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employee engagement measurement

3 Ways to Improve How You Measure Employee Engagement

Employee engagement has been one of the cornerstones of successful HR management for the last decade. Measuring engagement is like putting a thermometer into various parts of the organization to get a pulse of how your employees are doing. It is vital that you accurately measure employee engagement in order to gather insight on your workforce and learn how to improve your engagement strategy moving forward. Below, I dive into three ways to improve employee engagement measurement.

  1. Relating Engagement to Business Impact

One of the most underused opportunities in engagement surveys is the ability to relate what you measure to business outcomes. Engagement is often seen as a goal in itself. When one or multiple questions in an engagement survey have a particularly low score, the organization focuses on improving these scores. However, do you ask yourself, “How is our engagement score impacting the rest of the business?” For example, how does engagement lead to employee retention, to financial performance for your salespeople, or to your customer service level? Most of us in HR expect a relationship between engagement and these outcomes but it can be tricky to quantify this level.

Getting that one low score up from a score of three to four out of five is rewarding in itself but can you imagine how rewarding it will be to executives when you connect that score to the impact it has on the rest of the business? This is also a common critique of employees and front-line managers on the concept of engagement. Engagement might be very important for a few weeks, but afterwards no action is actually taken to address it. By relating engagement to business outcomes through people analytics, it is easier to create an urgency for improving engagement.

An example is Best Buy, a large electronics store chain, that tried to relate employee engagement to store profitability. They found that a 0.1% increase in employee engagement resulted in a $100,000 increase in profit per store. These kinds of insights help to drive better and more informed decision-making.

  1. Pulse Surveys

A trend that has been emerging in the past few years is the concept of pulse surveys. Traditionally, organizations had every employee fill out long-winded surveys once a year. These days, it is possible to measure the same using very brief surveys that are only sent to parts of the organization.

Pulse surveys enable HR to ‘take the pulse’ of the organization at different times throughout the year on a regular basis. Traditional surveys might extensively ask about a wide variety of topics, whereas pulse surveys only include a few questions, providing employees a quick and easy way to submit feedback.

An area where a lot of organizations, and particularly those in HR, can still improve on is the way they ask questions in surveys. Take a good look at what questions resonate most and least with employees, and use that insight in your next survey strategy.

In a recent publication, the Utrecht Work Engagement Scale (UWES) has been shortened to a 3-item questionnaire. This much shorter engagement scale would work very well with a pulse survey approach, enabling an organization to measure engagement frequently and in a reliable way. Because this questionnaire is used throughout the world in research, there are also norm groups available which help to benchmark engagement in your organization with engagement in the general population per region.

  1. Continuous Analytics

The two opportunities above offer a combined effect that’s larger than the sum of the individual components. Engagement can be related to business impact – and when executed the right way, pulse surveys can act as an excellent path towards gathering continuous feedback and engagement measurement. What more can you do to improve employee engagement measurement? Start with how often you look at analytics.

Don’t limit the amount of time you spend looking at analytics. Because engagement levels can fluctuate, you need to look at analytics frequently. Research has proven that engagement can change on a day-to-day basis and in line with this, the desired outcomes that are caused by engagement, also change. Continuously measuring engagement not only enables you to keep a finger on the pulse but also offers the opportunity to predict business success on a regular basis. This has also been referred to as continuous listening, a key trend in HR. Don’t turn down the opportunity to catch and address any signs of disengagement right away.

Final Thoughts

Even if your company already has engagement measurement practices in place, there’s always room for improvement and optimization.

I highly encourage taking a scientific approach to how you measure anything in an organization. Below are three key take-home messages I want every reader to take away from this article:

  1. Measurement is always a means to an end, never a goal in itself.
  2. What you measure is always related to a bigger picture.
  3. Keep learning and improving based on what you have measured.

Best of luck measuring engagement in your organization!

About the Author
Erik van VulpenErik van Vulpen is the founder of Analytics in HR (AIHR). He is writer, speaker, and trainer on people analytics. Erik is an instructor for the HR Analytics Academy and has extensive experience in the application of HR analytics.

 

 

 

 

Important HR Strategies

3 HR Strategies You May Have Overlooked

Create employee handbooks

Track employee hours

Draft contracts for new employees

Manage company benefits

Handle employee complaints

The list goes on and on. Across many industries, the role of HR has traditionally focused on endless paperwork and organizational policy development.

However, in today’s technologically-enhanced workforce, the traditional role of HR is swiftly shifting. Many organizations have undergone significant changes in light of new employment regulations and more diverse, younger employees who demand modern HR departments. Above all, experts agree that the role of the HR team is now genuinely impacted by the rapidly expanding availability of technology and digital tools.

So the role of today’s HR director, manager or executive must parallel the needs of their ever-changing organization. Successful companies also realize they must become more adaptive, resilient and customer-centered.

