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The pitfalls to avoid in your employee engagement program

3 min read
We all want a successful employee engagement program, but there are a few pitfalls to watch out for that can kill a program Here are the most common ones.

1. Irrelevance

For an engagement program to remain lively and engaging, it must be relevant to leaders and to employees. Once it stops feeling relevant, it dies. Keep a program relevant by refreshing the items you ask, making sure it reflects pertinent topics in your organisation

2. Lack of trust in confidentiality

To give honest feedback, employees need to trust that their responses will be treated in the strictest confidence. When people think their manager or organisation’s leadership can identify their responses, they may tone down how they really feel.

This compromises the quality of the data. Once confidentiality is compromised, it is hard to rebuild trust, and there is little point in running the survey in the circumstances.

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3. Lack of transparency

If the scores from employees come back lower than expected, it’s tempting to avoid admitting them for fear of adversely affecting morale. Lack of transparency rarely yields a good outcome – an honest conversation is always better than simply glossing over low score issues, which is frustrating for everyone.

4. Preferring high scores to honest feedback

We all like to see high scores, especially in business where we are so used to being measured and assessed. It’s an easy mistake to treat employee opinions in the same way. But the exercise here is to get honest feedback, not high scores. If you have high scores all the time, how can you improve?

5. Measuring managers by their scores

A common practice is to measure managers by their engagement scores. In our experience this is a common pitfall and one that ultimately leads to a less impactful engagement survey.

At worst, it can lead to managers’ pressurising employees to respond more favourably in surveys. At best, it provides a skew to how employees respond in light of knowing the impact that response will have on their manager’s success.

6. Poor change management

A lot of work goes into creating a survey and analysing results, but the same amount of work often does not go into facilitating the necessary changes highlighted. Items need to be specific and actionable, and it’s critical that proper change management is in place so that leaders have sufficient support and materials to deliver on them. If a survey item does not have an action associated with it, you should question the inclusion of that item very closely.

7. Delayed communication

Employees have taken time to engage with the survey, completed it and submitted it. They may be interested to hear the results, and with the technology available today, there is an expectation that these can be published quickly. If there is a substantial time lag between survey and results – weeks or even months – the whole program becomes distant, less relevant and even forgotten.

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