Value of measuring Employee Engagement

Employee Engagement has gone from being a novel idea and concept to something that organisations now regularly measure as part of their organisational health and wellbeing indicators. Even though there are some variations in how employee engagement is defined and what is measured, one thing is certain, the results not only give some analysis of the organisation’s health, and wellbeing, but also suggestions can be given on how to improve and what actions to take. Good Employee Engagement surveys measure more than employee benefits or rewards and consider all aspects of creating engagement at work.

The Human Resource Practice has been conducting employee engagement surveys since 2009 when we designed our own tool which we have been improving and using ever since incorporating elements of our climate and culture measures. In our experience, measuring and interpreting the results is the easy part, it’s what our clients do with the results and recommendations that make a difference in the organisation. 

We have noticed the following key considerations for the leadership team (and not just HR):

  • Conduct the survey – give everybody a chance to respond and really make everybody feel that their responses are wanted. Communication is key and even some small encouragement is welcome to motivate people. Confidentiality of responses is another important consideration, which is why internal surveys might not produce a high response rate. 
  • Feed back the results to everybody – this can be done with varying levels of detail depending on the responsibility level, but it is imperative that everybody should be given feedback on what came out of the survey and if possible given an opportunity to comment. Feedback is important, particularly if this measurement is planned to be a regular occurrence. People will remember that they never received feedback about the previous survey and are less inclined to participate again or give serious responses when completing the survey.
  • Take results and recommendations SERIOUSLY and make people aware that their voice has been heard and communicate what and how will be addressed. People first want to feel that they are listened to and then they want to know, what you are going to do about their grievance or concern etc. Not all “pain points” or recommendations can be addressed all at once and that’s ok, as long as at least something will be addressed this time and there is a plan to address the rest. Do make sure that you have some quick wins regarding the follow up regarding the survey.
  • After some time repeat the process again and again and again. It should be a regular measure as with everything around us, things change, people change and therefore also employee engagement levels and people’s concerns change.

Sometimes it seems that management teams agree to conduct these measurements because that’s a requirement or something that is done. Also they tend to expect the results to be better (even if they fear worse); somehow they expect the results to make them look and feel good. We have had numerous occasions where the management team rather pushes back than try to understand and embrace some of the results. They fail to understand that not everybody thinks like them, or has the same information as them and experiences the workplace like they do. For us that’s the biggest obstacle for a successful and meaningful diagnostic exercise. Many a time it comes down to leaders’ ability to empathise and be willing to take on the feedback, even if they don’t agree with the results.

We have particularly avoided making employee engagement a responsibility of HR, as it isn’t (sure they can facilitate certain things and they can have their fair share of feedback). Employee Engagement is the whole organisation’s matter and every leader’s concern.

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