How Listening to Your Employees Unlocks the Engagement Edge

When businesses prioritize employee engagement as a strategic initiative, the benefits compound to create what we’ve termed the “Engagement Edge.” Discover the potential benefits here.

What would the world of work look like if every employee were engaged? With only 21% of employees actively engaged at work, according to Gallup’s 2022 “State of the Global Workplace” report, we’re facing a worldwide engagement problem. But what if we could turn that tide? That’s the idea at the heart of our new eBook: “The Engagement Edge: Why Everyone Wins When Your Employees Feel Heard.”

But what is the “Engagement Edge”?

Where traditional engagement reports have looked at engagement on a factor-by-factor basis, analyzing how high or low engagement impacts a variety of metrics from turnover to wellbeing, the Engagement Edge asks businesses to consider the full holistic picture. In the same manner that diversity initiatives work best with an intersectional approach, the Engagement Edge takes into account the full cumulative benefit of consistent engagement. 

Let’s return to that opening statistic for a second. According to Gallup, disengagement amounts to US $7.8 trillion in lost productivity for the world economy each year, accounting for 11% of gross domestic product globally. Now imagine if we could flip that statistic on its head. What if, rather than only 21% of your people functioning as active company advocates working to make your company better, it was instead 79%? Or even every single person? The promise of that level of cross-functional collaboration and unity is the premise behind the Engagement Edge. 

Without access to real-time data on how your employees feel, it’s impossible to strategize appropriately and gain consensus ahead of major business decisions.

But this isn’t just a matter of saying that happy employees lead to happy customers. It’s a recognition that your employees and their experiences matter more than the products you create or the services you provide. For businesses that begin to shift the scales, the benefits of measuring and acting on employee sentiment aren’t only far-reaching, they’re compounding—creating major benefits on both sides of the employer-employee relationship, including: 

  • A nuanced and continuous understanding of how your people feel about your organization. 

  • Oversight into what issues matter to different employee groups at different stages in their career—and why.

  • Access to real-time data to make better day-to-day people management decisions.

  • Continuous feedback on the impact strategic decisions have on your people. 

  • Actionable data on hard-to-quantify aspects of the employee experience, such as belonging and diversity, sustainability, and employee wellbeing. 

In this article we’ll explore the major changes required to unlock the Engagement Edge. Then you’ll be primed to take the next steps covered in our full eBook—including planning documents and practical testimonies from Workday Peakon Employee Voice customers.

Unlocking the Engagement Edge

The world of work as we know it is undergoing a major upheaval. Employee expectations are changing at the exact moment many organizations are reassessing their working models and looking ahead to further economic uncertainty. Against a backdrop of disruption, employee engagement has rarely been more pivotal to a company’s ability to adapt to a host of changes.

In part, that’s the power of the Engagement Edge—to work in collaborative unison without glossing over each employee’s wants and needs. But it’s also much more than that. While the potential benefits vary based on industry, region, and individual company aims, we’ve gathered some of the major transformations that emerge from accurately measuring employee sentiment. 

Richer Data and Faster Analysis 

The world is in a constant state of flux—and so is employee sentiment. Without access to real-time data on how your employees feel, it’s impossible to strategize appropriately and gain consensus ahead of major business decisions. Without that consensus you run the risk of an execution gap emerging between upper management and your employees. 

Regularly surveying your employees through a dedicated employee engagement platform leads to accurate, rich data incorporating both quantitative and qualitative input. By asking employees to score how they feel while also leaving room for text-based answers, you bridge the gap between personalization and scale. Sentiment analysis, for example, doesn’t just tell you what’s wrong—it starts to show you why, so you can discern ways to solve it.

A purpose-built employee engagement solution automatically closes the gap between data insights and actionable steps.

Personalization and scale have historically been at odds, with organizations typically either able to engage deeply with a few people or superficially with many. But the Engagement Edge hinges on doing both at the same time—reaching all your employees and engaging with them. In doing so, you understand their needs in enough detail to inform meaningful change. 

Continuous, Confidential Feedback

Where traditional engagement programs operated on a slow, periodic cadence, Workday Peakon Employee Voice sends small, frequent pulse surveys to employees as part of the natural flow of work. Not only does that improve participation rates, it also creates a workplace culture of continuous feedback and collaboration. 

The benefits of psychological safety are manifold, but they’re rooted in one key aspect: confidentiality. Your people must feel empowered and safe to raise potentially sensitive issues without fear of recrimination. If employees don’t feel able to voice their honest opinions, not only will their resentment of people leaders increase, your actionable data will also be skewed. 

It’s also important that these surveys are personalized, providing different questions to different employees depending on their previous responses. This personalization allows you to understand your people as unique individuals, creates space for marginalized voices, and builds a fair, equitable culture that considers everyone’s input.

A Dedicated Engagement Platform 

Acting on engagement data can be hard. How do you sift through mountains of potentially valuable data to create pragmatic action plans? How do you know which actions will drive change? And how do you facilitate those actions at both a macro and micro level? Fortunately, the answer to each of these questions is the same: a dedicated engagement platform. 

A purpose-built employee engagement solution automatically closes the gap between data insights and actionable steps. The right platform should make it simple for managers to understand what’s going on for their team and to take incremental actions to improve—demonstrating to employees that participation drives beneficial outcomes. 

A dedicated platform should also provide a view of market and industry-level benchmarks to compare performance against. Engagement is inherently relative to alternative workplace experiences. Understanding how you stack up against similar companies—with sophisticated adjustments for attributes such as tenure, seniority, age, and department—highlights urgent action areas that could prompt turnover, avoids misleading conclusions on engagement trends, and connects engagement data to other key performance indicators across the business. 

A New Kind of Human Resources 

The Engagement Edge demands strong leadership, democratic ownership, and businesswide advocacy. C-suite leaders, managers, colleagues—everyone has a role in shaping overall company employee engagement, so everyone should actively participate in the process of improving it. Human resources (HR) shouldn’t retain tight ownership over engagement and should instead be a powerful strategic partner for the many participants involved. 

The Engagement Edge is about championing new processes and technology, empowering managers and individuals, building data literacy, coordinating analytical investigation with strategic imperatives, and galvanizing the business toward a shared vision. HR must become an ambassador for engagement transformation, working across the organization to build consensus, steward change, and steer confidently around obstacles. That’s when both employees and employers will really feel the benefits of the Engagement Edge.

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