How to Measure Employee Engagement Accurately

Terminology like employee engagement can often feel overwhelmingly broad, but it's still possible to gather accurate, in-the-moment insights. Learn how our technology solutions will enable you to amplify the voice of the employee.

Measuring employee engagement is the first step to improving your employee performance, satisfaction, and success.

But it can be a challenging task, with some methods falling short of giving organizations the level of insight they crave. To achieve meaningful results you can rely on, approach employee engagement with scientific rigour—and all year round. 

At Workday, we recommend measuring employee engagement with the following steps: 

  1. Define and communicate your goals and objectives.
  2. Decide upon the frequency of your survey and who will have access to the confidential feedback.
  3. Select your core engagement survey questions.
  4. Send out your first survey.
  5. Review and compare the insights you have uncovered.
  6. Empower managers and other individuals to turn insights into action.
  7. Repeat the process regularly to ensure insights remain relevant and up-to-date.
  8. Drive the changes employees really want to see.

Why Is Measuring Employee Engagement Hard?

Traditionally organizations have prioritized the needs and expectations of their customers and stakeholders over those of their own people. Employee engagement was deemed a ‘nice-to-have’, rather than the ‘business critical’ it is widely accepted as being today.

Various approaches to employee engagement have been explored. 

Some businesses rely on the transparency of employees in group or one-to-one meetings. This may suffice for organizations with just a handful of like-minded employees, but it does not give all employees a platform upon which to speak honestly and openly, without fear of repercussions. Nor can the outcomes of these meetings be used to later benchmark your performance.

There’s also annual staff surveys. These can garner useful feedback, but typically take between two to three months and significant work hours to collate. By the time feedback is collected and analyzed, it may have lost its relevance.  

But it doesn’t need to be this difficult. 

When you democratize the engagement process, you give everyone the power to drive change. 

If you’re serious about understanding what your employees want, and empowering them to drive the changes they want to see—and your future business successes—then it’s time to approach employee engagement with the same rigour you’d apply to measuring customer satisfaction or company finances.

People analytics tools like Workday Peakon Employee Voice have made this possible. 

Is There a Best Method for Measuring Employee Engagement?

There’s no substitute for regular, confidential surveys. Real-time employee feedback is the cornerstone of informed decision making for managers and leaders, and therefore business success. 

With confidential, regular, digital surveys, you swiftly democratize the process—giving everyone a voice. When leaders then take action based on employee feedback, they demonstrate that employees are heard, and their feedback is valued. This itself helps to drive strong employee engagement. 

Before You Begin, Set Out Your Goals

The first thing to do is define your goals. Perhaps you’d like to get a better understanding of your turnover and improve your retention? Maybe you want to properly support your staff through a company merger or acquisition. Or you just want to get a better grasp of your employees’ needs and expectations. Once you’ve pinned your mission down, communicate the purpose of the new strategy to your people to garner trust and encourage maximum participation. 

Compile Your Employee Engagement Questionnaires 

Next, carefully select your questions. The quality of your results will depend heavily on the questions you ask, as well as how you ask them. 

The Workday Peakon Employee Voice framework and our 45 core questions were developed using decades of psychological research, the latest data science, and a well-established metric that has been adopted by businesses around the world: The Employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS). 

eNPS takes into account the many factors that influence employee engagement with one simple question: How likely is it you would recommend [Company Name] as a place to work?

The initial employee engagement questions are followed by additional ‘driver questions’ to help companies to determine what is influencing their engagement. These are based on the 14 drivers of employee engagement – such as autonomy, rewards, and growth, which have been found to affect human motivation in the majority of workplaces—regardless of industry or size. Employees answer each question on a scale of 0 to 10, and are also given the opportunity to leave confidential comments. 

Additionally, if you want to focus on one particular area, like attrition, there’s also custom question sets available.

Calculate Your Employee Net Promoter Score 

The next step is interpreting your results. 

