Scores on the doors – How to measure employee engagement?

The Team brand and communications agency. How to measure employee engagement

Measuring employee engagement shouldn’t start and stop with your annual employee survey. We look at thinking broader about the outcomes that an engaged workforce will have – which will open up your measurement options.

A quick Google – ‘How to measure employee engagement’ – gives over 29 million hits. I’m sure they aren’t all relevant, but that’s still an awful lot of opinion and advice.

What is the prevailing opinion out there?

It is – apparently – all about surveys. That’s how you measure engagement.

So, I disappeared down that rabbit hole for a bit and here’s a quick rundown, if employee surveys are your preferred method of measuring engagement.

I started with the CIPD – the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development. They have some great thought pieces, including one on the future of employee surveys. Acknowledging that it was written by a company which sells surveys, I thought it was a great overview. Specifically, the article calls out the three areas we can look to measure when measuring engagement: blockers, drivers and outcomes of engagement. By understanding these areas, you can develop an engagement strategy which addresses the areas that your people have told you are important for them. For example, leadership visibility, or volume of communication.

Then, sticking with the survey theme, I explored Gallup, whose 12 questions we tend to regard as the ‘original and best’. Gallup believes that the 12 questions are all you need.

One of our clients who worked for a global professional services firm was firmly of the opinion that only three questions are relevant for employee engagement: Would you recommend this as a place to work? Are you actively looking for a new job? Do you have a best friend at work?

But, what if it isn’t about asking your people those standard questions? We have been talking here at The Team about the intriguing Leader-Member Exchange questionnaire – AKA the LMX7. What is fascinating about this questionnaire, is that it aims to understand the relationships between leaders and their people. And the questions are disarming in their ability to get right to the heart of that relationship. For example:

“Regardless of how much formal authority your leader has built into his or her position, what are the chances that your leader would use their power to help you solve problems in your work?”

Or… “I have enough confidence in my leader that I would defend and justify his or her decision if they were not present to do so.”

We think that there is a real opportunity to explore the strength of relationships within an organisation as a marker for employee engagement.

And, we also wonder if measuring employee engagement isn’t about asking your employees anything at all.

You can measure engagement simply by looking at customer outcomes. Broadly, it is a fair assumption that happy customers are being served by productive employees who are taking pride in what they do and aiming to do the best that they can for your customers. By measuring customer satisfaction for different products or service lines you can identify where you are getting the employee experience right, or wrong. Low NPS scores or a worrying rate of churn will normally point to a problem. It’s highly unlikely that you will have a highly engaged workforce and also desperately dissatisfied customers.

Measuring engagement shouldn’t start and stop with your annual employee survey. Think broader about the outcomes that an engaged workforce will have – which will open up your measurement options.