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Why Measuring Employee Engagement Isn’t Enough

Why Measuring Employee Engagement Isn't EnoughEmployee engagement has gone from a buzzword 25 years ago to the mainstay of our HR communities. Many corporations are measuring employee engagement and beginning to ask difficult questions, such as:

“My employee engagement numbers seem to have peaked/plateaued and I wonder if we need to keep measuring? Is there anything more we can do?”

As someone in the business of measuring and improving employee engagement, I have seen the unfortunate reality that many companies are only measuring engagement because they feel like they have to. They are measuring without putting real thought into the engagement survey results or taking action on the measurements.

However, without action, the numbers are meaningless.

Here are some of the top mistakes companies are making when just “measuring engagement”:

  1. Companies are hamstrung when they measure engagement but don’t have enough detail to diagnose the sources of the issues.
  1. Companies are doing damage to their relationships with employees when they measure engagement but don’t share the results with employees.
  1. Companies are sending a negative message to employees when they measure engagement but don’t take action.
  1. Companies are missing the point of employee engagement when they measure engagement but don’t understand that they must spend some very real time developing the skills of their leaders.

Many leaders want to blame employees for being disengaged. They’ll say they don’t “believe in” giving recognition because their core belief is that employees are paid to do their work and therefore don’t need to be recognized for their hard work. They’ll say they think that the entire population is likely to represent the results that are published by the big research houses like Gallup.

I am not here to disagree with Gallup. Indeed, I think they are dead-on when they talk about the core traits leaders must have to lead in a way that will fully engage employees in the workplace. I think they are dead-on when they say that only about 10% of all people who join companies have those core traits. However, we don’t spend enough time talking about how to engage employees and attract the best talent!

Follow Through on Your Surveys and Hire (or Train) the Right Leaders

If only 20% have the right traits, why aren’t we hiring to get those people in our company? If we know the critical traits, why aren’t we developing those traits in our company?

If we keep using the same old tools to do our hiring, we can expect the same old results in our surveys. If we continue to develop our talent pool and succession planning the way we have always done it, we can expect the same results.

Simply continuing to spend money on surveys without the intentional follow-up on these elements is simply ticking the box in HR that says “we have a survey and we know our engagement scores”.

Want to really add value? You need to get serious about initiating conversations based on the survey process and putting plans in place to change the status quo.

Imagine a world in which great 100 meter athletes all believed that the fastest time had already been accomplished, so why bother! Great people and great companies never stop wanting to grow and develop.


Workplace Engagement Insights will help your organization build a high performance culture of engaged employees and great leaders. Get a free consultation with me to discuss your business needs.

Start improving employee engagement immediately. Download my FREE cheatsheet for Improving Employee Engagement in Just 10 minutes.

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Written by Dwight Lacey

Dwight Lacey

Dwight is the President at Workplace Engagement Insights. He leads Workplace Engagement Insights with a clear understanding of the latest employee engagement research, survey best practices, and leadership styles that create successful businesses.

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