Cultivate Employee Engagement that Outlives Ping-Pong Tables

Cultivate Employee Engagement that Outlives Ping-Pong Tables


Most leaders approach an Employee Engagement Survey initiative with some level of uncertainty, openness, and desire to improve. There are always leaders further out on the spectrum, however; those at one end who are ready and willing to make sweeping change in the best interest of their organization, and those at the other end who are mistrusting, rigid, and confident that any change initiative would expose shortcomings that might pose considerable discomfort or even upset the status quo.

The reality is that while employee engagement surveys are said to measure “employee engagement,” several different factors are underlying that construct.

For example, take the lowest-rated items on the MarshBerry Employee Engagement Survey over the last 12 months (with #1 being the lowest-rated item):

8. Organizational leaders effectively manage changes that impact employees.

7. My colleagues take appropriate responsibility for mistakes and failures.

6. Day-to-day operating decisions are made in a timely way.

5. This organization has sufficient people resources to meet customer needs.

4. Initiatives exist to reinforce the organization’s talent management vision throughout the organization.

3. This organization does a good job of orienting new employees.

2. Management deals with problems proactively.

1. I believe my current pay is comparable to what companies similar to my organization pay for a role similar to mine.

On this list, there are four items from the Organizational Management and Culture category and four items from the Talent Management category.

People are not necessarily dissatisfied with their surroundings, facilities, or even their supervisors in most cases; what they are dissatisfied with is their organization’s leadership and vision for maximizing its people.

While the ping-pong table may seem attractive as a quick fix to jump start your employee engagement scores, I would urge you to remember that it is a depreciating asset. On the other hand, an investment in people—the right investment in people—may yield a return far greater than its inputs.

Growth requires discomfort, a tension between what is and what is becoming. But growth implies a new state better than the one before it. If you ask me what you can to do increase your organization’s employee engagement scores on the next survey administration, I would ask you what you’ve done to invest in the staff you want for the future.

That investment is not just what your employees want; it’s also good business and a primary focus of clients working to maximize their value.