3 Barriers to Employee Engagement

Updated: Feb 3


Many researches show that team engagement helps to increase the most vital attributes of teams, including productivity, creativity, performance, product quality, innovation, talent acquisition and talent retention.*[1] In other words, team engagement unlocks the potential of the teams. When we look at the structure of the teams, we see that over the last decades, teams have actually changed a lot.



Today's team members are more diverse in terms of gender, race, cultural backgrounds, generations, beliefs, lifestyles and life exceptions. Unlike traditional teams, today's work environments are fast paced and managed horizontally rather than hierarchal. Moreover, today's teams require flexibility in terms of time and location, especially with the pandemic, flexibility has been a mandatory request to continue working for millions.



When we look at employee engagement in the workplace, according to Gallups 2017 *[2], actively engaged employee rate is only at 13%. The same research shows that 24% of employees are actively disengaged and a big majority of the employees 63% are not engaged. In other words, employers have access to only 13% of their current resources.



So what are the reasons for disengagement? Indeed, this differs comparing to different employees and their circumstances. When I asked, what are the reasons for their disengagement in the workplace to my workshop participants, and also in Diversein social media channels and people around me, after receiving dozens of replies, I could group their responses into 3 categories. Psychological insecurity, internal communication issues and leadership issues. As a result, employee wellbeing is impacted big time and eventually, employees leave the organisations.


Here are some suggestions to overcome the root cause of these issues and help to build engaged teams:


Know Your Team Members Personally

Who are they as a person? What are their communication styles? Are they introverts or extroverts? Especially what keeps them motivated ? Knowing all these individually will help to improve internal communication issues and help to build a psychologically safe space.


Share your story first as a leader

Sharing your story with your team and who you are as a person outside of work ,help the team members to resonate with you and build safety bridges. Beside your story, you can also consider sharing how you ended up working in your role, why embracing diversity and inclusion in the workplace is important for you. As people remember personal stories !



Recognise and Reward Good Work & Inclusive Behaviours

Building an inclusive workplace is not an easy job. Expecting a cultural change overnight is beyond rational. However one simple action might play a big role in this and that is recognising and rewarding good work and inclusive behaviours. Regularly recognising good work and inclusive behaviours helps to improve internal team communication as well as increasing wellbeing and satisfaction. Additionally, it is contagious in the workplace. According to Diversein's social media survey in 2020, 23% of participants said that recognition was their biggest motivation for work.



Let the Authentic Voices Help You

As a leader, you set the tone and actively ask for opinions of employees who think differently than the majority. When employees are invited to discuss a current issue and invited to share their views on the solution, they own the solution and they are more likely to drive it to the end. This method also refers to the engagement pillar of inclusive intelligence .



Inclusive intelligence is a new methodology which is located in the intersection of inclusive leadership and emotional intelligence. Find out more




*[1] Forbes, HBR, Deloitte

*[2] Gallop, 2017: https://www.gallup.com/workplace/238079/state-global-workplace-2017.aspx


Furkan Karayel, an inclusive leadership advisor; women in tech and female founders ambassador. Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Lecturer at Dun Laoghaire Institute Of Art Design + Technology. Founded Diversein.com after 10 years of software engineering experience. Diversity and Inclusion lead at Startup Week Dublin. Advisory board member at InspiringSTEM and Sprinters, global organisations to support diverse female entrepreneurs and young generation STEM. Honoured with "Speaker of the Year","Diversity and Inclusion Role Model in Business" and "Trailblazer" Awards.

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