How to Overcome Painful Barriers to Employee Engagement

Painful barriers employee engagement

Engaging your people means more than just deploying a tool

You probably already know how critical employee engagement is to your company. The good news is that the goal is already in sight and achievable. According to a Gallup study, you can gain 21% or greater profitability if your team achieves an engagement level in the top 20%. Now, more than ever, it’s easy to implement, monitor and measure levels of engagement using various tools. 

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The bad news is that most of these tools are compounding the problems instead of solving them. Before deciding which engagement tool to use in your organization, learn why many engagement tools still manage to miss significant problems. 

1.  Poor Company Culture

An employee engagement tool won’t replace poor culture in an organization. If you lack a culture of appreciating individual effort, rewarding outstanding achievement, and communicating openly, a simple tool won’t remedy the issue.

Employee engagement is about forming real relationships between employees, managers, top-tier executives, and the business itself. A software tool alone won’t mend these relationships, which is why every organization needs to first come up with an appropriate roadmap to the desired company culture. Employee engagement tools should only be implemented as part of that roadmap.

2.  Non-Anonymous

A 2016 study found that only 1% of employees felt confident enough to speak their minds and voice concerns they had at work. The rest are too afraid to speak as they don’t feel safe enough to do so!

Interestingly, almost 70% of managers are also afraid of talking to those under them. This lack of communication leads to failed projects, lost time, lost revenue, and severely diminished productivity.

Most of these engagement tools fail to provide a safe environment where everyone can speak their minds and contribute to the business’s overall growth. Without this feedback, it will be near impossible to break up the communication impasse in the office.

3.  They Induce Laziness

The false sense of security that follows implementing an engagement tool can be a big pitfall. The tool is meant to be the first step of the process and to stimulate more engagement while providing qualitative and quantitative analysis along the way.

A lot of work still needs to be put into collaboration, communication, conflict resolution, and reward systems, which help cultivate better engagement.

Employees become more and better engaged when they feel like an important part of the organization. These tools are just that—tools; meant to be used to gain better engagement and insights improving the team. 

4.  They Miss the Big Picture

A big problem with employee engagement tools is that they focus too much on “engagement” instead of general wellness. Much like a multi-choice survey, they narrow down the employees’ options and prevent them from giving honest and actionable insights.

Focusing on engagement alone is selfish and ineffective. Conversely, focusing on their general wellness will earn the most returns for you in terms of productivity and increased revenue generation. Engagement is just one measure of this general wellness and should be implemented as such.

5.  They Lack Continuous Feedback 

Most engagement tools are activated at the pleasure of senior management. For example, monthly survey rounds, pulse surveys, prompted check-ins, and peer recognition. These are great, but inadequate. The right tool should allow continuous feedback both ways and trigger open, honest conversation.

For example, employees may spot something wrong in a specific project. If they have to wait a month for the monthly meeting or survey to speak up, the damage will have been done. Also, the month-long wait may lead to them forgetting about the issue altogether. As such, many of these tools tend to be reactive rather than proactive.

6.  One-Sided or Segregating

Many employee engagement tools can also feel one-sided because they only allow bottom-to-top conversations, feedback, and data. Some employees tell of how they only learn about the performance of the business from public sources. 

These tools can also favor some groups of employees and leave out others. For example, there are companies where night shift employees never have the chance to interact with the rest of the team and share their concerns. The right engagement tool should serve everybody’s needs in the team and empower them to be more involved in the organization.

A tool such as Suggestion Ox lets you overcome this problem by allowing you to reply directly to suggestions while still protecting your and the sender’s identity. This ensures effective two-way communication, which is critical to employee engagement. 


Employee engagement is a journey involving a lot of work, but a very rewarding one for your business if done right. A good employee engagement tool will be a big help because it lets you gather candid, wholesome feedback, and enables effective engagement in the workplace.

Suggestion Ox has turbocharged the suggestion box. Over 60,000 companies, associations and government agencies use their anonymous online suggestion box to gather actionable employee feedback, gain customer insights or empower whistleblowing and reporting.

Try it free and experience the benefits of employee feedback