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Effectively measure employee engagement
Effectively measure employee engagement
Kate PritchardORC International
Over the last few years the focus of employee research has moved from employee satisfaction to engagement. Engaged employees, as well as being satisfied, are more motivated, positive and committed, and as such are just the people employers are striving to recruit and retain.
Views of the definitive way to measure employee engagement vary, but ORC recommend using the principles of “Say, Stay and Strive.” An engaged employee is an advocate of the organisation, is committed and goes “over and above” to assure organisational success. Including questions that address Say, Stay and Strive in an employee survey will enable a measure of overall employee engagement to be established. Obviously it is not enough to just provide an employee engagement measure, this information needs to be analysed and used to drive organisational improvement. Following ORC’s five steps to success below should ensure an effective and impactful piece of employee research.
1. Ensure commitment
Before embarking on an employee engagement programme, it is important that the senior management team is fully committed to running the survey, but also to taking action on the basis of results. If there is no intention of using the research results, then it is best not to raise employees’ expectations by running a survey. Organisations that do not share and act on survey results are in danger of reducing employee engagement.
It is also important that staff members are aware of the survey before it is released, and are committed to completing it. Giving the survey a name or brand can help to catch the staff’s imagination, and using the same brand throughout the range of survey materials (questionnaires, communications materials, reports and actions) can help to raise the profile of the survey in employees’ minds. “Survey champions” at different locations can be useful in assisting with the dissemination of key messages and helping to enthuse colleagues to complete the survey.
2. Ask the right questions
The questionnaire needs to provide a robust measure of employee engagement, by covering Say, Stay and Strive, as well as covering a range of issues of importance to your employees. While it may be interesting to know that 30 per cent of employees are highly engaged, it is far more useful to know that it is the recognition they receive from their line manager that drives this engagement. Statistical analysis on the survey results enables this insight.
Make filling in the survey easy by ensuring questions are simple and concise and that questionnaire completion takes no longer than 10 minutes. Consider the most appropriate method for survey completion and ensure that all employees have adequate opportunity to respond.
3. Compare your results
Once the survey is complete, comparing data against an external norm enables you to put your results into context and identify your strengths and also areas where there is most opportunity for improvement. For example, you may find that only 46 per cent of employees are satisfied with their pay. Without further information you may feel this is a poor result, whereas in fact this could be above average for organisations in your sector.
4. Support managers
Employee engagement surveys provide an opportunity for managers to receive direct feedback on the perceptions of their team and their own personal effectiveness. This can be quite daunting, and it is important that managers get the support they need to use the information in an effective way. Assistance may be required in the interpretation of the data, or coaching in management development or facilitation skills may be required.
5. Drive organisational improvement
At an organisational level, the challenge is to ensure that the survey leads to real improvements. Areas for change and improvement need to be prioritised, and commitment should be given to taking action in up to three key areas. It is all too common that in months to come, employees remember the survey, but not the actions, so make sure you communicate your progress in all of the action areas. And do not forget to celebrate your success.
About the author
Kate Pritchard leads the Employee Research division of ORC International in the UK. Since joining ORC International in early 1997, she has conducted many large research projects for both public and private sector clients and has managed numerous complex employee engagement surveys. Prior to joining ORC International Pritchard was employed by the Hospitality Training Foundation, the industry training organisation for the hotel and catering industry, first as a researcher and then senior researcher. She holds a BA (Joint Hons) degree from Strathclyde University. Kate Pritchard can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org