The True Problem Obstructing Employee Engagement And Innovation In Your Organization’s Workplace
February 19th 2019
Employees Are Not The Issue in The Engagement Equation
Regardless of whether you are a senior-level executive or an employee, employee engagement is something
by now most are aware of. Employee engagement is defined as the emotional and functional commitment an
employee has towards their organization. There are a mix of contributing factors that include teamwork,
leadership, and culture that strengthen employee engagement. Employee engagement is something the most
progressive and successful companies focus on. There is a clear divide between those companies which
value the importance of an engaged employee and those which do not. No matter the size or type of
organization, many decision-makers still appear to not understand the value of promoting employee
Many studies have been done in the past five years on employee engagement. Only one in every three
employees are considered engaged (cite the study). Lack of engagement becomes progressively more
pronounced in each younger generation. This is problematic as two-thirds of the workforce is made up of
Gen Xer’s and Millennials. Organizations and their employees, regardless of size or industry,
agree employee engagement is important, yet no noticeable overall improvement is being made.
At the end of the day, while most employees are not strongly engaged, they are in no way the problem.
In the case of employee engagement, employees are readier than ever before to be engaged with the
mission of their organization but are commonly not given the opportunity to do so.
Forgetting The Value Of Listening To Others
While the employer can usually be blamed for the lack of employee engagement, it is almost always
unintentional. No employer wants dissatisfied and distant staff. The first barrier to employee
engagement is the division between executive decision-makers and the employees who are hands-on in
day-to-day processes. Executives must understand that their most important asset is their workforce.
Organizations can be causing a lack of engagement without the executives being aware they are at fault.
This happens in various ways, but ultimately it surrounds the lack of connections within the organization
as a whole. Existing processes, in place structures, and “the way we’ve always done it” can hinder
employee engagement without the employer understanding the effects. They could want to have an engaged
workforce and not recognize the organization itself is deterring that engagement.
Not Trusting Others Out Of Fear
The other side of the issue with employee engagement is when the employer is doing (or not doing) things
that cause the lack of engagement. The first issue is typically that organizational decision-makers do
not listen to their employees. For employees to be committed to their organization, they must believe
that they have a chance to say something and have it heard.
Another potential error is that executives do not trust the knowledge and abilities of the people they
hire. An organization goes through a tedious and costly hiring processes to ensure they find the best
person for a role, yet oddly do not give those very employees the opportunity to engage with the mission
of their organization. Retaining those hires should be a high priority because it costs the organization
approximately twice their annual compensation in lost productivity to replace them. Lack of trust by
executives who think they know best and not taking other opinions into consideration is common and easily
recognized by their employees. Employees will begin to shut down and tune out. This lack of trust can
range from pretending to value staff ideas but ignoring the input, to only listening to certain levels
of management, to being completely self-directed.
The last mistake commonly made by executives is that out of laziness, fear, or selfishness they do not
enable engagement. The thought behind this can be that in order to create a more engaging environment,
I would need to change my routine. Executives can become lazy and moribund; not wanting to take the
time necessary to have an engaged organization. They may also fear the potential change and what comes
with it. The time and effort may intimidate executives to the point that they choose to ignore what is
good for the organization. These beliefs and choices are often due to not understanding the value in
Engagement Is Not Simply Completing The Necessary Tasks Of A Job Role
All blame aside there is a clear lack of understanding of what Employee Engagement truly is.
As stated earlier, it is the emotional and functional commitment an employee has towards their
organization. This commitment that is so important is completely separate from the day to day role
of any employee. An employee who is engaged is often seen as one who is completing the responsibilities
and tasks of their job. This not engagement, this is work. Most people will make sure they complete
what is necessary to receive the financial income they desire to maintain the level of comfort they
desire. Whether they like it or not, they will work to ensure their life is stable. Engagement goes
beyond that. It is when an employee works with passion driving innovation, doing more than what is
asked of them, to provide value towards the mission of their organization. This is done through the
additional conversations and ideas outside of the daily grind. Engagement is also the belief and pride
that propels employees looking to exceed what is necessary.
Opportunity to truly be engaged, beyond what is expected of their job role, is rarely provided.
Many employees have valuable ideas, aside from their normal work, that cannot be shared. These ideas
are lost by not having the systems in place to gather them, because their opinion is not valued by
management, or because the organizational structure does not enable it. Regardless of the reason,
if employees do not have the opportunity to engage with their organization their enthusiasm will be
New Generations, New Employee Personality
Generation X and Millennials are very different than generations prior. Due to the internet,
social media, and changes to parenting styles a workforce has been created which wants to be more
engaged than ever before yet are less engaged than ever. These younger generations are full of
opinions and ideas, they are conditioned to think and learn quickly, and want to prove themselves.
