ve noted that when some business or HR writers make noise, their opinion becomes fact. And these little tidbits of information become employee engagement lore.

We’ve seen a decade of changes in the business world – open offices, Friday potluck lunches, flex scheduling. The workplace has built yellow-brick-road paths to accommodate everyone’s needs. Yet employee engagement hasn’t sky-rocketed creating a workforce of productivity and bliss.

Myths abound. And oftentimes what we take for truth is, in fact, untrue or, to put it nicer, an idealized version of what we’d like to believe is true.

Here are eight employee engagement myths that we’d like to debunk.

1. It’s not about the money: People don’t feed their families with ideals. Daniel H. Pink’s Drive argues that business has fallen into the carrot-and-stick dynamic. Certainly money isn’t the only piece to the puzzle, but it’s an important piece to the puzzle. Being paid well for work well done is a huge motivator.

2. Employee engagement is an HR issue: Upper management and company leaders need to “walk the walk” as employee engagement is an entire-organization issue. Employee engagement is, more often, about a cultural transformation of the workplace. Managers need to be the first on board to address engagement, learn about it, and implement plans of action.

3. A stress-free workplace is ideal: Not true. In fact, workers need to be challenged to excel.

4. You can make your workers happy: Happiness isn’t the burden of anyone except each individual. You can’t make an individual happy, much less a team.

5. Happy workers are engaged workers: Satisfaction, in fact, has little to no correlation with performance. This is one of the biggest myths in HR. Barbecues and secret Santa exchanges might create a nice office environment, but it doesn’t necessarily build better workers.

6. So satisfaction doesn’t matter: Employee satisfaction is very important. It reduces absenteeism and turnover, a key piece to retaining employees. But to get the best out of each employee, you need to find what motivates them.

7. Everybody wants the same thing: Each employee values different things. The best way to determine what your employees value is to ask them. That said, there may be a percentage of workers who are not self aware and might give a canned answer like, “World peace.” Watch the choices your employees make. These are indicators of what they value. And what they value is the key to understanding their motivation.

8. Recognition programs are fluff: Not so! Recognition and respect are pillars of engagement. Creating a strong recognition program for employees is an inexpensive, effective way to offer a big return on investment.

Employee engagement isn’t a passing trend. It’s the key to productivity and an organization’s success. To be successful, though, organizations need to invest and create employee engagement strategies based on internal surveys conducted. Finding out what makes your team tick is the first step toward change and making a difference in your organization.

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