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How to Measure Employee Engagement: Tools & Tips

Employee Engagement
May 23, 2022
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Employees who are personally invested (or engaged) in a company’s success tend to be more connected, productive, and satisfied in what they do (which affects both the employee and the organisation as a whole). With this in mind, knowing how to measure employee engagement is key. It’s also necessary to understand the drivers of employee engagement. 

In this article, we will explore employee engagement  and share tips for how to keep employees engaged and motivated.

What is Employee Engagement?       

Defining employee engagement can be somewhat convoluted because there are several variables involved. Factors that impact employee engagement include:

  • Employee Experience
  • Alignment to organisational Goals
  • Alignment to organisational Values
  • Relationships with Managers and Colleagues
  • Health and Wellbeing
  • Development and Progression
  • Feedback and Communication
  • Recognition and Reward

When planning on how to measure employee engagement, it may be helpful to think of employee engagement on a scale. On one end, you have disengaged employees who run the risk of turnover. On the other end, you have highly engaged employees who are self-motivated, productive, and show up as their best selves. 

In a broad sense, employee engagement is a measure of how invested an employee is in the company’s success and values. Engaged employees are those who will be working at their maximum potential, even when no one is looking. When employees are engaged, they are more likely to remain with the company for a longer amount of time because they recognise their own role and value in reaching the company’s goals.

Why is it Important to Measure Employee Engagement?       

Employee engagement affects the bottom line and growth of a business. From the employees’ standpoint, their engagement levels can affect every aspect of their life, especially since most people spend the majority of their time at work. 

Research from Gallup has found that 85% of employees worldwide are not engaged at work. The statistic is startling and important. When employees are not engaged at work, they are more likely to look for a new job. While they show up to work disengaged, they not only have detrimental effects on their own work, but they can also negatively affect employee morale (as well as relationships with customers). 

Measuring employee engagement is essential because it is the way to actively manage and improve upon it. Employees who feel like the organisation cares about them are more likely to care about their work. 

That’s why employee engagement must be measured consistently rather than once or twice a year with the use of annual engagement surveys. It really comes down to looking after employees’ wellbeing day-in and day-out. 

An employee wellbeing tool is a great way to show employees that you are invested in doing so. An employee wellbeing platform is equipped with resources and techniques for employees to boost their mental fitness, reflect on how they are doing, and grow on a personal level. 

At the same time, management teams can review trends and patterns that can be used to pinpoint where extra support may be needed. The simple act of deploying an employee wellbeing tool in itself showcases to employees that you care about how they are doing on a personal level, beyond just focusing on their productivity and output.

How to Measure Employee Engagement?   

When choosing your method to measure employee engagement, there are some key principles to keep in mind. 

Take a look at these recommendations: 

1. Determine the Outcome

If you use an employee engagement survey, then think about the big picture. The way you phrase the questions can help you to benchmark the things that you really want to know about.  Aligning questions to your People Strategy aims will be a great way of monitoring progress against this. 

For example, rather than asking directly if an employee feels good about the company culture, you can position it as a statement like “I would recommend this organisation as a good place to work for a friend.” which could link to attraction and retention measures.

2. Identify what is Important to Employees

Drill down to identify what matters to employees. Since everyone is different, you’ll need to get an idea of what your employees value. Some common interests include trust and autonomy, career development opportunities, effective teamwork, leadership and management visibility, wellbeing, reward and recognition to name a few.

3. Perform Analysis

If you’ve used an employee engagement survey, it’s vital to actually do something with the results. The first step is to understand the key drivers of employee engagement within your organisation. 

You can pinpoint this using key driver analysis, which means running regression analysis on all questions to determine the single dependent variable. 

You can also access real-time insights and perform analysis on a continuous basis by using an employee wellbeing platform. 

Such tools allow you to better understand employee moods in real-time and be proactive in addressing needs and concerns. This way, before employees become disengaged, you can address underlying causes. 

4. Continuously Listen

As alluded to above, organisations must be consistent in communicating with and understanding employees year-round, not just once annually. When you show continuous interest and care for employees’ wellbeing, you can be proactive in resolving any mishaps rather than reactive when it’s too late and you’ve lost good talent. One tip is to share examples of ‘You Said, We Listened.’ This reminds staff that their voices have been heard. Even if the organisation cannot fully complete a staff member’s request or execute a bigger picture change, the simple acknowledgement that they’ve been heard and considered can make all the difference.

How Not To Measure Employee Engagement?   

To know how to measure employee engagement, let’s review how not to do it so you can avoid pitfalls. 

1. Don't Only Use Pulse Surveys

Pulse surveys have their time and place, but they can’t be the sole solution for determining employee engagement. They can be used to gain feedback on any specific topic. 

Alternatively, you can leverage an employee wellbeing tool to maintain a real-time view of your employees’ sentiments and also realise patterns over time to help determine what variables affect engagement levels. 

2. Don't Survey a Sample of People

While you may be inclined to survey just a sample of your entire population, avoid doing so. By selecting a sample, you are missing the main point of measuring employee engagement, which is to communicate and show that you care about every employee personally. 

