The Problem With Employee Engagement Tools

    By Jacob Shriar | Small Business

    For the most part, employee engagement tools work.

    Realistically, there are several problems with them. I’ll talk about them all, but there’s one in particular that I want to focus on and discuss.

    The problem is a big one, but in fact, has nothing to do with the actual tool itself. However, often when employee engagement tools are unsuccessful this is the reason why.

    People aren’t engaged by tools – they’re engaged by people.

    If your culture stinks, then any tool you try and implement will have very little, and only temporary effects.

    That’s why, as crazy as this is for me to say, I would rather an employee engagement survey, to try and uncover some of these issues than an employee engagement tool.

    Once you’re able to uncover issues, and fix them, your employees can start to be truly engaged. No social software can fix that.

    The major problem that I see, and that I keep hearing over and over again when I talk to people, is their managers.

    Managers Need Training

    Have you ever heard of the Peter Principle?

    What it basically means, is that people are promoted based on their current performance, for their current role, and often are put into a new role that they’re not good enough to perform.

    A very simple example, and something that happens often, is a software developer that’s not very good at dealing with people, and just likes to code alone with some headphones on, gets promoted to be the manager of the IT team.

    Since they don’t have the required people skills to train and develop new hires, new employees often suffer, and end up feeling lost, and naturally, their performance is never quite good enough.

    The problem here, is that managers need to be trained.

    In fact, I’ll take it a step further, and say that there needs to be continuous learning for managers, because they’ll never be perfect.

    A pretty well known statistic is that 75% of people that quit their jobs, quit their bosses, showing where the true problem is.

    Until you can fix these internal issues, no matter what tool you put in place, it won’t work.

    Hard To Link Financials

    Another problem that I’ve heard many times from people I’ve spoken to, is that it’s hard for senior management to link employee engagement tools with other tools (like Salesforce for example), to be able to see a direct increase in sales as a result of the increase in engagement.

    Gallup and others have plenty of evidence and research on how engagement affects productivity and profits, but a lot of companies have trouble making the link internally.

    What’s In It For Me?

    Another problem, and one that makes getting traction on any tool you implement hard, is that employees rarely see what’s in it for them.

    Yes, some of these tools are fun to use, but there’s no real sense of why they’re doing this.

    Unless you explicitly tie activity in these tools to their performance reviews, there’s no real purpose. A smart idea would be to have a tool that clearly outlines how employees can grow within a company, or how they can learn more about their jobs.

    One of my favorite products on the market is called Axonify, and it is solving a real problem that employees have, which is training. Most training that is done now is just awful, and Axonify does a great job of fixing that issue.

    Hard To Measure Emotions

    Another problem with employee engagement tools, and I suppose employee engagement in general, is that it’s an emotion.

    Kevin Kruse, who is an authority on employee engagement, speaks about this a lot.

    What he says, is that because engagement is an emotion, how can you possibly measure it accurately?

    The example he gives, is like loving your spouse. If you say you love your spouse an 8/10, what does that mean exactly?

    He offers a smart way to fix it, and it’s by asking what he calls “proxy questions”, like, “how likely are you to leave your wife in the next year”, but still, employee engagement is a hard thing to measure.

    Check out the CultureTalk I did with him where he talks about this (that part starts around 24:47, but I suggest watching the whole thing).

    Your Turn: What Are Some Problems With Employee Engagement Tools?

    Any other problems you can think of? Let me know in the comments!

    This article was syndicated from Business 2 Community: The Problem With Employee Engagement Tools

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