Annual employee engagement surveys are now a standard practice in most large companies worldwide, according to Gallup. Apart from being a useful recruiting tool, information about workers' levels of satisfaction, interest and overall experience can also help organizations better handle issues like absenteeism, productivity and profitability.

A study by consulting firm Leadership IQ revealed that there may be an issue when using employee engagement levels as a general corporate tool. A survey of engagement surveys and performance evaluations provided by 207 companies demonstrated that low-performing workers are reporting the highest levels of motivation and satisfaction in their jobs.

The study attributes the apparent disconnect between metrics to managers easing lower-performing employees workload, and to middle- and high- producing workers feeling pressure to cover for those who are not functioning at as high a level.

Though the correlation between low performance and high satisfaction may be troubling to managers, it is a remediable situation. Through better communication practices with top workers, company leadership can get a better idea of what challenges they face and work to engage them more directly.

By defining clear metrics for success and failure, managers can also inspire better performance and avoid rewarding sup-par efforts.

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