Taking a More Strategic Approach to HR Management

The evolution of technology allows HR professionals to take on more strategic roles in today’s HR landscape. Organizations must shift towards strategic human resource management or use the HR department to formulate HR strategies based on the company’s short- and long-term goals.

As a result, the decisions that departments make must reflect goals that the company has set. For example, if the organization plans to expand, HR’s recruitment strategy should focus on creating systems that will allow the company to recruit and hire top talent. Within this new type of environment, the HR team acts as a strategic business partner as well as a change mentor.

Here are three additional HR strategies your organization may be overlooking:

Create a Retention Strategy

Did you know that the costs of employee turnover can range from 30 percent to 150 percent of the employee’s salary? Retaining talented team members can distinguish truly successful companies from not so successful ones. Many employees leave their jobs when they are disengaged. So today’s HR professional must identify what could make people in their company disengaged and figure out ways to remedy these issues.

A strong work-life balance helps create a solid retention strategy. Organizations that promote a positive work-life balance report lower turnover and recruiting costs and increased productivity from satisfied, engaged employees.

Additional successful retention tactics might include giving employees additional time off, supporting working parents via on-site day care or job sharing, and offering flexible schedules to accommodate busy families or supporting continuing education. Employees who have time to spend on maintaining their home life look at work less like just another chore to finish.

Encourage a C-Level HR Support Strategy

If you read anything about organizational change, it typically begins with the need for executive buy-in and support. Changing HR’s role is no different. While many of today’s leaders and CEOs do understand the need for HR’s role stand on equal footing as any other business function, others tend to get stuck in a different mindset that is focused on keeping HR behind the scenes.

To shift management’s support of HR from providing transactional processing to offering valuable business insight, experts suggest first creating a business case for change. This method can compel HR to specify why their HR strategies need a more forward-thinking model, and clearly and effectively spell out the major advantages to the company.

Develop an HR Analytics Strategy

If you want to make your HR processes as efficient as possible, implement the right tech tools for your company, especially those tools that focus on analytics like business intelligence, employee feedback or employee recognition and engagement data. The power of analytics allows HR departments to use employee data to help management make more informed decisions about their team members and improve overall performance. Additionally, analytics can provide insight for effectively managing employees to reach company-wide goals more efficiently. With an analytics strategy firmly in place, executives can also better forecast a company’s future staffing needs.

One of the most critical advantages of incorporating an HR analytics strategy is having information ready and available for future leadership needs. Companies can develop everything from recruiting and development plans to succession tactics with data they’ve collected. Often an overlooked area, a succession plan can help minimize disruption by identifying vital roles in a company and employees who possess the skills to assume these positions immediately should someone leave.

HR teams can also track and measure data to continually improve organizational processes with an analytics strategy in place. For example, much of the HR technology available on the market today can help businesses make more informed decisions about what metrics are most critical to the company culture and overall business goals, as well as track them to drive employee engagement.

The Bottom Line

It is important to understand that implementing the latest HR strategies is an ongoing process. HR should plan to regularly review its approach and adjust various elements as the company changes.

Ultimately, to remain competitive, HR professionals today must clearly articulate their key role regarding the actual value they create for their organization. Equally important, senior executives must support and invest in HR as if it were its own business, surpassing the stereotype of HR professionals as simply support staff and unleashing their full potential as company-wide strategic partners.

How strong are your HR strategies? Do you have a retention strategy in place? Get started with Achievers’ infographic on 6 Stats That Speak to Employee Retention.

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Are you having trouble engaging your employees? Learn how to address employee disengagement with Achievers’ white paper on The True Cost of Employee Disengagement.

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Do you have any thoughts on this article? Share your comments below.

About the Author
Lisa Dunn
Lisa C. Dunn a freelance writer, copywriter and ghostwriter who develops high-quality content for businesses and non-profit organizations. For over 20 years, she has worked with numerous PR and digital marketing agencies, and her work has been featured in well-known publications including Forbes, VentureBeat, Mashable, Huffington Post, Wired, B2C, USA Today, among many others.

 

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Measuring Employee Performance

5 Performance Measurement Myths

The question of how to measure employee performance represents one of the last vestiges of old-school HR methodology. Today’s workforce is digitally transformed, highly social and mobile, made up of multiple generations, and collaborating across virtual and global locations. There has been a profound shift in the workforce away from hierarchical, top-down organizations towards teams and collaboration, where having a culture of recognition can drive engagement and results far more effectively than infrequent reviews handed down from on high by management.

We all want the best hires and to lure the top talent. But once on board, they’re part of the organization, and now making sure that they’re fully engaged becomes the challenge. But how do we know if they are working up to their potential? Old-school approaches to performance management, which view a single employee outside of the context of today’s team-based, networked workplace, no longer ring true. Indeed some would argue that many of these approaches were myths to begin with – and I’d have to agree.

