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Employee Engagement: 12 Warning Signs and 3 Winning Strategies

6 min read
Employee Experience
Employee Engagement: 12 Warning Signs and 3 Winning Strategies

What makes or breaks any business is the engagement level of the people working there. Here’s 12 signs to look out for, plus a behind-the-scenes look at how we engage employees at Questback. 

If you want to run a high-performance business, you’ll need to make sure your most valuable asset — your people, are not merely showing up at work every day, punching at the time, but actually pushing to their limits and feeling engaged and happy in their roles. If your employees aren’t engaged you’ll ultimately find out via poor performance results.

But how can you tell before it’s too? Let’s take a look.

1. Your employees don’t understand their impact on the bigger picture.

Create an ongoing performance dialogue by implementing more frequent appraisals, to improve discussions about challenges, priorities and goals with all of your workforce.

2. Employees feel anonymous.

If your employees are not appreciated, feel invisible, misunderstood, and unrecognized for their unique qualities, they will not engage with their work. Listen to your employees, know what interests them and where they are in their lives.

3. Employees needs aren’t being met.

Give them more social support, make resources and information readily available, encourage educational development, and offer greater flexibility. See the feedback value in supporting you employees’ growth and improvement.

4. Are your employees kept in the dark?

Don’t keep employees with a desire and need to know in the dark or denied access to the information that would support them to be more productive and engaged.

5. Do they still show initiative and participate?

When an employee is no longer eager to complete the task at hand, be aware that something has within the workplace may have caused their excitement to dwindle.

6. Is their work recognized?

Let fellow colleagues know formally or as part of a private and honest conversation that you appreciate the efforts they’ve made. If they feel that the work they do is valued, it is likely that they will keep up the good work.

7. Are performance expectations are reasonable?

Even the most outstanding employees just cannot achieve some of today’s excessive expectations – so they just switch off. Create a number of more achievable steps to a project, this will engage rather than overwhelm.

8. Is your company stagnating?

Transform available information, current questions and conversations into thoughtful actions. This will assist your company and its individuals to fully engage and achieve meaningful results.

9. Are you fair?

This sounds obvious but we don’t always see as clearly as we think. The person who talks up their achievements is not necessarily doing the best work. Think about who is helping them behind the scenes (their admin or assistant for example), don’t forget to notice the work that the quiet guy is doing. 360° reviews can really help you tap into deep sentiment.

10. Are you not motivating in the right way?

There are formal ways of measuring this, but if that is not an option then talk to your people and watch them. We all have to pay our bills and a pay rise is always nice, but people are motivated by different things. For some it is being part of a team, others the need to have a creative input. There are many secondary motives and knowing these will help keep minds focused and productivity up.

11. Employees don’t feel part of a team.

Spending a tiny amount of quality time together as a group will pay off tenfold. Pick half an hour a week where everyone sits together and work is not talked about. Try randomly selecting teams and having a 15-minute office quiz, it sounds cheesy but it works.

12. The spontaneity has gone.

This is a simple one. For no reason and at irregular intervals do a little something nice for your team. Take in a tray of doughnuts for example, but don’t announce it, just send an email saying they are there or leave a simple note in the coffee area. People like to be thought of for no good reason, just make sure you don’t go fishing for a thank you.

No two people are the same. The better you know the people around you, the better your business will be.

How we engage employees at Questback

We at Questback help our clients, and our client’s clients, develop feedback processes to fuel employee engagement programs. We also practice what we preach! Herewith are some approaches we take to engage our own employees:

1. Core values unite colleagues

Beyond our value proposition to the market, we hold core values that we instill throughout everything we do. These fall into three categories: Care, Innovation, and Drive.

  • Care helps connect us with each other and our broader community and allows us to do something good for others. For example: joining the JP Morgan Corporate Challenge, with Questbackers running and raising money for Age UK.
  • Innovation means we invite our staff to take chances, think outside the box, and to get rid of the “but that’s how we’ve always done it” mentality. Taking chances and trying new approaches is encouraged.
  • Drive involves passion and going the extra mile. We look for a drive when hiring new employees, and appreciate efforts with recognition and rewards. We have been lucky to find passionate individuals who do great things, and continually strive to do more – so much so that it has become our culture.

2. Feedback Matters

Just as we tell our clients: insight can come from anywhere and innovation often starts at the fringe. This is why we’ve implemented a transparent, open platform to continually engage employees and capture their valuable input.

Sure we can (and do!) ask employees about specific areas to improve, but the real catalysts for change have been the unsolicited input we capture through our “always on” company community platform. We look at what comes in every week and categorize the feedback. At least monthly, our executive team prioritizes the best ones and assigns actions and accountability. We do this continually and regularly, without fail, to keep momentum and to effect timely change.

3. We’re all in this together

We are truly in this together. Our business model is progressive and organized to leverage the skills, experience and ideas of everyone, regardless of title, department, or tenure.

Perhaps the most important element of our program is regular follow-up and shared actions from the feedback, all the way to the final outcome and results. Our employees know their feedback is taken seriously, and can point to their own contribution to the company’s improvement. Even if their particular suggestion didn’t make it as a top priority, seeing their colleagues’ successes can incent them to continually try to think of what we can be doing better – whether its stopping something, doing more of something, or trying something new.

The combination of our core values, feedback loop, and culture has helped us turn around our own organization to be better both internally and with clients. And due to the transparent nature of our program, our “water cooler” talk and group discussions have become more centered around this common goal: to be the best we can be. And there is nothing better than that!


Watching for the warning signs, and following the type of strategies mentioned above will go a long way in ensuring your employees engaged.

Over the last fifteen years providing employee feedback solutions, we’ve learned one important thing: people really matter and making sure you’re listening and engaging them makes all the difference to how your business succeeds – or fails, in the world.

Get to know your employees, collect regular feedback, and find out what truly makes them tick. If you treat your people like they matter not only will they work really hard for you, but they’ll be happy and excited to do so.

P.S. If you want help with how you do employee engagement click here. To comment on this article, find us on Twitter or LinkedIn, we’d love to hear from you!

Read more about Employee Surveys.


Guide for high employee engagement

Find the 4 driving forces of engagement split up into 33 solid methods that you can use to be a better leader and raise your team’s performance.

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