What is Employee Engagement and how do we measure it?

What does Employee Engagement mean to you?

I am willing to bet your answer contains the words commitment and motivated, infers performance and mentions understanding of objectives or the business context.

The slide below is from a survey we conducted amongst HR managers and directors in colleges across the UK. It shows a word cloud of the answers to “What does Employee Engagement mean to you?” Are your words in there?

Word cloud of answers to: what does employee engagement mean to you

There are a ton of definitions about what employee engagement is. The general aim is simply about …

“How we create the conditions in which employees offer more of their capability and potential”
David Macleod Co-Chair, Engage for Success

For clarity, most of the time, when we talk about being engaged at work we mean engaged with the bigger picture – getting the job done, delivering great service, etc. We don’t mean being engaged in one small part of the job (e.g. a specific task).

Personally, I don’t think it is necessary to have a single, definitive description of Employee Engagement that everyone adheres to. What fits your organisation and your leadership team’s view is perfect (for you). As long as it is understood and people get it, the definition works.

Once we agree what we mean by employee engagement, we can begin to measure it.

What does an engaged employee look like?

So we need to convert our definition into something that we can observe. For example, an engaged employee enjoys coming to work, feels valued and has a high(er) sense of pride about both what they do and working for their employer. This sense of purpose is important (otherwise why bother?) but critically, the individual also understands the company/organisation’s objectives and works towards these goals.

These traits/behaviours/feelings are ‘outcomes’ (at Surveylab we call them ‘measures’) and we can look for these ‘outcomes’ in our survey very easily:

Employee Survey Screenshot

That’s it! Now we have a measure of employee engagement…

From here, we can ask other questions (about teamwork, communications, leadership and so on) to understand what influences engagement in our workforce. The basic foundations are the same between organisations, but each workplace is unique – different cultures, different people, approaches, leadership styles, different challenges…

Can we help?

Surveylab has been helping organisations measure, understand and develop employee engagement since 2004. We are passionate about our work and love helping others make a positive impact in their workplace – contact us today.

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