Why Your Employee Engagement Programs Failed

Jobmax_Blog_Employee_engagementHave you participated in the annual “employee engagement survey fail”? That’s where employers conduct yet another engagement survey, hoping that this year’s results will be better than last year’s, only to be disappointed once again.

Paying the Price of Low Employee Engagement

If you can relate to this, you also probably experience the pain of one or more of the following consequences of low engagement:

  1. Costly turnover, especially the loss of mission critical, hard-to-replace talent
  2. Employee relations issues taking up managers’ time and energy
  3. Employees showing lack of initiative requiring managers to “babysit”
  4. No “We’re all in this together” spirit…which leads to turf battles, silos, and overall lack of teamwork
  5. Low morale resulting in less-than-stellar customer service

While it’s No Consolation, You’re Not Alone

Despite employers investing tremendous sums of money on improving employee engagement, employees remain largely disengaged across the globe. Very little has changed since Gallup started measuring employee engagement in the 1990s.

From the recent Gallup State of the American Workplace report:

While the state of the U.S. economy has changed substantially since 2000, the state of the American workplace has not. Currently, 30 percent of the U.S. workforce is engaged in their work, and the ratio of engaged to actively disengaged employees is roughly 2- to-1, meaning that the vast majority of U.S. workers (70 percent) are not reaching their full potential.”

How does this happen?

Why, despite all the time, effort, and money invested, does employee engagement not improve? More importantly, what do YOU need to do to improve engagement in your organization?

Four Things to Do Immediately

The following list—while far from exhaustive—identifies some of the most powerful things you can do to increase the effectiveness of your employee engagement improvement efforts.

  1. Examine whether you are making the four “failure guaranteed” mistakes employers make, despite knowing better:
  • Not reporting the results of your survey
  • Not reporting the results in a timely manner
  • Not making any changes based on employee feedback
  • Not explaining the reasoning behind why some input was not acted upon
  1. Identify if you are guilty of the “employee engagement deal killer”; mistakes that lead to low engagement, along with a resentful, cynical workforce, such as:
  • Employees don’t understand the big picture—Research shows that only 4 out of 10 employees know their employer’s goals, key initiatives, and other aspects of the big picture. How can we expect employees to be engaged, if they don’t understand what they’re contributing to?
  • Employees don’t understand how specifically they contribute to the big picture—When employees don’t understand how they matter, and what they can do to make the biggest difference, they don’t have the passion and commitment of those who have a line of sight between their actions and the big picture.
  • Employees feel unappreciated—This is one of the biggest sources of employee disengagement and low morale, and one of the most easily solved problems, and it costs nothing.
  1. Managers are unresponsive, teaching employees not to care—Unresponsiveness takes many forms, including not responding to emails and voice mails, not responding to requests, and not indicating they received time-sensitive material they had requested from a direct report. This last form of unresponsiveness—and thoughtlessness—is especially off putting to the employee who moved mountains to make the deadline and is now left wondering “Did they not get it? Do I follow-up and seem like a nag?” Unresponsiveness leads to the attitude “If you don’t care about me…why should I care about you?”
  2. Stop treating employee engagement as an aggregated statistic, and learn how to individualize the employee experience.  This could be a game-changer for your organization. While it’s important to understand overall engagement levels in your organization, in the end, employee engagement is an individual experience.

Just because your organization—or a department—receives a particular score on an engagement driver such as “My opinions and input matters”, doesn’t mean it’s true for an individual employee. When that employee is a high value, hard-to-replace employee, this distinction becomes even more critical.

At the micro level, employee engagement being an individual experience means that each employee has their own “engagement recipe” of drivers and causes of disengagement. Boosting engagement requires understanding each employee’s unique recipe and then co-creating a work experience that satisfies those drivers.

When this happens, not only will employee engagement levels rise, but each employee will be far more productive and will generate far greater economic value.

How to Manage a Negative Employee

Jobmax_blogYou know the one: he comes in grumpy, and within minutes the atmosphere of the entire office has sunk like a brick. No one wants to work with him, no one likes to talk to him, and people go out of their way to avoid him in the halls.

Negative employees can wreak havoc on a small business. They not only decrease the productivity of everyone else, but they make your team dread coming into work. Negatively is like any virus: it spreads easily.

