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Half of employees in the United States are not engaged. That means that half of your workforce may not be “involved in, enthusiastic about, and committed to their work and workplace.” Disengaged workers are not as productive as their engaged counterparts, and it’s impacting your business’ bottom line.

Measuring employee engagement, uncovering your opportunities to improve it, and acting on feedback are crucial in today’s competitive talent landscape. Employees who don’t feel connected to your company can easily find another opportunity. But employees who are willing to go above and beyond can make a stronger impact than several disengaged employees put together.

3 Ways to Start Measuring Employee Engagement:

1. Manager check ins

Managers are well suited for measuring employee engagement, because they can get to know each employee individually. They can sense whether an employee is giving it their all, or simply going through the motions to collect a paycheck. Their feedback provides you with qualitative data around your employee engagement rate and how to improve it.

Managers should begin regular check ins during the employee onboarding process, and extend them throughout the employee lifecycle. It’s important that they ask their employees how they’re doing, if they’re happy in their role, and if the role is what they expected. Managers should also learn what their employees want from their role and from the company. Put feedback loops in place to ensure this information makes it up to company leadership so you can measure employee engagement and take steps to improve it.

Ask managers who their most engaged employees are, and conduct stay interviews with those employees to learn what makes them engaged. Is it employee recognition? Do they have a career roadmap and development plan they’re excited about? Double down in those areas. Then use surveys to measure how those things impact employee engagement for the rest of your workforce.

2. Employee engagement surveys

Employee engagement surveys are a great way to gather a lot of quantitative data.

Try conducting a company-wide employee engagement survey at least once per year. If you can get strong participation, consider conducting it twice a year—or even quarterly.

Increase participation by explaining why you’re conducting the survey, and what you will do with the information collected. Let your team know that you want happy employees who can bring their best selves to work, and that you want to know how you can help them do that. Tell them their feedback will be taken seriously. Share some feedback at an all-hands meeting, along with your plan to address it. Then implement changes. Employees will be happy to continue providing feedback when it’s being used to improve the workplace. As an added bonus, this level of transparency is great for fostering further engagement.

Design questions using the “hunt and peck” method with your managers. Discuss what contributes to high employee engagement on their teams. Then use your survey to learn what the rest of the company thinks about those things. For instance, a star performer may be highly engaged because they frequently receive recognition, and are compensated well. Use your survey to ask, “How often do you receive recognition, praise, or rewards for a job well done?” and “Do you feel you’re compensated fairly for the work you do?” An entry-level employee may be highly engaged because they have a great professional development plan, so they can envision their future at the company. Ask, “How satisfied are you with your employee development plan?” and “Can you see yourself working here in 3 years?”

Ask questions with multiple-choice answers so it’s easier to measure engagement and progress. You can leave an optional text box below each question to allow employees to explain their answers.

3. Pulse surveys

Pulse surveys are usually much shorter than employee engagement surveys, typically between one and 15 questions. This smaller time commitment means they can also be done more frequently, with some companies doing them weekly. Pulse surveys can help you measure your employee engagement levels from week-to-week and month-to-month, between your larger surveys. They can also help you track progress in key focus areas.

Let’s say your engagement survey found that employees are largely dissatisfied with their managers. A pulse survey can help you get to the bottom of that dissatisfaction. For instance, you can ask, “Does your manager respect you as a person and as a professional?” and “Does your manager provide you with enough recognition?”

If you find that the answer to either of those questions is “no,” look for patterns and take action. Do all of the people answering “no” have the same manager? Are they all from underrepresented groups? Or are they spread throughout the company? Little things like a Praise Wall can go a long way in increasing employee engagement, or a company-wide unconscious bias training may be in order.

Final thoughts on measuring employee engagement

Companies with high employee engagement have 17 percent higher productivity, 24-59 percent lower turnover, and 21 percent higher profitability. Investing in employee engagement is definitely a worthwhile endeavor. But so many things impact engagement, including managers, peers, recognition, compensation, benefits, and work-life balance. Measuring employee engagement helps you drill down into the areas that need improvement, and helps you track and report on your progress.

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