Successful Employee Engagement: Ways to Implement and Measure

How employees feel about their work is important, since they spend such a large part of their life in the workplace. A 2013 study by Gallup found that nearly two-thirds of American workers are not engaged in their work, and nearly one-quarter are “actively disengaged.”

Disengaged workers are the ones eyeing opportunities elsewhere – if you’re lucky. If they stay on and remain disengaged, they can play a major role in reducing overall productivity, which costs American businesses around $500 billion per year.

It’s in everyone’s best interest to have a fully engaged workforce, because studies have long shown that employee engagement correlates with important metrics like profitability, employee turnover, safety, and customer satisfaction. If one of your goals this year is to implement a successful employee engagement initiative, here are some ways to measure employee engagement and get everyone on board with the proposed improvements.

How Do You Measure Employee Engagement?

Measuring employee engagement has many similarities to measuring customer engagement. Methods may include focus groups, anecdotal data, surveys, and social communities. Tracking employee turnover also provides information about employee engagement and helps companies focus on retaining employees for the right reasons. Whether on a survey, on a questionnaire, or in a phone conversation, engaged employees are able to affirm several important work qualities:

  • They know what’s expected of them
  • They believe their opinions matter
  • They have the tools and materials necessary to do their work
  • They believe their work plays a role in the overall mission of the company
  • They are presented with regular opportunities to excel
  • There is an overall organizational commitment to excellent work
  • They are regularly thanked or recognized for their contributions

Clear Expectations Are Indispensable

Without clear expectations and consistent communication, engagement initiatives can’t gain traction. Setting expectations, but failing to take steps to engage employees is just as bad. When employees feel like they’re ignored or when they have no firm idea of what’s expected of them, it’s only natural that their productivity will drop. By that point, you’re already losing money, and if they don’t re-engage, you’ll lose whatever you’ve invested in those employees.

How Technology Can Help with Employee Engagement

Employees don’t necessarily have to be at their desk to be engaged on a productive level.

Technology has revolutionized just about everything else in the workplace, so it’s logical that it can have a strong, positive effect on employee engagement. Utilize mobile technology is a good example of a tool for keeping employees interested and engaged.

For example, gamification can be particularly appealing for training and participation in team-building activities by delivering challenges and frequent rewards for overcoming them. Technology can also be used to streamline communication among team members. You can even collect data from your technological implementations to quickly learn what works well and where improvement is needed.

For Tech to Work Well, It Must Be Part of a Motivating Environment

As powerful as it is, tech alone is far from sufficient for increasing employee engagement. Your team also needs the fundamentals: a comfortable, inviting workspace with the tools they need readily available, certainty that their work counts for something, opportunities for advancement, continued training, and regular displays of appreciation in addition to their paychecks. None of these has to be difficult or expensive. Saying “Thank you” in the course of an ordinary day rather than only at the company holiday party costs nothing and makes a difference. Likewise, letting employees know that they’re doing more than just trying to increase sales, but are providing something valuable that improves the quality of life is another enabler of better engagement.

Authenticity Must Underlie Employee Engagement Efforts

In order to succeed, employee engagement initiatives must arise out of authenticity. If employees suspect that the latest engagement initiative is just another management fad or higher-ups throwing every improvement process against the wall to see what sticks, they’ll see right through it. It’s important that executives not be sequestered away from everyone else, and that those at the top of the organizational chart practice what they preach as well.

Ideally, employee engagement starts on an employee’s first day at work (and not with a huge stack of forms and endless PowerPoint decks to get through), and continues for as long as that person is with your company.

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