Here’s a fact that’s alarming Corporate America: 52% of employees hate their job, while another 18% claim to be disengaged. This is according to a recent national survey conducted by Gallup Poll.
Recent research has linked employee engagement to specific business outcomes that directly affect the bottom line, such as higher productivity, profitability, and customer ratings. To reap profitable outcomes, businesses will spend a great deal of money and staff time developing engagement strategies. The bigger problem, however, is how to measure employee engagement.
The typical approach is an annual engagement survey where employees are probed via a set of scenarios that aim to rate their own level of engagement. While knowing what employees think certainly has value, this data suffers from the same challenges of any other survey-based effort: availability bias from respondents thinking of only recent events, and potentially manipulating results — people telling you what they think you want to hear rather than what they really think.
A company can begin to more effectively measure employee engagement by analyzing the following
- Doing things beyond their job description. An employee willing to go the extra mile and work longer hours, albeit not credited, shows how much s/he is engaged with his/her job.
- The number and quality of connections and time spent with colleagues outside of core team or department. According to Harvard Review, building of broad networks beyond an employee’s immediate team is a sign of high engagement.
- The percentage of participation in organization’s extra-curricular activities and ad-hoc meetings vs. required assemblies. Participation in only required and highly structured events can be an indicator of low engagement.
- Time spent collaborating directly with customers outside of normal scope of work. This is a good measure for employee engagement as it is an indication that people are highly engaged enough to help their colleagues even though they might not get credit for it.
- Openness in providing feedback and business recommendations. A good measure of employee engagement is if they communicate their thoughts and comments for the betterment of the organization. It shows that they care and they want to improve the status quo.
If you discover that your employee engagement is low, here are sure-fire ways to improve it
- Investment in employees’ time and quality spent with their supervisors. Engagement typically increases as an individual gets more time with his or her boss as it conveys the idea that his/her bosses are interested in his/her growth. Furthermore, employees who get more exposure to colleagues that are more superior than their bosses will definitely make them feel valued, thus, becoming more engaged. Engagement also often increases in people who have well-connected direct managers.
- Improving Relationships. Engagement typically increases as people have more and stronger relationships within their colleagues and higher-ups. Furthermore, introducing them to more clients and global partners can make them feel important, and more engaged.
- Decreasing the number of people involved, or assigning specializations. Not surprisingly, engagement typically decreases in very large group settings where it is hard to be much more than an audience member. One way for an employee to feel engaged is to assume importance.
- Calendar fragmentation. When people don’t have enough meaningful time — about a two-hour break — to work between meetings and other events, they start to become disengaged. Thus, make sure that they have enough free time to allow opportunities for engagement.
When this information is paired with traditional attitudinal data such as satisfaction scores, pulse surveys, or annual survey-driven engagement measures, they come together to give an even bigger and more accurate picture of what engagement truly means, where your company is falling short, and how to improve your employee engagement.