Employee engagement has been one of the cornerstones of successful HR management for the last decade. Measuring engagement is like putting a thermometer into various parts of the organization to get a pulse of how your employees are doing. It is vital that you accurately measure employee engagement in order to gather insight on your workforce and learn how to improve your engagement strategy moving forward. Below, I dive into three ways to improve employee engagement measurement.
Relating Engagement to Business Impact
One of the most underused opportunities in engagement surveys is the ability to relate what you measure to business outcomes. Engagement is often seen as a goal in itself. When one or multiple questions in an engagement survey have a particularly low score, the organization focuses on improving these scores. However, do you ask yourself, “How is our engagement score impacting the rest of the business?” For example, how does engagement lead to employee retention, to financial performance for your salespeople, or to your customer service level? Most of us in HR expect a relationship between engagement and these outcomes but it can be tricky to quantify this level.
Getting that one low score up from a score of three to four out of five is rewarding in itself but can you imagine how rewarding it will be to executives when you connect that score to the impact it has on the rest of the business? This is also a common critique of employees and front-line managers on the concept of engagement. Engagement might be very important for a few weeks, but afterwards no action is actually taken to address it. By relating engagement to business outcomes through people analytics, it is easier to create an urgency for improving engagement.
An example is Best Buy, a large electronics store chain, that tried to relate employee engagement to store profitability. They found that a 0.1% increase in employee engagement resulted in a $100,000 increase in profit per store. These kinds of insights help to drive better and more informed decision-making.
A trend that has been emerging in the past few years is the concept of pulse surveys. Traditionally, organizations had every employee fill out long-winded surveys once a year. These days, it is possible to measure the same using very brief surveys that are only sent to parts of the organization.
Pulse surveys enable HR to ‘take the pulse’ of the organization at different times throughout the year on a regular basis. Traditional surveys might extensively ask about a wide variety of topics, whereas pulse surveys only include a few questions, providing employees a quick and easy way to submit feedback.
An area where a lot of organizations, and particularly those in HR, can still improve on is the way they ask questions in surveys. Take a good look at what questions resonate most and least with employees, and use that insight in your next survey strategy.
In a recent publication, the Utrecht Work Engagement Scale (UWES) has been shortened to a 3-item questionnaire. This much shorter engagement scale would work very well with a pulse survey approach, enabling an organization to measure engagement frequently and in a reliable way. Because this questionnaire is used throughout the world in research, there are also norm groups available which help to benchmark engagement in your organization with engagement in the general population per region.
The two opportunities above offer a combined effect that’s larger than the sum of the individual components. Engagement can be related to business impact – and when executed the right way, pulse surveys can act as an excellent path towards gathering continuous feedback and engagement measurement. What more can you do to improve employee engagement measurement? Start with how often you look at analytics.
Don’t limit the amount of time you spend looking at analytics. Because engagement levels can fluctuate, you need to look at analytics frequently. Research has proven that engagement can change on a day-to-day basis and in line with this, the desired outcomes that are caused by engagement, also change. Continuously measuring engagement not only enables you to keep a finger on the pulse but also offers the opportunity to predict business success on a regular basis. This has also been referred to as continuous listening, a key trend in HR. Don’t turn down the opportunity to catch and address any signs of disengagement right away.
Even if your company already has engagement measurement practices in place, there’s always room for improvement and optimization.
I highly encourage taking a scientific approach to how you measure anything in an organization. Below are three key take-home messages I want every reader to take away from this article:
Measurement is always a means to an end, never a goal in itself.
What you measure is always related to a bigger picture.
Keep learning and improving based on what you have measured.
Best of luck measuring engagement in your organization!
The holidays are a perfect time to have fun with employees and show them a good time. If you’re throwing a holiday party, don’t stop there—54 percent of employees want to feel more “holiday spirit in the workplace,” according to a recent Randstad survey—so start some fun new traditions this year.
If you’re not sure what to do, consider these fun ideas. They’ll keep employees excited all season long, while connecting co-workers and getting everyone into the holiday spirit.
