5 Key Metrics to Measure Workplace Engagement

Ask a CEO and an employee about engagement in the workplace and you can get two contradictory answers. The CEO might think his employees are happy and engaged while the employee is one bad day away from quitting. Without some method of employee engagement measurement, it’s easy to assume the best while discontent and disengagement eat away at your talent, your productivity, and your bottom line.

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Measuring employee engagement is tricky, as engagement is an emotional connection with the workplace that takes many forms. Some companies assume happiness creates employee engagement, but a worker can be happy at work yet still frustrated over a lack of advancement opportunities. Satisfaction and a commitment to company values have also been used as employee engagement measurements, but an employee can be committed to a company while unhappy with work-life balance.

Employees can be committed to a company while still unhappy with their work-life balance.

Employee engagement is a multifaceted state that defies easy categorization. Nevertheless, there are five key metrics to help you measure employee engagement.

Monitor Your Turnover Rate

Disengaged employees are more likely to seek other employment, so monitoring your turnover rates provides some insight into engagement.

One challenge this metric presents is understanding what level of turnover is natural for your company. All businesses and industries have some degree of unavoidable turnover, so what’s right for yours?

A quotation from a Gallup News article stands out here. A sales manager told Gallup writers the right turnover rate was 10 percent. When asked why, he responded “Simple. Our CEO told us that 10% is the right number, and I am not about to tell him any different.” Surprisingly, the CEO wasn’t that off the mark–10 percent seems to be the sweet spot for turnover rates. Anything higher and your ROI is affected. Lower turnover rates may indicate some degree of employee stagnation–they’re not leaving, but they may not be engaged either.

If ten percent of your top talent is leaving, there’s a serious problem with engagement.

In addition to turnover rates, it’s also important to consider who’s leaving the company. Most of your turnover rate should be from the bottom of the organization: if ten percent of your top talent is leaving, there’s a serious problem with engagement.

Listening to Suggestions

Employees feel more engaged when they feel their voices, concerns, and suggestions are heard, to the point where 48 percent are less likely to leave a company they believe management listens to them.

A digital suggestion box is a simple way to measure employee engagement. If employees feel comfortable enough to give their bosses feedback and suggestions, they’re probably engaged. On the flip side, a suggestion box that remains empty is indicative of disengaged employees.

Suggestions and feedback provide plenty of data to measure engagement. Be sure, however, to act on suggestions. Otherwise, employees will feel their suggestions are ignored, reducing engagement levels.

Engagement Surveys

Anonymous surveys make excellent employee engagement measurement tools–if the surveys are written carefully. Short “pulse” surveys of ten or fewer questions are most effective, as they take little time to fill out and don’t overly disrupt an employee’s workday.

Focus on specific areas of employee engagement in your surveys, such as whether employees feel comfortable approaching managers with concerns or whether they have the tools needed to perform tasks most effectively.

While it can be tempting to ask employees to rank answers on a 0 to 10 scale, numerical answers give you little insight into engagement. Instead, encourage written answers and devise a scoring system to divide respondents into “engaged,” “neutral,” and “disengaged.” Tabulating these results provides you with useable data on whether specific engagement strategies are working.

Informal Meetings

Regularly scheduled, informal meetings between employees and management can build trust while providing insight into employee engagement. Such conversations provide the opportunity to touch base on projects, discuss employee goals and motivations, and recognize employee achievements. Providing managers with an intuitive performance management system can help transform information gathered through such meetings into useable engagement data.

Stay Interviews

Many companies employ exit interviews as a matter of course, in the hope of reducing further turnover. Exit interviews tell less than half the story (ideally, only ten percent of it). To really dig into employee engagement, you need to understand why other employees stay with the company.

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“Stay” interviews offer opportunities to identify what factors help you retain employees and strengthen them. A stay interview can also identify possible problems: a comment from an employee like “I’m quite happy here, but. . .” can alert you to engagement issues that may not be on your radar, making it possible to take steps to resolve such issues before they drive engagement down and turnover rates up.