Employee engagement is a major topic in management and Human Resources because of its impact. A disengaged workforce has lower productivity, less job loyalty and commitment, and poor information sharing within the teams and with management. Wyatt Watson performed a study that found that highly engaged employees produce 26% higher revenue than unengaged ones. But how do you calculate your workforce’s current level of engagement?
Set a Goal
SMART goals are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely. We’ve already discussed the relevance of employee engagement to the bottom line with high turnover (and its associated costs) and lower productivity. Your goal for engagement, though, needs to be specific. You could try and find out the current level of engagement and then improve it by ten percent. Identify the departments with the lowest engagement and then work to improve those areas, or seek to create a high performance organisation with 80% or higher level of engagement. If the problem is high turnover, your goal should be to reduce turnover by 25% by improving employee engagement.
Don’t over-commit. Setting overly ambitious goals causes many to give up at the onset.
Have Key Metrics and Measurements
Employee responses on a regular survey are not the only way to measure customer engagement. Reasons cited for leaving as part of a standard exit interview are another metric you should be tracking. All workforces will have turnover. The ideal case is when employees are only leaving for personal reasons like relocation of a spouse, retirement or quitting to become a stay at home parent, not because they are unhappy with the workplace.
Have an Action Plan
Use the feedback you receive from anonymous surveys to plan your next action. Are there managers who need training on how to manage people without bullying them? Do departmental goals need to be set at a more reasonable level, overtime mandates rolled back or certain rules revoked? The reason surveys are so valuable is that they can give management clear and actionable steps they can take to improve employee engagement – and every action they take per this feedback shows employees that management does listen and care.
Changing company culture is not something that can be achieved overnight, no matter what groups selling team building workshops and “send your staff to an all-day event” say. It is more like the continuous process improvement methodologies used on the production floor or in service departments. You make changes, check the status of the operation, and then make further changes. When progress slides, you take corrective action before moving on to the next project.
Human Resources can generate the same internal process monitoring data for employee mood as production control receives via Statistical Process Control charts through employee surveys. If your Human Resources department is concerned about the time commitment, management is concerned about conflicts of interest, or employees are afraid to give honest assessments to HR via surveys, outsource this task to third parties such as Insightlink.com to get regular, unbiased reporting on the state of your workforce.
Sustain the Gain with Effective Communication and Transparency
Many businesses fail when employees cannot report problems up the chain or if the management’s solution is to push responsibility onto people who lack the support and resources to fix them. Your company must have effective communication – feedback – from the bottom up as well as from the top down.
Anonymous surveys to report problems and dissatisfaction may open the management’s eyes, and in the long term, these types of statements must be allowed to be shared openly with managers without fear of reprisal. Eventually, employees will feel comfortable bringing up issues before problems grow out of control or fester because they are unresolved. The goal is not the appearance of a smooth running operation but an actually well-run one, which requires transparent information sharing about problems as they arise.
Empowerment can take many forms, whether it is devolving decision-making to the people who are on the front lines of where the problems occur or giving first level managers permission and resources to act as they see best for their work teams.
Set a goal for engagement that is attainable, whether that’s reducing turnover or improving productivity. Collect data with anonymous surveys to learn the real state of the workforce and use that feedback to create a detailed plan on how to improve the workplace. Be flexible, because you may not know what you need to do and new issues will arise. Continue monitoring the state of the workforce to learn about new issues, collect new solutions to implement, and track progress toward company goals.