People Analytics: How to Measure Employee Engagement

Jul 27, 2020 | Blog

With many employees still working remotely, hiring managers have had to find ways to supervise their workforces with a renewed emphasis on communication, employee engagement, and productivity.  

Keeping high expectations from your workers without effectively communicating with them can be disastrous for an organisation. That’s because it usually results in detached, demotivated employees who have become disengaged from their role in the workplace.

In such situations, disengaged employees also affect the morale of their entire team and instigate a lack of motivation across the workforce. However, identifying a disengaged employee isn’t as simple as picking out someone who only seems like a lazy worker, and it becomes even more challenging to find out about employees being disengaged if they are working remotely.  

Strong leadership is crucial to ensuring your organisation’s success, as it inspires your employees to actively contribute their time and talents to their roles. An engaged workforce not only improves your company’s profitability but also increases employee retention and employee fulfilment.

As a leader, you need to observe how engaged your team is, and what causes this level of engagement to change over time – and people analytics can help you do just that.

Why Employee Engagement Is Important

Employee engagement not only improves employee wellbeing but also helps cultivate a company culture that fosters collaboration and job fulfilment.

Job satisfaction correlates with employee productivity as it motivates them to enhance their performance at work. One-third of global employees strongly agree that engaging in the purpose of their organisation makes their job feel important to them. Consequently, businesses see a 51% decrease in absenteeism as a result of enhanced job satisfaction.

When employees feel valued for what they contribute at work, they are also more open to change and taking on new challenges. Their mental and physical wellbeing is also positively affected due to positive company culture. A study even claims that in countries where employees are highly engaged, citizens also feel fulfilled and satisfied with their jobs.

Why Measuring Employee Engagement Is Difficult

Unfortunately, employers often fail to realise the benefits of keeping employees engaged and motivated for the entire workforce. Companies that have high employee engagement are 21% more profitable than those that don’t.

Many organisations in Europe also have a variety of metrics in place to measure employee engagement. Yet, they are struggling to keep these numbers high. Today, UK employees are 27% less productive than their German counterparts. To add to that, a survey by Investors in People reveals that 32% of UK employees are considering a move from their current jobs as a direct result of poor job satisfaction.

It seems that many businesses still haven’t figured out why they must keep their workers motivated and how to do so.

Comparing the results against external statistical studies becomes even more difficult. 29% of workers even go so far as to say they feel emotional or stressed because of work most of the time.

It is important to remember that the emotional wellbeing of your employees may be hard to quantify, as poor mental health doesn’t always result in a dip in productivity. Traditional engagement surveys won’t do the trick either.

Another issue is that perhaps many organisations define employee engagement differently and consequently have different metrics in place to measure it. Since there is no consensus on the definition of it, some managers tend to confuse employee engagement for workplace productivity, which – though interlinked – are two entirely different concepts.

Gallup differentiates three stages of engagement:

  • Engaged Employees: Engaged workers are actively involved and passionate about their work. These employees show healthy levels of commitment and enthusiasm in fulfilling their role at your organisation.  
  • Not Engaged Employees: Not engaged workers may be satisfied with their work, but show no emotional attachment to their jobs and are actively seeking open positions elsewhere.
  • Actively Disengaged Employees: Actively disengaged workers are unsatisfied with their work for your company, negatively view the role they play in contributing to your success and might affect their teams’ morale and performance.

Ultimately, instead of viewing engagement in terms of low, medium, and high, experts suggest taking a more holistic approach to employee engagement, taking in the different levels of engagement that showcase your employee’s mental and physical wellbeing, their perceptions and behaviours, as well as the effect on their performance at work.

How to Effectively Measure Employee Engagement

As an HR professional, you need to ensure that leadership is aware of the flaws in your systems and actively improves the company culture for the best possible employee experience.

It’s your responsibility to monitor employee engagement levels and identify how engaged your teams are, even ones that are working remotely. Here are several ways to help you do that:

#1: Keep an Eye Out for Changes in Behaviour

For the most part, employees are eager to join your organisation and contribute their talents to their work. However, the strong communication and guidance they experience in their adjustment period gradually die down over time.

With employees already transitioned into their new work-from-home set up, uneasiness and tension are easier to spot if you notice a dip in their communication. Though this might not necessarily impact their engagement in the long-term, managers should match their interactions to help employees thrive.

Reflect on how your organisation has facilitated employees through new communication channels, project flexibility, as well as engaged and interacted with teams during virtual meetings. If these changes resulted in a drop in engagement, an internal evaluation might help you identify what went wrong – and where.

Leadership must match employees’ expectations with the right forms of communication. Consequently, an employee may not even realise that they’re disassociating from work.

For one, they could be struggling to maintain a healthy work-life balance as they work from home. Even though employee productivity has improved, 25% of Europeans view their work-life balance negatively. 

Tracking behavioural changes can help you sense where things are going wrong – and take action to get your employees back on track.

#2: Hold Small Group Discussions

If you’re looking to source opinions about your company culture and leadership, there’s no better alternative to a focus group. These small group discussions can help you ensure that you’re developing the right engagement strategies.

Consequently, your employees can help you uncover trends in how they prefer to handle their work and validate work processes that they like – so you know you’re doing something right!

That said, the point of your focus group is to gain subjective data that you won’t be able to find through a formal survey. It should help you build the conversation that leads up to the study, so employees have time to discuss and plan their responses instead of having to come up with answers on the spot.

#3: One-On-One Conversations

It might be difficult for some of your employees to open up about their issues, especially if they distrust their managers. One-on-one conversations not only provide them with a safe space to talk freely, but they also help to cement your relationship with each employee.  

This strategy works well for anyone managing a remote workforce, and it works like a charm when it’s difficult to get everyone on the same page. Online, company leadership will need to proactively engage employees in conversations they won’t necessarily initiate themselves.

You must listen with an open mind – and be willing to follow-up where necessary. Observe how employees respond to your questions and regard changes in tone, body language (in a video meeting), and attitude in their answers.

#4: Run Surveys and Interviews

Surveys are a great way to determine employees’ perceptions of organisational processes and how their responses compare with current employee engagement statistics. Given that most (if not all) of your teams are working remotely, this will aid you in molding a company culture that employees will thrive in.

A study even reveals that compared to 64% of senior leadership, only 42% of junior-level employees aren’t afraid to voice out ideas and opinions. So take the time to encourage them, maybe even let them fill out the surveys anonymously to ensure that you get an accurate picture of what they think.

You must act on the opinions and feedback you receive. Employees that feel unheard are more likely to be disengaged, primarily if they provided ideas and views that weren’t taken into consideration.

#5: Leverage Peer-to-Peer Employee Recognition

A paycheck and a hefty bonus isn’t the only way to appreciate employees for the hours of work and commitment they invest in your company. Peer-to-peer employee recognition platforms can give your employees the exact incentive they need to boost their performance.

Engagement and recognition tools provide analytics that you can use to assess performance, collaboration and productivity across teams. These platforms also gamify what would have been a pat on the back at work – from messages of appreciation to a floating golden trophy that employees can display on their profiles.

That’s how HR professionals not only highlight the achievements of exemplary employees but also motivate disengaged workers by directing them towards behaviours they should emulate.

What to Take Away – And What to Do Next

HR managers need to proactively communicate with employees and be willing to make adjustments based on the feedback from their teams. Only then will they be able to match leadership’s expectations of a productive and engaged workforce with your teams’ performance.

Carefully keep track of how your employees act and think about your work processes. And finally, commit to designing effective engagement strategies that engage workers and enable you to manage employee engagement as an ongoing contributor to your success.  

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