3. Don't focus on Quantitative Data

Rather than focusing on results of a survey, focus on the bigger picture of what drives employee engagement and how your employees are feeling about their work. You can use quantitative data with qualitative data, but not one without the other. 

4. Don't use a Satisfaction Survey

Satisfaction and culture surveys typically miss the mark when it comes to assessing drivers of engagement. Since they focus on satisfaction levels, they seek to determine how happy an employee is. This is not the same measurement as engagement as an employee can be happy at work but still be unengaged (or not aligned with organisational goals). Employee engagement surveys are better suited for this purpose as they measure an individual’s emotional, cognitive, and behavioural level with regard to the organisation.

5. Don't Rely on Surveys to Improve Engagement

Taking a survey and finding answers to your questions won’t actually change anything in itself. You must react and respond to the survey results to drive change and improve engagement once you have the information you sought to move forward. 

What are the Ways to Measure Employee Engagement?       

Now that we’ve covered what not to do, let’s get into how you can measure employee engagement. 

1. Establish Goals

Define employee engagement goals which will serve as benchmarks. This will give you something to assess employee engagement against and an objective to reach when trying to move disengaged employees from one side of the scale to the engaged side. 

2. Use Email for Clues 

If you send internal communication newsletters, the responses and open rates can provide insights into engagement levels. If you have high open rates, it signals that employees care to know what’s happening with the organisation. On the other hand, low open rates can be a clue to low engagement rates.

3. Deploy an Employee Wellbeing Platform 

An employee wellbeing platform offers insight into employee engagement straight from the source and in real-time. Employees can use them at their own discretion to reflect on how they are feeling, as well as use resources within the platform to develop their mental agility. 

An employee wellbeing platform can be used to get a feel for how your employees are doing and what they are feeling. 

The patterns and insights gleaned can provide a sense of your employees’ engagement levels as it can signal burnout, anxiety, stress, and other markers that coincide with disengagement. 

4. Calculate eNPS

An employee net promoter score is a number that can be used to determine your most engaged employees from your least engaged employees. You can use software tools or this guide to calculate eNPS. But again, remember that it’s not just about a quantitative result. 

5. Set Up Meetings 

Empower managers to communicate directly with employees to gain qualitative feedback. Regular check-ins show employees that you care about their thoughts, feelings, and needs. 

6. Calculate Employee Retention

Calculate employee retention rates as a marker of employee engagement. Once you have your figure calculated, compare it against your industry’s benchmarks and your historical data to determine whether or not turnover rates are high, low, or average.

7. Check Employee Absenteeism

It’s helpful to review staff sickness absence and the reasons for their absence. This can be a good indicator of overall culture and engagement practice within areas of your rganisation. You can use an employee wellbeing platform to notice trends of disengagement before they get to the point of employee absenteeism.

Employees in a meeting
By LinkedIn Sales Solutions from Unsplash

What Approaches Measure Employee Engagement?   

Depending on where you want to measure employee engagement, we’ve broken down the tools you can use to do so. 

1. Across Organisation

To get a broad sense of employee engagement, you can use an annual engagement survey and an employee wellbeing tool. 

2. Across Groups & Teams

If you’re looking to gain insights from specific teams or departments, consider using pulse surveys or an annual engagement survey. 

3. Individuals

To measure employee engagement levels on a personal basis, one-on-one meetings, feedback, talent review metrics, and recognition programmes can be of service. 

4. Vertical Relationship

The relationship between managers and employees has a high impact on employee engagement. Asking managers to find out this relationship from employees can easily become biased and tainted as employees may not be open. Instead, you can leverage anonymous surveys.

5. Horizontal Relationship

Focus attention on how peers and teams work together because this horizontal relationship affects the company culture, an employee’s productivity levels, and motivation.

What to Do After Measuring Employee Engagement?   

Once you have employee engagement measured, using one or several of the techniques mentioned, then it’s time to be actionable. 

1. Communicate Results

Share the results with your organisation and key stakeholders. Team leaders and managers can do so and allow for everyone to communicate desired changes. 

2. Choose what to Improve

Once you have the lists of things to improve upon, prioritise one or two to start with. Make note of how you’ll improve each item and how you’ll measure effectiveness (a.k.a. set a goal).

3. Follow up & Repeat

After you’ve made an action plan, remain consistent. Check in with employees and repeat the process to continuously improve. 

Wrap Up   

Knowing how to measure employee engagement is the first step in being able to manage it. You can use an array of tools like employee engagement surveys, pulse surveys, check-ins, and retention rates, along with the other methods noted above. 

Regardless of how you measure employee engagement, employee experience is critical and  focussing on employee wellbeing is at the heart of this. Employee wellbeing will improve overall engagement.  This is because by prioritising your employee’s mental wellbeing and mental fitness, you can support a team that is agile, adaptive, and aligned with organisational goals. In turn, you can support people who want to show up to work as their best selves and produce at their highest potential.

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