English - United States
Highly engaged employees are one of the most significant assets of any company.
After questioning 1.8 million employees across 49 industries in 73 different countries, Gallup concludes that team members with higher levels of engagement:
As an employer or HR manager, you will probably agree with these results. And you might ask yourself: what about the engagement in my organization?
One of the ways to find out is to ask your employees directly. Engagement surveys can provide useful insights into the way your company culture stimulates or suppresses engagement. Not only do they produce valuable suggestions for improvement, but they also give your employees the feeling that their voice is heard and valued. That is, of course, if you act on their suggestions.
This article discusses different kinds of employee engagement surveys, the questions you should ask, essential metrics, and useful tools to help you in between.
To get an impression of your workforce's level of engagement, you will need to know how to rate individual attitudes and performances. In other words:
Which metrics define engagement?
Turnover rate and absenteeism rate are obvious indicators, but you do not need a survey for these data.
Here are 8 examples of metrics that you can include in your surveys.
If employees feel they get praise and recognition by their managers if they deliver outstanding work or go the extra mile, this can be even more important than a pay rise for an employee's morale and engagement. We all spend many of our waking hours at work and often derive a sense of meaning and purpose from our jobs. If a survey reveals that people feel their contribution to an organization's success is not valued adequately, this could harm engagement.
Asking whether the company's values and long-term vision align with the team's personal goals and values is a vital metric for employee engagement. If the employees have bought into the company's direction of travel and make it their own, they can take the initiative and feel a sense of agency. Employees are stakeholders in an organization, and they need reassurance that they have a stake in it in the long run. An ideal example of a vision statement is Google's "Don't be evil." Although it has been quietly abandoned in recent years, the slogan did attract talent and motivate employees around a simple joint value.
Learning and development
Engaged employees take part in training and personal development. Measure how happy the employees are with what your organization offers in learning and development to gauge their overall engagement. Including a question on training is the perfect opportunity to evaluate existing programs' effectiveness and get ideas about future courses.
Employee surveys are a great way to get a snapshot of your workforce's health and wellness. Note how happy employees are with their work-life balance. Do they frequently have to work overtime? Are they aware of any health and fitness incentives your company is offering? With most surveys being anonymous, you could also include questions about mental health. Thankfully, mental health awareness in the workplace is becoming less of a taboo subject, but measuring how safe employees feel to open up about mental health struggles to line managers or colleagues could be an important indicator to monitor.
Apart from recognition and intrinsic motivation to work towards a goal in line with personal values, younger employees crave autonomy. No-one likes being micro-managed, so to measure if employees feel empowered to do their jobs with a sufficient degree of freedom is another factor that feeds into the overall engagement score. A low rating in this part of the survey could be discussed with line managers to see if they could change their management style.
It's not the first and foremost factor influencing employee engagement (in the charity sector, for example, the pay is often low, but employees are on fire for their jobs), but it's not unimportant either. A survey gives you a better overview of how content employees are with their remuneration than one-on-one salary discussions.
It's a great reality check for companies to see if the perks and benefits they've lined up for employees do have the desired effect. Beanbags in the office corner and free fruit in your lunch break may sound good on paper, but only if employees are using and appreciating these extras will they turn into higher staff engagement. It might be worth including an open question where staff can suggest benefits that would really make a difference to them, such as a cycle-to-work scheme.
The proof is in the pudding when it comes to working culture. While many businesses have statements about their work culture on their websites, you won't know if these principles are being lived out on every organization level unless you regularly survey all employees. You could measure, for example, how inclusive people rate the work atmosphere, how transparent decision processes are, and how easy or hard it is to communicate any problems with colleagues and management.
Covid-19 will likely be the final blow to the big annual survey, especially in companies that still used paper surveys. While annual surveys were once a welcome innovation - often enabling HR to measure engagement scientifically for the first time, they are now being outperformed by pulse surveys. Pulse surveys are frequent and quick employee polls and are an effective way to check your workforce's pulse and get first-hand insights into what people think on the shop floor.
Of course, surveys shouldn't be the only arrow in an employer's quiver to track employee engagement - too frequent surveys will lead to a drop in completion rates due to survey fatigue. Employees' excitement that comes from being asked to share their opinions wears off quickly if you use surveys more often than once a quarter.
Luckily, there are more ways to track engagement. Using an employee engagement app like Speakap, your staff engagement can also be tracked by daily activity on the application, interaction with news updates and messages, adoption rates, polls, and related performance indicators.
Employee surveys offer HR and management a great way to measure and track employee engagement. Moreover, they can give vital insights into which areas need improvement. This way, employee surveys can help generate ideas on improving employee retention and productivity levels while identifying potential issues to address before serious obstacles like absenteeism and increased sick days arise.
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