Here are five assumptions about measuring employee performance that need to be retired:

Myth #1 – Individuals should be judged solely on their own performance.

The idea that we perform as an island may apply to an isolated few, but it doesn’t fit the majority of workplaces — either today or yesterday. The investment made in working out how to evaluate individuals may be better spent evaluating the quality of their team or business unit’s output. What targets have been hit? What goals have been reached?

Perhaps we should be evaluating employees not only on their performance, but on their level of engagement and on their ability to thrive in team-based environment. Highly engaged employees are more likely to give the kind of discretionary effort that all bosses are looking for, and that have a tangible effect on a company’s bottom line. In fact, Aon Hewitt has reported that for every incremental one-point increase in employee engagement organizations saw a 0.6% increase in sales. For a company with sales of $100 million, this translates to a $6 million windfall! And in companies with the most engaged employees, revenue growth was 2.5 times greater than competitors with lower levels of engagement.

Myth #2 – Good employees just do the job, they don’t need a reason or added meaning.

Is the better employee really the one that doesn’t need to understand how their work aligns with company’s mission and values? Performance stems from engagement. And being engaged stems, in large part, from feeling aligned to — and invested in — the company purpose. Motivation and meaning go hand in hand.

Even if a task is performed well, accomplishing it inside a vacuum is going to create a gap somewhere along the line. Employees deserve to know why they’re there. They’ll participate more fully, and are more likely to push to reach targets and goals if they are invested in the rationale behind the effort.

Myth #3 – An employee that’s good this year will be good next year.

When a team of researchers dove into six years of performance review data from a large U.S. corporation, they found that only a third of high-scoring employees scored as high in subsequent years. And they found no evidence that high-performing employees always perform highly, or that poor performing employees perform poorly. Today’s workforce is continually being met with innovations that require new learning and new skills, so what’s “good” today may not be an accurate measure of what’s desirable tomorrow.

When a company uses trackable learning platforms, they have a means of measuring growth and development. To drive engagement and retention they can extend from onboarding programs, demonstrating a commitment to an employee’s growth from the moment of hire. 84% of employees want to learn, and keep learning. When you align an employee’s learning with the company’s business goals, that’s a win for all.

Myth #4 – Past performance is indicative of future results.

In 2015, a number of Fortune 500 companies announced that they were doing away with old school performance reviews. Accenture, the Gap, Adobe and General Electric all veered away from the annual or quarterly review ritual in favor of building a stronger culture based on continuous feedback and frequent recognition.

What’s happening instead is that many companies are moving to a system where employees and managers can give and receive social feedback and track the history of recognitions given and received. This new approach – measuring the frequency of peer-to-peer, intra-team and team recognitions within a powerful digital and social recognition program – provides better quality insights and has the potential to foster a far more positive, and productive, work culture.

Myth #5 – The best way to measure performance is when no one’s expecting it.

Spot checks, random and unexpected, are still recommended by some HR stalwarts, who assert that it’s a way to motivate employees to give a consistent performance. But it conveys an atmosphere of mistrust that may be more of a de-motivator.

Trust is critical to employee engagement, but it’s still in short supply: a recent survey of nearly 10,000 workers from India to Germany to the U.S. found that only 49% had “a great deal of trust” in those working above and alongside them. Contrast that with study findings showing that organizations are extremely concerned with driving engagement and promoting a workplace culture that is based on transparency and meaningful work. You can’t have both.

That we’re still having this conversation is in part because we may lack the imagination to see our way to a new starting point. But the real drive to perform comes from within.  We are motivated by purpose, and by being appreciated for what we do.

Employees today want to be engaged, we want to know what higher purpose our efforts are contributing to, we want to excel and to grow. Employers should start with that knowledge and measure their employees accordingly.

Make sure to check out the other series of guest blogs from Meghan Biro, starting with her first guest blog post For Recognition To Have An Impact, Make It Strategic.

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About the Author
meghan biroMeghan M. Biro is a globally recognized Talent Management and HR Tech brand strategist, analyst, digital catalyst, author and speaker. As founder and CEO of TalentCulture, she has worked with hundreds of companies, from early-stage ventures to global brands like Microsoft, IBM and Google, helping them recruit and empower stellar talent. Meghan has been a guest on numerous radio shows and online forums, and has been a featured speaker at global conferences. She is a regular contributor at Forbes, Huffington Post, Entrepreneur and several other media outlets. Meghan regularly serves on advisory boards for leading HR and technology brands. Meghan has been voted one of the Top 100 Social Media Power Influencers in 2015 by StatSocial and Forbes, Top 50 Most Valuable Social Media Influencers by General Sentiment, Top 100 on Twitter Business, Leadership, and Tech by Huffington Post, and Top 25 HR Trendsetters by HR Examiner.