Blog Engagement

Issues with employee engagement: Is your business up to the challenge?

Updated 21st January 2023

We all know the huge benefits of employee engagement by now. Highly engaged employees don't just perform better, they go the extra mile. They're less likely to quit or switch jobs, and more likely to advocate for your brand. But what about the drawbacks? 

There are the obvious costs of time, and in most cases, some amount of money. However, these are insignificant when compared to the huge benefits of an effective employee engagement strategy.

But if you're the 'wrong' sort of organisation, you might well find having an engaged team of people is more trouble than it's worth. 

You see, engaged staff members have higher expectations of their managers, leaders and organisation as a whole. This can mean trouble for less progressive businesses, as these employees will hone in on your workplace culture shortcomings. But, if you can accept two-way feedback between leaders and employees, you'll find the insights incredibly useful.

So, what you need to ask yourself is, are you really ready to handle engaged employees in your organisation?

The benefits of engagement are worth any costs

We're very much playing devil's advocate here. The benefits of an engaged workforce are highly significant and for all but the smallest minority, engagement should be championed at all times.

But the wrong mindset, which does still exist can lead to some companies shying away from the required efforts. 

While this is a cautionary piece, it doesn't change the fact that employee engagement is something that managers and HR leaders ought to be striving for. Common employee engagement benefits include:

  • Increased productivity
  • Improved safety
  • Greater innovation
  • Decreased attrition
  • Reduced absenteeism
  • Attract better talent

How employee engagement causes trouble for less progressive businesses

As we say, engagement is a vital aspect of any long-term business success. But if you're company has a 'bury head in sand' approach to fixing issues, it may not be for you. Can your organisation really handle engaged employees and their high expectations?

Highly engaged employees are more likely to pay attention to what's going on in the business. If their boss is less than engaged, they're going to pick up on it. At the end of the day, engaged employees demand more, and for less progressive managers, that can be hard to deal with and will almost certainly mean training for that manager. 

Engagement is led by HR but hinges on the efforts and motivations of managers. A manager that doesn't match up to the engagement of their team will quickly erode any team cohesion. Being ready to handle engaged employees means giving managers the proper training.

The extent of a person's engagement plays a key role in determining whether they'll buy into new tools or policies when you implement them. So, your most engaged employees might be the first to jump onto a new collaboration platform or recognition service. But they'll feel burned if it isn't fit for purpose.

The same can be said of the business's feedback framework. Engaged employees who feel valued and have a stake in the organisation's success are a great source of honest insight. But if managers, leaders and HR just sits on employee feedback and fail to act, those workers will lose faith in the communication process and are likely to become actively disengaged (far worse than just being disengaged).

In order to reap the benefits of engagement, your business must be ready to listen to feedback, act upon it, and measure success. Managers must embrace their engaged employees and model what great workplace behaviours and attitudes look like. HR needs to be ready to innovate and have the support of its leaders and peers in that. 

Is your business ready to handle engaged employees?

So, now you know what you'll potentially have to deal with, we'll ask again: Can you handle engaged employees, really? Well, if the answer is anything short of an unequivocal yes, don't worry. We've got you covered:

  • Check-in with employees regularly: Setting up an employee check-in allows managers to exchange mutual feedback with their employees in real-time. Checking in plays an essential role in employee growth, while providing HR with actionable insight. After all, can you handle engaged employees without regular, two-way feedback? In all likelihood, probably not.
  • Ensure managers receive proper training: Management training is among the most important aspects of employee education. But the level of training that managers receive varies wildly from business to business. In businesses without effective training force new managers to self-teach. This ingrains bad habits, like rewarding presenteeism or not communicating clearly, and deprives these managers of valuable skills and knowledge.
  • Provide opportunities for career growth: True, not everyone in your business dreams of one day telling others what to do. But, even so, the idea of being stuck at the same level indefinitely is unappealing to a lot of people. Whether it's an internal promotion, or the opportunity to learn new skills, an employee's sense of development is essential for their long-term engagement.
  • Safeguard employee wellbeing: Last, but not least, managers and HR leaders have a moral responsibility to protect all forms of employee wellbeing. This responsibility has become more vital than ever over the last year. This means protecting employees from physical harm and mental anguish, supporting work/life balance, providing fair compensation, and offering support and flexibility for employees to treat and recover from physical or mental health problems.

Don't think of highly engaged staff expecting more from you as being more demanding. They're holding you to a higher standard. So, if you're really ready to handle engaged employees, they're sure to push your workplace culture in the right direction.

Want to get practical tips on how to get started with your employee engagement strategy? Order your free copy of The HRDs Playbook now for insights into real-world examples of how progressive HR directors are leading engagement programmes.