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Top myths about employee engagement

October 18, 2017 / Employee Engagement

You’re a leader. You receive survey engagement results and they’re not too good. What do you do apart from feel frustrated, and frankly a little powerless?

Dr Susan David, one of the world’s leading management thinkers, author of the acclaimed book Emotional Agility, and a member of the Virgin Pulse Institute’s Science Advisory Board, relates to the sheer frustration managers and HR leaders feel when confronting engagement. Too often, they receive the data and wonder: what should I do if my team is feeling disengaged?

“They know engagement is important but want to understand, as a leader in an organisation, how they can actually impact the status quo in a meaningful and practical way.”

Defining what employee engagement is – and isn’t – is an important starting point, according to Susan.

Here, she confronts some common myths around the topic.

Myth 1:  It’s all about the money

“Many leaders think that engagement is about money,” Susan says. “The mistaken idea being that if you can pay more, employees will be more engaged. My research as a consultant, carried out in global organisations with upwards of 180,00 employees, has shown that only 4% of people identify pay as a key engager.

“That’s not to say it’s unimportant. If people are paid dramatically below the market rate, then that becomes a hygiene factor for the organisation. But pay in and of itself is not key, according to my findings. That is really important to understand.”

Myth 2: Engagement is PD-friendly

Susan is clear that engagement can’t be written into a position description: “Engagement is owned by one person and one person alone: the employee. It is theirs to give, not the manager’s to demand. All that managers can do is create a circumstance where engagement is fostered, and where the employee wants to give the best of themselves.”

So … what is engagement?

Susan’s definition: “Employee engagement is a positive presence marked by energy, as well as a sense of dedication and absorption. It’s employees bringing their best and full self to work.”

Download our Essential leaders’ guide to employee engagement for practical strategies that can help you effectively impact employee engagement in your organisation.

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