What is New About Employee Engagement?
What is engagement? Let’s briefly define that. Here is one definition from my friend Leigh Branham, who wrote a new book called, “Re-Engage.” It can be defined as a strong “emotional and intellectual connection that an employee has with their job or organization or boss and that in turn influences the employee to apply additional discretionary effort to his or her work.” The engagement survey helps the company gather data from employees to see how committed they might be and how they see their work effort.
One survey used by Intuit, a very successful software firm, uses Engagement survey items such as “being proud to work for the company, or motivated to go beyond what is expected” to measure how engaged their employees are. They found that highly engaged employees are 1.3 times more likely to be high performers than less engaged employees and five times less likely to leave the company voluntarily.
The aim of this process of collecting employee input should produce insight into how “motivated” your employees are to produce great outcomes. Those outcomes could be delighting customers, or being innovative or meeting goals. We want to know if employees will go “the extra mile” for you. We suggest that the Engagement survey should cover the following areas:
Satisfaction with the job or organization
Commitment to the work, supervisor or organization
Willing to encourage a friend to join the company, be an advocate of the firm
A few sample statements in a survey might be the following; “I am satisfied with this company as a place to work or in my work unit; you can feel the high energy and excitement; or my manager inspires the best in people.” The data from these questions gives the company a great platform upon which they can facilitate dialogue with managers and employees to determine what might be getting in the way of satisfaction or what is working well.
My colleague, Margaret Walker, of FutureSense states, “ an engagement survey helps you identify the gaps” and “creates an opportunity for employees to participate in explaining the gaps and developing improvement plans.” Aim for 75% employee participation in a survey during the first year. Once you have the data, it is important not to be quick to judge. This is one piece of information regarding the health of the organization. The senior management team or a project team will be assigned to oversee this effort and lead employee focus group discussions. Our experience shows that an organization can see results and behavior changes within 6 -9 months with focused work on the areas needing improvement. My last suggestion is not to start this survey process unless your organization is committed to acting on the data and maintaining open communication regarding change initiatives. It is a highly effective way to know how your employees view their work and company.