9 Pitfalls to Avoid When Implementing An Employee Engagement Model

Written by EO Executives on Jan 19, 2016

Employee engagement and its link with business performance is very much a hot topic at the moment. Intuition tells us that it must be right to build a great place to work for our employees as more content employees are happier and this shines through in the provision of better service to our customers. Research supports this, as surveys have shown that engaged employees very much become brand and organisational advocates and happily work enthusiastically both with their team, their clients, and the general public.

In a previous article we looked at how to identify, and measure the link between employee engagement and business performance, and looked at models from Fitness First, Sears Roebuck and Nationwide. Although it’s widely recognised that employee engagement is a key contributor to the success of any business, implementing an engagement model isn’t always straightforward and as a result there are several common pitfalls to be avoided.

I sat down with three thought leaders in the HR space who all have experience in implementing employee engagement models to find out from them what you need to avoid when looking to implement your own engagement model.


Niall Cluley is the current HR Director of the Fitness First Group, and has broad sector experience across Telecoms, Retail & Leisure, Utilities, FS and Professional Services organisations. Niall is particularly passionate about developing customer experiences through creative and sustainable people solutions.


John Wrighthouse is an experienced HR Director, having held positions at Homeserve, American Greetings and Nationwide. John’s experience covers organisations both large and small, and has significant experience leading and driving HR solutions that transform individual and organisational performance. He also holds a number of Non Executive positions.


Carole Band is Head of HR at Mitsui and is CIPD qualified. Carole has worked across multiple functions within HR with particular experience as an OD facilitator and L&D specialist.



So drawing on the combined experienced of our HR thought leaders, what are the 9 common pitfalls that need to be avoided when implementing an employee engagement model?

  1. Be ware of people or models where a prescribed set of actions will claim to drive engagement. Experience has shown that there is no one size fits all approach, and it’s more effective to look at each team separately.

  1. Avoid it being seen as the HR annual survey. It’s an on-going dynamic platform that underpins the organisation and the services it provides

  1. Avoid focusing on improving engagement as its own outcome. Go on a journey to prove the relationships with business performance and therefore the investment case for on-going focus

  1. Get the big things like purpose, values and leadership right first. Then you can spend time on the easier targets that the HR team can do something about i.e. training, well-being etc.

  1. Avoid it solely being a management responsibility. Having a great place to work is everyone’s responsibility. Find a way of ensuring everyone plays their part.

  1. Avoid it being seen as a soft measure. In a balanced scorecard it is as important as any other key business metric. Again understand and prove the relationship and keep on finding and sharing insights.

  1. Avoid using a model that only works in ideal circumstances. The results won’t provide an accurate representation of the state of your current employee engagement.

  1. Do not cover up the less positive results of employee engagement surveys. Transparency and an acceptance of where engagement is and what needs to be focused on to improve is essential to drive an organisation towards better employee engagement overall.

  1. Clearly action points raised by the survey. Presenting the findings of an employee engagement survey is an integral part of the process. In fact, inaction after completing surveys can result in a decrease of employee engagement so be prepared to action any points raised by your team during the process.

Persevere With Your Approach

By carrying out regular surveys you can develop a solid understanding of your workforce and create specific action plans for every department, not just HR. New action goals, when combined with clear communication on the how and/or why some actions may not be practical, build trust between employees and management teams.

As Carole Band says, “What we need to do here is listen to our staff. With Baby Boomers it was a job for life and that created loyalty to the organisation. The younger generation finds they are less loyal to a brand and has a bigger ‘what’s in it for me’ attitude.” “Running employee engagement surveys across all areas of the business can help identify patterns among certain demographics or role types, which in turn can lead to more personalised and successful engagement strategies.”

What Next?

Engaged employees stay for longer, but how do you ensure high retention at the critical point when new hires start within your business? Download our ebook ‘Hiring and Holding Onto Your Superstars’ to learn more about the on-boarding processes we’ve seen companies have the most success with.

hiring superstars

Follow Us

Follow us on LinkedIn Follow us on Twitter Follow us on Facebook Follow us on RSS

Follow Us

Follow us on LinkedIn Follow us on Twitter Follow us on Facebook Follow us on RSS

Join over 40,000 followers and receive updates on hiring talent and progressing your career.

Subscribe to Email Updates

Popular Entries