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Measuring Employee Engagement

After examining the ways 12 different companies are measuring employee engagement, one thing is clear: the traditional methods of measuring engagement are ineffective in the modern workplace. Employers come up short in two key areas, and this blog provides practical solutions to solve these problems.

Measuring Employee Engagement Today

Gallup’s Q12 survey is the current industry standard of measuring employee engagement. It asks employees how strongly they agree or disagree with 12 statements. A few of these statements are:

  • At work, my opinion seems to count
  • I have a best friend at work
  • In the last six months, someone at work has talked to me about my progress.

Gallup presents their findings in their yearly State of the American Workplace report.

Of the companies analyzed, trust in a manager is the most common metric of engagement. 9 of the 12 companies ask this. The second most common metric is having a supportive, positive work environment. Open communication and alignment with the company’s values and purpose are third.

In contrast, there are some factors that only a few of the surveyed companies measure. Two companies measure employee ambassadorship. One measures collaboration, organizational agility, and the employee’s holistic happiness. Another outlier uses “innovation” when measuring employee engagement. But an employee can engage without being innovative, or innovative without engaging. Certainly, asking the right question is a difficult problem to solve.

How Frequently Is Employee Engagement Measured?

Another major problem with measuring employee engagement is survey frequency. Many companies choose to measure engagement yearly or quarterly. But collecting this type of data infrequently is not advised for two major reasons:

  • The survey may come on a bad or good day for employees, like after a rough meeting or after a promotion. In these cases, the results are static snapshots of how employees feel in that moment.
  • Fewer surveys tend to result in longer surveys. This leads to survey fatigue, and employees rush through the final questions to get it done. Both problems decrease the reliability of the responses.

As a result, it’s generally better to measure employee engagement on a more frequent basis. Be sure to strike an appropriate balance to prevent fatigue and inaccurate results.

an engaged employee

Better Ways to Measure Employee Engagement

Traditional methods of measuring employee engagement don’t reveal true nature of engagement. Or disengagement for that matter. They are also out of touch with the way we live today. Yet, some companies are on the right track. Seven of them measure employee alignment with company values and mission statement. But a mission statement means different things to each individual employee. Wouldn’t it be better for employees to define their work purpose in their own words? In a way that makes sense and is meaningful to them?

The second difficulty to overcome when measuring employee engagement is timing. Feedback is most useful when it’s ongoing, easy to provide, and able to benchmark against goals. So, meet your employees where they are and request feedback on their terms for best results. People are more reflective at home or on the sidelines of their children’s soccer games than at the office. A survey available on their smartphone is preferable.

Lastly, the largest hole in measuring employee engagement data is “quality of life.” Employees require meaning and purpose in their broader lives to find meaning at work. If an employee engages outside of work, it usually means they engage with their roles at work as well.

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