Let’s start by defining what the employee engagement myth is: Our employee engagement is healthy when employee satisfaction results derived from an annual survey are elevated.

The truth is that survey results only offer a rudimentary pulse on employee engagement. Surveys lack key indicators of engagement that are often overlooked. The first question that comes to mind is, “Who would be open to filling out a survey in the first place?” Answer: It’s those most engaged that would take the time to submit such a survey. Disengaged employees feel that even if they were to fill it out, management wouldn’t act to resolve their concerns anyway. Based on past experience, why would a disengaged employee complete a survey when nothing seems to improve?

Attaining 80-90% employee satisfaction results may simply indicate that primarily only your engaged employees were those who submitted their feedback.

But if we don’t measure engagement with a survey, then how do we measure it?

Answer: One on one meetings. Surveys and assessments can never and should never be the substitute for face-to-face connection. The irony to all of this is that a leader meeting with each employee becomes the very act that drives employee engagement. Simply put, if we aren’t personally engaging with those we want engaged, how do we propose it will happen?

I’m not suggesting that you should never send out a survey, but I am challenging leaders who lean on the employee satisfaction results as an alternative for taking time for authentic connection. Employee engagement lives in a culture of trust, vulnerability, and belonging because those needs are baked into our DNA. These can only exist in a culture where leaders care enough for each person to take time to sit down with them and listen. How will you build a culture of trust, vulnerability and belonging this week?

 

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