Measuring employee engagement is no easy task, thanks in part to the fact that employee engagement itself is difficult to define and really nail down. To help you with it, we’ve created a list of nine employee engagement sub-metrics that we’ve identified as the true drivers of the overall employee engagement. You can read more about them in this post, but here’s a bulleted list for your convenience:
Measuring these and then combining the results will give you a workable number approximating how engaged your employees are. As mentioned, every company will have a different way of measuring it but our recommendation is to go with pulse surveys and a simple 1 to 10 scoring system. After that, you will want to use interviews to get the details and design an action plan for improving your score.
For example, you can ask an employee to rate how strongly they feel the company managers are invested in giving them real, actionable feedback on a scale from 1 to 10. Do that for the remaining eight sub-metrics, add everything up, and then divide it by 9 - the resulting number will be the overall employee engagement for a particular department or the company.
Important note: While this 1 to 10 scale might feel a bit simplistic, the upside is that you’re left with a workable number that you can work on improving over a period of time.
How And How Often Should You Measure Employee Engagement
What’s important here is not to get hung up on industry benchmarks. Most of the time, you won’t find any at all. Focus on improving your own scores month in and month out. These surveys are easily implemented and collected so setting smaller goals and measuring the impact of the changes you implement won’t take too much time. However, they can have a significant impact on revenue. For example, Best Buy is one of the companies that manages to calculate the precise impact of incremental employee engagement increase to their bottom line. An increase of 0.1% employee engagement in just one of their physical stores resulted in $100,000 more in their cash register.
There are a lot of vanity metrics out there that companies waste time fussing about. As you can see, employee engagement is definitely not one of them. In addition to pulse surveys - which give you a number that you need to work on - there are other ways of measuring employee engagement that give you an idea about what to work on and how. These include 1-on-1 interviews, stay and exit interviews, and the employee net promoter score.
Employee Pulse Surveys
Most companies still focus on yearly or quarterly surveys, which are not very reliable when it comes to measuring employee engagement. For one thing, they offer a glimpse into an employee’s current feelings, which is then applied to a large stretch of time (a quarter or a year). Basing a year-long strategy on this is no what you should be doing. Secondly, these surveys can take a long time to complete. After a while, your employees will get frustrated with filling it out and their answers will not reflect their true feelings.
That’s why we suggest doing employee pulse surveys. Pulse surveys are short surveys that can be completed in a couple of minutes, which means that you can seriously up their frequency. Again, we suggest designing them as opinion scales from 1 to 10 so that the end result is a numerical value that can be worked on.
Surveys, whenever possible, should be anonymous to give the respondents an opportunity to answer what they truly mean without fearing repercussions. However, for diving deeper into the employee engagement metrics, you will have to talk to your employees. So, the next step are 1-on-1 meetings, where your managers will really hone in on specificites and see what needs to change for the engagement to go up.
Ambassify Tip: You can easily design and send out simple pulse surveys through the Ambassify platform. This way, you don’t have to invest into creating your proprietary survey software, nor do you have additional expenses of using another third-party provider.
Aside from performance reviews and other structured interviews, managers in your company should take the time to talk to employees about various aspects of engagement. These meetings should be less formal and the employees need to be told that they can be as honest and as forthcoming as they want to be. This is not about assigning blame or anything like that - this is about finding out the improvements that need to be made that will drive employee engagement up.
Since these meetings are personal, they give managers a chance to dig a bit deeper into every sub-metric of engagement and to get actual pointers about the direction that the company needs to go in. In and of themselves, these meetings are a great way to show that you are invested and that you care, which should go a long way toward proving to people that you’re interested in their personal growth, what they have to say, and in increasing their overall satisfaction with their workplace - all three very important sub-categories of the employee engagement metric.
One of the most important tools for measuring employee engagement (and really drilling into it) are exit interviews. Exit interviews are done with employees who are leaving the company for the purpose of finding out the reason why they are exiting.
However, a better practice - that should really be implemented more widely - is scheduling interviews with the employees and finding out why they are still sticking around. Exit interviews are great but, at that point, whatever you do might be too little, too late. On the other hand, so-called “stay interviews” give you a chance to have a frank conversation with an employee about what makes them still contribute to the company. More likely than not, you will find out the company’s strong points, but also the things that need to be improved on as you move forward.
Some of the questions you could ask in both exit and stay interviews are:
If there’s one thing that you could (or could have) improve about your work environment, what would it be?
What’s one specific thing that you dislike about your work day?
What makes you especially happy about coming to work?
What are some of the things that make you stay in your job?
What are some of the things that you find frustrating about your job?
Employee Net Promoter Score
If there’s one thing that we at Ambassify obsess over, it’s the Net Promoter Score metric. It’s the one employee engagement metric that you should focus on getting up, even if you’re not working on anything else.
Although we’ve written extensively about the Net Promoter Score (here’s the definition on our website), it doesn’t hurt to repeat what it is. It’s a metric that helps you gauge how loyal your employees are, and to what lengths they would go to promote your company. This metric hinges on one question only:
“On a scale from 1 to 10, how likely are you to recommend this company as an excellent workplace?”
Getting anything below a 9 here is nothing to write home about - a score of 8 means that the employee is neutral, and anything below 7 means that they are an actual detractor. They might be even going around telling people to avoid your company!
If your employee Net Promoter Score is low, don’t just ignore it and hope that it gets better. Actively seek out a reason why your employees wouldn’t recommend you. Ask them if they were to give a hypothetical 7 or less as an answer to this question, what would the reason be? Again, make sure that the setting is informal and non-confrontational - you want a truthful answer but the employees need to be reassured that their truthfulness won’t be counted against them.
You’ve Measured Employee Engagement - Now What?
Now it’s time to act!
If you make your employees jump through hoops by filling out surveys and coming into interviews, and then decide to not act on what you’ve learned, you’re actually going to hurt employee engagement - the very thing you set out to improve. No one likes to be peppered with questions for their opinion to be completely dismissed in the end.
What you do after all of this is, in fact, why you measure employee engagement in the first place. Here’s where you should start, but consider refining the process to better fit your needs:
Thank everyone for participating and share the results - share overall results and then break them down on a departmental level. This gives the employees an insight into where you stand as a company, but also brings it a little bit closer to home when it zooms on their department. They now know what to expect in terms of where the focus will be for the following month.
Pick one or two sub-metrics to improve - you definitely won’t be tackling everything in one push since that’s a recipe for getting nothing done. Instead, focus on one or two metrics and work on improving them. For example, if your feedback score is low, tell your managers to step up their game going forward (and provide them with training to accomplish that). Remember, even incremental increases are acceptable because they can have a profound impact on the bottom line.
Make time for one-on-one meetings - surveys checked the pulse of your employees. Now, it’s time to dig deeper. Have managers randomly select employees to ask for advice on what specifically to do to improve the outcomes of future surveys. Remember to keep everyone in the loop even after a course of action has been set - tell employees what you’re doing and what you’re hoping to gain by it.
Repeat the process - measuring employee engagement is not a one-off process. As we said, you need to keep at it and constantly compare your results to the previous months. That’s the only way to grow, implement changes and cultivate truly engaged employees.
Now that you know how to measure employee engagement, are you excited about implementing the steps and giving your employees an opportunity to shine?