Article | September 2, 2021
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.
Positive towards their job and team
Champion your organization and brand
Motivated to stay long-term
Higher productivity and job satisfaction
Favorable but not fully engaged
Unlikely to take initiative
On the lookout for other opportunities
Room to be more engaged
Neutral towards the organization
Demotivated about their work and team
Likely to underperform
Pose a risk of high turnover
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.
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.
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.
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.
Employee engagement has a direct impact on customer service. Engaged employees are deeply committed to their jobs and endeavor for customers satisfaction.
Engaged employees are also less likely to take unnecessary leaves. A Gallup study shows a 41% decrease in absenteeism from impeccable employee engagement alone.
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.
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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"name": "Who is responsible for taking action on the results of the employee engagement survey?",
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"name": "Do third-party providers offer employee engagement services?",
"text": "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."
Article | February 10, 2020
You never get a second chance to make a first impression. This holds particularly true when it comes to employee onboarding. It's a new hire's introduction to the organization and the experience has a significant impact on employee retention. Unfortunately, that's why it's rare to see many employees with years of tenure. Research by Future Workplace found that 91% of Millennials expect to stay in a job for less than 3 years. Companies lose 25% of all new employees within the first year, according to SHRM, but almost 70% of employees are more likely to stay with a company for 3 years if they experienced great onboarding.
Article | September 3, 2021
We live in a world where equality, in numerous forms, continues to reside at the forefront of many people’s minds. From gender to race and everything in between, things have certainly improved, but there is still a very long way to go.
Today, there are a mere six female CEOs in the UK FTSE 100, with the average male CEO earning 17% more than the average female CEO. Gender equality has been in the spotlight far longer than other protected characteristics such as race, religion, sexual orientation, disability, age and it continues to remain prominent.
And here, CEO and founder of AssessFirst, the innovative artificial intelligence recruitment firm, David Bernard, asks why, if we are losing the battle for gender equality in the FTSE 100, we should expect to see diversity, equity and inclusion successes across a much wider cross section of the business community.
A race to equality and diversity
The business case for gender, cultural and ethnic diversity is strong, and is only getting stronger.
Since 2015, McKinsey has conducted extensive research and produced compelling reports that demonstrate ironically, whilst the business case for diversity is robust, international progress is weak.
The latest reports show that those pushing ahead with gender diversity are 25% more likely to financially outperform companies in the bottom quartile. What’s more, for ethnic and cultural diversity, the top quartile companies are 36% more likely to be profitable than bottom quartile companies.
The UK (aside from the US) leads the way with gender equality on executive teams. But representation here only grew by 5% between 2014 and 2019. McKinsey's global data set for 2017-2019 shows a mere 1% increase. This pitiful and indeed slowing progress is a problem. We need to do better.
Yes, the UK and the US lead the way with gender diversity, but there is still a long way to go, and neighboring countries need to make quick and impactful changes.
And, let’s not forget, whilst gender equality is of pressing importance, businesses and leaders should ensure that other cases, such as culture and ethnicity, are considered no less important.
A knock-on effect
I see a lack of diversity and equality in workforces as a psychological manifestation of who we are.
We, as are all humans, are programmed to find differences in our perceptions distasteful. We just do not like change - even if we adapt to it in the end - and even 'feedback' on our actions is naturally offensive to us.
So, with that in mind, it is inevitable that we have ended up in a situation where we have an echo chamber of talent that isn't necessarily supported by objective performance data.
The problem manifests itself everywhere; from the executive hires in the world's biggest companies to the latest bartender pulling pints at the local pub.
Conventional hiring and recruitment, such as only using a CV to identify and rank talent, is part of the root cause of bias decision-making (however implicit it may be) because the initial filter sifts candidates based on their upbringing, education, experience, or even appearance.
We are, thankfully, at the start of a movement of change. But this is a problem that is hundreds, or maybe even thousands, of years in the making. We need to unpick that problem with a collaborative and collective effort.
Covid-19 impacted diversity, equality and inclusion progress
There has been a polarization of diversity, equality and inclusion efforts, also known as DE&I, as a fallout of Covid-19, the ongoing pandemic and the ensuing lockdowns.
In the spring of 2020, companies rightly turned their attention to the Covid-19 crisis. Most have continued to do so – either to stay afloat or even gain a competitive advantage – which meant DE&I became more of a focus for some whilst a matter of less significance for others.
Those that deprioritized DE&I - perhaps as a short-term measure to consolidate HR and hiring resources - have weakened their position; whether that is in their ability to retain, recruit, or mobilize their workforce, or even all those stages in the talent lifecycle.
Diverse talent is often most at-risk during times of challenge and hardship, as downsizing can have a disproportionate impact on roles held by those from more diverse backgrounds. And with increased home-working practices, all manner of inequalities can manifest in ways that will hit the bottom line and badly impact minorities.
For example, those who are managing childcare responsibilities during periods of isolation or school closures or those who are living in shared accommodation may be frequently working against the odds in order to keep pace with their peers.
Without a diverse collective of perspective catering to a diverse workforce, these problems can multiply to cripple performance from the ground up.
The acceleration of DE&I
The generational leap of tech-first remote working for so many companies provided an opportunity to build inclusive and agile cultures. Though we may be coming out of the ‘crisis', there remains a golden opportunity – and one that businesses should seize.
Traditional management structures, reinforced by physical office environments, have been fundamentally changed forever - even if we see a hybrid home-office working pattern become the norm from this point onward.
With this revolution, HR departments find themselves in a situation a pathway to achieving diversity and inclusion goals seems more realistic.
Make or break: what’s next?
There is no silver bullet. There is much to consider and even more to do.
But, with a few simple changes, real and meaningful progress is possible. What encourages me is that with all the companies that I speak to, particularly within the UK, there is almost wholesale agreement that this is an important issue - notwithstanding the economic arguments. However, the same cannot be said for all other countries across the globe.
The most common question I receive from those who recognize the criticality of this however is, "But, where do we start?"
And to that, my response is always the same; "What is the data telling you? What is your workforce saying about your DE&I efforts?"
We must know what the scale of the problem is before we can tackle it. Every single company is unique, and the manner of their ideal solution is unique to suit.
Once the problem is identified, I recommend a few ideas that can be considered to start spinning the wheels of change:
1) Get unbiased views of candidate potential (internal and external)
2) Consult with your DE&I team, committee, or lead when publishing job descriptions
3) Implement DE&I training for your workforce
4) Offer remote working opportunities where practical and appropriate
I'm proud that AssessFirst continues to help companies of all shapes and sizes with their DE&I goals through our data-led psychometric technology. We practice what we preach with our own remote workforce and using this technology as part of our own talent lifecycle management. But I recognize that fantastic technology is most effective when it is embedded as a part of a wider reaching strategy.
I have hope for the future, though there is ongoing work to do, and there will be for quite some time. But as the UK economy stirs back to life within what feels like the closing chapters of ‘crisis’, we can also bring the equality gaps to a close with renewed urgency.
Working in partnership with a handful of partners in the UK, we created a Diversity and Inclusion strategy guide.
Article | February 26, 2020
A few years ago, when I used to work in real estate finance and development, my colleagues and clients oftentimes thought I was either anorexic or an alcoholic. Because I keep kosher, I have a pretty restrictive diet. In order to be able to meet with anyone, wherever they may want, I would often sit in lunch or dinner meetings and enjoy either a Diet Coke or a Heineken. I would casually sip my drink, acting as if it were normal not to order anything else, while everyone at the table enjoyed the different options on the menu.