Employee engagement is arguably one of the most important factors in your company's bottom line, but it can also be one of the most challenging things to quantify. Knowing how to measure employee engagement is crucial, though, if you want to get (and stay) profitable. Here are seven steps to get you started.
How to measure employee engagement: Start here
When learning how to measure employee engagement, first define what it is.
Quantum Workplace defines employee engagement as “the strength of the mental and emotional connection employees feel toward their places of work.”
William Kahn from Boston University goes even farther and brings the entire employee into the picture, saying:
“I define personal engagement as the harnessing of organization members’ selves to their work roles; in engagement, people employ and express themselves physically, cognitively, and emotionally during role performances.”
No matter the final definition, we know that engaged employees are more productive and stick around. We also know that only 32% of employees report feeling engaged. However, measuring whether or not your employees bring their whole selves to work and are emotionally invested in their jobs is seriously challenging.
So, how to get started?
The first thing to do is to gather your company's leadership around the concept of measuring (and improving) employee engagement. This means presenting the business case for improving employee engagement and not just framing it as longer coffee breaks and more time off.
After your C-suite is on board, generate a plan to coordinate the process with all teams. If one division in a company is committed to measuring and improving employee engagement and another ignores it completely, that sends dangerously mixed messages.
Get everyone in the same boat, rowing in the same direction, then move on to your action plan.
How to measure employee engagement
Measuring employee engagement requires time and effort, but it is worth both. Here are seven steps to measure employee engagement.
1. Gather data
You can’t chart a course unless you know your point of departure. The best way to do this is to gather data, and one of the best ways to do that is with an employee engagement survey.
An employee engagement survey can include some (or all) of the following questions:
- Do you feel there is room to advance? Why or why not?
- Is your salary in line with your expectations?
- Are you happy with your level of feedback and supervision?
- Do you have clear goals and an understanding of your progress towards them?
- Do you feel safe at work?
- Have you felt discriminated against, harassed, or bullied? If you have, and reported it, how do you feel about the support you received?
- If you were to leave the company for another job, what would be the primary reason?
- What do you like least about working here? What do you like most?
- Do you have anything to add?
Allow these surveys to be completely anonymous to encourage honesty and participation. Don’t forget to have your C-suite participate here, too.
In these surveys, consider using a Net Promoter Score (NPS). This asks employees to first answer the question “How likely would you be to recommend a job at this company to a friend?” on a scale from zero to ten. Scores of zero to six are considered detractors, nine and ten are promoters, and seven and eight are neutral. Your employee NPS adds all of the numbers from each employee and subtracts detractors from promoters.
A negative number means employees would not recommend their job to a friend – and you have some work to do. Some say the NPS is too simplistic to truly measure engagement, but it can be one effective part of a larger strategy.
2. Evaluate your data
Answers to the above mean nothing if they sit in a drawer or on someone’s desktop without action. Not only that, issues that remain ignored can increase employee alienation.
The crucial second step in how to measure employee engagement is to look closely at the answers. This can take some time.
You can group all responses to each question together to get an overall idea of where you stand. Maybe you get high marks for individual managers, but employees don’t feel safe or are unhappy about how a complaint was handled at work.
Pay close attention to why employees might leave (see #3 below). Sure, we might all like to get a higher salary, but many happy employees will forgo additional compensation if they feel valued, seen, and heard at work. What’s the underlying issue that would prompt employees to leave? And, working from this, what would make them stay?
3. Take a look at absenteeism and employee turnover
In general, employee turnover should be 10% or less annually, and employees should be at their jobs almost every day. Take a look at how many employees are absent every day, and in what departments.
If employees are leaving at higher rates, where? If, for example, you struggle to retain managers, look at why they might be leaving. This information can be gathered through exit interviews, of course, but it may be better to evaluate deciding factors before managers leave. Is there too much work on one person’s plate? Do managers have proper training and supervision? Have they set goals and received the support they need to achieve them?
Engaged employees are willing to work with employers to make their job (and company) better. Find out what factors are causing employees to stay home or quit and, as we'll explain, take action to address them.
4. Mind your KPIs
Key performance indicators (KPIs) measure how well a company meets its objectives. Employee engagement KPIs help to see exactly how you are doing.
Setting KPIs for absenteeism and turnover is key, as are other important benchmarks that determine the success of a company.
For example, you may set the goal to reduce turnover to 12%. You may set goals with the knowledge companies that are more diverse are better at fending off downturns in the economy. In this case, a KPI shows how well a company is meeting its diversity and inclusion objectives. You can learn more about setting KPIs here.
5. Set goals based on KPIs
You’ve taken employee engagement surveys (multiple times, especially for companies that employ millennials, who prefer a continuous feedback loop) and looked at the data. Now you have concrete areas to improve upon. So set some goals and set them in a way that can be measured.
The most effective goals for employee engagement are tied to at least one of three things: improving company culture, managing talent, and/or increasing productivity. Make sure to communicate your goals to employees and encourage feedback.
Your goals will be driven by the responses to your initial employee engagement surveys. This demonstrates that your company is listening and cares about employee feedback – a good first step towards more engagement.
6. Check back in
Employee engagement is not a “set it and forget it” proposition.
Once you set goals and communicate them clearly, it’s important to check in with employees to measure their level of engagement.
Employees change, the job changes, and your organization changes. Check back in with employees at regular intervals, either with the exact same survey or with a “how are we doing?” type of survey.
Need quick information on an organizational change? Try a pulse survey to get quick, directed feedback. This keeps you agile and responsive to employee needs. This type of continuous listening strategy is crucial to employee engagement.
7. Revamp your onboarding process
That’s a single task for a complex process, but effective onboarding lays the groundwork for a long and productive relationship between employees and their work. Clearly communicating company culture and its stress on employee engagement lays a strong foundation for employees.
Make sure your employees’ first impression of the company clearly reflects your desire for engagement.
What to do with your data
You’ve taken the surveys and analyzed the drivers, those key points that have the biggest impact on employee engagement. Maybe you’ve set some goals and revamped your onboarding process. Now you need to implement training for employees at all levels for the objectives you identified. How do you design and implement the training you need, and how do you get employees excited about that training?
At EdgePoint Learning, we can help. We know how to measure employee engagement to design meaningful and productive trainings. We provide both full custom work or act as a co-developer with your team to help you meet your goals. Get in touch today to see what we can do for you.