12 elements of employee engagement

8 Myths About Employee Engagement

As you know, if you read my blog regularly, employee engagement is high on my list of imperatives for a corporation to succeed in the long run. Employee engagement is something many companies talk about but few do it effectively.

Maybe that’s because company leaders don’t know what really motivates and makes employees happy and more productive.

Same Old, Same Old

I just tallied the number of views and downloads for my four SlideShare presentations about employee engagement: 16,120 views and 280 downloads. That indicates to me there is a lot of interest in the topic. The presentations were posted over the past five years but, sadly, not much has changed for the better in that time.

People still get shoved out the door when there is a downsizing as if they were common criminals. That makes those who remain feel good, right?

Employees learn about important changes on social media and not from the CEO. The grapevine is still the primary source of information.

This infographic from Decision-Wise, a human resource consulting firm, describes eight myths about employee engagement and suggests how companies can do better.



What are your thoughts about how companies can

successfully engage their employees?

Leave a Reply


  1. Great post. I’ve seen too many managers who actually believe these myths. I like the statement about engaged workers feeling respected and that their work matters. That is essence of engagement in my mind.

    • Donna — It’s disheartening when management doesn’t value an employee’s work. There is so much more incivility in the workplace now, too. When employees see how their counterparts are being treated — especially during downsizings — you can understand why they don’t feel engaged or valued.

  2. This is such an important topic Jeannette. I was blessed to have worked for some very progressive companies for most of my “corporate” career, but my last job was the stuff of nightmares. On the plus side I did learn a lot and it was the catalyst that helped me to finally jump ship and start doing my own thing so it wasn’t a total loss. Thanks for your work on this topic, and I hope more companies start paying attention!

    • Marquita — You were lucky (at least until your last job). I worked for several leading companies and so little was done to engage employees. For one global leader, I worked for a CEO who would throw ashtrays and when he called me on the phone, he would grunt, “Get over here!” I wasn’t the only one. He had a series of secretaries who quit rather than take his abuse. Sad.

  3. Jeannette, I like number 2 – feeling your work matters. I had one supervisor years ago who made me feel that I had the ability to rise far in the organization. Unfortunately, this was back in the early 70s when women didn’t rise very far at all. I met him years later at a social event and he was surprised that I had left – the thing is he made me feel my work mattered – the organization didn’t.
    For the last 15 years of my career, I was the boss reporting only to the chairman and the board of directors and I always kept that in the back of my mind – I constantly gave them more responsibility and let them know how important their work was to our end goal.

    • Lenie — I remember those days in the 70s, too. I would have liked to have worked for you when you were the boss!

  4. There are some managers/leaders who are killing their companies holding the wrong belief in Myth 7. I wonder why? My thinking is – fear. Some might be afraid that with engagement, their own position is in jeopardy. While it has been many years since I’ve worked in a corporation, this fear is still held by some. The more courageous and savvy manager/leaders knows engagement = empowerment and company success.

    • Patricia — So true. Poor leaders still believe in command and control. They are insecure. They don’t realize that by engaging their employees to their full potential, they are actually ensuring their own position. Happy employees are productive employees.

  5. My cleaning service is a mom and daughter. They are so happy and we all chat while they are working. They keep working; I know; some people can’t do that. They were telling me how much they love working for me because many of their clients don’t want them to talk. I said, “Happy people do better work” and they heartily agreed.

    • Beth — what a nice example. They are happy because you respect them and they are responding to that. So nice.

  6. This post is great. I feel engagement must be customized to each company. One company may give bonuses to engage their employees, another company may give employees stock shares, etc… Years ago, i worked as a manager for a safety training consulting company and they offered their employees emergency ladders for second and third story windows. I thought it was a great to help them understand the importance of safety at home and in the workplace.

    • Sabrina — It’s important to understand what motivates employees. And it’s different for each employee and each company, as you point out. Employees crave feedback and positive reinforcement. Great idea about the emergency ladders.

  7. When I read these myths the image that it conjures up is employers who can not put aside their self interest long enough to understand what will engage employees. An employer may focus on employee engagement as a way to improve productivity, but it is wrong to think that is what would motivate the company or organization staff.

    • Ken — so true. Many employers look at employee engagement as a one way street. How can they engage employees to be more productive? They need to understand that the employee has needs, too.

  8. I’ve a friend who works for a large corporation and he is admittedly chronically lazy and tends not to be overly invested in his work. While I don’t know all the details, he has pointed out that his yearly evaluations are written by someone who doesn’t act as his manager on a day-to-day basis. Accountability counts for so much. I know in the classroom, I always loved getting good and bad feedback. It helped immensely with motivation.

    • Jeri — annual performance evaluations are, frankly, a joke. Employees need immediate feedback on their performance so they can make necessary behavioral changes right away. Waiting a year when memories fade is a waste of time.

  9. I do not know about the myths, or not, about engaging employees.
    The bottom line is respect. if the employer has respect for their employees, engagement will work. If there is none, then no matter what engagement is given, it is useless. I think instead of trying new employee motivations, they need to work on the employers first.
    Thanks for sharing.

    • W.A. — Respect is everything. As you say, you can’t have an engaged and productive workforce without respect. Unfortunately, there is less respect now than ever because neither employers nor employees feel the kind of loyalty that was common in the cradle-to-grave days.

  10. Hi Jeannette, oh how I wish Myth #6 were true. It usually would be a huge blessing if disengaged apathetic employees just left to find jobs that actually moved and motivated them. Their negativity and lack of enthusiasm for the goals of the team and company are like a cancer that eats away at the morale of the rest of the group. You know what they say, one bad apple…. But sadly, too often these employees hang around for the paycheck, too lazy or unqualified to go out there and find something else, never really doing enough wrong to get fired, but just enough to drag the company down. It’s like trying to climb a mountain…with that disengaged employee on your back. Lol

  11. I’ve only ever stayed at jobs where I had good managers. That completely makes the difference for me. I’ve known people who’ve dragged themselves to work every day, hating their work environment. And employees will never do their best when they are miserable. Sometimes people can’t quit. If they don’t have another opportunity, they have to stay for survival. And that will lead to a less productive business.

    • Erica — It’s sad when someone has to stay in a job s/he hates because of economic reasons. Unfortunately, that is the case for many, many people.

  12. Some of these myths actually made me laugh out loud, notably that disengaged employees will leave. While this is true some cases, usually the ones who leave are among your most valuable workers. The ones who stay are generally so disengaged from work, they won’t make the effort to change jobs. Actually, they just won’t make much effort period. 🙂 Good post, good reminder.

    • Debra — The most valuable workers know they are good and are usually on the lookout for their next opportunity. You’re right — often the lazy laggards just keep coasting along.

  13. I look at it without my employees I can’t survive so I make sure they all know their importance. I do little things that make them feel special. For example one of my employees wants to take a day off for a religious function before his vacation benefits kick in. He said he understood not being paid. I told him that I would give him the paid vacation. He was very appreciative and it made me feel good. Last year another employee’s husband had heart issues and she was in and out for 6 months and I did not replace her. I have made everyone feel like family and it is working.

    • Arleen — what a good boss you are! Your kindness will be repaid by employees who will work harder in appreciation for your making your workplace more like a family. Congratulations.