Who’s the best cook in the office? Find out by pitting your foodie coworkers against each other in a holiday cook-off competition. The first step in organizing your first-annual cook-off is to decide what employees will cook. Choose something fun, like:
The best cup of hot chocolate
The best holiday cookie
The best holiday side dish
The best cup of egg nog
The prize? A year’s worth of bragging rights. Perhaps the winner walks away with the “World’s Best Office Chef” trophy, a recognition spotlight, or mug to keep at his or her desk until next year.
White Elephant Gift Exchange
A white elephant gift exchange is similar to a Yankee Swap, but in this case, the focus is on “stealing” gifts rather than swapping them—making it a lot more fun. The good news is: this old holiday tradition is still very relevant. After all, 56 percent of holiday shoppers report buying gag gifts for family or office exchanges, according to the Holidaze 2018 poll.
Host the gift exchange on an afternoon in the office, allowing employees to have some fun on the company clock. Plus, if spouses are at the holiday party, it may be difficult to do the exchange. Not to mention, some employees may not be able to make the party, so this ensures everyone can participate.
Did you know that 75 percent of employees want to see their company give back this time of year by donating to food drives or charities?
A fun way to celebrate the holidays with your office is by doing exactly that, giving back to the local community. Not only does this bode well for your brand, but your employees get more than just a fun party—giving back increases feelings of purpose, which leads to better sleep and a longer life, as reported by Forbes.
You can host a food drive in the office, or turn it into a group event, volunteering at a local non-profit. cCook a meal for a homeless shelter or host a holiday party at the local Boys and Girls Club. If you’re looking for more options, consider these non-profits:
Meals on Wheels
Ronald McDonald House
Local Children’s Hospitals
Local Senior Citizens Homes
Gingerbread House Contest
There’s nothing that screams holiday more than a gingerbread house contest. Gingerbread house kits can be costly, so spilt your office or department into teams.
Each team will be responsible for making a gingerbread house within a certain period of time, say 30 minutes. To make it even more fun, set out bowls of extra fixings, like hard candy, sprinkles, and even non-edible elements like mini Santas, reindeer, menorahs, etc. for team members to spruce up their gingerbread houses.
In addition to being fun, this kind of holiday tradition is great for building teamwork and communication skills—while no one’s even thinking about it.
Ugly Sweater Day
The same Holidaze 2018 poll found that 92 percent of shoppers spend between $25 and $50 on an ugly holiday sweater—so give them a reason to wear it with an official Ugly Sweater Day in the office.
To make your Ugly Sweater Day tradition more fun, give away a variety of awards. For example, you may give awards for:
Most Creative Sweater
Least Ugly Sweater
Classiest Ugly Sweater
The prize for these could be the same as the others: a trophy for bragging rights all year long. You could also buy inexpensive stocking stuffers to give as prizes or reward winners with monetary points in a recognition program.
Your Office Holiday Traditions
Have fun with the holidays this year. Don’t just throw a party—celebrate for the entire season with fun contests, gift giving and an official Ugly Sweater Day. Your employees will enjoy having some holiday fun after a long year of hard work and dedication.
To learn more ways to engage your employees during the holidays, check out this blog post.
About the Author Jessica Thiefels has been writing for more than 10 years and is currently a professional blogger and freelance writer. She spent the last two years working tirelessly for a small startup, where she learned a lot about running business and being resourceful. She now owns her own business and has been featured on Forbes. She’s also written for StartupNation, Manta, Glassdoor and more. Follow her on Twitter @Jlsander07 or connect on LinkedIn.
Employee engagement is an ongoing issue. What can we do to effectively engage employees? Start with recognition and feedback. According to Aptitude Research Partners, companies identified recognition as having the greatest impact on engagement. And it doesn’t stop at recognition. Go the extra mile with employee feedback, pulse data and personalized actions in real-time to immediately address any disengagement. Dr. Natalie Baumgartner, Chief Workforce Scientist for Achievers, shares in an HRO Today article about how to effectively leverage recognition and feedback to boost engagement across your organization.
Why is employee feedback software a need-to-have, and not a nice-to-have?
