Is Employee Engagement Measured to be Managed?

June 10, 2015 | Andrew Bateman | HCI
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We are all familiar with the old adage that what gets measured gets managed, and yet there appear to be exceptions to this rule. In fact, new HCI research shows that despite measuring and managing engagement within an entire workforce population, almost half of organizations reported having more accurate insights into the satisfaction of consumers over employees. The research, conducted in partnership with Oracle Human Capital Management, explored the organizational reliance on annual engagement surveys against the backdrop of a complex world of constant change.

Download the full report - More than a Number: Agile and Actionable Employee Engagement Measurement

A Missing Investment and Slow Process

One of the more disconcerting findings of the research was the significant disconnect between the value of employee engagement and the data collected on it. While more than 9 out of 10 respondents agreed that employee engagement is critical to business success, only 10% believe it’s an essential priority to use surveys as a tool to identify what resources employees are looking for to bolster their engagement.

Moreover, when engagement surveys are routinely administered, leaders can check the pulse of employee sentiment. Yet, nearly half of HCI respondents reported that they rely on annual engagement surveys even though 39% believe a quarterly distribution would be more ideal and yield more accurate findings.

I asked HCI’s Research Director Dr. Jenna Filipkowski about these findings, and specifically what organizations and leaders need to do to increase the efficiency of collecting employee feedback and delivering actionable results.

“You want to be respectful of your employees' time and too many frequent surveys will lead to fatigue and low response rates,” she said. “For employees to care and be involved contributors to the process, organizations need to demonstrate that the data being collected is shared back and used to enact positive improvements.” Her comments are supported by additional data from the report, as HR and business professionals agreed the effective measurement of employee engagement and attitude are stymied by three critical roadblocks: Timeframe, data validity and action.

Building a Bridge among Leaders and Employees

Timely, insightful employee engagement measurement is essential to understanding the wants and needs of your employees. And the impact of effectively communicating and addressing these concerns cannot be underestimated. One recent Glassdoor survey found that 6 out of 10 new hires believe that the realities of their job are at odds with the expectations that were set during the interview process.

While HR is responsible for distributing and analyzing an employee survey, that information is quickly handed off to senior leaders, who must take appropriate action to demonstrate to employees that their thoughts and suggestions are being considered and implemented. To build a bridge between leaders and employees, HCI recommends implementing a formal employee engagement initiative founded on clear principles and an overt purpose. A comprehensive program will include key objectives, a regularly administered survey, and action steps that will be taken based on the data analysis and insights. HR must establish this up-front alignment so that senior leaders can clearly see how their projects are addressing critical workforce challenges.

A thematic discovery in this latest HCI research is a lack of understanding around how employee engagement is defined and practiced in organizations – and the risk that accompanies such a disconnect. Like any successful business initiative, engagement requires accountability and growth, and leaders must spearhead this with the support and influence of HR. But how can you support your company in this pursuit? HCI’s upcoming 2015 Employee Engagement Conference in San Francisco will address this question and many others around effectively empowering the workforce. Learn how to train managers to promote daily engagement, discover what activities are most effective in building a culture of trust and transparency, and what HR can provide to ensure leadership buy-in and support for engagement as a competitive advantage.

Learn more about the 2015 Employee Engagement Conference