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Employee engagement doesn't count, the type of employee engagement does

This is the last in our January series focussed on employee engagement. And while we’re not about to contradict everything we have said (and all we said on the subject in 2018), best make some things clear.

Over recent weeks we’ve explained why employee engagement is going to be vital to safeguard profit this year. We also gave you ‘5 ways to better use your employee engagement survey data‘, and the hottest internal communications tools for 2019.

The list could go on, and we could write forever on the subject. But as our focus is about to shift it’s vital we impart the following wisdom, or all the rest was for nothing.

Put simply, if you think the holy grail is simply getting employees to engage with platforms and systems then you’re missing the point. Smoking Gun is an interdisciplinary comms agency, which includes social media, and we’ve fought long and hard to put an end to the focus on vanity metrics. That means simple Likes and Shares.

The rule should be applied to employee engagement, too

Don’t believe that just because people are interacting with the software you have given them it means they are interacting with the company. You need to look at the metrics that matter, rather than those that can be easily manipulated or misconstrued.

In order to do that it’s vital you understand what your actual goal is. To use the social media example again, no company is on Facebook for vanity points. By comparison, all companies are on Facebook trying to secure the following sequence:

Action >> Engagement >> Exposure >> Sales/Inquiries

Employee engagement obviously doesn’t match that. But it should work like this:

Facilitation >> Training & Incentivisation >> Feedback >> Analysis >> Business-improving action


In both models, you need remember a tangible result— that business-improving action— is a major reason you want employees to engage. Because only when you are able to take that action can any good come from the effort of both managers and employees.

It’s easy to get distracted

Both managers and team members can become easily distracted by the false prophets of employee engagement. Remember, a system is only useful with a useful purpose.

For example, a mobile comms app everyone can use could be great. But it won’t be great if staff are just messaging each other and not actually achieving anything in terms of work.

Similarly, a survey, which we advocate using for employee engagement, must be focussed and geared towards garnering real insights, not simply offering a quick way for people to voice their undefined unhappiness.

Rant over.


Don’t worry, we’re not leaving you in the lurch. This is the end in our current employee engagement series, but you can always get in touch to learn more.

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