Employee feedback software is a need-to-have because it’s the best way for us to keep our finger on the pulse of engagement. Historically, we have thought of engagement as a survey exercise, but in this new era of engagement it has become clear that we need to focus on asking for and receiving feedback – and, most importantly, responding to it. Each of us as employees are exceptionally unique, which is why it is so critical that we offer employees different ways to provide feedback. Using a combination of modalities allows us to gather continuous feedback and valuable data that can be collected and then translated into actions that truly support employees.
Why should organizations offer recognition and rewards?
Key analysts, including Josh Bersin, have long advocated recognition as a powerful engagement tool. Our research highlighting recognition as a massive driver of business performance supports the critical role that recognition plays within organizations. Research has demonstrated that engagement measurement can not just happen twice a year – and neither can recognition. Recognition needs to be a fluid, frequent activity that is built into the flow of work for every employee. In order for that to happen, we need to make it easy and engaging for employees to regularly recognize another, whether it’s manager to employee or peer to peer. Recognition is an indispensable tool that can effectively improve not only engagement specifically but also culture, more broadly. Impacting culture can be a challenging process but using a program that ties recognitions to company values makes it easier to effectively strengthen culture alignment.
How can organizations leverage data to improve the employee experience?
Data is the most powerful tool you have to make informed decisions that improve the employee experience. Historically, organizations have typically gathered engagement data using traditional tools such as annual surveys that include numerous questions. We now know that engagement is exceptionally fluid and that moving the engagement needle requires real-time action. When it comes to impacting engagement, you need right-sized data in real-time. It is important to shift from launching long annual surveys to pulse and always-on measurement systems that gather engagement feedback on a more frequent basis – from every quarter to every week. Gathering feedback on a regular basis ensures that leadership has in-the-moment data they can act on.
Where is the future of employee engagement heading?
If you are an HR professional, you are most likely the one responsible for impacting engagement. Yet, who’s more motivated to impact engagement than the employees themselves? I believe that, in the future, engagement will no longer be owned by leadership – but, rather, it will be owned by the employee. Typically when engagement survey data is gathered it either never makes it to the employee or, if it does, it’s in the form of rich but complex action plans. In fact, even the more modern engagement technologies that provide libraries of solutions don’t offer the necessary real-time actions that actually move the needle on engagement. Research tells us that most engagement issues are on the smaller scale, whether it’s a lack of professional development or the office atmosphere. These are the type of issues that technology can help with by delivering bite-sized, personalized actions to employees that they can use to own the solution to the challenges they’re encountering, resulting in faster outcomes.
Do you have any thoughts on this article? Share your comments below.
About Dr. Natalie Baumgartner
Natalie Baumgartner is the Chief Workforce Scientist at Achievers. She has spent her career advising companies of all sizes, from entrepreneurial startups to Fortune 500 firms, on issues related to company culture. Specifically tackling key hire assessment and portfolio due diligence issues, she’s found success analyzing what most overlook – the human element. She holds a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology with a specific focus on assessment and additional training in strength-based psychology. Natalie serves on the board of the Consulting Psychology Division of the American Psychological Association. She is a popular speaker on culture and recently did a TEDx talk on the importance of culture fit. Natalie is a culture evangelist and is passionate about the power that culture fit has to revolutionize how we work. As an avid Boot Camp aficionado, if you can’t find Natalie in the office odds are good you’ll bump into her sprinting up mountains in her hometown of Denver, CO.
How can your company innovate fast enough to surpass the competition? And at the same time, what can you do to maximize the human aspect of the organization and create stability in execution? An agile organization could be the answer. Such structures have a 70 percent chance of being in the top quartile of organizational health, the best indicator of long-term performance. An agile firm uses change as an engagement factor. Such organizations empower employees to create value through autonomous creation and collaboration. And they all share a similar foundation: a culture of change. Below, I share three steps to create a culture of change that truly motivates and inspires.
Step 1: Promote Learning in the Workplace
Small targeted projects call for a learning-based culture. And according to Robert Half, “Businesses with a strong learning culture enjoy employee engagement and retention rates around 30 to 50 percent higher than those that don’t.”
