Employees at work, supervisor wonders how to increase employee engagement

By Nils Reisen on 15.02.2021 | 2 minutes reading time

If you google employee engagement today or follow HR forums or the news, you’ll hear about just how low employee engagement rates are. Gallup regularly tracks engagement levels and reports that “85% of employees worldwide are not engaged or are actively disengaged in their job” (Gallup, 2017). Why is that?

There are many myths surrounding employee engagement that are likely to contribute to this low engagement rate. Here are some misconceptions to look out for when dealing with engagement at your company:

1. Engagement is a personality trait

Painfully, managers and organisations like to assume that employees are solely responsible for their own engagement. But: employee engagement is not a personality trait. It is influenced by many factors in the employees’ work environment. For instance, there is plenty of evidence that managers have a strong impact on engagement (Bridger, 2018).

2. HR is responsible for increasing engagement

While it’s undoubtedly HR’s job to help to create an attractive work environment and company culture, they can’t be solely responsible for boosting employee engagement. While many HR departments are effective facilitators of employee engagement, they can’t do it alone. Engagement is a mindset that needs to be embedded in the company and actively driven by managers.

3. Regularly measuring engagement is enough

Many companies equate engagement with the annual employee survey. While surveys are key to learn about current engagement drivers and barriers, fostering engagement needs to be a continuous activity. The survey can be a good starting point for strengthening drivers and removing barriers. Still, engagement is primarily encreased through a constant adaptation and refinement of the collaboration and working environment.

4. Happy employees equal engaged employees

Employers tend to think that happy employees are engaged employees. While happy employees are – well – happy, engaged employees are personally involved in the success of the business. Engagement is thus a concept that goes much further than happiness or satisfaction.

5. Paying more increases engagement

If this were true, the solution would be simple. Paying more leads to more engagement, which results in more business success and, consequently, money that you can reinvest in ever more engaged employees. Unfortunately, however, research is pretty unanimous that money is a poor motivator (Chandler, 2016).

Bottom Line

Employee engagement is not a project. It is a mindset that must be embedded in the company culture. Running regular and frequent surveys is a good start. However, working with the results and translating the insights into tangible improvements is essential. Line managers have a substantial impact on engagement. If you actively support them, you are likely to go very far with your engagement program.

Get in touch if you’d like to learn more about how to boost engagement at your company.


Bridger, E. (2014). Employee engagement. Kogan Page Publishers.

Chandler, M. T. (2016). How performance management is killing performance – and what to do about it. Oakland, CA: Berrett-Koehler Publishers.

Gallup (2017). State of the global workplace report. New York, NY: Gallup Press.

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