Employee engagement describes the nature of the relationship between an organisation and its employees. It is often used interchangeably with “employee experience” and “employee satisfaction” and has become a top business priority today. Business leaders recognise that having a highly engaged, and thus high-performing workforce, increases innovation, productivity and bottom-line. At the same time, it reduces hiring and retention costs.
If you’re not measuring employee engagement, you can’t improve it. Measuring employee engagement is, however, not simple or straight-forward. The foremost challenge is that employee engagement is defined differently by different individuals and organisations. In this article, we will discuss five commonly used methods for measuring employee engagement. Before that, there are a few important points to note:
One piece of great news: Simply by asking people their opinion shows that you are keen on hearing employees’ feedback, and this itself will have a positive impact on employee engagement.
Method 1: Surveys
Surveys are a common tool used to measure the health of the employee-manager relationship. We will discuss three standardised surveys below. Using standardised surveys allows you to benchmark your scores against those of your industry peers, so you have a reference point to tell if your results are good or bad.
Gallup Q12 Employee Engagement Survey
In the Gallup Q12 survey, employees answer just 12 simple questions that have been shown to correlate with employee engagement.
These 12 questions are:
1. Do you know what is expected of you at work?
2. Do you have the materials and equipment to do your work right?
3. At work, do you have the opportunity to do what you do best every day?
4. In the last seven days, have you received recognition or praise for doing good work?
5. Does your supervisor, or someone at work, seem to care about you as a person?
6. Is there someone at work who encourages your development?
7. At work, do your opinions seem to count?
8. Does the mission/purpose of your company make you feel your job is important?
9. Are your associates (fellow employees) committed to doing quality work?
10. Do you have a best friend at work?
11. In the last six months, has someone at work talked to you about your progress?
12. In the last year, have you had opportunities to learn and grow?
According to Gallup, these 12 questions are derived from more than 30 years of in-depth research into employee behaviours. They are linked to key business outcomes and can best predict employee and workgroup performance.
Peakon: People Analytics & Employee Engagement Software
Peakon is a London- and Copenhagen-based people analytics startup established in 2014. Apart from measuring employee engagement with a set of survey questions, its machine learning algorithm analyses employee comments to discover common themes. The software also allows employees to provide feedback and managers to enter into an anonymous dialogue with the employees.
Employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS)
eNPS is a concept derived from the NPS system which measures customer loyalty by categorising customers into promoters, passives and detractors. The NPS system does this by asking customers one question “How likely are you to recommend [company’s name] to a friend or relative?” Similarly, the eNPS classifies employees as promoters, passives and detractors with a variation to the question – “On a scale of 0 to 10, how likely is it that you would recommend this company as a place to work?”
Promoters (those who answered 9 and 10): They are most loyal and would enthusiastically recommend someone they know to work at the company.
Passives (those who answered 7 and 8): They are not negative, but are not entirely loyal either.
Detractors (those who answered 0-6): They are not likely to recommend someone they know to work at the company.
An overall eNPS score is then calculated by subtracting the percentage of detractors from the percentage of promoters. In general, an eNPS score of -100 to -10 is a poor score, -10 to 20 is average, and anything above 40 is excellent.
Method 2: Exit Interviews
Exit interviews can be highly informative if the right questions are asked. HR personnel and direct managers can use the chance to gain insights into how the company is functioning, what employees do on a daily basis and how they feel about it.
One major challenge is getting employees to be as honest as possible. For the sake of leaving a good impression, some employees may sugar-coat their opinions on the company. Hence, it is important that employees are made to feel that their thoughts are valued and the environment is safe for them to provide feedback. It may help to arrange for a neutral employee to conduct the exit interview.
Good questions should be asked to elicit useful information for follow-up actions. You can consider using these following questions:
Method 3: One-to-one Sessions
“90 minutes of your time can enhance the quality of your subordinate’s work for 2 weeks, or for some 80+ hours.”
– Andy Grove, former CEO & Co-founder of Intel
When it comes to employee engagement, nothing beats one-to-one communication. Scheduling regular one-to-one with every employee is a great way to know them at work and outside of work. It is also a great channel for employees to share their achievements and concerns. Avoid using the one-to-one solely for employees to give you updates on ongoing projects since such matters can be shared throughout the workday and should not wait till one-to-one sessions. The session should be prioritised for building trust between the employee and manager, and to help employee work towards their professional goals.
To make a one-to-one as productive as possible, go into it prepared. Some questions you can ask to start the conversation are:
1. How was your week? (If the session is on the last workday of the week)
2. On a scale of 1-10, how well do you think you have performed this week?
3. How could you have used your time better?
4. How could you have improved on the week?
5. Would you like more direction from me on [this area]?
6. Would you like less direction from me on [this area]?
7. Do you feel you are getting sufficient feedback on your work? If no, where would you like more feedback?
8. How can I, as a manager, make your work easier?
9. On a scale of 1-10, how happy are you at work?
10. Are you clear about our strategy and goals? If no, which part(s) would you like more clarity on?
Method 4: Focus groups
In a focus group, employees are brought together in a guided discussion about a particular topic. It is typically a follow-up from an employee survey and serves to deep-dive into issues uncovered from the survey results. A focus group session begins with a moderator running through the survey results with the group, opening up the topics for discussion. As employees in the group provide their feedback on issues, the moderator prompts them at appropriate times to arrive at more concrete solutions for improving employee engagement.
To encourage all employees to speak, the group size should be kept to around 10 employees. Focus groups can play a useful role in improving employee engagement, but if they are not conducted properly, it can backfire and create negativity among employees. Hence, the moderator should be someone experienced in facilitation and handling difficult situations. Managers may be excluded from the group so that employees can share more freely.
Method 5: Glassdoor
Glassdoor is a website where current and past employees review companies and their management anonymously. It is a great place that provides employers a snapshot of how employees are liking (or disliking) various aspects of the company. These include:
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