When structured and executed well, learning and development can drive culture and business forward. We need to remember that employees want to learn, with 87 percent of millennials stating development is important in a job. Learning also reduces turnover. For example, did you know that 40 percent of employees who receive poor training and limited opportunities for development will leave their jobs within five years? By focusing on learning in the workplace, you’ll be able to see improve retention and improve culture.
A millennial workforce is driven by a strong sense of purpose. As a result, they expect transparent performance discussions based on real-time feedback. What happens to that feedback though? How can you take action on feedback and empower the employee? In her book Smart Tribes, Christine Comfort suggests performance motivation. She shares:
“Performance motivation results in intrinsic motivation within a supportive environment, because team members are empowered to understand their role, believe they are making a difference in their company and desire to bring their A-Game.”
Making sure employees connect the reality of today to a positive version of the future remains a challenge for their leaders. Change is hard, because it’s first an emotional experience. Leading beyond the now means accessing the inner resources required for human-centric leadership.
How do we do this? Mindfulness could be the answer towards creating more meaningful interactions. For instance, the introduction of Search Inside Yourself’s mindfulness program to SAP, a multinational software corporation, gave outstanding results. They reported a 200 percent return on investment through mindfulness in the workplace. Providing employees with tools to reduce stress, improve empathy and communication can increase employee engagement. A statistically significant increase in creativity and collaboration could be correlated directly to business outcomes as profits were boosted by 85 to 95 million euros.
In disruptive environments, it’s easy to sit on the edge of your comfort zone. An emotionally intelligent leader is all it takes to role model constructive change and motivate teams to spread a culture of efficiency and emotional agility.
I was able to attend ACE 2018, the leading employee engagement and recognition conference, and learn new takeaways and insights, including some of the above. If you are in HR and looking for a fun event that focuses on employee engagement, check out ACE 2019 which will be taking place on Sept. 10th-11th 2019 in Chicago. Register by Dec. 31st for 50% off.
Do you have any thoughts on this article? Share your comments below.
About the Author
Coralie Sawruk helps global organizations create efficient team dynamics. A people-person at heart, she believes the ultimate competitive advantage is created by the right talents working hand-in-hand, cheerfully. Coralie shares her insights on confident leadership and leading happy teams on her website. Get in touch on LinkedIn.
Meet Jacqueline Scafidi Employee Experience Specialist, Zurich North America
Jacqueline Scafidi is on a team that leads company efforts which examine and evolve the employee experience in the workplace. Through her role with Zurich North America, she takes a human-centered approach towards recognition and rewards, volunteering, and targeted ways to engage employees in their work environment. She began with her current team in 2010, when Zurich invested in a growing team dedicated to community investment and the full employee experience. Jacqueline finds fulfillment in contributing to creative workplaces that engage a diverse set of thoughts and strategies, and has a passion to provide an approachable and distinct service experience for the customer and fellow colleagues.
Her previous career incarnation included production stage management with the Chicago theatre community. Jacqueline was a graduate of Knox College in Galesburg, IL and feels love and support from her spouse, children, family and friends.
Let’s Take a Moment to Recognize Jacqueline
We want to take a moment to recognize Jacqueline for her accomplishments in employee engagement. Below, she answers a series of questions, providing advice for fellow HR professionals and sharing her personal story.
What interested you in a career in HR?
I’ve always had an interest in the study and behavior of people. What influences our choices and our behaviors? What intrinsically and externally will motivate someone? I began with a focus on the charitable efforts of the company and our employees – coordinating volunteering and fundraising efforts. In time I began to take on programs and initiatives related to broader employee engagement. More recently I took over efforts on building a culture of recognition with our rewards and recognition strategy and programs. I enjoy the variance of a job role in HR – it’s never quite the same day.
What is your biggest focus or goal when it comes to the employee experience?
People matter. They are a driving force behind the success of a culture and of a company. Our focus is to ensure that our people feel that they matter and feel supported by our culture and our business. We look to involve our people in the evolution of the employee experience through their feedback and by inviting them to solution-orientated working groups to improve.
What is your biggest culture challenge and how do you overcome it?
The rapid pace of change is one of the larger cultural challenges I think any organization faces today. Technology, processes, the definition of your job role – every aspect is open to a more efficient or innovative way of working.
