Join Todd Dewett for an in-depth discussion in this video Assessing employee engagement, part of Motivating and Engaging Employees (2013).
- You have a very strong reason to want to understand your employees level of engagement. Research suggests that engaged employees are about twice as likely to want to stay with the company, compared to disengaged employees. Their higher level of commitment translates into higher satisfaction and profitability. That's why it's no surprise that surveys measuring employee engagement have become increasingly common. Most organizations now conduct yearly engagement surveys and there's little doubt that these surveys can provide important information about employee attitudes and behaviors.
However, in many cases, the data are misinterpreted and can result in a significant amount of wasted time and money. The problem is two fold. First, not all engagement surveys are well constructed. If you want valid and scientifically defensible data, your survey must be built by qualified professionals with deep survey experience. Second, even if you have a world class survey, you must have the correct individuals to interpret the data. Often times, you'll see well intention professionals who have limited technical knowledge about employee attitudes and behaviors and no real statistical skills in charge of assessing the data.
This can lead to invalid conclusions. For our purposes, I don't want to talk in detail about the categories of questions on engagement surveys. How to structure questions or related concerns. Do your homework and find the highest quality tools and practitioners for your purposes. What I would like to do here is talk about what it means to use these resources as a part of an effective engagement assessment process. Assessing engagement isn't just about selecting the right tool and interpreting the data.
If you want useful data and employees honestly willing to participate, you have to properly execute the complete process, which includes these five steps. Setting expectations, Establishing a baseline, Using benchmarks, Following up and Launching improvements. Let's briefly consider each one. When setting employ expectations prior to using a survey, you must effectively communicate that an engagement survey is approaching, why it's important and why employee participation is so vital.
Further, be sure to stress that the results will quickly be shared with the entire company and that the data will be used in an effort to make the organization a more enjoyable and productive place to work. Next is establishing a baseline. If you're just beginning to collect engagement data, it might be difficult to interpret the findings without data from prior years. That's normal. Just keep collecting. After two or three cycles your norms or averages will emerge so that you can understand where people are across different attitudes and behaviors.
Moving forward, it will be deviations from these baseline numbers that will drive your improvement efforts. Aside from baseline data, benchmarks provide additional useful reference points. Through different types of companies and professional associations you can find information about engagement broken down by industry, size of company, geography and many other categories. While benchmark data isn't perfect, it is useful as a means of challenging yourself using standards other than your own baseline data.
Next, is the all important follow up. If you collect data and tell people you will share the results, you had better share them and try to do it quickly. Within weeks not months. The longer you take, the more opportunity employees have to wonder what's going on. Be sure to be fully transparent. No matter how good or bad the data, share it. If you over rely on small amounts of summary data, employees will assume that you're hiding something.
The final phase is launching improvements. Every time you gather engagement data, the leadership team will spot opportunities to improve. You don't have to identify twenty initiatives, but you do need to find at least one or two improvement opportunities supported by the data. This might end up being a policy change or a process tweak. Whatever it is, publicize the change, why it matters and the fact that it was driven by the engagement data. This type of action not only improves the workplace, but it helps the employees feel positive about the engagement survey.
Engagement is so important, it deserves to be formally measured. You'll need a great survey and competent professionals to interpret the data, but you'll also need a high quality process like we just discussed. When you nail the whole process, the engagement survey can be something people value and trust.
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- Assessing employee engagement
- Providing autonomy
- Building a transparent culture
- Modeling desired behavior
- Using monetary and nonmonetary motivators
- Fostering accountability
- Developing career paths for employees<br><br>
- The PMI Registered Education Provider logo is a registered mark of the Project Management Institute, Inc.