How to turn engagement measurement into results
Eight recommendations for turning engagement measurement into results
The first step in engaging employees is measurement. Your initial engagement survey is an important snapshot of employee attitudes that helps you to identify specific areas of the employee experience on which to focus your attention, such as development, career planning, or compensation. As you conduct future surveys, you can contrast new findings against your baseline measurement and see engagement change over time.
However, it’s important to remember that measurement without action is a waste of your time. Too many organizations don’t take action after surveying their employees. Whether your organization is just getting started with measuring engagement or is looking to improve what you’re already doing, we hope this article— based on our own experience — will help you make a positive impact on engagement in your workforce. When measuring engagement, you should:
Define “engagement” and involve stakeholders from the start.
Engagement is an abstract concept that means different things to different people. In Azerbaijan and also worldwide, HR Professionals work with the common definition that engagement means commitment to the company, a willingness to go the extra mile, and alignment with the overall strategy. We found that these criteria highly correlate with outstanding performance.
To get started in your organization, define engagement in a way that can be measured in terms of attitudes, behaviors, and beliefs. Involve key stakeholders at this early stage to get feedback and buy-in, which makes it more likely that they will trust the survey findings at the end. As an HR leader, you’re expected to achieve and sustain the highest possible levels of employee engagement. The reason is simple — higher levels of engagement lead to better business results. Not only do organizations with higher levels of engagement experience higher productivity, they experience double the rate of success of lower-engagement organizations in many areas. Engaged employees produce higher-quality work, experience fewer accidents, miss less work, and are less likely to leave your organization.
| Eight recommendations for turning engagement measurement into results
Ask questions that will lead to emotional connections.
Survey questions should focus on strategic goals and put an emphasis on performance and outcomes. However, to determine how engaged employees are, you must also be able to measure what is in their hearts and minds. Ask questions that are designed to elicit emotional responses. Do employees love their work? Are they inspired? Do they believe they are adding value for customers and to society?
Use third-party partners to safeguard privacy.
Data privacy is on everyone’s minds today. If employees don’t believe their confidentiality is being protected, you won’t get valid survey results. Ideally, you should run your survey through a third-party partner to handle data processing and reporting. The third party provides a natural firewall and can avoid accidental disclosures. You’ll need to build extra time into the process, but you’ll see the benefits in the form of better data. Also, global companies must be aware of local data privacy laws.
Eliminate survey bias with stratified samples.
In a large company, getting 100 percent survey participation isn’t always possible — or even necessary. With a stratified sample, you can measure a smaller, random group that is representative of the entire workforce. As a result, you can prevent bias in your survey, such as a disproportionate number of responses from highly engaged or highly dissatisfied employees.
To create stratified samples, identify an accurate proportion for key workforce groups — such as male/female, managers/ employees, salary/hourly, full-time/part-time, top performers/average performers, and so on. Then, make sure you get a representative sample of each group. In global companies, it’s important to be mindful of cultural differences across geographies when designing surveys. For example, an employee in a culture that prioritizes group achievement — such as India or Japan — might answer a question about individual goals differently from one in Azerbaijan.
Choose benchmarks carefully.
When you get the survey results, you should compare them not just against your own previous results, but against those of other organizations in your industry, especially those of a similar size and from high performing local companies. When choosing a third-party survey provider, make the ability to deliver benchmarking data one of your key selection criteria. If you’re trying to do benchmarking on your own, make sure that the normative groups used for benchmarking purposes include at least 300 responses for statistical stability.
Understand HR’s role in the process.
An employee engagement survey is an opportunity to make an organization better. But although HR can drive the process, it can’t lead the change. Change requires that executives respond to the findings with appropriate strategies, planning, and processes. For example, low scores around compensation questions could result in total compensation statements or adjustments to the incentive pay structure. It is at this stage where you see the benefit of getting buy-in at the beginning of the process; it sets the stage for executives to take ownership of the results and take action to drive change.
Communicate the results.
Anytime you do an employee survey, you raise expectations among executives, managers, and employees. Communication back to stakeholder audiences is vital. Within a month of the survey closing, you must communicate results to executives, the board, leaders in HR and business units, and employee representatives. Then, your most important communication goes out to the line managers.
We believe that in Azerbaijan communication should be core to its culture. Ideally line managers should get individual reports about their departments that they can use to communicate with their employees. Then ask managers to walk employees through the results, interpret what they mean to their team, and conduct an analysis of activities they should start, stop, or continue. We want employees to understand the “why” behind their jobs — what they’re expected to achieve and why it’s important to the greater good.
Use findings to guide employee goals and development.
Collecting data and communicating the results is only half the story. We believe that engaging employees means involving them in making data actionable. Common practice is typically time survey results to roll out at the end of the year so teams can use them in their planning and goal alignment in the coming year. The findings can also be used to improve individual development and career planning. They show managers and employees which areas need improvement, allowing them to determine coursework or other activities. It’s easier for everyone to get where they’re going because they begin with the end in mind.
For HR, measuring employee engagement is an important step in improving both engagement and the culture of an organization overall.