The secrets to successfully measuring engagement

Nik Penhale Smith

The classic saying goes “You can’t manage what you don’t measure”. In recent years, there’s been a growing call by some HR influencers for organisations to end their obsession with measuring. So why measure engagement?

The first point we raise when asked is do you really know how engaged your employees are? And can you quantify it? Perhaps managers do know and have a pretty good idea, but often they don’t.

If companies are to be truly competitive, waiting for the quarterly or yearly financials to plan action is too late. In today’s fast paced world measuring the traditional KPIs is no longer sufficient. There is no doubt that they still remain important, but organisations also need to know what is happening with employees and their engagement in work. Business today is too fast paced to rely solely on hard figures.

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We know employee and customer engagement are good predictors of organisational performance. If you really care about the financials and numbers, invest in measuring employee engagement and taking action to increase it. Passionate employees take better care of their customers, and as a result customers are likely to increase their spending with the company. In other words, passionate employees increase a company’s value.

Alongside the hard side, companies also need to know the soft side and any issues employees are facing. Without it, they are operating in the dark. Employee engagement surveys shed light on the human side of organisations and have now become an essential part of a manager’s toolkits.  Engagement surveys allow organisations to get insight into their heart beat; the employees. Further, they allow managers to see how employees are doing, and to see what aspects are barriers to high performance.

Why measure engagement

How to measure engagement

By far the best way to measure employe engagement is by conducting engagement surveys. Doing so allows organisations to get insight into the precies engagement levels of their employees and further, provides insight into the areas that companies can work on to increase engagement.

From 20+ years experience, we have leant that at the heart of successful engagement surveys lies 5 crucial aspects:

       1. Buy in from the top

Successful surveys start with commitment from the top.  If senior management and decision makers don’t take surveys seriously and show real commitment, employees won’t commit to the process either.

       2. Short, attractive questionnaires

Long gone are the days of questionnaires that are 120 questions. Making it easier for the employee to fill in the questionnaire aids response rate and sharpening what you want to measure creates relevant reports.   

       3. Action based

If you can’t act upon the question, don’t ask it. The cardinal sin of surveys is not doing anything with them. Setting up the survey for action is therefore not only practical, but also makes life easier later in the project phase.

       4. Reporting at the team level

Most of employees work experience is on a team level and that is where the action happens. Reporting what happens at the team level and acting upon it delivers the best results. As a rule of thumb, we recommend doing this alongside three organisational wide themes.

       5. Frequency

Don’t wait 2 years between surveys and to measure engagement levels. An awful lot can happen to an employee in two years, and the impact of planned actions is extremely hard to measure after so long. If you want to address engagement, keep surveys short and measure regularly.

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