Is there such a thing as too much employee engagement?

Jun 29, 2022
Is there such a thing as too much employee engagement?

Successful managers understand the value of employee engagement. Studies show that more engaged teams deliver better performance, that in turn, increases revenues and profits. Moreover, high levels of engagement are associated with improved employee wellbeing, job satisfaction, and talent retention. The bottom line is that employee engagement is something all organizations are striving to increase.

But could there be such a thing as too much employee engagement? Organizations that focus too strongly on engagement as an objective in and of itself may be missing out on other paths to success. Even more troubling, this preoccupation with boosting employee engagement may actually lead to negative outcomes when taken too far.

Adjusting the Focus on Employee Engagement

Employee engagement should be approached as a means to an end, supporting the goals of improved performance and a more productive workforce. A narrow focus on improving engagement often neglects other areas that may improve a team’s performance. A competitive environment means organizations must be continuously adapting and pushing against the status quo. It can be the case that proud and optimistic employees resist changes and new approaches to their work. When incentivized appropriately, frustrated or dissatisfied employees may be less complacent and more likely to find creative strategies and solutions to problems.

As well as missing out on the potential upsides of negative and critical opinions, aggressively cultivating high engagement can also create its own problems. The most obvious consequence of persistently driving employee engagement is the potential for employee burnout. Studies have found that highly engaged workers tend to struggle with work/life balance and without adequate downtime their health and performance suffer.

Additionally, high engagement can lead to job-based psychological ownership, where employees see their job as a personal possession to protect and preserve. For certain personality types, this actually leads to negative activities like knowledge hiding and territorial behaviour in order to maintain ownership of their job. The outcome is weaker collaboration and poor performance from individuals and across teams.

Employee Engagement to Employee Burnout

A Balanced Approach to Employee Engagement

When it comes to focusing on employee engagement, there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. Organizations need to consider a balanced approach that fosters job satisfaction while also creating enough tension to drive performance. Rather than aiming to achieve ever higher engagement scores believing that performance will follow, organizations should strive to create environments where employee performance thrives.

Employee engagement surveys are an invaluable tool to understand and improve the employee work experience. They should be deployed with this end in mind, rather than as a benchmark narrowly focused on a final engagement score. The result will be both high performance and high engagement.

To learn more about the services Flex Surveys offers and how they can help your team, contact us at 877.327.5085 or visit our Contact Page to set up a demo.

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