Businesses are familiar with the process and benefits of data analysis. Performance data, such as revenue per customer and profit margin, help companies set goals and measure success. However, one metric often overlooked is employee engagement. According to Gallup’s “State of the Global Workplace Report,” only 30% of employed U.S. residents are classified as engaged in their work. To understand the level of engagement in an employee population takes good old fashioned data, just like any other key business indicator.
To measure employee engagement, it is helpful to first understand what defines an engaged employee. Gallup identifies three types of employees:
- Engaged – Employees who feel passionate about their work and the company they are working for. They are highly innovative and actively move their organization forward.
- Not-Engaged – Employees who simply get through the work day without energy or passion. They are “checked out” of their company’s goals and vision.
- Actively Disengaged – Employees who actively express their unhappiness by undermining the rest of the organization’s success.
The most common method for measuring engagement is an employee survey. It can be executed internally or outsourced to a third-party vendor. A vendor will usually offer varying levels of analysis of the results at varying price points. Most organizations perform surveys annually. More frequent, less comprehensive “pulse” surveys provide a snapshot of progress in certain areas or departments.
While surveys are a great resource, they depend heavily on subjective self-reporting. This provides insight into individual perception of morale, but falls short of providing engagement that generates positive and meaningful results. For a complete picture, businesses should look at activities that show employees are engaged:
- Working outside normal business hours
- Developing relationships outside the employee’s immediate team or department
- Participating in and initiating ad-hoc meetings
- Spending time with managers and leaders above their direct manager
- Spending time with other engaged employees
Finally, companies can measure the business indicators that have been shown to be interrelated. For example, employee turnover, absenteeism and safety incidents are areas frequently impacted by engagement. An organization can infer the health of employee morale by knowing where they stand on these issues. Used with the previous data, companies can build a better understanding of employee engagement.
Remember, measuring isn’t enough to move the engagement needle. Employers that initiate surveys must be committed to act upon the information they receive. Failing to do so can be worse than doing nothing. Employees who have spent their time providing feedback will look for the results of their efforts and can become more frustrated if none are forthcoming.
So get measuring! Just make sure that you spend as much time (or more) taking advantage of all the new data you have acquired to make your workplace even better.