Employee engagement: 5 mistakes to avoid for better outcomes

Executive Summary:

Team engagement is directly tied to organizational success, but more than 8 in 10 employees feel they need to be more involved in their respective places of work. Executives play a crucial role in restoring employee engagement, but they often need help knowing where to begin. If you want to achieve a thriving company culture and foster better organizational performance, avoiding common pitfalls hindering employee engagement is essential. The following are five mistakes to avoid to maximize employee engagement within teams.

  1. Underestimating employee engagement: many executives are oblivious to a decrease in team engagement, while others intentionally neglect the idea of how important it is. However, executives must prioritize employee engagement within the company culture.
  2. Neglecting employee feedback: another common pitfall is failing to seek and acknowledge employee feedback, when leaders dismiss employees' opinions and create a disconnect between management and the workforce.
  3. Giving employees too many responsibilities: overburdening employees with excessive workloads is a prevalent mistake. It can lead to stressed and disinterested employees, significantly impacting engagement levels and performance. To avoid this, focus on effective workload management, delegation, and the encouragement of teamwork.
  4. Ignoring work-life balance: the business environment is highly competitive, so many executives neglect the importance of work-life balance. Continuously asking your employees to work extra hours, including weekends, will ultimately result in declining engagement.
  5. Inconsistency in engagement initiatives: in your daily work and team rituals, inconsistency could ultimately chase your employees away from your organization. Therefore, ensure that you stay consistent with effective communication and acknowledge efficient feedback.

Due to the pandemic, employee engagement has deteriorated. A Gallup study mentioned that the level of team engagement was at 38% in May 2020, and in just a month, it was reduced to 31% after the pandemic struck. Now, it’s 2023, and the level of reported employee engagement has hit rock bottom with only 18% of employees remaining engaged with the organization and its goals. To put this into perspective, it means that more than 8 in 10 employees (82% of the population) feel abandoned and uninvolved in their respective places of work. 

That brings us to the next question: what should the leaders do about it?

Executives need to be concerned because team engagement is directly tied to organizational success. But at the same time, maximizing employee engagement can be tough. If you're not careful, you could be making some widespread mistakes that will not only provide no results but also push your teams further away.

If you want to avoid this common pitfall, read on to learn about the five mistakes to avoid and what you should do instead to increase employee engagement.

How is employee engagement related to employee experience?

Employee experience is important if you want to push your organization forward. Imagine how it could feel to walking into your office or appearing in online team meetings only to be distant and cold. A situation where no one’s talking to you, no one’s interested in you or what you have to say, and all you do is act with the crowd. A situation like this is a low employee experience, which in turn leads to a decrease of productivity within the company.

You can, of course, learn more about employee experience in our dedicated article to this topic, but how can you improve the experience of your employees by spiking their team engagement? That’s what we are about to learn today.

What are the 5 mistakes to avoid to maximize employee engagement within a team?

Now, let's look at what you shouldn't do if you want to boost your team's engagement. Note that these errors are so widespread that even 'experts' fall into them. As a result, you must be careful not to make these errors in the long term.

Underestimating team engagement

CEOs who believe that teams do not need to feel like a part of the firm to function properly are making a grave mistake. In fact, the opposite is true. When employees feel a sense of belonging and ownership towards the organization, they are more likely to be committed and productive and contribute to the overall success of the company.

Further, engaged employees are more likely to take ownership of their work, and contribute innovative ideas that can drive the organization forward. They are also more likely to stay with the company long-term, reducing turnover rates and associated costs.

However, sometimes some leaders are oblivious to a decrease of employee engagement within their company, until their organization starts to suffer a decrease in results from low team performance. In other cases, some executives are more concerned with things that drive direct performance, and pay less or no attention to team engagement.

All these parts are indeed important for the growth of a company. Still, if you wish to attain a strong company culture, and improve your organization positively, then you need to prioritize employee engagement within the company.

Neglecting employee feedback

Another common pitfall that executives fall into is failing to ask employees how they feel and what they need. Most leaders do not consider this a necessity, while others don’t have the time. But the truth remains that failure to acknowledge employee efficient feedback can lead to a disconnect between management and the workforce.

Imagine this:

You are invited to a meeting with some other executives to discuss your experiences building successful companies. As the meeting continues, imagine that you are always interrupted when talking, your inputs are not acknowledged, and at the end of the day, you feel neglected throughout the event. If you were invited again, would you go? The odds would tip greatly towards a ‘no.’ Why? No one likes feeling set aside, and neither do your employees.

When employees feel like they are not heard or their opinions don't matter, they may become disengaged or resentful towards their employer. In other words, they could become uninterested in the job, which leads to decreased productivity and negative work culture. 

If you want to avoid all of this, don’t make the mistake. Seek efficient feedback from your employees either by encouraging one-on-one meetings, anonymous surveys, or group discussions. Make them feel comfortable, listen to them, and show them you value their input.

