How to Measure Employee Engagement in the Flow of Work

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    The question of how to measure employee engagement is on many employers’ minds. How do you determine who is fully invested in the success of the company, or who is collaborating with their co-workers most effectively? Fortunately, advancements in technology are making it easier for business to measure employee engagement and take meaningful action based on their findings.

    In an article for Forbes, Deloitte founder Josh Bersin proposes several technologies intended to measure employee engagement. Some are products designed to get a quick pulse of the employee population; some delve deeper into the employee’s engagement – but all are designed to track engagement directly. Bersin calls employee feedback “the killer app.”

    Many of the systems Bersin considers in the article are designed to provide quick data points based on simple questions (for example, “How are you feeling about work?”). They are “mood monitors.” The argument is that the quick, anonymous feedback is helpful because it gives employees a voice and gives management a view into how their employees are feeling.

    But are these tools the right way to truly measure employee engagement?

    I suggest that they are not – that while they are helpful for getting to employee sentiment, they do not get to the heart of employee engagement for two main reasons.

    First, most of the tools do not offer the most important element of the feedback loop: the why. While it’s helpful to know that 65 percent of employees in an organization rated their current mood with a frowny face, determining how to turn that frown upside down requires additional effort and further exploration that necessarily involves direct feedback from previously anonymous sources.

    Second, tools like those suggested in the article require employees to stop what they’re working on, consider their current mood, reflect on how their response will be perceived by the company, and choose how to respond. These surveys are less adept at capturing how an employee is engaged in the work.

    And isn’t engagement in work the point?

    Tools employees use daily – CRM tools, the company’s social intranet, and other solutions – need to help HR and others within an organization measure employee engagement by providing engagement statistics.

    For example, if the company has a good social intranet, they can measure many areas of engagement. Some metrics simply show how engaged employees are with the intranet itself, but others demonstrate engagement with the company. Review your intranet’s analytics to answer the following questions:

    • How engaged are employees (overall and individually) with the intranet?
    • Are they posting? How frequently?
    • Are they posting solely what they are told to post or are they creating social posts in the flow of work?
    • Are they consuming content? How frequently?
    • Are they using the intranet to be more successful in their jobs?

    Many social intranets allow companies to measure employee engagement in this way today – and there are opportunities for companies to measure engagement within other tools as well, such as a company’s CRM system. In doing so, companies get a far richer understanding of employee behavior.

    The future of employee engagement reporting may not be tool designed to measure engagement but one that aggregates data from many sources – from an intranet, CRM system, and the mood monitors described in Bersin’s article. Combining data from these sources provides employers with even more in-depth understanding of employee engagement.

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