Engagement is probably the most important aim in communication right now – central to employee engagement and also audience engagement in social media. We will be looking at employee engagement in this article because it is central to the performance of your organization.
Employee engagement is a vital driver of organizational results, and therefore the aim of improving employee engagement is probably the most important quest in employee management. Since engagement is crucial to employee performance, the concept has been the subject of much research and analysis.
Engagement is one of the most important business concepts because it creates a win:win working environment for everyone. Greater engagement leads directly to improved productivity, customer loyalty, sales, and profits at the business unit and organizational level.
Research by experts at the Gallup performance-management firm supports this, showing that companies with a higher proportion of engaged employees hold a significant competitive advantage. The problem is that so many employers fail badly at engaging their workers. Confirmation of this comes from Gallup’s compilation of a progressive 7-day rolling average of US worker engagement, which has stuck stubbornly at the disappointingly low level of 30-33% in recent years.
Employee engagement defined
Various definitions have been used for employee engagement. Gallup consultants define engaged employees as those who are involved in, enthusiastic about and committed to their work and workplace.
But what key factors contribute to good employee engagement, and which of them are being applied successfully in your organization? What measurement techniques can be applied to find out how well engagement is functioning? Many ways to measure it have been offered. But there are no easy answers, no simple, ‘magic solutions.’
Organizations need to review the various approaches to measurement of employee engagement and decide which are most relevant for the purpose. Below are four approaches by eminent firms.
Four ways to measure employee engagement levels
1. Gallup’s famous ‘12 elements of great managing’
The most famous measurement questionnaire is the Gallup ‘12 elements of great managing.’ From many years of experience in many industries around the world, Gallup consultants assert that the responses to their 12 statements are “those that best predict employee and workgroup performance.”
Responses to Gallup’s 12 elements statements form the basis of the firm’s measurement approach. However, other organizational performance experts believe engagement measurement can be a lot simpler.
2. Leandro Herrero’s survey questions
2 (a) High profile organizational consultant, Leandro Herrero, even believes the absolute core question to ask is “Why are you still here?”
2 (b) He has compiled a 10-question survey asking simple, straightforward questions “so you can more quickly—and precisely—determine how engaged your workforce is.”
Herrero claims his questionnaire is shorter and better. “It’s a company MRI.” Herrero’s 10 survey questions:
- Why are you still here?
- What would make you leave?
- Where would you be if you weren’t here? (What organization would you really like to work for?)
- If you were CEO, what would you fix tomorrow?
- What newspaper headline would you like to see about your organization?
- How long do you think you’ll stay here?
- Can you name the company’s top leaders? (Don’t Google it.)
- Are your colleagues human or robots?
- Do you like Mondays? How difficult is to get out of bed to come to work?
- Which question haven’t we asked, but you wish we would? What would your answer be?
Herrero’s questions are not exactly straight forward to analyze and summarize, especially numerically.
3. Another one-question survey
Another attempt at a one-question survey (easily measurable), to measure engagement is to ask employees a simple question:
“On a scale of 1-10, how likely are you to recommend this organization as a place to work?”
You can turn the answers into data by ranking them:
- 0-6 are ‘detractors’
- 7-8 are ‘passives’
- 9-10 are ‘promoters.’
Then do the simple calculation: Promoters – detractors ÷ the number of respondents. The best possible score would be 100%. A score of 50% or more means you’re probably creating a good culture of engagement.
4. CEB’s 9 ‘must-have questions’ in employee engagement surveys
Consultants from respected firm CEB Communications, now owned by Gartner, believe employee engagement surveys should be considered in terms of business outcomes.
The right questions
CEB research shows that the top three drivers of employee performance are ‘an understanding and connection to company goals,’ ‘a commitment to co-workers,’ and ‘having the right capabilities.’
When coming up with employee engagement survey questions, managers should keep these three elements in mind. This will help them write the employee engagement survey questions to accomplish their ultimate objective, which is improving employee performance through:
- Understanding and connecting to organizational goals. To succeed in their jobs, employees must understand how they fit in with the rest of the organization. The successful implementation of a business strategy depends upon employees’ alignment to corporate goals, yet 61% of senior executives admit they struggle to explain how their big-picture ideas relate to day-to-day implementation.
It’s crucial for engagement surveys to show whether employees understand organization goals and the link between their own work and those objectives.
Ask yourself: Do your questions reveal whether employees try to get their job done ‘despite the strategy,’ or in a way that methodically contributes to strategic goals.
- A commitment to co-workers. High-performing employees learn from and teach one another. A changing and increasingly global working environment means all employees must be comfortable working with someone on another continent as well as in the next cubicle or office.
The importance of supportive competencies, values and working styles requires a shift from highlighting star workers to encouraging strong team performance, as well as individual task performance.
Ask yourself: Will your questions help you understand whether employees are part of a multidisciplinary, collaborative team that helps them complete their best work?
- The right capabilities. Capability consists of an employee’s understanding, responsiveness, circle of co-workers, direction and expectations, and is a key driver of high performanceduring change.
This has a powerful impact on commitment to change. CEB analysis shows that employees who have high commitment and low capability are 18% more likely to suffer from change-related stress, which leads to poor performance.
Ask yourself: Do your questions check whether employees are aware of and confident enough to make use of the tools, information and people that can help them navigate change?
CEB’s recommended survey questions
These should help managers look for meaningful engagement that can improve employee performance.
- Do you understand the strategic goals of the broader organization?
- Do you know what you should do to help your organization meet its goals and objectives?
- Can you see a clear link between your work and the organization’s goals and objectives?
- Are you proud to be a member of your team?
- Does your team inspire you to do your best work?
- Does your team help you to complete your work?
- Do you have the appropriate amount of information to make correct decisions about your work?
- Do you have a good understanding of informal structures and processes at the organization?
- When something unexpected comes up in your work, do you usually know whom to ask for help?
These four ways to measure employee engagement give valuable insights that you can adapt and tailor to the specific requirements of your organization.
Kim J. Harrison has authored, edited, coordinated, produced and published the material in the articles and ebooks on this website. He brings his experience in professional communication and business management to provide helpful insights to readers around the world. His wide-ranging career includes roles as a corporate affairs manager, consultant, author, lecturer and business manager. Kim has received several international media relations awards and a website award. He has been quoted in The New York Times and various other news media, and has held elected positions with his State and National PR Institutes.