The Gallup Organization conducted an extensive study in 2020 regarding the benefits of employee engagement, surveying 54 industries. It discovered that organisations with an engaged workforce have 24% lower staff turnover, a 20% increase in sales, are 17% more productive and 21% more profitable. In addition, research conducted by Zendesk and Culture Amp unveils clear links between employee engagement and stellar customer service.
All of these are great reasons for your organisation to come up with new employee engagement strategies. However, before you can do that, you have to understand where your company stands and what areas are in need of improvement.
Why you should measure employee engagement
You may have a general sense regarding your employees’ satisfaction. This can be evident in their productivity, their level of customer service, or their retention rate. However, a general sense is not going to help you understand how much you need to improve employee engagement, and in which areas your company is lacking the most.
By conducting a company-wide survey, you can identify your organisation’s weaknesses, as well as strengths, and even reveal issues before they become a full-scale problem, such as early signs of burnout. Moreover, it can reveal more localised problems within a specific team, a certain time of the year, or in relation to one manager.
To top this off, the act of measuring can help increase levels of employee engagement. By showing your staff that you want to take steps to improve, you demonstrate that their opinion is valued, and that they are an important part of the company.
Why is employee engagement hard to measure?
With all of that said, engagement is not necessarily quantifiable, like the time it takes to finish a task or the number of sales an employee makes in a quarter. This is something people either feel or don’t feel, which is much more difficult to put a number on.
In addition, job satisfaction and engagement contain a number of variants. Happy employees may love their day-to-day tasks, but feel like they don’t have opportunities to grow. Those who like the career path the company offers, may struggle getting along with their colleagues, and wish the company invests in team building. Therefore, measuring engagement should consist of multiple data points.
Moreover, it’s also important to collect this data using a variety of methods. People may choose a number when answering an online form, but when you talk to them in person, reveal that it doesn’t represent their entire view point. Some people may also hide their true opinions in fear of retaliation. The more methods you use, the more you’d be able to get the complete and honest picture.
How to track employee engagement
Before jumping into the variety of ways you should collect your engagement data, we need to break down the most important variables to examine. The SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management) research from 2013 named the most important conditions for employee engagement. Here, we’ll mention the ones that ranked over 50% in importance:
- Opportunities to use skills/abilities (63%)
- Job security (61%)
- Compensation (60%)
- Communication between employees and senior management (57%)
- Relationship with immediate supervisor (54%)
- Benefits (53%)
- Organisation’s financial stability (52%)
- The work itself (52%)
- Management’s recognition of employee job performance (50%)
While far up on this list, compensation is not the most important contributor to engagement, which is something worth keeping in mind. Benefits, such as the often talked about work-life balance, are also not that high up.
Some people may be more prone to be engaged at work if they feel like they are truly contributing with their skill set. It’s also apparent that work relationships and efficient collaborations are important, as they appear twice - once in relation to immediate management, and once relating to seniors.
However, as mentioned, you should measure your employees’ satisfaction when it comes to all of these elements, to get a well-rounded result, and know where your company stands and needs improving.
Common tools to measure employee engagement
You may already be using one of these methods to track your team members’ levels of satisfaction, but by combining several tools, you can make sure no stone is left unturned.
1. Employee surveys
This is the fastest, and most convenient method to collect employee satisfaction data in real time. Frequent “pulse surveys” allow you to keep track of what's going on in your corporation, and make any immediate changes, if necessary.
Send out surveys on a designated time each month, or each week, which include anywhere from 5-10 questions such as:
- Are you satisfied with the company culture?
- Do you feel like your skills are being used in the best way?
- Are you pleased with your growth opportunities?
It’s best to keep the survey short and sweet, containing mostly ratings for each question. You can include one or two open fields, if you want to gather new employee engagement ideas from your staff. Other than that, it’s best to make it easy to answer, so everyone will be encouraged to participate.
Ensuring that you use a third-party platform for these questionnaires (such as Survey Monkey) is also a good idea. You want your employees to know that their feedback won’t be connected back to them. That way they can be as honest as possible, without fearing backlash.
2. Periodic one-to-one’s
As convenient as surveys are, it’s not usually a place where employees bare their hearts. With regular one-to-one meetings, employees can air out any grievances they have, to ensure they are taken care of in real time.
You can organise one-to-one with immediate supervisors on a weekly, or bi-weekly basis. This is also a great way to keep the lines of communication open. You can also schedule these meetings with an HR person, giving the employee more room to express their opinions about their team and how it operates.
3. Exit interviews and stay interviews
The best way to get true and honest feedback about how your company treats its employees is by talking to those with one foot out the door. Whether an employee was fired, retired, or chose to leave by their own volition, these are the moments when they have nothing to lose, and can stay whatever they feel went wrong.
Here are some questions you can ask during an exit interview:
- What did you like most about your role? What didn’t you like?
- How was your relationship with your supervisor?
- What makes you want to leave this organisation?
There’s also a benefit for you to conduct stay interviews, with people who are being promoted, or have been with the company for a long time. That way, you can get a sense of the company’s strengths.
4. Collecting data on productivity and retention
There are some things you can definitely quantify, and are a good indication of engagement, or lack thereof. Productivity is one of those variables. Using tools like Zendesk, HR teams can analyse trends, response times and customer satisfaction scores; all of which indicate if certain employees or teams are engaged with their work. The average length of time employees stay in the company or in a specific team is also a great indicator.
Engagement is a long-term process
After you’ve measured all the variables for employee engagement, it’s important to share this information with the relevant managers, teams and HR people, so they can all start taking action. It is also important to keep measuring on a regular basis, to track improvement and new areas that need addressing.
In this post-pandamic world, you may notice that new and unfamiliar issues come up regarding employee engagement. Read here about how you can reshape your employees’ experience according to the times.