The term “employee engagement” is used about as often as the office coffee maker. It gets tossed around in discussions about things such as performance, productivity and profitability.
But what exactly is employee engagement? How do you measure it? And why should you care?
What it is
Employee engagement is the degree to which an employee is committed to and satisfied with their work. It typically falls under one of three categories:
Engaged – The employee believes in the business, wants to improve their work and the work of those around them, is willing to do what it takes to help the organization succeed, and is motivated by their leaders. Efficiency and enthusiasm are tell-tale traits of the engaged worker.
Disengaged – The employee does little more than the bare minimum, exhibits little passion for their job, and sees work as an exchange of time for a steady paycheck. Disengaged workers are often engaged workers who’ve lost their zeal for the job for one reason or another.
Actively disengaged – The employee dislikes their job and makes that misery known wherever they go, broadcasting negativity that can hamper attitudes across the organization and drag operational efficiency down with them.
A study by Dale Carnegie Training and MSW Research revealed that of the more than 1,500 employees surveyed, 29 percent of the workforce is engaged, 45 percent is not engaged, and 26 percent is actively disengaged. With 71 percent of the workforce displaying some degree of disengagement, this is an issue burdening most companies.
How to measure it
The most effective way to measure employee engagement is by asking. Simple enough, right? Consider conducting one-on-one interviews or deploying a survey developed specifically to measure employee engagement. A few sample survey questions might include:
- My manager effectively communicates my goals as they relate to the larger goals of the company.
- I know what my manager(s) expect(s) of me to successfully perform my job.
- The company provides me with the tools and equipment necessary to successfully perform my job.
- My manager provides timely feedback.
- I have access to training, support, feedback and coaching to improve my performance.
By rating responses from, say, 1-5, you can capture a quantitative measure of employee engagement. In the same vein, regularly scheduled performance reviews add a degree of accountability, ensuring that all employees are aware of the expectations regarding their work.
Why you should care
When the economy was at its worst, most of the employed workforce did what they could to keep their jobs and ride out the storm. This also meant putting off the search for a better job. Experts say this mindset was fantastic for employee retention, but a drain on employee engagement. And now that the economy is ticking up, people unhappy with their station are revisiting the job search.
And it’s not always who you think.
Recent research by consulting firm Leadership IQ suggests that low-performing employees may be among the most highly engaged, and high performers among the least engaged. This is in stark contrast to years of research linking increased employee engagement to increased productivity, performance and profitability.
Additionally, it makes regularly checking your employee engagement pulse that much more important. Remember that today’s highly engaged staff member could easily be tomorrow’s actively disengaged malcontent. Things happen (or not), attitudes change, people burn out, and so on.
Boosting employee engagement means cultivating it. This starts with organizations paying attention to and caring about employee engagement or, quite simply, employer engagement.
Are you ready to take employee engagement to a higher level? Learn more about InsperityTM PerformSmartTM today.