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A comprehensive guide to employee engagement

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Employee engagement: Definition

Employee engagement is can be characterized by the level of enthusiasm and emotional connection an employee has towards the organization.

It is a measure of how motivated employees are to put forth extra efforts and how committed they are to stay with the organization.

Employee engagement is NOT a program. Rather, it’s the outcome of all the experiences employees have from the moment they first encounter your organization to the moment they exit it. It is influenced by words, behaviors, actions, values, and beliefs employees encounter (or don’t). And it is directly correlated to how leaders, managers, and supervisors drive those experiences.

Measuring employee engagement

Using an employee engagement survey is a great way to understand what employee experiences impact it.

Here are the 4 things you can consider when developing your employee engagement survey:

1. You can’t just ask about engagement

While it may be tempting to simply ask, “How engaged are you?”, that won’t cut it. You’ll need to include questions that get at engagement’s core components (intent to stay, willingness to put forth discretionary effort, sense of connection and affiliation). We believe, by the way, that the employee Net Promoter Score is a fantastic proxy. And it’s only one question: “How likely are you to recommend someone you respect to this organization for employment?” How an employee answers that says a lot about how engaged they are.

2. Don’t do it alone

There are innumerable providers of employee surveys out there. Some are long-tested, reliable, and valid. Others are simply posers. There is value to using a trusted third-party, though, to help you measure employee engagement. Your employees will feel more at ease with how their responses will be treated; and if they feel anonymous, they are more likely to respond candidly. Anyone can conduct a survey; but conducting one that is scientifically and statistically proven will produce meaningful findings that you can act on. It’s an investment worth making.

3. Study drivers, not just outcomes

Companies that use employee surveys designed by QuestionPro Workforce use our Driver Analysis to analyze what is directly influencing engagement (up and down). It essentially analyzes how their most engaged employees experience work differently than everyone else in the organization. The result is a prioritized list - top to bottom - of which behaviors are most likely to drive higher employee engagement in your organization.

4. Benchmark, but not to a fault

It’s important to know how you compare to other organizations. But knowing that really shouldn’t be much more than context as you continue your own discovery. Your internal benchmarks are more (most) important. Set your own benchmarks and then watch your progress against them. All you’re looking for is positive momentum...no matter how small it is.

Here are the top 4 engagement trends for 2019:

  1. Employee engagement will improve in 2019: According to Gallup’s latest poll employee engagement has been stagnant for the past 10 years. Only 31% of employees in the U.S are reported to be engaged in their workplace in 2018. The trend was last seen significantly fluctuating in 2011, where it rose from 29% by just a couple of points.
  2. Focus on professional development: Technology is evolving at a pace faster than we can possibly imagine. AI, automation, augmented reality, software and tools are changing the job market drastically, leaving employees and organizations on the edge.
  3. It improves employee performance: Employees that feel connected to, committed to, and proud to be affiliated with their employer are far more likely to do more than is asked of them. They are productive while “on task,” they’re absent less, and they contribute because they want to (not because they have to). Millennials, in particular, are more skilled when compared to their counterparts.Deloitte Insights states professional development as the number one driver for employee engagement for employees between the age group 25-35 years.
  4. Improved performance management: Tradition performance review tools have become outdated and inefficient. They don’t serve the purpose. Today the use of real-time feedback tools have revolutionized the way feedback is provisioned, collected, and used. The ability to provide continuous feedback is has a direct impact on employee engagement. Give regular feedback to your employees - as a natural extension of your work...not only as part of some formal annual system.
  5. A more diverse and inclusive culture: An organization that respects individuality, diverse perspectives, and authenticity are more successful than the ones which don’t. Trust us on this one.

5 Ways of improving employee engagement

Here are the 5 strategies organizations can use to improve levels of employee:

  1. Use an actionable survey: When an organization deploys an employee engagement survey and asks for their opinions, those employees expect some actionable insights. But most organizations end up with collecting irrelevant data that cannot be acted upon or is not relevant. The fault is in your survey. QuestionPro Workforce has pre-designed questions that will not only help organizations collect the right data but also benchmark it on a year-on-year basis.
  2. Bring the change locally: Real changes occur at local levels. Most companies fail to realize that real engagement is woven throughout the fabric of the organization. We all own it.
  3. Start building engagement during the recruitment process: What employees experience while being recruited has an indelible impact on how engaged they are going forward. Experiences last. Give them the right ones from day one. As they say, you only have the chance to make a first impression once.
  4. Empower your managers: Give your managers permission to drive engagement in the way they see best. If they are closest to the employees, they are behind what they experience more than anyone. If they are encumbered by a decision making or approval process, they’ll never be able to affect change in any real or permanent way.
  5. Stay the path: Be realistic about the levels of engagement you want to achieve in your organization. Don’t expect to get there overnight. It takes time, intention, and persistence. Treat your engagement, culture, and employee experience strategies as an operating system in your business. If it is as important as you say it is, the organization should be focused on it consistently. Every. Single. Day.