Four Tips for Measuring Employee Engagement

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Employee engagement is all the buzz, and rightfully so. When employees are engaged, they adopt the vision, values, and purpose of the organization they work for. They become passionate contributors, innovating problem solvers, and stunning colleagues. High-performing employees want to work in places like that. Smart employers want to cultivate that kind of environment.

So What is Employee Engagement, Exactly?

When employees are engaged, they’re satisfied and look forward to going to work. Engaged employees have a sense of meaning and purpose, and they’re proud of the organization, recommending products – and even employment – to their friends and family. They enjoy an environment where they can do their best work, so it’s not surprising that they plan to stay for at least two more years and they give extra effort to help their employer succeed.

While employee engagement is a relatively new concept, making its debut in the 1990s, the idea that employees can make more of an impact at work when they are engaged seems simple. All the same, various studies project that only 30 – 40 percent of U.S. employees are engaged. That means that the majority of employees in the U.S. are showing up to work disengaged. They’re not poised to put in extra effort for success. They don’t like going to work most days. They’re unlikely to recommend the products of, or employment with, their employer. The question every employer must ask itself is, “should employee engagement be central to our strategy for success?” If the answer is yes, then the first step you must take is to measure employee engagement at your organization.

Four Tips for Measuring Employee Engagement

Follow these four steps to generate reliable employee feedback data, the kind you can do action planning around.

  1. Use a Research Firm

The measurement of employee attitudes should always be conducted by a reputable third-party research firm, preferably one that specializes in employee engagement research. While there are many reasons for this, perhaps the most important is the protection of respondent confidentiality. Ultimately a subjective experience, the feeling of anonymity is what makes respondents uninhibited in their survey responses. Even if you know which questions to ask and how to generate actionable reporting, your ability to trust your reports hinges entirely on the validity of response data. If you hope to take action as a result of your reports, hire an outside firm.

  1. Don’t Just Measure Engagement. Measure Satisfaction, Too.

Second, measuring engagement is not enough on its own. Without the measurement of employee satisfaction, it’s impossible to determine why employees may or may not be engaged. For this reason, a well-rounded survey with core focus areas of both satisfaction and engagement is critical to your success.

  1. Have a Plan for Communication Before You Begin

No matter what kind of feedback you collect, outline a communication plan before you begin. Consider the following questions, as you map out your strategy. Will your top executive send out an email/video/note-with-pay-checks to emphasize the importance of employee attitudes? Will you be sharing findings at the upcoming annual meeting? How will the feedback affect employees? Will they be called upon to take further action?

  1. Enjoy the Ride

This process isn’t about being perfect; and it’s definitely not about being perfect before you survey. Over the years, we’ve talked with countless employers who wanted badly to get their hands on employee feedback, but were afraid to ask. Both Aristotle and Mary Poppins said, “well begun is half done.” Follow their advice. Congratulate yourselves on your boldness, as you take this important step of measuring employee engagement and satisfaction.

photo credit: Measure via photopin (license)

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Leila Zayed

Leila Zayed

Leila Zayed is a thought leader, national speaker and VP of Best Companies Group, a leading international employee research firm.

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