The What, Why and How of Developing an Employee Engagement Strategy

Shefali Vasave | September 2, 2021 | 182 views

Engaged employees work better, are more productive and encourage others to contribute more. It’s a no-brainer that employees who feel connected to their organizations make for an empowered workforce. This is why employee engagement has an exponential impact on almost every significant aspect of your organization like profitability, revenue generation, sales, customer experience and even recruitment.

According to a Gallup study, highly engaged employees result in 21% higher profitability for their companies.
Employee engagement is a hot topic among HR leaders across the world and there is a ton of information about it and some ambiguity.
But isn’t engagement subjective? And what exactly does it mean to measure employee engagement? And how can you measure it if you can’t define it?

What is employee engagement and can it be measured?

Employee engagement is the degree of emotional and mental connection an employee has towards their work, team and organization. Employee engagement metrics cover more than just satisfaction, well-being and happiness derived from one’s job.
Measuring the right drivers of engagement adapted for your organization’s workplace and culture can reveal more valuable insights.


Levels of Employee Engagement

Employee engagement can be classified into four levels. From highly engaged to disengaged, here’s how every level is defined and what they mean.

High-engagement
  • Positive towards their job and team
  • Champion your organization and brand
  • Motivated to stay long-term
  • Higher productivity and job satisfaction

Moderate-engagement
  •  Favorable but not fully engaged
  • Unlikely to take initiative
  • On the lookout for other opportunities
  • Room to be more engaged

Low-engagement
  • Neutral towards the organization
  • Demotivated about their work and team
  • Likely to underperform
  • Pose a risk of high turnover

Disengagement
  • Negative perception towards their work
  • Lack of commitment
  • Misaligned with your organization’s mission and values
  • Negative influence on team members

Why is it crucial to measure employee engagement?

People-centric organizations are fully aware that their people are one of their most important assets. So, how does employee engagement impact companies on the ground? Multiple studies show they have a direct influence on every critical area of your business.

Profitability

According to a Gallup study, highly engaged employees result in 21% higher profitability for their companies. On the other hand, another study reveals that disengaged employees cost companies in the US $450 - 500 billion every year. Therefore, profitability is one the most significant aspect of your business and employee engagement is correlated to it.

Productivity

Engaged employees are reported to be 17% more productive than those that are disengaged. This is because they love their jobs, thus, are willing to go above and beyond their scope of duties and getting more things done.


Retention

Since engaged employees report higher job satisfaction, they are unlikely to switch jobs. This drastically improves employee retention resulting in reduced costs for the organization.

Customer Experience

Employee engagement has a direct impact on customer service. Engaged employees are deeply committed to their jobs and endeavor for customers satisfaction.

Absenteeism

Engaged employees are also less likely to take unnecessary leaves. A Gallup study shows a 41% decrease in absenteeism from impeccable employee engagement alone.

Well-being

Work is a modern-day source of stress for many workers. However, engaged employees are healthier, have fewer chronic diseases, are less likely to be overweight and more likely to eat healthier and exercise. Overall, it’s a win-win for both employers and employees.

Workplace Injuries

Engaged employees are more focused. This results in fewer workplace injuries, drastically reducing costs and resulting in better adherence to safety standards.

Tracking Employee Engagement

The important question is what are the drivers of employee engagement and how do you even begin to quantify engagement?
Most organizations start right with employee engagement surveys and witness significant participation. But what steps are taken next once the surveys are complete? For this, choosing your survey questions matter a lot.

What to do?

Outline your plan of action
Collecting information will give you an insight into how your employees relate to the various drivers of engagement. Next, outline the exact outcomes you want out of this strategy.

For example, ask targeted questions that reveal perceptions of your organization, the pride your employees take in their work, intention to continue long-term. You can measure these and other parameters you consider important on a scale of 1 to 10 to determine the level of engagement.

Determine what matters most to YOUR employees

Every organization across industries varies in its workplace dynamics and what its employees consider important. You can determine what employees consider most essential by considering the following universal drivers of employee engagement:
  • My job empowers me to use my best skills.
  • My seniors demonstrate honesty and integrity.
  • I am confident this organization will do well.
  • My job is challenging and mentally stimulating.
  • The senior leaders here value their employees.
  • My opinions are heard and considered at work.
  • I get recognized for my efforts and contributions to the organization.
  • I see opportunities for career growth here.
  • I trust my leaders to lead this organization to grow and succeed.
  • I have all the necessary resources to do my job well.

Calibrate your employee engagement strategy
Resonance is key. The importance of conducting surveys and having your finger on the pulse of the workplace cannot be understated. However, it is also essential to pace your measuring to enable smart decision-making.
Research shows, tracking employee engagement annually is the best route to take. Since employee behaviors change through a period, you want to balance employee surveys to capture responses from everyone.
Pulse surveys can help you track engagement in real-time about specific changes and topics. While life cycle surveys will track employee perceptions during appraisals, transfers or promotions. Whatever you choose, ensure it is calibrated to your organization’s specific end goals.

What not to do?

Now that you know what steps to take next, it is imperative to explore some of the mistakes that you should avoid. Here is a list of things you should not do to avoid miscalculating employee engagement.

Don’t rely on pulse surveys
Short and specific surveys are crucial in your toolkit, but they are likely to paint only part of the picture. Hence, pulse surveys should not form the crux of your strategy. Instead, it can help you identify trends and patterns over time and shape a more concrete strategy that aligns with your organizational goals.

Don’t survey a sample population
Surveying a sample population can be deceptive when it comes to measuring employee engagement. Eliminate surveys that don’t cover all your employees and their voices. The results are skewed and the efforts do not help you get to the heart of your organization’s true ethos.

Don’t stop at collecting answers to surveys
Once you have the insights you need, don’t let them go stale. What this means is you need to take action right away while the results are fresh. This ensures our action steps are steady and aligned to the yielding the outcomes you want.

What does action look like?

Once you have the data you need, it is time to put it into action. An actionable strategy will help you implement your specific engagement drivers, propose steps to execute  your employee engagement strategy, and create accountability for the outcomes you seek. Finally, employing an experience management solution can help you keep track of engagement and the actions you need to take.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who should collect engagement data?

Since engagement data is critical, you must ensure complete confidentiality. However, it is also important to share it with the right stakeholders. Your HR team should drive the efforts to collect the data you need.

Who is responsible for taking action on the results of the employee engagement survey?

The leadership team, HR and managers all play a role in determining the next steps post the collection of information stage. Your HR teams curate the tool and engagement partners while your leadership visualize the objectives and share progress. They can also support managers in identifying areas of focus where engagement efforts are most needed.

Do third-party providers offer employee engagement services?

Yes, quite a few third-party services are available if you are considering developing an employee engagement strategy. However, take note that you will want to do the heavy lifting of gathering data and identifying your goals to maximize getting the most out of these professional services.

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