Facebook was in the news again. Not for misuse of data or alleged political meddling, but for its culture, which former employees are calling “cult-like.” These new problems stem from tools used to boost employee engagement, which some claim were implemented without taking into consideration the potential negative effects.
Engagement has been a buzz word in human resources for some time now. Organizations like Facebook are recognizing its importance and taking action to boost levels within their organizations, which they should.
Unfortunately, in the rush to jump on the engagement bandwagon, mistakes may be made, or practices hindering well-intentioned efforts may be overlooked.
Here we address four common ones.
Taking a Top-Down Approach
Ask five people across different levels of the organization to define your company culture, and you’ll likely get five different answers. Management often perceives culture in an idealistic way, which can be very different than what other members of the team perceive.
What should you do? Measure it!
The use of pulse surveys, one-on-one meetings, and exit interviews are easy ways to properly assess company culture. Once this information is gathered and areas of improvement are identified, don’t jump to implement morale-boosting perks like “Yay Days” and free burgers without first consulting your employees for input. Involving your employees in decisions like these make them feel like their voice and opinions matter. And that alone builds engagement better than any burger can.
Discounting Cultural Fit
Online retailer Zappos is known for having a well-defined culture which they fervently protect with tactics like offering new employees a quit bonus and intensive team training on core values. Their efforts to preserve their culture begin with each candidate receiving a thorough cultural fit interview which carries half the weight of whether or not they are hired. While these practices might sound extreme, not considering cultural fit when hiring can negatively impact engagement.
Can one bad apple really spoil the whole bunch?
Not entirely, but over time if your employees don’t share the same work ethic or have the same values as the company, culture can suffer. Hiring managers often make the mistake of hiring solely based on skills and not the person’s fit within the company. You can train on job skills, but you can’t change someone’s attitude.
“It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.” – Steve Jobs
This classic, and often-cited quote alludes to the benefits of empowering your employees. Employees shut down when management controls every detail of their day. However, when employees are trusted, respected and given autonomy, they become emotionally invested in the company.
Emotionally-invested employees are better performers. They do what it takes to succeed because they measure their success by the success of the company. In addition to boosting engagement, having a culture of ownership means that leaders can focus on more strategic tasks since they don’t need to be involved in every single detail and decision.
Not Making Engagement a Priority
The biggest mistake you can make when it comes to employee engagement is not recognizing it as an important initiative within your company. A half-baked plan isn’t going to cut it either. You need a well-thought-out and thorough strategy that includes the following:
- Measuring and monitoring engagement levels on an ongoing basis
- Investing in resources that encourage collaboration, communication, compensation, and a connection—the key drivers of employee engagement.
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