Employee Engagement, a Comprehensive Series

What is Employee Engagement?

Employee Engagement does not mean employee happiness. Someone might be happy at work, but that doesn't necessarily mean they are working hard, productively on behalf of the organisation. While company game rooms, free massages, and Friday keg parties are fun--and may be beneficial for other reasons--making employees happy is different from making them engaged.

Many companies have "employee satisfaction" surveys and executives talk about "employee satisfaction", but the bar is set too low. A satisfied employee might show up for her daily 9-to-5 without complaint. But that same "satisfied" employee might not go the extra effort on her own, and she'll probably take the head-hunter's call luring her away with a 10% bump in pay. Satisfied isn't enough.

"Employee engagement is the emotional commitment an employee has to the organisation and its goals."

This emotional commitment means engaged employees actually care about their work and their company. They don't work just for a pay check, or just for the next promotion, but work on behalf of the organisation's goals. When employees care—when they are engaged—they use discretionary effort.

This means the engaged computer programmer works overtime when needed, without being asked. This means the engaged retail clerk picks up the trash on the store floor, even if the boss isn't watching. This means the TSA agent will pull a bag suspicious bag to be searched, even if it's the last bag on their shift.

Measuring Employee Engagement

The easiest way to measure engagement is by asking your staff a variety of questions with a survey. There are many considerations here and we've written an article on how to run an effective engagement survey to help guide you.

A common metric used to measure Employee Engagement is Employee Net Promoter Score. It's a simple score of between -100 and 100 and is calculated by asking your staff the following question:

"How likely would you be to recommend this organisation as an employer to your friends and family?"

For a better view of engagement levels at your organisation, we'd recommend a broad set of questions at the outset to scan for issues and establish a baseline and then follow up a month (or a least a quarter) later. You can always drill-down into specific themes from there.

The Roslin Drivers of Engagement
Roslin Engagement Drivers

When it comes to survey tools, you could consider general purpose survey platforms like Google Forms or Survey Monkey or you could go with employee experience platforms designed for measuring and improving Engagement like Roslin Engagement.

Improving Employee Engagement

If you have a high company attrition rate, you may have a low engagement level. There may be some quick fixes in that you can deal with the issues that staff is facing. Generally speaking, culture improvement is about consistency and long-term proactive actions from the management team.

You have to think about Employee Engagement like you would think about your health. There are best practices that you should typically follow but you also need to factor in your own genetic makeup. Similarly, if you experience illness, you first need to diagnose the issue before taking the appropriate action.

The steps to measuring engagement

  • Measure your current level with a framework that aligns with the culture that you are building. This means it should be asking the questions that correspond to the culture that you're building. This typically involves a survey.
  • Digest the feedback amongst the management team and compare it to other data like Employee Performance and Business Results.
  • Determine Action Plans to address the key issues.
  • Communicate the plan back to the team and deliver on the created expectation.
“Our number one priority is company culture. Our whole belief is that if you get the culture right, most of the other stuff like delivering great customer service or building a long-term enduring brand will just happen naturally on its own.” - Tony Hsieh, CEO, Zappos

Quotes like the above are great for getting your management team on board. We've compiled a list of employee engagement quotes that you can use in your communication with your team.

The Drivers of Engagement

In establishing what questions to ask, it's best to take a step back and ask yourself what aspects of your organisation you want data for. Based on the research of best practices, Roslin uses the following Engagement Drivers:

  • Management Support
  • Trust in Senior Leadership
  • Meaningful Work
  • Workload
  • Recognition
  • Peer Relationships
  • Teamwork
  • Growth
  • Reward
  • Retention
  • Autonomy

Each driver has 2-4 related questions that are rotated through with each survey so that the surveys are fresh and staff don't get bored quickly.

Wrapping up

It's important to see Employee Engagement and Culture as something that must be continually nurtured instead of a once-off project. The payoff is huge in that a strong company culture with high engagement and a good company strategy are clear precursors to business success.

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