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CAEL Pathways Blog

Removing the Obstacles to Employee Engagement

In recent years, a great deal of attention has been paid to benefits of employee engagement. Engaged employees are more productive, have better morale, and are less likely to take unscheduled time off. A variety of articles have been written on how to engage employees effectively.

But not much has been offered on the topic of what you should not do if you want to engage your employees.

Read on for the most common reasons that employee engagement efforts fail.

Engagement Efforts Overwhelm Employees

Too much effort in too little time can leave employees feeling suspicious or stressed. This is especially true in organizations that have a history of not making an effort to engage employees - and then launch a comprehensive, multifaceted strategy.

Not Communicating the Importance of an Employee's Work

It is true that employees want recognition for their hard work. However, if you want them to be truly engaged, you must also make sure that they understand that their work is meaningful. Let them know how their jobs fit into the organization's goals and how they are contributing to the company's success.

Disengaged Managers

Of all the obstacles that can be encountered in effectively engaging employees, disengaged managers may be the greatest. Behaviors are contagious, so if members of your management team are not fully engaged, it is likely that few of their subordinates will be engaged.

Managers' Lack of Information About Employees

Not every employee has the same motivations or desires. If you have no idea what your employees want, you cannot satisfy them. Take the time to get to know your employees and nurture relationships. This will give them the comfort level they need to express their needs openly and discuss their motivations. In turn, you can design a more effective strategy to engage them.

Failure to Discuss Opportunities to Advance Career

Many managers assume that employees are aware that opportunities exist for employees to advance. However, this is not universally true. Some employees, for example, might know that the company promotes from within, but they feel that they do not have the training or education to qualify for advancement. Every employee can benefit from an honest appraisal of current skills and encouragement to acquire additional skills to become more promotable. Most employees will welcome the opportunity to continue their education or learn new skills, so make sure that you communicate this to all employees.

Delivering Confusing or Incomplete Messages Regarding Expectations

Employees want to know precisely what is expected of them. Some employers feel that providing a written job description offers sufficient clarity. However, job duties, supervisors, technology and processes can all change, often in a short period. This can leave employees confused about what you expect from them, especially if they are receiving different messages from their supervisors than those stated by upper management. Make sure all of your supervisors are conveying your expectations accurately, and ensure that supervisors are providing regular feedback to their employees.

Unflattering Perception of Management

Employees are not loyal to a company logo - they are loyal to people. If they perceive that managers are unethical, uncaring, overly demanding, or untrustworthy, they are less likely to care whether the organization succeeds.

Multiple Ineffective Attempts at Engagement

Some companies will try one engagement strategy after another in an effort to find something that will work. Sometimes, the strategy may appear to work, such as an increase in production rates when a bonus is offered. However, success achieved through such methods will be short-lived, and it will do little or nothing to build true engagement. After numerous failed attempts, employees realize what the company is trying to do, and they may resent the efforts or become immune to further attempts.

Developing Your Own Strategy

Despite numerous studies and reports, no one has yet found a universal strategy for engaging employees. You will have to develop your own strategy based on the unique characteristics of your organization and your employees, avoiding the most common mistakes listed here.


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