Employee Engagement: What To Do When Your Engagement Initiative Fails?

Image of manager yelling at his employees over failure

Why do employee engagement initiatives fail in so many organizations? Some of these initiatives start out great and then fizzle out. Others might not even take off. Ouch.

One reason why employee engagement could be failing at your organization is because the person/team in charge of the process did not think the whole process through or did not scale the initiative in order for it to expand comfortably.

Engagement is not a short-term process and neither should it be treated as one. It’s a long-term initiative that needs to be constantly tweaked and corrected along the way. And it is definitely not one size fits all.

If your engagement program is failing despite all your good ideas and hard work, here is what you need to do.

Take A Step Back and Evaluate Critically

When something fails, our natural inclination is to work even harder and push through the failure. And that’s not a bad strategy. But when it comes to engagement, that’s the wrong approach. Because it means that instead of fixing an issue or examining what went wrong, you keep plowing through anyway, hoping the issue will go away if you work hard enough.

What you should do when your initiative fails is distance yourself from the process and observe it critically and dispassionately. Look for what’s working and more importantly, look for what’s not working.

Isolate What Does Not Work

Once you figure out what does not work, you need to come up with a solution. Maybe your engagement initiative is just not enough. Maybe you need a mentoring program to go along as well. Or maybe people don’t understand employee engagement and therefore are not able to participate. Isolating the problem from the rest of the initiative enables you to fix the issue easier. Because you are not trying to change the entire thing (which can be an intimidating proposition). Instead, you are isolating problem areas here and there and then fixing these issues. Often times, you will find that an entire initiative can be thrown off by one small issue, kind of like how one bad apple can spoil an entire bunch.

Don’t be Afraid of Change

You cannot cling onto old/flawed initiatives out of fear or stubbornness. Because telling employees or managers ‘ it’s always been done this way’ is not a valid excuse. Without change, engagement initiatives tend to become stagnant over time and as a result tank even harder. Keep an open mind when it comes to your initiative. Be willing to adopt methods and practices that you wouldn’t normally try. The fresher your attempts to inspire engagement, the better.

Tailor The Initiative According to What Your Organizations Needs

What works for one organization is not always  going to work for another. Take stock of what your organization needs, instead of what you think it needs, and create an initiative that works accordingly. It never hurts to have a survey about what employees and management would like to see.


Engagedly is a performance management software with elements of employee engagement. To see how we can help your organization, request a demo today!

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