To overcome the resistance to change it is important to communicate early and often, and to involve the users in the process from the beginning.
If you explain why change is happening and how it can positively affect someone, you are more likely to experience acceptance and adoption.
What is the key to boosting employee engagement across your organization?
The key to boosting employee engagement across the organization is the support of management teams. Early adopters will always exist in an organization, but there are a majority of individuals that look to the leaders around them. We all know senior leadership should be role models for the rest of the organization. It’s the support and investment of mid-level leadership that will help an organization cross the threshold to true engagement.
What is your favorite employee recognition moment at Zurich?
At Zurich, my favorite employee recognition moment occurs each year when we honor and celebrate our KAMP Leadership Award recipients. On September 11, 2001, Zurich North America lost four colleagues in the World Trade Center attacks: John Keohane, Peggy Alario, Kathy Moran and Lud Picarro. Since 2002, Zurich has celebrated their lives by presenting the KAMP Leadership Award to deserving employee leaders. KAMP is an acronym representing each of our colleagues’ last names, but it also serves as a reminder about Keeping A Meaningful Perspective, something each of those friends and colleagues exemplified in their lives. The KAMP Leadership Award is a tribute to their spirit of courage, dedication, integrity and passion. There is a sense of duty and humility when I get to steward this award and experience we provide our winners.
Where do you see the future of employee engagement heading?
I think the future of employee engagement is one that responds to the changing work environment and adapts to the needs of the employees. Companies have evolved to be interconnected on global scales, now we must look at how we stay connected with the advancement of a mobile workforce that works anywhere, anytime. Across industries we need to rethink what it means to be engaged with one another and how those interactions will continue to be meaningful. The bottom line is that engagement affects our business and if we aren’t evolving to this new way of engaging, success will be harder to reach.
What would be your top three pieces of advice for an HR professional who is looking to implement an employee engagement strategy at their organization?
#1: Be intentional and specific on what your strategy should accomplish.
#2: Embrace the ideas of your employees and have them be a part of shaping the outcome.
#3: Be ready to evolve and learn.
What’s next for Jacqueline? She and her team are doing some exciting work around the employee experience at Zurich. They’ve recently had the opportunity to listen to their employees in a more in-depth way and map out key moments that matter to their experiences from when they join to when they retire. These insights are allowing the Zurich team to take a deep, human-centered look at what contributes to their company’s culture and work environment and how they can continue to find ways to contribute enhancements.
About Zurich’s Recognition Program
Zurich’s employee recognition program, powered by Achievers, caters to 9,300 employees across North America. Since launch, the program has seen huge success, including 98.13% activation and 67.18% monthly active users. In the first half of 2018 alone, the program saw:
54% of employees received recognition
1,025,235 award points given
76,784 sent recognitions
1,120 mobile recognitions
24,249 boosted recognitions
To learn more about the award-winning platform that powers Zurich’s recognition program, sign up for a demo of Achievers today.
Do you have any thoughts on this article? Share your comments below.
About the Author Kellie Wong is a Content Marketing Manager for Achievers. She manages The Engage Blog and produces a range of marketing content. In addition to being the final editor of all blog content for The Engage Blog, she also manages and maintains relationships with 45+ writing contributors. Connect with Kellie on LinkedIn.
“The voyage of discovery is not in seeking new landscapes, but new eyes.” – Marcel Proust
They call it the Silicon Valley of the North. And with good reason.
Understanding that Toronto has been driving innovation and charting the future of tech, Achievers chose to host its ACE 2018 conference in the city it calls home. The Six, as it is affectionately called by residents, quietly emerged as the fastest-growing tech-jobs market in 2017. The boom has positioned the city as a worldwide leader in the tech scene, outpacing historically tech heavy cities such as San Francisco, Seattle and New York and emerging as fertile ground for the future of technological innovation.
In the shadow of the iconic CN Tower, HR professionals and a diverse range of thought leaders gathered to accelerate the conversation around employee engagement, recognition and how technology is shaping the future of human resources. Furthermore, Achievers announced the 2018 Top Category Winners for the Most Engaged Workplaces Award and the Elite 8: organizations that are pushing the boundaries of workplace engagement.
