Are Your Agency’s Employees Engaged? Part 2

A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog post about the importance of having engaged employees.  I recently came across an article in a magazine devoted to human resource issues in the workplace that provided some important caveats to what I said in my blog post.  The title of the article is “8 Common Misperceptions About Employee Engagement That Can Seriously Harm Your Company.”

A couple of the misperceptions discussed in the article were already addressed in my blog post, the most important being the belief that it’s all about money.  The article listed five things that are most valued by employees, with flexible work arrangements and opportunities for training and other skill enhancement activities being two of the more important ones.  Three of the more interesting misperceptions to me were the belief that it is important to engage everyone, employees know what will engage them, and satisfied employees are engaged employees.

The article makes the common sense point that it is impossible to get some employees who are disengaged to be engaged no matter how hard you try.  The employer’s efforts to engage employees should be mainly directed at those employees who are satisfactory or above average performers.  The article advises not to waste much time on the poor performers.  Instead, look to replace them with people who are more like your satisfactory or preferably, your above average performers.  Similarly, while you need to ask everyone what would make for a better work experience, you should pay closer attention to the responses of your satisfactory and above average performers than those of the poor performers.

However, the article advises not to accept at face value responses of employees to the question of what would make for a better work experience, especially if those responses are focused on perks.  Regardless of what employees may say, research has shown that the work itself must be meaningful and well-managed for employees to be truly engaged.  One strategy for handling requests for perks is to ask your employees what they would be willing to do to get them.  By doing so, there is no sense of entitlement to the perk.  Instead, the employees make a commitment to improve the business in some way for an improvement in the work experience.  This is one way to foster employee engagement.

But according to the article, the most important way to foster employee engagement is to have good managers and supervisors, which point was also made in the article that was referenced in my earlier blog post.  Having a good relationship with their supervisor was the single most important factor for engaged employees.  To create a good relationship, the supervisor must have a sincere interest in the personal well-being of the employees under their supervision.  Unless that interest exists and is apparent to those employees, nothing else the supervisor may do will create the same level of engagement that would otherwise exist.

The article ends with some suggestions for how to achieve an engaged workforce, which should be of interest to any employer.