April 29, 2016

Are you correctly measuring employee engagement?

There are two very important questions that L&D needs to ask itself and business leaders when measuring employee engagement. Those two questions are ‘why’ and ‘how’? The ‘why’ question refers to why engagement levels are being assessed and the ‘how’ question refers to how the data gained will be used.

According to a new report by Bersin by Deloitte, called ‘Measuring Employee Engagement: Navigating the Market’, it is essential that L&D takes this approach if it is to gain the right kind of data in the first place and then turn the results into something meaningful that will benefit both individuals and the business. It is all too easy for organisations to measure employee engagement levels but without any real sense of clarity and purpose about the ‘why’ and ‘how’.

It links in to what Laura Overton, MD of the benchmarking organisation Towards Maturity, keeps telling the HR community – we need to focus on outputs, not inputs. We need to know why we are measuring employee engagement and what outputs we hope to achieve, rather than just measuring engagement for the sake of it, with no real sense of what the results will be used for at the end of it.

Deloitte’s ‘Global Human Capital Trends 2016: The new organisation – Different by Design’, a report that we discussed in a blog post back in March, found that only 11% of the 7,300 plus survey respondents thought that their employee engagement and retention programmes were excellent. This is despite the fact that 85% of participants said employee engagement was either important or very important. HR and business leaders recognise that employee engagement directly impacts on organisational performance outcomes in terms of employee productivity, innovation, morale, customer satisfaction and attrition rates.

These results suggest that there is a lot of room for improvement when it comes to measuring engagement and then using the results in a constructive way that yields tangible business results.

In order to achieve that improvement, Bersin by Deloitte says L&D and HR must focus on developing a robust strategy. The answer is not simply picking a new vendor or a new solution. You have to know why you are doing it and what you hope to achieve.

Bersin by Deloitte’s research shows that the most common methods for measuring engagement are surveys, interviews and internal and external data analysis. The annual survey is still the favourite method, used by 40% of organisations. Stay interviews, exit interviews and focus group can be used as a more personal, targeted way of measuring engagement.

Technology is of course having an impact on how L&D takes the temperature of the workforce. Increasing numbers of organisations are choosing to take shorter and more frequent pulse surveys. Why only measure engagement once a year when it easily be done every three or six months, for example.

Data analytics are also enabling L&D to analyse and monitor engagement levels more effectively.

Next week, we look at how organisations can boost employee engagement levels, simply by communicating well with employees and encouraging them to give feedback.