Employee engagement is the extent to which employees enjoy doing their job and their level of commitment to their employer organization and its goals. Employee engagement is different from employee satisfaction – the latter merely measures whether or not employees are satisfied with their work. It doesn’t capture their motivation, emotional commitment, and involvement. Satisfaction can mean passively collecting a paycheck while doing the bare minimum to get by. Both of these metrics are challenging to measure, and for a long time, the employee engagement survey has been a core part of staying on top of employee engagement.
What Is an Employee Engagement Survey?
Measuring your team’s engagement is critical, because engagement is directly correlated with performance. Historically, employee engagement surveys have been explicitly designed to measure performance, competency, and how your employees are motivated each day to achieve the organization's goals. These surveys can help you gain insights into employees' thoughts and attitudes towards their day-to-day roles in the organization. In addition, they can help you identify areas that might be hindering your employees from performing their best.
However, engagement surveys must be statistically benchmarked and validated by other organizations if they are to give you helpful insights. Without this, it might be not be possible to know what you are measuring and if the results will be beneficial or not.
Should You Do an Employee Engagement Survey?
An employee engagement survey can help you understand what drives your organization and what hinders your employees from performing at their best. They help companies know if they are successfully keeping their employees satisfied and engaged.
That being said, engagement surveys might not always be the best way to measure engagement. No matter how many surveys you run, the result might fail to reveal anything that helps you to learn about your employees or the organization's core issues. You can only get valuable insights from employee engagement surveys when you ask the right questions.
More Effective Alternatives to Employee Engagement Surveys
A recent study suggests that employee engagement surveys are not very effective, that most organizations don’t act upon data from them, and that many organizations look for engagement data from sources other than formal surveys. In short, organizations can stand to make some changes to the way they measure employee engagement. Consider the following alternatives to employee engagement surveys.
Some organizations use voice-of-the-customer concepts such as social network analysis, sentiment analysis (see more on this one below), social recognition, and feedback channels to collect more insights into employees' behaviors, attitudes, and opinions to produce a complete voice-of-the-employee.
Semantic analysis, data mining, machine learning, and natural language processing are among the emerging techniques that HR leaders can apply to written and unwritten data to gain insights into employee behavior, sentiments, and predictive actions. These insights can help organizations detect signs of employee disengagement and identify risks and opportunities from changes in employees' behaviors and actions.
Social Analytical Tools
Although these tools are still at the early stages of adoption, they analyze relationships between individuals, leveraging interactions like corporate social networks, email communications, and observation of employee interactions. They can alert organizations to declining employee interactions and isolated people, which might signal problems in the workforce. Social analytical tools do not produce employee engagement scores but rather produce feedback on specific questions, thereby providing valuable insights.
Employee Sentiment Analytics
Sentiment analytics analyzes employee engagement, intent and attitude through employee communications across emails, text messages, blogs, surveys, and other discussion platforms. This helps identify problems at a high level and anticipate conflict before it happens.
Measure Resilience, not Engagement
It may also be that engagement is not the most helpful metric for employers to measure. Consider instead measuring team resilience: the ability of employees to respond to change and challenge with optimism, flexibility, and an attitude of learning. Resilient teams maintain their productivity at work regardless of challenges because they are committed to one another as well as to helping the organization achieve its goals. Generally speaking, resilient team members support one another in the pursuit of common goals, are highly motivated, and can bounce back quickly when derailed by challenges.
Team resilience can be a good related measure or alternative to employee engagement, since correctly measuring it means keeping track of direction, connection, alignment, performance, and attitude – which together are more precise indicators of real-time team success than engagement alone.
Using surveys to measure employee engagement can leave leaders confused about what the next best step is after getting results. Management teams might have ideas for improvements after the survey, but knowing which idea will bring improvement to employee engagement is often a guessing game.
Pairing engagement data with deeper measures, like team resilience, offers leaders a chance to focus on specific attributes and gives clear direction for improvement. For example, you might find your team is doing very well in the connection or alignment dimension, but underperforming in the attitude and performance dimensions. Being able to specify these clear targets for improvement means your team will be more likely to achieve the goal.
Better Measurement Means Better Results
High employee engagement is essential to driving innovation, growth and exceptional performance. Engaged employees are highly productive and work hard to help organizations achieve their goals. Measuring employee engagement and team resilience across your organization can help you better understand your employees' needs and support their development as skilled and collaborative team members who work well together to achieve the desired results.
Wouldn't you want to develop engaged and resilient teamwork to drive results at your organization? Learn more about RallyBright’s team performance platform.