Employee engagement: How to actually measure and increase it

by Andy Nguyen
Employee Engagement

Employee engagement is a metric that shows an employee’s commitment to their workplace and their motivation to work.

High employee engagement can improve employee performance, productivity, customer experience, and more.

In this article, we’ll cover the benefits of high employee engagement, its driving factors, and the teams responsible for managing it. We’ll also discuss the different surveys to measure employee engagement and steps to create an action plan.

Finally, we’ll talk about the tips to increase employee engagement.

This article includes:

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Let’s get started.

What is employee engagement? 

Employee engagement is the measure of discretionary effort (extra work) an employee puts in to complete tasks or ensure customer satisfaction.  

It’s often confused with other metrics like employee satisfaction, happiness, and experience. But these factors don’t measure an employee’s motivation to work. 

Based on different levels of employee engagement, you can classify employees into:

  • Highly engaged employees: Such employees have positive opinions about their company and are committed to its long-term goals. 
  • Moderately engaged employees: These employees can perform most tasks with some supervision but are not committed to its mission. 
  • Barely engaged employees: A barely engaged employee feels disconnected from the company and puts in the bare minimum effort to make it through the day.
  • Disengaged employees: Such employees may be indifferent or even hostile to a company’s mission and may often be checked out during work hours.

Engaged employees Vs. disengaged employees 

The main difference between an engaged employee and a disengaged employee is their level of commitment towards the organization. 

Also, an engaged employee will mostly:

  • Be an optimist and a team player.
  • Show high levels of commitment towards the organization.
  • Have an interest in learning more.
  • Display employee advocacy by promoting the organization among family and friends.

Whereas, actively disengaged employees will most likely:

  • Be pessimistic and self-centered.
  • Have high absenteeism.
  • Focus only on benefits like salary, bonus, and incentives.
  • Often criticize the company.

To increase employee engagement, you need to measure employee engagement, study the results, and take appropriate actions. 

You may do this using an employee engagement software, which can be expensive. Or you can carry out a simple employee survey, an effective way to collect feedback on employee experience, morale, and engagement. 

Let’s look at some of these surveys.

3 surveys to measure employee engagement

A survey is an easy and reliable way to measure employee engagement levels. 

Depending on when you’re conducting them, you can pick one of the following three surveys: 

1. Comprehensive engagement survey

You can conduct a general employee engagement survey at the organizational level at any time. It can give you an idea about employee experience and satisfaction as it covers an employees’ views of the workplace, work relationships, etc. 

Here are a few questions you can add to your engagement survey:  

  • Are your colleagues cooperative?
  • How does the work affect your well-being?
  • Do you look forward to coming to work?

2. Pulse surveys

A pulse employee engagement survey is conducted to gather real-time employee feedback on a certain matter. Since a pulse survey considers employee opinion, it can make them feel valued.

Here are some questions you can ask in this engagement survey:

  • Do you think the company will have a positive business outcome by merging with (another company)?
  • Should we partner with (another company)?
  • What’s your opinion on appointing (a manager) as the new HOD (Head of Department)?

3. Employee lifecycle survey

An employee lifecycle survey is presented to an employee when they’re going through key milestones within their journey, like promotion or onboarding. This engagement survey can show you whether they’re satisfied and inspired with the change in their work-life.

Here are a few questions you can include in the employee lifecycle survey:

  • As a new hire, what do you think of the onboarding process?
  • Do you think you’re promoted at the right time?
  • Are you satisfied with the retirement remuneration?

These questions can give you a better picture of your employees’ opinions and help you develop a strategy to rectify issues that decrease engagement.

But why invest in employee engagement?

Let’s look at the few benefits of having high employee engagement.

Why is high employee engagement important?

Here are four perks of maintaining high employee engagement:

  • Boosts employee productivity: Engaged employees tend to have better physical and mental health, are less likely to be stressed, and have an overall better work-life balance. It helps them work with focus and complete tasks on time, ultimately boosting productivity and your bottom line.
  • Decreases absenteeism: An engaged workforce enjoys working, is mostly prepared to put in a little extra effort, and consequently takes fewer unnecessary leaves.
  • High employee retention: Engaged workers are usually happy while working with the company and wouldn’t look for other opportunities – resulting in low employee turnover
  • Increases employee loyalty: An engaged employee is likely to support your company even during lows and encourages other team members to do the same.

Now that you know why high employee engagement is beneficial, let’s look at its driving factors so that you can focus on them for better results.

4 prominent factors that drive employee engagement

An employee engagement driver will strengthen the bond between employees and the company by improving employee experience. Here are the four drivers of employee engagement:

1. Organization

Engagement levels can be a direct result of the management style of the senior employees and the overall company culture.

As a result, companies with flexible schedules, friendly culture, and a positive atmosphere usually have good employee engagement levels.

Similarly, an organization that grants sick leave, offers counseling sessions, conducts family gatherings, etc., shows that they’re concerned about an employee’s physical and psychological safety. 

Employees may realize this and reciprocate the company’s commitment. 