From the elegant and modern Delta Hotel by Marriott, the gathering kicked off with an important announcement from Achievers’ Chief Workforce Scientist Dr. Natalie Baumgartner, who unveiled the The Workforce Institute and its commitment to changing the way the world works through academic research and engagement science. Through the initiative, Achievers will source, curate, conduct and translate workforce science into simple, accessible content available to the public through research-driven institute studies and insight papers. As the world rapidly evolves and changes, the aim is to stay ahead of the curve with reliable sources and cutting-edge technology.
With an eye to the future, the ACE 2018 conference was graced with numerous thought leaders who outlined not only how drastically the HR space has changed in recent years, but also where it is going. To this end, the breakout sessions began with futurist and best-selling author Brian David Johnson highlighting the tectonic shifts in the workplace. The conversation was focused on what the forward-thinking companies of today can do to disrupt, mitigate and recover from the obstacles standing in the way of their unified success. Weaving together disparate stands from areas such as cultural history, social science and economics, Mr. Johnson fashioned a poignant and compelling argument for organizations to not just note the radical evolution of the workplace, but to embrace it. Through focused, strategic planning, the tech savvy company of today can harness the power of AI and focus on the new realities captivating the imaginations of the current great workforce: millennials.
Through this useful lens, various ACE 2018 keynote speakers identified and explained obstacles and strategies for us to enable employees to be both engaged and efficient. One crucial strategy is to improve communication within organizations. Communication and human nature expert Celeste Headlee focused on the science behind having better conversations in the workplace. All too often, the constant influx of external stimuli distracts and derails our conversations, creating costly instances of miscommunication. Furthermore, the inexorable wave of millennials entering the workforce has profoundly changed the way we communicate in business settings. Through active listening we, as small communities and large organizations, can find better ways to collaborate and engage in a positive way with the new workplace dynamics.
To that end, day two keynote speaker Neil Pasricha spoke of the power of positive psychology and the neuroscience that underpins it all. A combination of science-based research and humorous personal stories and anecdotes helped him foreground the importance of positive employees on your teams. Flipping the conventional wisdom that motivation leads to action, the discussion fleshed out that it is actually the other way around: action leads to motivation; positive work leads to happiness. Driving the point home, Mr. Pasricha highlighted that it is never too late to take action. Regardless of the barriers you imagine are in the way, taking the time to put happiness first, personally and professionally, will lead to positive action that will feed off itself and drive the changes you require.
Similarly, Tiffany Dufu spoke about the ever-evolving workplace and how female millennials are an underutilized cohort in our modern workplaces. In a poignant discussion relevant to all millennials (male, female, et al.) the organizations that are best equipped to leverage the success of the shift workplace are those who provide support for working families. From her best-selling book, Drop The Ball, Dufu focused on the importance of achieving more by doing less. Ambitious organizations and employees would do well to reevaluate their expectations and acknowledge that to have it all, we do not necessarily need to do it all. By embracing imperfection, we can focus on what we truly care about: achieving real goals and creating rich and rewarding lives.
All of this leads to one fundamental question shared by all attendees: How do we captivate the workforce of tomorrow? The answer revealed itself to be: By listening to what they have to say, today. Through this, we can prepare ourselves for the new realities of the future. Creating and embracing that future requires a beautiful confluence of reality and imagination. The 2018 Achievers Customer Experience managed to strike the perfect balance, exposing attendees to the evidenced-based reality we work within and the next generation of HR. In many ways, the conference embodied the future we all desire: one that is optimistic and ours for the making. The future is not some distant unobtainable entity beyond our comprehension. The future is right now. Today. The future is in our people.
About the Author Darren Savage is currently a Customer Success Manager who works out of Achievers’ Toronto office. Prior to his arrival at Achievers, Darren was a journalist for various publications in the Greater Toronto Area. He left the profession to explore the world before transitioning into a sales role where he provided immersive educational experiences through travel for high school students. He now manages a diverse portfolio at Achievers where he helps his clients develop successful employee engagement programs.