Measuring Employee Engagement: Beyond the Survey

Measuring Employee Engagement: Beyond the Survey 600 411 Balance Point Team

employee survey limitationsAs the number of companies who recognize the value of employee engagement increases, so does the demand for efficient and accurate ways to measure it.

Monitoring engagement levels is critical to creating a formal strategy and for evaluating the effectiveness of existing initiatives.

Employee surveys have become commonplace for accomplishing this task, but their popularity is waning.

This year, 74% of organizations will use formal, large scale surveys to gauge how employees feel about their jobs and workplace, down from 89% in 2015.

59% of organizations are expected to use engagement data from other sources than formal surveys when planning their engagement strategies this year.

There is no denying the worthwhileness of the traditional employee survey. They are easy to deploy, allow for consistent feedback, and give employees the opportunity to feel heard. But they can only measure the dedication and satisfaction of an employee to a certain extent.

Employee Survey Limitations

Opinion surveys are inherently subjective. They provide no hard metrics; their value is dependent upon what and how much insight the respondent is willing to share.

Many factors can influence response. When it comes to anonymity, employees are skeptical and are likely to respond with what they think the employer wants to hear, rather than how they really feel.

The mood of the responder on that day also plays a role. If the employee is having a particularly good or bad day, they will respond accordingly, which may not be an accurate representation of their true opinions. Then there’s the fact that despite the use of tactics to encourage response, many employees just won’t answer.

Alternate Assessment Methods

According to Harvard Business Review, there are other indicators of employee engagement that should be assessed:

Discretionary effort, or the level of effort an employee gives beyond what is required. To gage this, you can measure:

  • The amount of work employees put in outside of normal working hours
  • The amount of time employees spend in impromptu meetings and initiatives (which would indicate high engagement) vs. regularly scheduled meetings
  • How willing employees are to step in and help a colleague regardless of whether they get credit for it

Relationships among team members. Engagement typically increases the more fulfilling relationships people have in the workplace. To determine how connected your employees are, you can measure:

  • The number of network connections employees have and how much time is spent with people outside of their immediate team or region
  • The number of frequent and relatively intimate interactions your employees have

Manager/employee relationships are important to engagement. To measure this, examine:

  • How much time employees spend with their managers. Engagement typically increases the more one-on-one time an employee has with his/her manager. However too much time spent—which could indicate micromanagement—is associated with disengagement.
  • How much time employees spend with skip-level managers. Engagement typically increases the more attention they receive from upper management.

Work schedule. The employee’s work environment and schedule play a role in their satisfaction and productivity. To measure this, look at:

  • The hours spent per week in meetings and the number of attendees. Engagement typically decreases the more time people spend in large group settings, with little opportunity for participation.
  • Calendar fragmentation. Employees need to have solid blocks of uninterrupted time throughout the day to be productive. Those who don’t can easily become disengaged.

While valuable, engagement surveys alone may not be enough to accurately assess the engagement levels of your workforce. Taking a closer look at other indicators is not only on trend, it makes good sense.

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