5 Employee Engagement Mistakes That Even Experts Make

Having years of experience as a manager can sometimes make you blind to a number of employee engagement mistakes. I’m not talking about destructive, irreparable mistakes but rather a few more bumps on an already challenging road.

The key aspects that you might be missing are the differences between generations, new technology solutions and the shift brought by the Online Age.

Here are the top 5 mistakes that we’ve uncovered:

1. Ignoring the generational gap

Think of your employees like a certain type of customer. When you segment them, it’s really important that you customize your engagement strategy according to their generational characteristics. Gen X will certainly have different expectations from Gen Y in terms of addressing feedback or managing performance.

Jay Gilbert’s research, published in the Ivey Business Journal, reveals:

“Generational gaps do exist. The results reveal that employee engagement differences are likely to exist across generations. These gaps have distinct impacts on employee engagement.

While companies have unique drivers within their organizations, there were trends among the participating companies in this study that indicate which drivers are more likely to become high priority for employees (managing performance, recognition, career opportunities).”

2. Trying to buy employee engagement

Perks never hurt anyone, that’s true. Many of these company benefits and facilities make work life much easier and way more fun.

The problem is when perks aren’t a mean anymore, but rather an objective, a compensation. It’s great that your employees have a napping room or a cool kitchen a long as it’s not there to distract them from a toxic working environment.

3. Drowning people in surveys

Surveys should only be used 2 maybe 3 times a year. Face it, having Christmas 10 times a year would take all the fun out of it. There should also be a strategy behind that survey, clearly defined HR objectives and an actionable follow-up plan.

Denise McLain, Senior Practice Consultant at Gallup, strongly believes that surveys alone will not increase employee engagement.

4. Seeing technology as the enemy

Individual face-to face meetings are the way to go, but only after you have some information to begin with. Having personal meetings for the sake of if it might be a short time solution but how do you prevent that problem from reoccurring?

There are tens of tech solutions that can provide you with a clear way of monitoring and addressing employee engagement, in a constructive way. Find out exactly where you need to intervene and only then schedule individual meetings. This way you can clearly measure your engagement strategy objectives.

5. Underestimating the Online Age

Being active and relevant in the online environment is not just a marketing objective anymore. Your employees are already there, they have friends, hobbies and half of their life uploaded.

Working for a ghost company is not cool. Make them proud to be part of your company, make them part of your story and have them showcase it.

“Employer reputation is the most frequent engagement threat. Across all six companies, employer reputation was one of the top five engagement threats. This learning suggests that highly engaged employees are proud of the organizations they work for. When perceptions of employer reputations decrease, a similar decrease in engagement spreads throughout the workforce.

This finding is profound; engaged employees are emotionally attached to their organizations, and when employer reputation changes, so do relationships of employees with employers.”

Jay Gilbert, The millennials: A new generation of employees, a new set of engagement policies


Employee Engagement can turn out to be a fine art, especially for the more experienced managers.

Highly engaged employees make a difference, both in culture as well as in revenues. Keep in mind the particular kind of employees you are targeting through your strategy and don’t overlook the current HR trends.

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