Giving your employees too many responsibilities

Overburdening your employees with too much work can also lead to decreased team engagement, and like the earlier points, this is also a very common pitfall. 

In a recent study, it was recorded that 80% of global knowledge workers reported that they felt overworked and close to burnout. This fact also implies that 80% of CEOs make their employees work so hard that they feel overworked and burned out. But why is this such a common mistake?

It is very easy for executives to get caught up in the excitement of maintaining a strong brand and achieving success. Amid this excitement, they plan and devise ways to move forward, tasking employees with more tasks to do and asking managers for increased results.

Sometimes, the executives could even be giving the team more work to do in order to meet a general organizational trend or to beat the competition. When this happens, the employees constantly try their best to promote and support the brand until they feel overloaded, stressed, burned out, and overall uninterested in working at all.

To combat this, executives should always make a conscious effort to incorporate workload management and effective delegation of duties so that employees are well-rested. Leaders should also set realistic goals while providing the resources needed to work.

Ignoring work-life balance

This point is closely related to the previous one, but it deserves its own spotlight because there’s more involved. 

The demands on us as an organization are becoming overwhelming. If you fail to show up for a week, you could almost be forgotten because it is a fast-paced world. But at the same time, it is easy for executives to forget how important it is to take a break. 

It’s not about overburdened work expectations, it’s about when you keep asking your employees to work even on weekends just to meet the company’s goals.

Things like work leaves, opportunities for rest, flexible work hours, teamwork activities, remote work, vacations, breaks, and paid time off are needed so that your employees feel more energized and motivated when they are on the job. If you take these away, they will experience stress, weariness, and (sometimes) animosity toward their employer. In other cases, it could result in exhaustion, burnout, and even physical and mental health issues.

What you need to do is establish a balanced work schedule (workers should not be required to work the entire day, seven days a week). Also, prioritize a healthy work environment by organizing and arranging for work camps, team vacations, and other non-work team building events to promote team engagement.

Inconsistency in engagement initiatives

The final error you may make is applying all the advice suggested above only once in a full moon. Inconsistency can ruin all you have been trying to build, especially regarding team engagement. 

Imagine how employees would feel when they are given optimized tasks one week and, in the next four weeks, are overworked again. The same thing goes for team members who were made to feel heard at some point, but later find out that their feedback was never incorporated into the organization. 

The truth remains that when you implement occasional engagement efforts without consistency, it will only lead to short-lived effects.

So what should you do aside from becoming consistent? Here are two things you should try:

  1. Maintain transparent and effective communication at all times with your team members. Some ways to ensure this are to encourage weekly team meetings, one-on-one check-ins, or company-wide town halls.
  2. You can also invest in employee development and growth by providing training, mentorship, and career development opportunities. Not only will your teams feel valued, but they will also be engaged with the organization, its goals, and other team members.

Why is it easy to make misleading decisions regarding employee engagement?

There are many reasons why executives frequently make inaccurate decisions (and they only sometimes realize it).

1. Most times, the complexity of human beings is not acknowledged

Most executives generalize the causes of reduced employee engagement in a firm and thus pursue a single remedy

However, the same technique will not work for two employees who are feeling excluded for completely different reasons.

2. Time might be a factor

It takes time to investigate the cause and remedy of team disengagement. But with a busy work environment, only a few executives are able to sit down and deeply analyze engagement data from surveys or conduct one-on-one conversations with all the team members. 

As a result, they tend to assume and fall into one of the most common pitfalls mentioned above.

3. Some things are easy to overlook

Some signs of decreased team engagement might be subtle and easily overlooked, especially if executives primarily focus on surface-level metrics or assume that the team's performance alone reflects engagement (and this is a common assumption).

4. Uninformed decisions could worsen things 

Decisions should not be made on the spur of the moment. 

To make an important judgment on a particular topic, you must be well-informed and thoroughly trained

Managers and executives who are not properly trained in recognizing and fostering employee engagement may inadvertently make decisions that hinder engagement rather than enhance it.

5. Executives often focus on the wrong thing 

To foster team engagement, leaders could often turn to increases in perks and benefits or even incentives and bonuses to spike the engagement and interest of the employees. But as mentioned earlier, this might not be effective for everyone. Not to mention that failure to address deeper engagement factors can lead to a superficial sense of motivation.

So, what should you do?

The first thing to do is to minimize the mistakes highlighted above. But beyond that, you can also consider improving your team-employer communication skills

Whether you work in-office, completely remotely, or in a hybrid environment, it is still possible to foster great communication skills with your employees. A proven method is incorporating visual digital platforms that encourage teamwork, collaboration, and engagement. 

The Klaxoon visual platform has some great collaborative features and methods you can try with a ready-to-use template. If you walk away from the pitfalls and take the right steps, you can start recording better organizational outcomes.

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