10 March 2015

How To Measure Employee Engagement Metrics

What would a 20% boost in your employees’ productivity mean for your bottom line?

It sounds pretty irresistible, doesn’t it? According to a Gallup poll, results like that are possible by prioritizing employee engagement. While there are several proven ways to make engagement central to your organization, how to measure employee engagement metrics is a more difficult question. Answering that question requires a closer look at employee engagement, why it matters, and how it can be improved. Here’s what we’ve found.

What is employee engagement?

First let’s identify what employee engagement isn’t. It’s not employee satisfaction or employee happiness. Satisfied and happy employees matter, but those two things alone won’t produce employees who go above and beyond to finish a task or remain loyal to an organization if an alluring offer comes about.

Instead, employee engagement is an “emotional commitment an employee has to an organization and its goals” that causes them to use discretionary effort (Forbes). Engaged employees go the extra mile without prodding or even recognition because they value both the work the do for themselves and, more importantly, on behalf of the organization’s goals.

How can leadership improve employee engagement?

“Measurement is the first step companies must take before they can implement meaningful actions to improve engagement.”

-Jim Harter, Ph.D., Chief Scientist of Employee Engagement and Well-Being, Gallup

The first question to consider is not only how to measure employee engagement metrics, but how to measure the correct employee engagement metrics.

Establish a standard.

Management expert Joseph Juran said, “Without a standard, there is no logical basis for making a decision or taking action.” Gallup cautions that the standard with which you measure your employees matters, adding that many companies “persist in measuring performance by the wrong standard—using unsubstantiated or ineffective metrics that ultimately lead nowhere.”

Employee engagement software and tools are available to help you establish that benchmark. Make sure the tools you use can help you identify all or most of the following criteria, which Gallup identifies as critical to employee engagement:

  • Customer ratings
  • Profitability
  • Productivity
  • Turnover (for high-turnover and low-turnover organizations)
  • Safety incidents
  • Shrinkage (theft)
  • Absenteeism
  • Patient safety incidents
  • Quality (defects)

Additionally, in his article called A Primer On Measuring Employee Engagement, article author Ryan Fuller recommends analyzing the following:

  • The amount of work done outside normal working hours.
  • The number of network connections and time spent with people outside of immediate team or region.
  • The percentage of participation in ad-hoc meetings and initiatives vs. recurring meetings and processes.
  • Time spent collaborating directly with customers outside of normal scope of work.

In addition to the qualitative data you receive from software and tools that use interviews and solicited individual feedback, you can measure employee engagement metrics with unbiased, third-party recordings of your employees. Call recordings of your team as they work on the phone with your customers will give you the whole story about what your employees are doing on every single call. This data will give you the peace of mind of knowing your employees are doing their jobs, or be the proof you need to incite a change that improves your company.

Focus on improving the organization from the top-down.

Once you’ve established how to measure employee engagement metrics, you can begin to improve them. Based on a series of studies from University of Bath, the group Engage for Success recommends focusing on improvements within each of the following areas, which they call the four enablers of engagement:

  1. Strong strategic narrative must be provided by company leadership to establish where the company’s coming from (its values) and where it’s going (its goals).
  2. Engaging managers who “focus their people and give them scope, treat their people as individuals, and coach and stretch their people.”
  3. Employee voice reinforces and challenges views between employees, leadership, and externally, and employees are central to the solution.
  4. Integrity is a daily-acted-upon value, not just something that’s said.

While not an exhaustive list, these items can help organizations and their leaders begin on a path toward improved employee engagement metrics. It’s critical to continue to measure employee engagement metrics consistently—not just on an annual basis—in order to gauge the true engagement level of your organization. By keeping vigilant about your employees and measuring their engagement, you’ll be able to improve your company culture, customer experience, and bottom line.