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Myths About Employee Engagement That Companies Need to Stop Believing

By Numly - Leadership Coaching Group
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In a recent interview with the CEO magazine, Ben Hamer, Future of Work Lead at PwC, discussed how 2023 would be the year of efficiency and productivity, forcing businesses to invest in effective people management. “Maintaining employee engagement and productivity will be important as hiring freezes come to the fore,” said Hamer.

According to a Gallup poll, more than half of employees were emotionally disconnected from the company, indicating little to no employee engagement. Such employees begin to exhibit symptoms of chronic absenteeism and quiet quitting, which has become a trend around the world.

But do organizations agree on what employee engagement entails? Employee engagement is frequently associated with job efficiency without considering factors such as employee happiness and well-being at work. There are many misconceptions about what employee engagement is and what criteria define it. Here are five such myths leaders should not believe in to improve their employee engagement strategies.

Myth 1: There is no room for emotions

When it comes to employee management, this has become the most common myth among leaders. 

Notably, organizations have evolved dramatically over the past few years and have begun to become more human-centric. A survey revealed that over 57% of employees are fine if their leaders proactively inquire about their mental health. This clearly demonstrates how critical it is to address individuals’ emotional needs for them to thrive in the workplace.

Being involved with your own emotions or your colleagues’ emotional outbursts is completely normal, and there is plenty of room for emotions in today’s inclusive and diverse workplaces. Thus, leaders must be open to discussing emotions and traumas, even at work, in order to improve employee engagement and build team trust.

Myth 2: People are only after monetary benefits

This myth has been debunked numerous times, with many employees stating unequivocally that they are ready to leave their high-paying jobs for something that provides more work-life balance

According to a 2022 McKinsey report, the voluntary quit rate increased by 25% in the post-pandemic era. Over 41% of respondents in this survey cited a lack of career advancement as the primary reason for their strong desire to leave their jobs, with 34% blaming uncaring leaders.

Such statistics clearly demonstrate how many employees are unconcerned about monetary benefits and are looking for something other than regular paychecks. So, saying that employees are only after fat salaries to remain engaged is untrue. Employee engagement is also highly impacted by emotional and mental reasons.

Myth 3: Employee engagement is for certain industries or organizations

Many leaders and organizations now openly preach that their industry, for example, manufacturing units or factories, does not require employee engagement activities. Many people might be surprised to learn that the concept of learning human behavior and engagement transpired in a factory (Hawthorne studies). 

Employee engagement is applicable to any industry or workplace that has a human workforce assisting in the achievement of an organization’s end goals. Sure, there may be different approaches in different workplaces or individuals for enabling this, such as furnishing more technology or initiating learning and development.

Some organizations also believe that it is too late to take any initiatives to improve employee engagement or that such a strategy would require a large budget. However, making a workplace more engaging for employees is more of a cultural shift and might not require a substantial budget.

Myth 4: Absenteeism is a personal problem and not the manager’s responsibility

Absenteeism does not have a toggle switch. Many factors contribute to this situation, and leaders must recognize that these quiet employees may have hinted at a faulty system at work but were ignored for some reason or by someone. Every employee has certain expectations of how their workplace or team will be, but when these expectations are not met, such disengagement at work begins to transpire. So, absenteeism or a lack of engagement at work is not a personal issue but rather a cultural mismatch.

A manager is responsible for improving an organization’s culture. This is because culture is defined by how a leader envisions their teams moving and behaving. According to a study, companies with good and bad team leaders differ by more than 70% in cultural quality, debunking the myth that managers have no say in creating a culture that supports and values employee engagement.

Myth 5: Our surveys never hint toward a problem

Anonymous surveys have long been used to better understand workplace expectations and problems. These surveys, however, are not always in the best interests of employees and thus fail to highlight serious issues affecting employee engagement. If your surveys are not pointing to even one issue, it may be time to re-evaluate the survey questionnaire.

Here are some questions that may strike a nerve and point to a leaky cauldron in your organization:

  • Is your feedback mechanism only effective from the top down, or can your team provide feedback to the leaders too? Does that scare you?
  • Do you receive recognition for your hard work and extra efforts? Are these awards monetary or non-monetary? Is this acceptable to you?
  • How healthy is your relationship with your leader, and what is bothering you in this team?
  • Are your leaders concerned with both your personal and professional well-being and development?

At Numly, we believe in starting from the top to improve the organization’s overall health. Our programs assist people in becoming the best versions of themselves, personally and as leaders. We recommend our 60-day pilot to organizations, enabling leaders to build better, more forward-thinking teams. 

Contact us to learn more.

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