To increase employee engagement, organizations need to:

  • Ensure employees feel valued while working with them.
  • Model company values to consider job satisfaction and employee well-being.
  • Provide appropriate rewards to hard working and top performing employees.

2. HR (Human Resources) team

HR leaders are in charge of guiding other departments to conduct an employee engagement initiative. They help departments achieve high engagement by solving employee issues.

For example, an HR team that promptly attends to employee complaints regularly can improve their working experience and engagement. 

On the contrary, an HR team that doesn’t tolerate employee tardiness even once can make employees nervous and uncomfortable. They may seem unapproachable, decreasing employee experience.

The HR professionals can increase engagement levels by:

  • Conducting an employee engagement survey or running an employee engagement tool.
  • Educating managers on employee recognition and other ways to keep the team motivated.
  • Recruiting employees whose values align with those of the organization.

2. Manager

A Gallup research shows that a manager is responsible for 70% of the changes in employee engagement. That’s because they interact with employees regularly. 

Managers with positive values and warm personalities are more likely to have a team with high engagement.

For example, a manager who regularly motivates and gives hands-on training to frontline employees, like salespeople, can encourage them to increase productivity and provide better customer experience. 

On the other hand, a manager who micromanages a high performing employee can cause low employee engagement.

Also, since managers are responsible for implementing employee engagement initiatives, they can coordinate with the HR team. They can address employee engagement obstacles, plan solutions, and supervise implementation.

For better employee engagement, managers need to:

  • Nurture a good relationship with their team members.
  • Stay open-minded towards employee feedback and opinion.
  • Help employees grow by conducting training sessions.

3. Colleagues

Hostility from colleagues can decrease employee confidence and productivity.

For example, an over-competitive team can make an underachieving employee feel like they’re slacking off. The employee could develop low self-esteem and become uninterested in working with the organization.

Similarly, a team working from the office could unknowingly mingle less with remote employees. This could make remote employees feel isolated and cause low employee morale.

That’s why a kind and supportive team can significantly enhance an employee’s engagement. 

To foster employee engagement, colleagues can:

  • Volunteer to do extra work to help other employees manage workload.
  • Engage in regular conversations to build strong bonds.
  • Provide encouragement when an employee is feeling low.

Although these factors can drive employee engagement, you need to take appropriate measures to manage the metric and keep it high.

Let’s look at how you can create an effective employee engagement program after analyzing the survey results.

5 steps to create an employee engagement action plan

The employee engagement strategy is the key to improving employee satisfaction. Here’s how you can develop it effectively:

1. Study survey results

Once you obtain the results, you need to look for places where your organization’s approach has reduced and increased engagement levels. You can also identify patterns and situations that caused the outcome. 

2. Choose a focus area

There may be more than one area that needs work to attain the perfect employee engagement levels. But you need to choose the most prominent issue you can solve successfully. This way, you may be able to obtain results immediately. 

3. Find a solution

Assign a group to work on the issue. Ask them to study the survey results, identify challenges, and brainstorm employee engagement ideas. Select a practical solution that’s least tedious and most effective.

Let’s say an employee is demotivated to work because they don’t understand the organization’s goal of acquiring diverse clients. Here, the manager can explain that working with different clients can expand the employee’s skills.

This way, the employee may become engaged and work sincerely to achieve the organization’s goals.

4. Implement it efficiently

Once you have a solution, implement it according to the characteristics of your employees and workplace. 

For example, your survey results conclude that your employees feel disengaged and stressed about deadlines after you’ve introduced a new software. Then, it’s best to re-introduce the software when the workload is less. 

It’s important to consider commitments, timelines, and goals to create a realistic employee engagement strategy for maximum success.

5. Analyze progress

You need to regularly track the result of the engagement program. Look for relapses and what triggers them. By doing so, you can ensure that the results are permanent and leave no space for disengagement in the future.

Now, let’s look at a few tips that can help you increase your employee engagement.

6 tips to increase employee engagement

Here are six tips to increase employee engagement:

  • Recruit smartly: Hire employees who consider their work as interesting and strive to excel at it. 
  • Ensure employee bonding: Make fun employee-bonding activities a part of your organization’s culture so that employees can connect with and understand their colleagues better.
  • Promote autonomy: Conduct regular training and knowledge update sessions for your employees to learn new tools and software. It’ll empower them to fully understand new concepts and work independently without the need for constant supervision.
  • Provide strategic compensation: Pay employees incentives based on their productivity to encourage them to acquire new knowledge and skills.
  • Make work enjoyable: Allow employees to try out new tasks. This can help them find tasks they enjoy and drive them to take up more work.
  • Discuss career advancement: Explain to your employees how staying with the organization can help their careers. Knowing there’s scope for growth may encourage them to continue working in the company.

Wrapping up

Employees are the most important resources of any organization. You need to ensure that they want to give their best to work with your company. 

Measuring employee engagement and taking measures to improve it can help ensure this.

We hope that the tips and steps mentioned in this article help you achieve the desired outcomes

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