Let’s recap as we seem to have meandered off of our rules of engagement lately into other topics – we have been off cloning engaged employees and looking at the 'continuing worker'! So, recall that rule 1 was all about defining employee engagement where we looked at the importance of making sure that the definition was all encompassing for your organisation. We then moved on to rule 2 which was about understanding the benefits of employee engagement and obtaining buy-in from those in the organisation on the basis that engagement can make a real difference to the bottom line of your organisation. We now move on to looking at the nuts and bolts of employee engagement – how we measure it.
Measuring current levels of employee engagement is a key step to take in the process of developing an employee engagement strategy. McLeod & Clarke (2008) state that ‘engagement is measurable...a foundation for insights for action’ (p10). Whilst engagement cannot be considered to be a science it can be measured via the use of a number of survey tools currently on the market. Obviously, big players such as Gallop have the Q12 survey tool, which using 12 items claims it measures engagement robustly. Depending on which tool you use will depend on the answers that you will receive, hence understanding what engagement means for your organisation and the drivers that you want to focus on is a key step in the preparation of employee engagement measurement.
There are many approaches to measuring employee engagement – some look at attitudes, but most require employees to rate on a scale their responses to items such as ‘do you have the right equipment to do your job properly’.
It is important to think about the sort of results you want to see when thinking about measuring engagement – what do you want to know about specifically, what are the issues. If you are reading this and think ‘I don’t really know what the issues are’ then that is perfectly normal as many organisations need to go through the first employee engagement survey process to really understand what the drivers for their organisation are. At Employee Feedback, we would suggest running some small focus groups across the organisation first to find out what it is that are the key issues for employees across the organisation and then the survey items can be developed around this foundation, making it tailored to you.
An additional consideration needs to be how you want the results broken down – by division, unit, team – whatever smaller parts your organisation operates in. Furthermore, measuring employee engagement is often something that organisations want to compare with other organisations in their industry and so measurement on set items can provide a comparison when using benchmarked data from other sectors. At Employee Feedback we have a large database of responses to benchmarked items which can be used in the reporting stage to show a company comparison.
My advice here when looking at measuring employee engagement would be to work backwards from the results – what do you want to know, why are you looking at engagement, do you want to be informed on the performance of sub-divisions of the organisation or by demographic of staff or to have benchmarked comparisons to your competitors etc. Once these questions have been answered you can then start to think about whether to measure employee engagement internally or look for a service provider who can perhaps generate dynamic reports and provide benchmark options for example.
There is no doubt that an employee engagement survey is usually the best way to move forward with measuring engagement, obtaining data on the levels of engagement in your organisation as a foundation for an engagment strategy. But, the measurement is only the first step – the real work for organisations comes from what happens next – action, action, action!