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LEAD. GROW. INSPIRE.
Keeping employees engaged has always been important. These days, however, it might be one of the most important challenges that employers face. Following “the Great Resignation” of 2021, and in a still-tight job market, you’ve got to go the extra mile to ensure workers are actively interested in their jobs or risk losing them and facing a staffing shortage.
Like nearly everything else, you can and should measure engagement. Doing so is the only way to keep tabs on whether your employees are getting close to leaving for greener pastures with another organization or starting up a gig of their own. Here are some ideas to consider.
Create A Feedback System
When one speaks of measuring anything, there’s usually a reflex to start rattling off metrics under the assumption that every organization has the data at its fingertips to perform the calculations. The truth is that to get good results, you need to first gather the right information.
So, the initial step in optimally measuring employee engagement is creating a feedback system. The key word there is “system.” Issuing an employee survey once a year and maybe discussing the results in a meeting will neither give you much to go on nor keep the issue of engagement top of mind.
A feedback system should have multiple inputs. These should include a thoughtfully constructed and carefully worded survey that enables you to quantify how employees are feeling about:
I've found that an annual survey is generally best because you don’t want to overload employees with questions or take up too much of their time.
That’s why your system needs other inputs, too. One possibility is focus groups: Perhaps you can meet with entire departments or just specific work teams to ask engagement-related questions and have a discussion.
Another input could be the performance reviews that you most likely already conduct once or twice a year. As part of the process, ask for some feedback regarding engagement.
And then there are your supervisors. These individuals interact with their employees regularly. You might design an additional survey just for them, or meet with them biannually or quarterly, to get their reads on the engagement levels of their teams.
Regularly Calculate eNPS
When you’ve set up a solid system for gathering employee engagement data, you can start choosing your metrics. One relatively easy choice, if only because it’s so immensely popular right now, is the Employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS): a score Leapsome discusses on its blog.
Despite its rather cumbersome abbreviation, eNPS has drawn many employers’ interest because of its relative simplicity. It typically entails asking a mere two questions of employees and then calculating a score based on their answers. The questions typically are something along the lines of:
The second question is key. While the first one asks a rather obvious question regarding engagement, the second query gets into whether the responding employee is really interested in what you do or at least believes in the quality of the result.
To calculate eNPS, you should count:
Anyone who provided ratings of 7 or 8 is considered “passive” and excluded from the final calculation.
To arrive at that final calculation, you simply deduct the percentage of detractors from the percentage of promoters. For example, say you have 200 employees who respond as follows:
So, 47.5% - 37.5% = 10%. This is an eNPS of 10.
Generally, any score above zero is good. That would mean more employees are engaged than those who aren’t. It follows that any score below zero—particularly if you dip to -10 or below—should be concerning. On the brighter side, if you score well above zero, perhaps in the 40s or 50s, you’re doing exceptionally well.
Because eNPS is so easy to calculate, you can use it several times throughout the year to monitor engagement. Again, you don’t want to pester employees too much, but pushing out a quarterly “quick survey” via email is feasible for most organizations.
To be clear, there are other metrics you can use to gauge employee engagement, such as the ones CultureAmp highlights. These include rates of voluntary turnover, involuntary turnover and absenteeism. Some larger organizations have even turned to marketing metrics to determine how quickly and actively employees respond to organizational announcements and messaging.
Calibrate Your Approach
At the end of the day, you’ve got to calibrate your engagement measurement efforts to the size and needs of your organization. Small employers, who can more easily determine whether everyone is pulling in the same direction, might not need to expend too much time and resources on engagement monitoring. But, as an organization grows, measuring and promoting employee engagement becomes more important and challenging. Find the optimal approach and you’ll be on your way.
Lynda Silsbee is Founder and President of the Alliance for Leadership Acceleration. She has spent more than 30 years creating and leading high performance teams. Along with the other LEAP Certified Coaches, she reports that helping managers make the LEAP to leader is one of the most fulfilling aspects of her work.