Four Most Common Employee Engagement Myths

by Daniel Hannig

Have you ever noticed how difficult it is to answer the question: “What is employee engagement?”. We certainly have. While this constantly evolving concept remains very hard to define, it is also surrounded by various myths and misconceptions, making the explanation even more difficult. To shed more light on the situation, we decided to hold a webinar on this topic. This article includes the most important takeaways from the first episode of our webinar series and also explains why you should never hesitate to invest in engagement.

Register and watch our webinar on Employee Engagement Mythbusting! To The Video

Employee engagement is often described as somewhat of a mixture between employer conduct, employee experience and customer experience. This often combines an emotional attachment between employees and organisation with the willingness from both sides to further improve and shape the organisation towards a more positive future. Needless to say, employee engagement touches upon highly relevant topics in today’s work environment and is worth every second of the attention it is receiving. All the more reason to take a minute to figure out what isn’t included in the framework of employee engagement. Here are the most common employee engagement myths that we talked about last week:

1. Money Is The Primary Reason People Quit Their Job

When it comes to salary there is an interesting psychological approach, where employee salary, or money in general, is referred to as a “hygiene factor”. You can have too little, which is bad, you can have enough, which is acceptable, you can have sufficient, which is good, and so on. From a certain point onward, however, the amount of money you make will not have any influence on your happiness. The important factor to keep in mind here is fairness and this is dependent on several factors: How much are other employees making? How is the business doing? What is expected of this particular person and how much is this person achieving? This aspect of fair pay in relation to the environment is also what motivates people to take a jobs where they get paid less, provided the other non-financial factors make up for it.

2. Employee Engagement Only Works In Small Companies

One of the most common employee engagement myths is that it can only be effectively implemented in smaller companies. I would like to quote Jonas at this point and proclaim that we “respectfully disagree”. No seriously, this myth is very untrue. While it may be easier to engage employees in a smaller environment, it is also possible to further engagement on a larger scale. The main factor in this regard is leadership buy in. Management has to demonstrate on multiple levels that they support and also live the elements and policies that are designed to strengthen the company’s engagement. Leadership buy-in also has to be communicated explicitly, continuously and authentically.

3. Disengaged Employees Cannot Be Re-Engaged

A study by Gallup in 2018 shows that around 71% of the German Workforce is passively disengaged, while 14% is actively disengaged. What does that mean specifically? Passively disengaged employees come to work and do their job with a minimum level of motivation, they arrive at work and do their tasks simply because they “need to be done” and would leave their jobs in a heartbeat, should a better option arise. Actively disengaged employees hurt their company intentionally e.g. by feigning sickness in order to not come to work or by giving the company a bad reputation outside of the workplace. The latter is very hard re-engage, it maybe even impossible to re-engage. While these 14% should of course not be ignored completely, it would be a lot more effective to focus on the 71% that are passively disengaged. Common problems are often that the disengaged employees feel unheard, are unhappy with management or the general direction the company has been going. These are all problems that can be solved relatively easily once a good method of communication is established between employee and management. Feedback surveys are among the most popular of these methods.

4. Investing Money In Engagement Is Not Worth It

Ask yourself this question: How much would you be willing to invest in order to keep your top talent from leaving? 10k? 20k? Maybe even 40k? While you are probably not spending this kind of money directly, there is a big chance that you will be paying costs in these dimensions during the time you try to find a replacement for them. Turnover is always expensive, be it because of costs incurred through talent scouting, training and onboarding, work undone, or damage to morals and/or reputation. If your turnover costs are close to 30k, investing in engagement is going to pay off very quickly. Turnover is always expensive and employee engagement is a factor that reduces turnover. While it is not always a guarantee for success of course, an investment in engagement is definitely always worth your while. At the very least, it shows your employees that you are willing to invest time and resources into their well being. This gesture in itself may already have a positive effect on them.

Common Employee Engagement Myths – Completing The Picture

An effective way to better understand what employee engagement is, is to be able to exclude what it is not. The topics that we touched on above, and several more, are explained in detail in our online webinar that we held on December 5th 2019. Check out the full video for an in-depth presentation by Jonas, our employee engagement expert and Head of People and join our discussion anytime over #AskHonestly on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


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