Start By Talking With Them

If you haven’t approached them before, start by talking with them about their attitude. They might have a specific reason why they’ve been so unhappy, and if you can fix it easily this is the best way to turn them around.

Ask them specific questions.

Is their attitude related to something specific at work? Are they having problems at home? Are they too stressed out with their tasks? Finding the root cause is important. Of course, if they’re just a negative person in general you won’t be able to do much.

Keep It Private

It’s important not to chastise the person in front of others. When you talk to them about their attitude, do it in the privacy of your office. No one likes an audience when they’ve done something wrong, and making it public will likely make them act out even more.

Clearly Communicate Your Expectations

Make sure the employee knows that their attitude is unacceptable. Everyone in your business should be treated with courtesy and respect. If they don’t have something nice or constructive to say, then they should keep quiet. Many negative employees start or perpetuate gossip in a company. And, gossip is incredibly toxic. If this person is contributing to the gossip mill, then they need to stop immediately. Gossip creates animosity, tension, and stress, and your team doesn’t need that.

Communicate Consequences

It’s important to be clear that there will be consequences if they don’t change their behaviour. If there’s no improvement after a certain time period, you might have to let them go. The threat of job loss can be a strong motivator for change, so if all else fails then make sure they know this is an option.

What do your employees really think?

Because employees have a huge impact on the bottom line, companies need to ensure their workforce is engaged and committed. Numerous studies have linked employee loyalty, customer loyalty, and financial results with one another.

Employee dissatisfaction leads to lower productivity and higher turnover, having a significant impact on organizational performance. Therefore, anything that can reduce the investment of time and money currently channeled into sourcing, hiring, and training new employees is beneficial.

Enterprise surveys enable business leaders to find out what their employees really think and what issues need to be addressed. Through the survey, the organization can communicate to employees that their opinions matter and so increase employee morale, understand key organizational issues, and build an engaged workforce. Carrying out a well-orchestrated survey — and listening, consulting, and acting on the results over time — will have a positive effect on a company’s bottom line.

An enterprise survey is a structured process in which staff can openly discuss their opinions of the organization without fear of reprisal. They can review key areas that the organization has deemed important (e.g., culture, company strategy, career development, reward systems, training, onboarding, orientation, and customer service) and provide input and ideas on what is working well and what is not. The aim is to present staff with a method that encourages them to give honest answers on a variety of topics in a manner that they find comfortable.

Why conduct an enterprise survey

Would you like to uncover key organizational issues that would lead to demonstrable improvements? Do you want your workforce to provide feedback and suggestions on how to improve and feel more engaged and committed to your company?

Employee engagement is a central goal of a smart company that understands that is only as good as its employees and that there is great value in knowing their opinions, drivers, and behaviours. Numerous studies have established that a moderate increase in employee engagement can garner huge returns for a company. Being aware of what employees are saying about their work experience provides insight into a company’s key issues and makes available crucial information that can be positively applied to the future.

An organization can reap many benefits from conducting an enterprise survey:

  • It’s a strategic organizational tool to identify important issues.
  • It provides an assessment of current organizational culture and gauges the level of employee engagement.
  • It allows employees to communicate views and concerns.
  • It isolates the root causes of such continuing problems as high turnover or low productivity.
  • It enables companies to find solutions to issues that will lead to profitable improvements.
  • It fosters stronger employee relations by creating an environment of openness and trust.
  • Empowered employees lead to higher retention rates, lower absenteeism, improved productivity, better customer service, improved morale, and measurable savings.

How to conduct an enterprise survey

To implement an enterprise survey, you must plan — to create governance policy, clarify objectives, establish timelines, allocate resources, identify topics, and define a reporting structure. Once you have dealt with these elements, you need to develop survey items with the input of key constituents. You must also address administrative details, including who will receive the survey, communication, and timing, and then create your plan of action to analyze and identify priorities. Over time, you implement and monitor key recommendations, ensuring that you provide regular updates and communicate progress.

Your organization must keep your employees informed through all phases of the survey, including preparation, data collection, action planning, and implementation. You need to develop a communication plan to get out the key messages — objectives and rationale, timeframe, importance of participation, how results will be reported, and action priorities identified add implemented. Be sure to allow for two-way communication.