Responses can be divided into three groups: Detractors (scores from 0 to 6), Passives (scores from 7 to 8) and Promoters (scores from 9 to 10). Detractors represent the employees that are either unhappy or need more support. Passive employees, while not disengaged, may have some concerns that are holding them back from realizing their full potential at work. Promoters, meanwhile, are motivated, enthusiastic, and bring their full selves to work.

If a number of people give a low score in response to a particular question, such as ‘I have the materials and equipment I need to do my job well’, then you know this is an area that needs attention. 

Workday Peakon Employee Voice gives you two ways to view your engagement scores on its dashboard: Your score can either be measured as an average on a 0-10 scale, or using the NPS scale, which ranges from -100 to 100.

An organization’s overall eNPS score (between -100 and 1) is calculated by subtracting the percentage of detractors from the percentage of promoters. When an employee’s response changes from detractor to passive, or passive to promoter, positive changes are reflected in the overall score.

When you measure employee engagement, you can track and compare your scores.

Both of these methods have their own distinct advantages. The average score is an intuitive, simple-to-understand scale that gives you a steady and consistent measure of your teams’ engagement. The NPS score can give you a bit more detail on employee engagement.

Either way, the result is that organizations of all sizes gain an accurate and reliable measure of their employee engagement, and a clear understanding of the factors that are supporting or tarnishing it too. 

Common Mistakes When Measuring Employee Engagement

Here’s some common pitfalls that you should do your best to avoid.

1. Infrequent Surveys

One thing we’ve occasionally seen businesses do, before they start using engagement software like Workday Peakon Employee Voice, is sending out large Google forms, or an equivalent, every half-year or even annually. This method can actually contribute to further disengagement. 

When you have long gaps between your surveys, not only do you risk your participation rate being low, but you might also miss out on concerns that arose in the time between. By the time you become aware of a problem, it may be too late to rectify. 

Organizations that we partner with can decide how frequent they would like their surveys to be—weekly, monthly, or quarterly, for example. But at Workday we ask our own employees for weekly feedback. The more frequent your surveys, the fewer questions your employees are required to answer each time, and the more up-to-date your data is.

The value of regular feedback can’t be underestimated.

2. One-Size-Fits-All Questions

A pulse survey is better than no survey, but asking the same questions week-in, week-out, or randomly selecting questions, often leads to missed insights.

Rather than trying to make a one-size-fits-all process work, we suggest ‘Intelligent Listening’—looking for important and recurring themes, and then building your surveys and the questions you ask around your company’s or a specific team’s bespoke needs and concerns. This means you’ll be asking the right people the right questions at the right time, and benefiting from the right information.

3. Not Confidential

Employees are understandably cautious when answering surveys. The most useful feedback relies on your team being completely open and honest about their feelings.

If you want a high number of honest responses, you must ensure that your survey is confidential and remains that way. If employees feel even slightly unsafe giving honest feedback, they will withhold information. Or worse—choose not to participate in the survey at all.

What’s Next? How to Follow-up After Measuring Engagement 

Measuring your employee engagement is just the first step. The second—taking action—is even more important, as this is how you will boost your employee satisfaction, productivity and performance.

With your real-time employee data in tow, you can make rapid, well-informed decisions, and drive the change your employees really want to see. If members of your team are reporting a lack of work-life balance, for example, you should consider making changes to your flexible working policies. 

Then you can compare your employee engagement scores to thousands of other relevant companies across the globe using our benchmarking tools, and set benchmarks for yourself in the areas you’d like to improve on.

You should share your insights throughout the organization too. This will encourage increased participation and act as a reminder that everyone has a part to play in driving employee engagement and success. 

When you democratize the engagement process, you give everyone the power to drive change. Feedback leads to insights, which leads to action, which leads to change. When you close this loop and demonstrate that you’re really listening to and acting upon your employees’ feedback, you’ll start to see an improvement in your employee engagement scores.

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