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Defining and Measuring Employee Engagement

A study by the APQC, a leader when it comes to work process and performance improvement, found what employee engagement is, how to measure employee engagement and how it can be integrated into the business practices of an organization.

What should be remembered about employee engagement is that it is to HR what customer loyalty is to sales and marketing. It is the workforce’s frame of mind that goes beyond mere satisfaction, which in turn results in long-term commitment and productivity to the organization.

The definition of employee engagement

In order to tap into key HR processes such as recruitment, training and retention, companies should be able to determine what their employees need and want, as well as what makes them feel like valued members of the organization.

While how to measure employee engagement will be discussed later on, the definition of employee engagement can be likened to that of managing and building on three blocks: attract, develop and retain. Remember that these blocks won’t stick together unless there is mortar that binds them. This mortar is employee engagement. Employee engagement holds these three important HR process together. This is the simplistic definition of employee engagement.

APQC states that the definition of employee engagement may vary from organization to organization. For example, their study found that one company defined it as commitment, loyalty and work ethic, while another business deemed it to be a combination of purpose and energy which include personal initiative, persistence and effort. This then means that each business should be definitive about their definitions of an engaged employee. Their definition can then be reinforced by standard practices in the company.

How to measure employee engagement

Two of the most important tools for gathering feedback and improving internal communications are employee attitude surveys and climate surveys. The APCQ states that while climate surveys take on the form of an annual census, employee attitude surveys can be done on a more regular and consistent basis. The results that come out of the said surveys are then analysed and discussed by employers and managers, specifically those responsible for talent management, process involvement and compensation and benefits.

Here are some of the factors that can be used in the above mentioned surveys to make a determination and measure employee engagement:

1. Satisfaction

Questions such as “How would you rate your satisfaction with your work responsibilities at the present time?” and “How satisfied are you with the training you have been receiving?” can be added to surveys in order to determine satisfaction.

2. Advocacy

Staff members are asked questions such as “Would you refer anyone to work in this company?” and “Do you tell others that you think that the company you are working for has a great working environment?”

3. Retention

Workers can be asked to agree or disagree with statements such as “I usually think about looking for work elsewhere” and “I see myself working in this company 10 years from now.”

4. Pride

Statements such as “I am proud to be part of this organization” can be answered with a “yes” or “no”.

Committing to employee engagement

While defining and measuring employee engagement are certainly important steps to take, the most critical action afterwards is to act upon the information that has been gathered. Senior leadership in the organization is held responsible for the results of the survey, and are expected to focus on instilling communication practices in the company to ensure employee engagement.

Remember that employees are important “customers” of HR, the plans, strategies and policies of the department should revolve around making sure that employee engagement, motivation and inspiration are prioritized.

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