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7 Myths About Employee Engagement, Debunked

Posted on November 18, 2014

There has been a lot of buzz about employee engagement the past few years, but that doesn’t mean you should write it off as just a buzzword. Not investing in employee engagement can cost more than just a high employee turnover rate. It has an effect on productivity, organization reputation and company growth.

It’s time for leadership to start taking employee engagement seriously. Unfortunately, there is a lot of advice out there that is simply untrue when it comes to an effective employee engagement strategy.

Here are seven myths about employee engagement that leadership should disregard.

1. Compensation is the Key Driver of Employee Engagement

Gone are the days of the nine to five and staying at the same company for 20+ years. The workforce is evolving and a paycheck isn’t the only thing that people want out of their career.

While a competitive salary is important, employees are looking for growth potential, transparent communication, a great office environment, and meaningful assignments. They’re looking beyond the compensation package to the real rewards that drive their career and happiness in the workplace.

Which leads us to…

2. Employees Get a Paycheck, They Don’t Need to Be Recognized Further

Employee recognition is on the rise. According to Globoforce in their Spring 2012 report, 81% of employees said that recognition made them more satisfied with their work and company position. This is basic human psychology. Recognition of an employee’s work shows that what they do is valued and appreciated by the company. When employees feel valued, their satisfaction and productivity rates rise and they are motivated to continue providing great work. A simple “thank you” can go a long way.

3. Employees are Solely Responsible for their Career Within Their Organization

One of the key pillars of engagement is transparency with your employee about where they fit in and potentially grow within the organization. If executives are leaving this all up to the employee, then you’re missing one of the fundamental points when it comes to employee engagement. Employees cannot be engaged in a company that isn’t engaged in them.

4. No One Cares About Company Culture, They Just Want to Leave Work at 5

This seems like a poorly formed argument for work-life balance. Everyone wants a fair work-life balance but this doesn’t mean that your employees don’t care about what happens at work. Work doesn’t and shouldn’t have to be a monotonous 8 hours (or however many) of your employees day.

Organizational culture is much more important than people realize. While the specific requirements of each culture differs from person to person, there are main themes your company should be focusing on. Employees who are highly engaged within their company culture are 87% less likely to leave than their disenaged counterparts.

In order to have employees invested in your culture, you have to attract the right talent. By clearly communicating your company's mission and value propositions, you are more likely to find team members who align with them.

5. It Doesn’t Matter if Employees are Engaged or Not as Long as They Get the Job Done

Yes, its true employees don’t have to be fully engaged in their jobs in order to scrape by and do the minimal amount of work necessary to not get fired. But a company that’s made up of employees “just scraping by” isn’t going to be successful long term. Disengaged employees cost the U.S. an estimated 500 billion dollars annually. The truth is that not engaging your employees is going to cost you more in the long run than taking the time and effort to create a fully functional employee engagement program.

6. It’s Almost Impossible to Engage Millennials

There has been a lot of talk going around that Millennials are particularly difficult when it comes to employee engagement and retention. Even statistics help back this up with 91% of Millennials predicting that they will stay in a job for less than three years. However, a lot of this is misguided assumptions.You should be engaging millennials because they are the ones who place the most value in seeking satisfaction in their jobs.

In reality, employees are seeking out a company to grow with just like every other generation. The thing that differentiates them is that is they are not finding growth opportunities within their own company they will be the first to seek out other options. The best thing that you can do to engage millennials is keep the conversation open and the opportunities for meaningful work abundant.

7. Employee Engagement Doesn’t Affect the Bottom Line

Employees can be your biggest cheerleaders and the face of the company. If they don’t like what’s happening in their organization, then they’re probably going to pass that knowledge along. That can hurt business. The data proves how employee disengagment affects your wallet. The Gallup Consulting Q12 Meta-Analysis found that 78% of engaged employees would recommend their company’s products and services. Only 13% of disengaged employees would do the same.

In the same study, they further confirmed the strong connection between employee engagement and these nine performance outcomes: customer ratings, profitability, productivity, turnover, safety incidents, shrinkage (or theft), absenteeism, patient safety incidents, and overall quality of work done. This represents only 30% of all workers. An alarming 70% show up to work not committed to bring their “A” game. Focusing on employee engagement can put any business ahead of the curve and thrive, especially in tough economic times.


What other myths about employee engagement have you heard? Let us know in the comments.

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