Wednesday, July 24, 2013

How Do You Measure Employee Engagement?

Engagement is the term du jour for helping a bunch of us sell HR programs to HR departments.  But what really is employee engagement?  How do you measure it and how accurate is that measurement?

I've been in this biz for around 10 years and it always means something different to everyone with whom I speak.  To be honest, that's the way it should be.  Every organization has different values, culture, mission statements, and objectives with regard to their people, therefore their engagement strategy should reflect their organizational strategy.

However, per my last post, most companies put a people strategy in place because they know they have to.  Why is this the case?  Because organizations with employees that are considered "highly engaged" appreciate higher business performance.  So the question begs, "how do I know if my employees are engaged and how do I identify who needs help and who needs to be recognized for their outstanding performance?"

Surveys and KPI's, right?  Wrong.  If 100% of you employee population answers a survey 100% honestly...then you might have something with regard to how they feel about working for your company.  And if, for example, 100% of your top sales people are team players, and give back to the community, and collaborate internally, and take all the suggested training, and contribute to knowledge transfer, and effectively recognize everyone who helped them succeed, etc, etc.....and you could measure this in aggregate, then you would really be able to answer the question in the last paragraph.

But who does this?

Some organizations have tried to cobble together some of this information and do their best to measure and engage with their employees in this fashion, but many companies have also just slapped down a "big honkin' recognition website" with all kinds of bells and whistles (which employees rarely utilize...especially after the honeymoon period)...and call it done.

In the day an age of apps, and cloud and API's (look it up) so much more can be done to truly identify who in your company is really getting it done, who needs help, and even who is just posing.

Many companies have been seeking out this "fountain of youth" as diligently as Ponce de Leon, but few seem able to discover the best way to truly gauge overall employee engagement.  ITAGroup, however, has found a way to do this almost accidentally.  The development of a cloud-based piece of software to help one of our clients consolidate all of their incentive spend resulted in a powerful way to build a profile of anyone in your participant base.

I won't go into details, but this relatively simple piece of software has enabled organizations to collect data from all of their important employee-facing initiatives (Job Performance, Contribution, Personal Growth, Culture, etc...) into a single repository.  Big data is great, right?

What then do you do with all this data?

Well you prioritize and valuate each of the data segments, let the data pour in, and end up with an overall employee score.  Simple.  The ability to get a true picture of overall employee engagement in your organization's initiatives can be so valuable.  Not only will overall employee scores give you a truer picture of an employee's actual value to your organization, it will teach you about which attributes are leading indicators of performance, as well as where more development is required.

The best part is that you don't need to remove any of your current platforms or programs, you just need to hook up the data hose (API).  Why try to build one monstrous, expensive, complicated site, when you can just use the information you already have?

This solution may not meet all the measurement criteria of employee engagement as defined by organizations like TowersWatson or Gallup, but I'm sure you'll agree that this concept beats the heck out of an employee sat survey as your main source of information regarding employee engagement.

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