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3 Mistakes Organizations Make About Engagement and Retention

The Great Resignation or Great Reshuffle presents opportunities for organizations with good culture to attract and retain people. We know employees are looking for organizations who truly value them, provide opportunities to grow, and support them to work hard and play hard.

In our engagement and retention workshops with managers, these are three common mistakes we see.

1. Focus On Measurement But Not Conversation

Many organizations conduct yearly engagement surveys. Time and resources are spent on getting survey responses and data sliced by departments. We focus on the measurement, but forget the conversation. The average engagement numbers do not represent the reality of a particular individual, just like the person who dies at the operating table has a mortality rate of 100%, even though the average risk is only 20%.

So whilst engagement scores at an organization and team level give us trends and a big picture, they distract us from having conversations that matter to the employees. This is what moves the needle.

2. Forgetting That Engagement Is 1:1

What is important to Person A is different for Person B, depending on their values, season of life and personality. So whilst we put effort into making improvements at the policies and systems-level, these changes may not address individual needs.

Engagement is 1:1. Only by finding what matters to Person A can we meet their needs and increase his engagement.

Who is responsible for these engagement conversations? The manager.

3. Assuming That Employees Doing Their Work Is "Fine"

There is a difference between being responsible and being engaged. Responsibility means doing my part, fulfilling what I am supposed to do and achieving my KPIs. This is what one is paid to do. The KPI-driven approach reinforces this way of working.

Engagement is going beyond; understanding what truly matters to the organization or the customer, going beyond one's boundaries to make something happen and creating meaningful outcomes independent of KPIs.

Are your employees responsible or engaged? Ultimately, beyond making a living, many of us want to make a difference and be alive at work. We can create conditions for people to bring themselves fully to work. Each of us has a role and we own our engagement. At the same time, managers play an important role in leading these 1:1 engagement conversations. When everyone feels valued, supported, and cared for, the results are inevitable.

Watch this 90s to Thrive video for more tips on engagement in remote work.

Wendy Tan

Author, Keynote Speaker & Managing Partner of Flame Centre | Future Skills Institute

Updated 14 Dec 2022


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