Explain suggestions that cannot be implemented in a timely manner and tie changes that are made back to the survey. Communicating effectively throughout the process establishes a solid foundation for future surveys.

When employees see the changes that take place as a result of their feedback, they will understand the connection between that and their response, leading to an improvement in future survey scores.

Timing the enterprise survey

If you conduct a survey only once, you lose the survey’s value in monitoring progress over time and uncovering new or developing issues. If you conduct surveys too often, fatigue can occur. To be effective, you should schedule the survey process so that any initiatives that come out of it can be incorporated into the business planning cycle.

Once it has been distributed, allow enough time for staff to consider their responses before completing the survey. Providing the opportunity to fill it out while at work will increases response rates.

Once collected and compiled, release the data to all employees without delay to signal that the information collected matters and that management has given it high priority.

Action planning and implementing results

There is little point in conducting enterprise surveys unless the information is going to be used to make your company more effective. Without action and follow through, there is no value.

The results need to be analyzed and presented in an efficient and cost-effective manner. How do you keep on top of the volume of information without letting the process weigh you down? How do you respect privacy issues? Effective evaluation of enterprise survey outcomes requires you to identify trends and patterns of key issues perceived by the workforce. Benchmarking the results from one period to the next enables you to compare valid data and opens the opportunity to monitor progress.


Many dedicated HR departments do not have the time or skill to gather or analyze the data or implement the recommendations they reveal. Outsourcing an enterprise survey frees up the time of internal resources by enabling a third-party provider to oversee the design, facilitate planning, provide guidance, and implement and coordinate the survey in a way that minimizes demands on employees and their managers.

As well, employees who are not fully engaged will not provide honest input unless an external advisor assists in prioritizing results based on objective, statistically reliable data. To ensure that your organization capitalizes on the potential rooted within the results, a third-party provider is ideal.


A well-designed and implemented process will guarantee that the concerns identified by your enterprise survey are the right ones. Equipped with this crucial information, your company will be in a position to address key issues, which will result in greater employee engagement.

By managing it properly, using the right resources, asking the right questions, processing and responding to the answers, and using the information to create necessary change, you can convert enterprise surveys into one of the most valuable management tools your company has.

How to Prevent Injuries and Illnesses At Your Workplace

As an employer, you are responsible for maintaining a safe and healthy workplace. A safety and health management system, or safety program, can help you focus your efforts on improving your work environment.

Whatever you call it, your plan describes what the people in your organization must do to prevent injuries and illnesses at your workplace.

Your organization will have its own unique system, reflecting your way of doing business, the hazards of your work, and how you manage the safety and health of your employees. If you manage a small business in a low-risk industry, your system may simply involve listening to your employees concerns and responding to them. However , a large business in a hazardous industry may have notebooks full of written policies and procedures and a full-time safety director.

What’s most important is that your system works for your organization. It’s up to you to decide how best to operate a safe and healthy workplace, and to put your plan into practice.


A successful system will be part of your overall business operation, as important as the other things you do to succeed in business. Successful safety and health systems have the following in place.

  • Managers committed to making the program work
  • Employee involved in the program
  • A system to identify and control hazards
  • Compliance with safety and health  regulations
  • Training on safe work practices
  • Mutual respect, caring, and open communication in a climate conducive to safety
  • Continuous improvement

Take a look at your safety and health system: Some components may be strong; others may need to be strengthened. The following sections describe the key factors and give ideas about how to make them part of your program. Use them as a practical guide to adapt to your needs. Because small business often cannot afford in-house safety and health professionals, you may need help to set up your system.

1. Make a commitment

Put as much as energy into your commitment to safety and health as you put into any other important part of your business. Make sure to include workplace safety and health in your business plan and integrate it into all facets of the business.

  • Write a policy that emphasizes the importance you place on workplace safety and health.
  • Commit the resources (time, money, personnel) needed to protect your employees.
  • Begin meetings with a safety topic.
  • Encourage employee participation in safety and health.
  • Let your employees know you expect them to follow safe work practices, and follow them yourself.
  • Respond to all reports of unsafe or unhealthy conditions or work practices.
  • If injuries or illnesses occur, make it your business to find out why.
  • Go beyond the regulations; address a;; hazards, whether or not they are covered by laws.

