Why Employee Engagement is Such a Big Deal?
Studies show that over 60% of Americans do not fully engage at work. There is a lot of room for improvement. Studies have suggested that if we improve our employee engagement, we will enjoy better business outcomes.
All of this sounds great, but what is employee engagement, and why is it good for business? Do we know how to measure it? And how do we improve it?
Here are some answers!
What is Employee Engagement?
Employee engagement describes the relationship between an employee and their employer. High employee engagement implies hard-working, happy, and dedicated employees. Low employee engagement suggests employees who aren’t focused or dedicated enough to their jobs.
What are the Benefits of High Employee Engagement?
Highly engaged employees are happy and enthusiastic about their work. They have a positive impact on their teams, make fewer mistakes, and are typically high performers. Here’s a list of benefits that are critical to business success:
- Increased employee retention
- High productivity
- High quality work output with fewer mistakes
- Reduced workplace injuries
- Reduced absenteeism
- Enhanced employer brand (Glassdoor, word of mouth, referrals)
How to Measure Employee Engagement?
Employee engagement isn’t easy to measure. It’s tough to assess how happy and focused people are. We currently measure engagement using surveys, analytics, organizational network analysis, and artificial intelligence. Here’s a rundown of each:
1. Periodic employee engagement surveys take measurements by asking employees questions. These surveys are administered regularly – annually or maybe quarterly. Employees’ responses get recorded anonymously. These surveys comprise 14 questions with a few demographics.
2. Pulse/feedback surveys happen more regularly and are very short. A review might be only one question – how happy are you today? Pulse surveys provide almost real-time engagement measurements. The results are timely and highly actionable.
3. With people analytics, you can measure employee engagement by examining specific KPIs. These analytics provide an indication of employee engagement without surveys or other measurement techniques. Here are some of the KPIs that infer engagement level:
- Increase or decrease in, voluntary turnover
- Change in absenteeism rate
- Change in employee performance scores
- Learning and development participation levels
- Glassdoor scores and reviews
4. Organizational network analysis (ONA) infers engagement level by examining employee communications over corporate systems. Systems monitored can include email, chat, and other communication platforms. Here are some of the KPIs produced:
- Who employees communicate with
- Frequency of communication
- Sentiment of communications
- Hours and gaps of work activity
Artificial intelligence measures engagement by analyzing the attributes of employees known to be highly engaged and finding other employees with matching or similar qualities. Engagement using AI is a new measurement technique that’s just starting to gain traction.
How do We Improve Employee Engagement?
Improving employee engagement is a vast subject. For this blog post, I’ll summarize the techniques being used to improve employee engagement.
- If we don’t measure engagement, we can’t measure any improvements. After measuring engagement levels (using a method described above), pull the results into a people analytics product to discover where and why engagement needs improvement.
- Give employees a feedback mechanism. There are numerous communication platforms designed to increase employee engagement through communication and feedback. Back in the day, it was a suggestion box. Now, we have engagement platforms that look more like Facebook.
- Reward and recognize. People like recognization for their accomplishments. We’re pretty good at recognizing significant achievements with service anniversaries and employee-of-the-month type displays. We need to get much better at understanding the everyday things. Peer-to-peer recognition for daily victories goes much further than a yearly gold watch.
- Examine culture and core values. Does your culture reflect your core values? Does leadership live the values or expect everybody else to live by them.
- Hire according to your culture. If your organization makes kazoos, you’ll do best to look for people who love kazoos. You get the idea.
Whatever You do, Measure the Results
It’s is said that an initiative without measurement is overhead. It’s true. No matter how much you improve something, the effort goes wasted unless the improvement is measured.
Before beginning any employee engagement strategy, be sure you have baseline measurements. People analytics is the key to understanding the current state. The same analytics will then measure the results of your employee engagement initiatives.