How John Deere Measures Employee Happiness

John Deere may be a manufacturing company that is nearly 200 years old, but it continues to innovate in its human resources function, using data to drive engagement and retention. Employee engagement is linked with both customer satisfaction and profits. While many companies invest in culture with various internal programs, John Deere is proving that tracking engagement data and acting on it is just as important.

The company’s Enterprise Advanced Marketing Group surveys employee motivation every two weeks as part of a larger program to drive innovation and growth.

John Deere is proving that tracking engagement data and acting on it is just as important  

The motivation metric comes into play in a couple situations. For example, the company found an employee’s motivation dropped in two review periods, although his performance was consistent. It initiated a conversation, and the employee was able to express needs for more professional development. In many cases, a lack of professional development means employees will suffer silently and then plan their next career move. 

Another situation is when a lack of motivation precedes performance problems. If not caught early, the employee will be put on track for corrective measures, and at that point it may be too late — and the the employee becomes further demotivated.

Lastly, John Deere found that when a new employee joins a team, or a member leaves, it changes the dynamic. The motivation survey ensures that any changes in morale are assessed and dealt with.

Hedge fund Bridgewater runs a similar system to collect data on employee morale. The iPad app, called Dot Collector, polls employees on the outcome of meetings, while the Pain Button tracks feelings such as anger, frustration and sadness to spot negative patterns. It fits the company’s culture, which is built around driving performance with incredibly transparent discussions.

About 100 employees have adopted the survey system at John Deere, according to Harvard Business Review. Surveys like this, especially when presented in a non-intrusive way to employees to ensure participation, lift the curtain on employee engagement and can both predict and influence a company’s overall success.