The missing key to employee engagement

Employee engagement has consistently been in the top 3 of HR priorities year over year. First came rewards and recognition, then Employee Assistance Programs, then we saw swanky benefits, and back around comes rewards and recognition. You see the cycle…

Yet, according to the Gallup survey (2014), less than one-third of US employees say they are engaged at work. Which sadly, is the highest it’s been since Gallup began tracking engagement in 2000.

Many HR professionals believe that continuous change in their organizations plays a huge role in this statistic. There is no doubt that change impacts the culture and engagement, especially because it comes in a variety of ways (process/procedures, systems, reorganization, turnover and attrition, etc…). But while change is inevitable, the way you treat your employees should, and can, remain consistent.

First, we must start by acknowledging the obvious - employees are people. I know, big surprise right? But seriously, the 'human' factor is incredibly overlooked and that is why our engagement initiatives are falling short.

The focus has been on intensifying achievements and offering accolades, but we’re neglecting the support needed during inevitable tough times. Change not only occurs at work, but it impacts our personal lives as well.

By neglecting the other half of life which includes loss, hardships and life altering changes, we are missing major areas of engagement.

Next time you are running an employee engagement survey, don’t just ask the typical questions:

- Do you feel valued? - Do you feel your manager listens to you? - Do you feel well compensated in your role?

Add a few questions that will give you insight to the employee as a person, not a data point. Here are a few questions to consider:

  1. Have you experienced a major loss or life altering change in the last year?

  2. Did you feel safe telling your supervisor(s) about the situation? (or, would you feel safe telling your supervisor about any personal hardships?)

  3. Did you feel supported during that time?

  4. Do you feel comfortable talking your supervisor when you are struggling at work due to personal matters?

  5. Do you feel the workplace is a safe and supportive environment that fosters work/life integration?

Employees, unless they are robots, cannot turn life off when they walk through the door at work. Instead of ignoring the natural need for empathy earn their trust by acknowledging the loss, offer grace and flexibility, and create safe and supportive workplace.


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Karen M. Allen primary goal is to empower everyone to live an undefeated life.


Through her podcast, Unstuck on Purpose, and her robust library of resources, she teaches others how to build a resilient mindset so they can walk in their purpose and make an impact.




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