3 Employee Engagement Mistakes People Just Keep On Making

Feel like you're following all of the employee engagement 'rules'� but your efforts are falling flat? You could be making one of these three mistakes!

June 20, 2023

We all know that keeping employees engaged is essential to a business’s success.

But sometimes it’s easier said than done and even though we follow all of the “rules,” our efforts seem to fall flat.

So this week, I’m going through three of the main reasons why this could happen…

1. The rift.

Management need to work with their employees to build a strong, engaged workforce.

If you, like many senior teams mistakenly do, separate yourselves from the rest of your employees, it will not go unnoticed – and it will breed resentment.

People want to be led, but they want to know who they are being led by.

They want to understand your motivations and decisions, the company’s mission and values.

They want to feel involved and as such, valued.

What they don’t want is to feel like a cog in a machine, unnoticed and powerless… • Do you communicate, mingle and socialise with your team – are you one of them? • Do you share company news (good and bad) with your employees? • Do you involve them in decisions that affect the company (big and small)?

You should do all of the above.

You need to be visible, present and accountable.

Creating a rift that separates you (the decision-maker, the boss and the superior) from others will leave them feeling undervalued.

Recruiter Pro Tip One of the major issues caused by “the rift” is that employees will find it hard to connect with a company. They won’t understand or care about your goal. “If an employee sees the stated values of an organisation being lived by the leadership and colleagues, a sense of trust in the organisation is more likely to be developed, and this constitutes a powerful enabler of engagement.” Engaging for Success: David MacLeod and Nita Clarke

People want to feel like a part of something bigger, like they matter and what they do matters.

They want to be a part of you and the company’s hopes, dreams and successes.

That’s a great thing, if you can learn to harness.

The point is; you and the senior team should integrate yourselves into the business, keeping up with employees, chatting with them and finding out exactly where they’re at.

You’re all on the same team, so you should make it feel that way.

2. You can’t buy love.

Money doesn’t buy love.

And money also doesn’t buy employee engagement…

A thoroughly engaged team love their company because they feel some sort of emotional connection to it; they genuinely care about it succeeding.

That’s not to say you should underpay your staff, but it is important to remember that money isn’t everything and that if your employees are disengaged, throwing money at them won’t solve the problem.

It’ll merely mask it.

However, saying a simple “thank you” to an employee can work wonders – because they’ll feel valued, important and loved (and that’s what we all want, isn’t it?).

In fact, “a study by Glassdoor found that 80% of employees would be willing to work harder for an appreciative boss, and 70% said they’d feel better about themselves and their efforts if their boss thanked them more regularly.” - Catherine Stagg-Macey

The point is; you need to give both physical and emotional appreciation!

You can’t throw money at people and expect them to love your business, but you also can’t pay them a pittance and say that you value them (because they won’t believe you).

You need both. And many employers ignore or forget that.

Genuine gratitude can work wonders.

Recruiter Pro Tip As a side note, a similar mistake, often made by companies struggling with employee engagement is a fixation on temporary (often quirky) solutions like… • Taking employees out for lunch (once in a blue moon). • Buying a pool table for the office. • Calling in a masseuse for the day. Whilst these things are lovely – and they can improve company culture and therefore engagement, they shouldn’t be used as a quick fix.

Once you get your company culture, employee engagement and internal communication on track, you can start thinking about quirky perks and events.

Otherwise, it will come across false and even a little bit desperate.

Sometimes, all it takes is a spoken “thank you” to help your employees to feel appreciated.

But if you’re looking for something a little more fun - check out some of these.

3. Lack of trust.

Trust has to work both ways.

If you expect your employees to trust you, then you must, in turn, trust them.

The kind of “distrust” I’m talking about can manifest itself in a variety of ways… • You might not feel like you can share company news with them (good or bad). • You may find yourself micro-managing or questioning everything they do. • Perhaps you don’t trust or even resent their feedback. • Or maybe you think they just don’t give a crap about your business.

Whatever it is, it’s time to let go of the reins and put faith in your people.

If you can do that, your employees will feel valued and a heightened sense of responsibility.

They’ll feel more involved and more empowered and they’ll want the business to succeed.

Like I said, trust has to work both ways!

(Distrust is actually one of the tell-tale signs that you’re a bad boss… check out the others here.)


The mistakes I've talked about above come down to the emotional, rather than just the physical.

You can offer your employees money, perks, events, treats and alike, but employee engagement encompasses something much bigger than that.

It’s about having an emotional attachment to a business and feeling part of something great.

And that’s really exciting for you.

So, here are the key points to remember:Communicate with your employees. Show them you are there. • Don’t simply throw cash at a problem; money doesn’t buy love. • Trust works both ways.

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Good luck.

Coburg Banks - Multi-Sector Recruitment Agency
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