HR Management: Top Reasons Why Employee Engagement is Such a Challenge

The obstacle between you and creating a team of engaged, motivated workers can feel like a maze. Maybe it's time to clear a path.For HR managers, ensuring that employees are engaged with their work is not only a job, it is a constant struggle, one where your success can mean a huge difference in your company’s ability to meet goals and remain successful.

One question that many HR managers and business owners have is “why is employee engagement such a challenge?” Despite their best efforts, these professionals have to continually struggle to motivate their work force to operate efficiently. Are workers unmotivated because they’re not being paid enough? Or, is there some other obstacle between your work force and engagement with their work?

Today, we wanted to discuss a few of the major reasons why employee engagement is such a tough challenge.

Reason #1: Employee to Management Relations

Look up “reasons why people quit their jobs” or “why employee engagement is low” in your search engine of choice and odds are that most of the top articles you find will discuss employee to manager interactions (or a lack thereof) as a major contributing factor to disengagement.

Numerous studies have shown a strong correlation between employee disengagement at work and working relationships with their direct reports. In one study featured on, it was revealed that “problems with direct supervisors account for 49% of the most disengaged employees.” That’s right, nearly half of any given company’s most disengaged employees are disengaged because of poor relations with their direct reports.

However, even within this category, there are many different reasons why an employee might become disengaged. These problems may include:

  • Overbearing levels of micromanagement.

  • A lack of communication.

  • Interpersonal issues not directly related to work.

The above are but a few examples of issues that can be an impediment to employee engagement where management interactions are concerned.

Fixing manager/employee relations is no simple task, and as such will take a considerable amount of time and effort to diagnose and correct. The time-consuming nature of this task is one reason why fostering employee engagement is a challenge.

Reason #2: Poor Work/Life Balance

Younger generation Y employees have a particularly difficult time achieving a healthy work/life balance that keeps them engaged at work.Another commonly-cited reason for employee disengagement is a lack of a proper work/life balance for employees. When employees work too many hours for too long, burnout and disengagement are almost inevitable.

As many organisations such as Employers for Work-Life Balance note, this is especially challenging with so-called Generation Y or “millennial” workers, as they “care more about work-life balance but see less of a clear distinction between their day in terms of their work and personal lives.” Workers from this generation want a proper work/life balance, but have a hard time achieving it because they find it difficult to “shut off” during their non-work hours, spending time checking their work emails and responding to requests.

One of the biggest challenges facing companies as a whole is finding ways to provide workers with an adequate work/life balance, mainly because different individuals will have different conceptions of what a “good” work/life balance is. Even when a single employee has an idea of what their ideal work/life balance is, that opinion can change over time.

As an HR manager, creating plans for making sure that employees use their leave smartly and do not become overworked can be a daunting task.

Reason #3: Issues with Benefits Policies

Many companies use their benefits packages (such as pensions, health care cover, etc.) to help attract and retain talent. However, when these benefits packages are incomprehensible, outdated, or inconvenient to utilise, then they lose their value as tools for driving employee engagement.

Periodically reviewing your compensation and benefits programmes to make sure that they’re useful, relevant, and comprehensible to your employees can be a great tactic for making your comp and ben packages more impactful as drivers for employee engagement.

Beyond reviewing existing policies, it can be helpful to organize meetings with employees who have questions or concerns regarding their comp and ben packages to explain their uses, how they can be accessed, and other important details. This task can be delegated to employees’ direct reports after you coach these direct reports a little to make sure that they themselves understand your comp and ben packages.

When comp and ben policies are outdated or lack impact in comparison to your industry competitors, then they become another reason why top talents may consider leaving your company to go over to a competitor. In light of this, keeping your benefits packages and policies up to date is a crucial task.

However, constant research into the market, what the competition is doing, and what the best benefits packages for a given level of cost are can be an enormous time sink. Thankfully, there are ways to get this research done while minimising your time investment, such as by utilising the services of a dedicated employee benefits advisor to do the research for you and provide you with a list of the best in class options and what is most compatible with your company.

To learn more about the biggest challenges facing HR managers in ensuring employee engagement, and how you can use employee benefits programmes to address these issues, contact Simon Shirley Advisors today.

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