If you work in corporate communications, “employee engagement” is a term that you overheard more than once. We’ve certainly been talking about it for years here.
Engaging employees has been the objective of internal communications professionals for a long time. For just as long, communicators have wondered how best to quantify what can be a bit of an elusive thing.
When it comes to advice on how to best to assign a metric to employee engagement, the most common approach is what started the whole trend to begin with: Ask the employees if they’re engaged using a survey.
Certainly, regular surveys are a great tool for taking the annual temperature of how your employees feel about your organization, but they’re far from the only way.
There are problems with the annual engagement survey one being they have become just another form of annual review and another is that employees often know or are coached on how to answer – in other words, surveys don’t necessarily tell you the truth. Here are five more ways to measure employee engagement:
- Conduct interviews.
A company or division-wide survey isn’t the only method of talking to employees. You can just talk to them. Business News Daily advises:
Informal, individual chats with each member of your team is another way to measure employee engagement. This can be more beneficial than a survey because you can follow up with questions and receive more detail about each problem. However, the only way for these individual conversations to be effective is to create a safe environment so employees feel comfortable having what could be a tough conversation.
Once these conversations become routine, employees will feel more comfortable doing them.
- Analyze behavior.
As the saying goes, actions speak louder than words. Employees might say more about their level of engagement by what they do than what they report. Writing in Harvard Business Review, Ryan Fuller, the CEO and co-founder of VoloMetrix, a people analytics company, suggests that leaders keep tabs on how many weekend hours an employee works, the number of network connections they maintain, participation in meetings and time spent collaborating directly with customers as measures of engagement.
- Use an “employee listening platform.”
These could come in the form of regular pulse surveys, but more often, they’re simply, as SHRM describes them, “mobile apps and social tools that let employees see each other’s opinions, vote and comment on each other’s ideas, and freely share their own ideas.” If employees are regularly interacting with each other using those tools, odds are they’re pretty engaged. If the tools are sparsely used, it’s a sign that a new approach is needed.
- Open an anonymous feedback channel.
Stephen Huerta, co-founder and CEO of Workify, tells Sustainable Brands that giving employees the option to speak up without fear of being outed as the speaker can give organizations a view of how employees are feeling unlike any other. Huerta notes that “99 percent of the feedback submitted to clients through his company’s platform is submitted anonymously when anonymity is an option. Employees, as it turns out, would often rather leave their job than stage a confrontation with management. An anonymous feedback channel provides an alternative.”
- Use tools with detailed analytics.
Digital communications tools that only measure page views and clicks, while giving you some idea of interactivity, don’t tell you much about engagement, so it’s better to have a more detailed view. How much time as you asking of employees, and how much time are they reading ? Can you break down your metrics by group, division or management team? With these tools you can find out not only how many employees are active, but who is engaged, and perhaps more importantly, who isn’t.
By adding different engagement measures throughout the year to you annual survey, communicators will gain a better, more accurate picture of employee engagement, as well as an early warning system to correct disengagement before it spreads.