It is natural for them to establish strong opinions. These strong opinions are often backed up with
research and analysis gained from an ability to research knowledge from the internet. Never before
has as much information been available to as many individuals. Parents of these younger workers
encouraged their children to form their own viewpoints. As such, most of the younger generations
have set out to prove themselves in whatever area in which they have a passion. They wish to share
their ideas and know that they have been heard in much the same way as they do in social media.
Undercover Boss Is Prime Example
A hit TV show with more than one hundred episodes on CBS, Undercover Boss provides example after example
of the effects of employers engaging their employees. Some executive takes on various jobs in their
organization, working hands on with various employees to better understand their company. No matter the
industry or size of the company, each time they meet a few employees who have different roles at different
levels of responsibility. They go through daily work with the employees and almost always are enlightened
on drawbacks and faults within the organization. Employees routinely have valuable ideas that they do not
have the ability to share with decision makers. This in turns leaves them discouraged and upset with the
issues they deal with daily. As the executive goes through the different roles, they hear about the issues,
connect with the employee, and become determined to make a change. The experience is invaluable for both
employer and employee. Each episode ends with clear organizational improvement that is sparked from the
engagement that occurred on the show.
The Amazing Effects Of Collaborative Communication Between Employer And Employee
What occurs on the show is collaborative communication between employer and employee. This is best done
with a formally established direct process through a two-way communication channel that is easily
accessible for everyone via web and mobile platforms (something extremely important with a Gen Xer &
Millennial workforce). This not only increases employee engagement but fosters innovation, improves
productivity, and solves problems big and small.
What DirectSuggest Found
With our solution, DirectSuggest, we found some incredible data proving the value of employee engagement.
When studying the suggestions made by employees through The Suggestion Box Reimagined, we found that not
only do employees have many valuable ideas they would like to share but have no desire to waste their or
their organization’s time. The suggestions fielded from organizations of all size in many different
industries are less than one percent complaint based. The suggestion may include change or constructive
criticism and almost never fail to provide a possible solution. Many executives assume they know best,
or do not believe their employees want to engage in ideas surrounding moving the mission of their
organization forward, yet that could not be further from the reality of employee intentions.
What DirectSuggest Provides
DirectSuggest is making the magic behind Undercover Boss a reality for any company.
Organizations can set-up a tailored solution targeting employee engagement through collaborative
communication. The Suggestion Box Reimagined fields suggestions in an organized and trusted manner
and can easily be implemented in less than one business day. Every employee can make suggestions that
are directed to responsible decision makers in an organized manner by custom regions or locations and
categories. Companies have the option of allowing anonymity for suggestions made on any
web or mobile device. With a driven passion to enable engagement to change the world and assist
organizations in succeeding, we have ensured DirectSuggest can be easily used. DirectSuggest is
extremely affordable; free for organizations with fifty or fewer employees and no more than fifty
cents per employee per month. The value provided from the insights gained and engagement around the
mission of your organization will exponentially outweigh any cost or time using DirectSuggest.
What Can Be Done
Like many of you out there, understanding the barriers that cause a lack of engagement in the workplace
and seeing the lack of change can become discouraging. Luckily, raising the bar when it comes to employee
engagement is very achievable. Once those who make the decisions understand the philosophical changes
they must make, and trust in the proven value that comes from enabling engagement we will all live in a
better world, with better enjoyment during work time.
Share this blog with those who understand and those who need to learn. Like other potential
organizational issues, such as the #METoo movement, it is time for the same sort of correction to
happen with employee engagement. If you want to help spark a change use the hashtag #EEToo sharing
your story of employee engagement (or lack thereof) and use #DirectSuggest to provide your suggestion
on how your company could improve Employee Engagement.
Riley Moore (https://www.linkedin.com/in/rileyrm4tech)
Riley Moore is a fresh face in the world of engagement and innovation. The 24-year-old CEO of RM4Tech, a family owned family
run software company, has used his mix of technical and business influences to bring his creative vision to life.
RM4Tech’s first solution, DirectSuggest, is the affordable and easy to use suggestion box reimagined. Another software
product is scheduled for Q4 of 2018.
His passion to empower individuals to use their creativity and voice to make a
difference in the world is what drives him. Riley has gained a large following from his statistical and articulate insight,
mixed with his unrelenting drive to change the world, gathering a following of over 19k followers on LinkedIn in only eight
months. Riley has been nominated for the 2018 Sacramento Business Journal 40 under 40 and DirectSuggest has been nominated for the
2018 Sacramento Business Journal Innovation Awards.