Driving Employee Engagement with Measurement and Conversations
Day in and day out, employees show up to the office and fulfill the duties outlined in their job description. Whether that means they make sales calls or fix broken code, they come in and (hopefully) do their work. Seems like a successful employee, right? Yes, but maybe not a happy one. In fact, a majority of employees report they don’t feel driven to improve and innovate beyond what’s expected of them — and that’s costing companies big time.
According to a 2013 Gallup report, seven in 10 U.S. employees aren’t engaged at work, costing companies $450 to $550 billion annually. Typically, the lack of engagement stems from the feeling that the company doesn’t care about an employee’s personal and professional development. When employees don’t feel valued by the company, they stop being invested in the company’s success — completing the bare minimum of what's required of them. It becomes acutely important during times of change at an organization.
As the management adage goes, you can’t manage what you don’t measure. Every company wants its employees to be engaged, yet many HR folks and managers struggle with knowing just how to measure and improve employee engagement efforts.
Measure It. One way to measure engagement is sending out an annual survey, and, while that’s a great start, it’s not a sufficient way to get an accurate pulse of how employees are feeling day-to-day. Beyond surveys, managers should conduct one-on-one interviews with employees and openly discuss what's going well at the company and where there is room for improvement. These individual conversations show that a specific manager values the opinion of his employees.
Be Transparent. Following the survey and conversation, employees expect that their input is put into action, so managers should be transparent about what the general consensus from the survey was and what management is doing to improve engagement. Based on the goals that managers set for making employees feel more engaged, managers should evaluate their progress on an on-going basis.
Take Action. Once managers can measure engagement, they should also work to improve it. One way to do this is to get leadership buy-in, if it isn’t already there. Share with the C-suite how engagement affects profits and business performance. Once leadership sees engagement as a top priority, HR folks can look at what other industry leaders are doing to keep employees engaged and draw from their best practices.
Employees are the heart of a company, and without engaged employees, the company will see high turnover and poor business performance. While something intangible like employee engagement can seem impossible to measure, surveys and conversations are a good way to gauge the overall employee sentiment and keep them from falling into the trap of just punching the clock.