2. Involve employees

In a safe and healthy workplace, employees have a stake in the success of the program- safety and healthy is everyone’s responsibility. For your program to succeed, actively encourage employee involvement. Hold people accountable and make sure every one does their part.

  • Establish an active workplace safety and health committee.
  • Make daily safety inspections part of some employees’ jobs.
  • Keep employees informed about safety inspections, injury and illnesses statistics, and other safety related issues.
  • Give everyone a meaningful activity that supports safety.
  • Value employee input and feedback: Employees often know more about safety problems and solutions then managers do.
  • Make sure employees help review and improve the program.
  • Hold employees accountable: Include safety and health responsibilities in job descriptions, and make following safe work practices prat of performance evaluation. Set safety goals and hold everyone accountable. Discipline employees who behave in ways that could harm themselves or others. Establish a clear system for reporting hazards, injuries, illnesses, and close calls. Recognize employees who contribute to keeping the workplace safe and healthy.

 3. Identify and control hazards

Before you can control hazards, you need to know what they are. These are some ways to identify safety and health hazards:

  • Review records of accidents, injuries, illnesses, and close calls.
  • Review health and safety logs, first aid logs, workers compensation reports, complaints, and close calls.
  • Look for trends or common factors in: Kinds of injuries or illnesses. Parts of body. Time of days/shift. Location. Equipment. Protective equipment. Department.
  • Survey employees.
  • Review inspection reports from enforcement inspections, insurance surveys, or consultations.
  • Learn the safety and health regulations that apply to your workplace.
  • Inspect your workplace for safety and health problems, current and potential: Use checklists to locate dangerous conditions. Watch employees at work to spot unsafe work practices. Perform a job hazard analysis. Conduct air and noise sampling where exposures exist.

Once you know the hazards, decide how to control them:

  • Prioritize the hazards you found: Which are most likely to cause serious injury or illness? Which can you fix immediately? Do you have make long-term plans to correct some of the hazards?
  • Make a plan to correcting the hazards: Conduct a job hazard analysis to identify how best to correct the hazards. Find out best practices from companies in your industry.
  • Correct the hazards: Engineering controls eliminate the hazards through safe tools, facilities, and equipment. These are the best controls. Administrative controls don’t remove the hazards, they reduce exposure by changing the work practices, such as rotating workers, rest breaks, and training programs. Personal protective equipment(e.g. gloves or safety shoes) puts a barrier between the employee and the hazard. If you use personal protective equipment, you have to assess  the hazard beforehand and train employees the right way to use it.
  • Evaluate the changes to ensure they have corrected the problem and not created other hazards. And periodically re-survey the work environment and work practices.

4. Comply with regulations

Identify the regulations that apply in your workplace and comply with them:

  • Develop required programs.
  • Maintain a safety and health log if required for your business.

5. Train Employees

Train personnel about the hazards they may be exposed to at work and how to protect themselves. Keep records of all training. Provide:

  • General safety orientation for new employees and employees starting new jobs, including company safety and emergency procedures.
  • Specific training on the hazards of their jobs and how to do their jobs safety. Many safety and health standards include specific training requirements.
  • Retraining: as required by the standards. When jobs change. When employees return from long absences. As needed to ensure employees know how to do their jobs safety.

 6. Support a culture of safety

Workers hold safety as a value, they actively care about themselves and others. Mutual respect is the norm.

  • Establish effective two-way communication. Respond to the needs and concerns of workers.
  • Make sure management goes beyond the regulations to ensure a safe workplace.
  • Encourage workers to go beyond the call of duty to ensure a safe workplace.
  • Support a work environment that fosters trust, creativity, and general well-being.
  • Celebrate your success with recognition programs.

7. Continually improve your system

Review your program’s strengths and weaknesses. Does it accurately reflect how you want to manage safety and health?

  • Review annually and as needed.
  • Investigate accidents, injuries, illnesses, and close calls as they occur.
  • Conduct frequent (daily, weekly as needed) inspections of specifics equipment and processes.
  • Evaluate your injury and illness statistics.
  • Document all your safety efforts.
  • Review new and changed processes. materials, facilities, and equipment for hazards (change analysis).
  • Ensure hazard correction systems are in place and working.
  • Evaluate effectiveness of training.
  • Listen to your staff: Do employees know the hazards of their jobs and how to work safety? Are managers enforcing safe work practices and praising safe behaviour?