Roadblock to Employee Engagement
Published January 20, 2021

5 Roadblocks to Employee Engagement

How to Recognize and Remove the Barriers Holding Employees Back

There’s a lot of talk about employee engagement—even more so now given the effects of the pandemic on the workplace and the workforce. Leaders understand it’s important to the success (or survival) of their organizations, and while it’s become increasingly hard to foster engagement when some (or all) of your team is remote, it’s also more important than ever in helping to retain your top talent. I recently read a piece that made the argument that corporate teams don’t drive engagement, employees drive their own engagement. So instead of thinking of what we as leaders need to do to drive it, let’s focus on recognizing – and removing – potential roadblocks to increased employee engagement. In addition to the tips referenced in the article, I looked at some of the findings in FBR’s Employee Engagement & Compensation Study to identify some of the barriers to engagement that our research uncovered: 

1. Not focusing on the RIGHT things. Companies spend a lot of time and money focused on making things “fun” or offering perks to keep up with their competitors, but culture isn’t about having a ping pong table in the office or beer on tap.  It’s more important to focus on building trust and a shared vision within your team. Do your employees feel supported in what they do? Do they buy into the vision you have for your company, and are they passionate about helping you get there? 

Younger employees put a higher value on loving what they do for a living, and want opportunities to grow. Sixty-six percent of Gen Z employees in our study said they planned to leave their job within two years. Leaders who can provide a clear vision that makes employees feel connected to your mission will be better equipped to recruit and retain employees. After successfully working from home during the pandemic, most employees also put a higher value on having flexibility in where and when they get their work done. 

2. Underpaying employees. In our Engagement & Compensation study, satisfaction and engagement in the franchising sector was high overall, but only 64% percent of employees feel they are fairly compensated for their position. Compensation is the number one reason employees start looking for other opportunities. Not staying competitive in how you pay your top performers puts your team at risk.

3. Not asking employees about their long term career goals. It’s important to ask your employees how they want to grow in the short- and long-term future. They may not see the next step from their current role, or even know what a path forward might be. Knowing where your employees are at in their overall career, and what aspirations they have, can help your executive team plan for growth of the team, and the employee. 

If they haven’t figured out what that is, do you have opportunities for them to cross-train, job shadow, or stretch responsibilities? Not all people, or companies, have positions to advance.  We sometimes play a small part in a person’s longer journey, and if you are not transparent, or set unrealistic expectations/over-promise future growth within the organization, it can create mistrust and doubt.

One of the lowest rated areas in the study is around employees seeing a long-term opportunity for their career. Using part of regular one-on-one meetings to help employees think about their journey, and how you can support them on it, can motivate them. 

4. Ignoring warning signs. As the effects of the pandemic continue, it’s no surprise the majority of employees have experienced burnout. HR Drive points out how critical it is to have systems in place to recognize the signs of burnout. If your employees are checked out on your Zoom meetings, or not showing up for the social stuff you do as a team, something could be up. But when you see employees struggling, how can you support them through it? Take the opportunity to find out what’s happening in their lives, or if there are things you can offer to help ease their stress and frustration. (See our ideas to support remote workers trying to parent in a pandemic) 

5. Lack of clear communication. It’s a common challenge within organizations to hear employees don’t know what’s going on, or feel in the dark. In tough times, people get scared. Over-communicating about what’s happening, or how you are being impacted by all that is happening in the world or the economy can help it seem less scary. In addition, it’s hard to help drive the business forward if you don’t have a clear vision of where that is. Involve your team in reaching out and sharing details across the organization so it’s not all coming from one executive. Make sure they understand the importance of transparency and communication, and give them the tools they need to support that mission.

It’s important to invest the time to get to know your employees and their goals outside of work.  ASK for feedback: What do they need? How can you help them succeed? Provide opportunities for them to get passionate about what you are doing, connect with others, and feel supported. You will see higher engagement, which leads to more loyal and productive employees. 

Research for our next Franchising@WORK report is currently underway. The research benchmarks employee engagement and compensation in the franchise sector and recognizes the companies that are doing an outstanding job supporting their employees. If you are interested in learning how your company compares, and getting feedback from your employees to help you identify areas of risk and opportunity, register here or contact me at [email protected] to learn more.


Related Content:

Franchising@WORK Report

Franchising@WORK Employee Engagement & Compensation Study

Franchising@WORK Report: Employee Engagement & Compensation Study

Read the full report to learn the detailed findings of the study, including:

  • Which franchise employees are least satisfied
  • Where does the biggest pay gap exist?
  • What’s the biggest factor in employee retention (Hint: It isn’t money)


About the Author: Michelle Rowan

Michelle is the president of FBR, the former Chair of the International Franchise Association’s Women’s Franchise Committee. and a Certified Franchise Executive. She is the recipient of the 2022 Crystal Compass Award, has facilitated CEO Performance Groups and Executive Networking Groups and is also a mentor of UNH college students. When she is not at work she is usually reading, playing outside, or hanging out with her husband and daughter.
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