Like 80 percent of senior-level business leaders, you probably recognize that employee engagement is critical to achieving your objectives, but how do you know if you're doing the right thing to nurture it? The ability to measure employee engagement outcomes is essential in order to justify the investment of resources and to know whether your HR technology is working effectively.
Why you need to measure employee engagement
If you’re still considering whether you need to measure employee engagement, consider this: Gallup data found that companies with highly engaged workplaces at the 99th percentile have four times the success rate compared with those at the first percentile. The same study also proved that companies with highly engaged employees are 21 percent more profitable and 20 percent more productive. There's no single perfect way to measure employee engagement; it’s a complex combination of human emotions. However, when you use some combination of the following six methods, you can acquire a fairly persuasive overview of how well you're succeeding with aligning and motivating your staff.
1. Convene focus groups
You don't want to have to go around to everyone's workspace for a private interview, but it's helpful to give people a chance to speak out occasionally. The method for running an employee focus group has already been thought out, so you don't have to reinvent the wheel. Follow a well-developed set of instructions, and gather groups of six to 12 employees together to talk. Note that you'll need to do a bit of preparation, such as deciding on two to five specific questions that you want the group to answer. Good focus group questions for measuring employee engagement should focus on the 12 critical metrics identified by Rich Hein, senior managing editor of CIO. These include asking workers if they feel their work is important to the company and whether they have the tools they need to do their jobs effectively. It's important to recruit a neutral moderator to run the group so that supervisors don't quell the discussion. This person can present the overall tone of the gathering to management after the fact.
2. Use pulse surveys and single-click polls
Have you turned to feedback and listening tools to measure employee engagement? Consider sending out a very brief daily pulse survey, made up of a question or two, to gauge current employee happiness and give you an immediate snapshot of your workforce's mood. At less frequent intervals, you can also send out surveys that explore employee happiness in greater depth. Surveys should focus on the following three metrics:
Satisfaction: How pleased is the employee with her tasks, working conditions, pay, benefits, supervisor and so on?
Alignment: Is the employee motivated by the goals and missions of your organization, or is he just showing up every day in order to collect a paycheck?
Future orientation: Does the employee envision a future at the company, or does she see herself elsewhere in a few years?
It's important to use open-ended questions such as "How do you feel about work today?" as well as single-click polls that can be presented in a series of faces, from happy to neutral to dissatisfied. With technology like Achievers Listen, you can leverage an always-on engagement chat experience designed to help you maintain open communication, ask all the right questions, and repeat successes. Allie regularly initiates engagement check-in conversations with a singly click visual poll that invites employees to confidentially share how they feel about work. Whether you’re using pulse surveys and/or single-click polls, anonymity is key. Anonymity for survey responses is important to ensure employees don't feel anxious about possible retaliation.
3. Hold exit interviews
This is less a measurement than a deep dive into individual cases of what went wrong. While some employees depart for purely personal reasons that don't reflect on your company, others will have important information to share. To get past any self-consciousness that an employee might feel about making critical comments, you can start off by asking what first made him start looking for a new job. It's also essential to ask if he has suggestions for ways your organization can improve or what his new employer is offering that he didn't find while working with you. Outsourcing expert Lori Johnston points out that exit interviews tend to work better in larger organizations because the close relationship between managers and employers in small firms can make employees feel guarded. She also recommends following up the interview with a written survey, commenting, "People can be more honest about how they feel when they're alone and just getting their thoughts out."
4. Turn to employee recognition activity
How often employees give and receive recognition can shed light on your engagement levels. After all, companies identified recognition as having the greatest impact on employee engagement. Measuring the amount of recognition given is a revealing way to measure employee engagement – and HR tech is the key that makes this possible. So, how do we know that recognition is a reliable indicator of employee engagement? One very direct way is by looking at the recognition numbers reported in Achievers customer success stories. For example, when Shop Direct and Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey implemented an employee recognition program with Achievers, they saw key upticks in employee recognition and engagement. Let’s take a look at their employee engagement success with Achievers:
- Shop Direct, which won first place in the Employee Recognition and Reward category of the UK Employee Experience Awards, raised the number of awards given internally from 8 to 1000 annually. Its own internal measurements found a 17 percent increase in employee engagement during that same period.
- Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey achieved a 14 percent improvement in survey results related to recognition, and a 6 percent rise in its overall engagement scores.
5. Measure retention rate
Research sponsored by Achievers and published in the Harvard Business Review demonstrates the direct relationship between retention and engagement, so measuring retention rates lets you view the overall arc of your engagement levels. This approach provides you with a wider viewpoint, offering insight into the gradual effectiveness of efforts that you introduce to improve employee engagement. Focusing on retention rate also helps you think more clearly about employee engagement because anything you do to improve your retention rate will automatically also increase your staff's engagement.
6. Track productivity metrics
This may seem like a very general tool to use for something so specific such as measuring employee engagement, but in the end it's the metric that counts the most. Productivity measurement has the advantage of being scalable because you can look at individual, team or company-wide figures. Research by Aon Hewitt found that a 5 percent improvement in employee engagement was followed by a 3 percent increase in revenue growth during the following year. Mike Rickheim, Vice President of Talent Management at Newell Rubbermaid, a global consumer goods company, explained in Harvard Business Review that engagement "is not just a warm, fuzzy thing. It's about giving people the tools they need to succeed in their careers, which in turn drives the outcomes that we're seeking in the marketplace."
With our five easy tips and tricks, you can effectively measure employee engagement within your organization. Don’t neglect your sights on employee engagement as it’s a key driver of your work culture and an absolute prerequisite for positive business outcomes. To learn more, download our e-book: "Four Places to Start Measuring What Matters."
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