Measuring Up: Tools of the Employee Engagement Trade

Landscape masters Claude Monet and JMW Turner surveyed the lay of the land and painted what they saw, each with their own interpretation and style. Likewise, your organization’s senior leaders look at their employee landscape, interpret what they perceive, and paint a mental picture with broad sweeping strokes.  While interpretive creative license has a place in the art world, in the work world, it has none. Misconstrued information can have costly ramifications.

Just like perceptions vary from one person to the next, not all factors of employee engagement influence people equally. Responses are as individual as the individuals who make up your workforce. Measuring those impressions is what gives true depth and dimension to the employee engagement picture your organization paints. It’s a matter of using the right kinds of measurement tools.

Periodic Stay Interviews

Stay interviews can be used at any point during an employee’s tenure. Think of it as a check-in (guided by specific formal questions) to understand what factors make employees loyal and want to stay, triggers that might cause them to leave, and any possible actions that might bolster the employee experience.

Weekly One-on-One Meetings

These regularly scheduled, short (30 minute give or take) conversations between an employee and direct supervisor build a bridge of engagement.  Weekly one-on-one meetings play a powerful role in developing strong and trusting working relationships. Consider this a top priority, never to be sidestepped for other “pressing matters.”

Focus Groups

This structured (professional 3rd-party facilitated) forum brings groups of employees together. Participants are safe to speak up, express concerns and share ideas.  It’s a great way to get a quick reading on how employees are feeling (their engagement level so to speak) and often leads to actionable suggestions for improvement.

Employee Surveys

Surveys are a robust indicator of employee engagement internally and in context of the broader external sector to which your organization belongs.  It’s a strong nod toward issues of importance and implies the high value your organization places on the insights and opinions of all employees.

TalentMap’s 2017 edition of Employee Engagement and Action Planning for Dummies aptly summarizes: “Because employees’ attitudes drive behaviors, and behaviors drive your organization’s financial performance through retention, quality of work, creativity, innovation, and productivity, measuring employee attitudes that drive engagement is the first step toward enhancing performance. The employee survey is a proven, scientifically valid method to measure workforce engagement and one of the best ways to build effective relationships and higher levels of employee engagement.” ¹

Interestingly, an article published by Harvard Business Review in 2014 suggests organizations consider additional people metrics to help measure and better understand employee engagement. Some cited examples:

  • The amount of work that occurs outside of normal working hours (e.g., evenings and weekends). This is a good indicator of discretionary effort.
  • The number of network connections and time spent with people outside of immediate team or region. The building of broad networks beyond core team is a sign of high engagement.
  • Variability of network connections over time, or the extent to which an individual’s core network fluctuates month over month. Very high volatility can indicate a rapid change in role and be unsettling for employees, while very low variability can indicate someone stagnating.
  • The percentage of participation in ad-hoc meetings and initiatives vs. recurring meetings and processes. Participation in only highly structured events can be an indicator of low engagement.
  • Time spent collaborating directly with customers outside of the normal scope of work. This and other measures like it can indicate people are highly engaged enough to help their colleagues even though they might not get credit for it.

The report goes on to say that “when this information is paired with traditional attitudinal data such as…pulse surveys, or annual survey-driven engagement measures, they come together to give an even more accurate picture of what engagement truly means.” ²

Natural hogs-hair brushes, palette knives, pigments, glazes, and varnishes; the right art tools gave the great masters and their contemporaries the ability to bring artistic vision to life. The measure of successful engagement is the degree to which an organization and its employees bring aspirational visions to life. Measuring employee engagement and understanding engagement to achieve mutual success requires the right tools too.

¹TalentMap 2017 Edition, Employee Engagement and Action Planning for Dummies, John Wiley & Sons Canada, Ltd.


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