A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog post in response to a post by Josh Bersin on employee engagement. In his post, Bersin does a terrific job of arguing that employee engagement is paramount to company success and explaining what today’s employees need to feel engaged.
At the end of my response, I suggested that an extension of the conversation could be around technologies to measure (and perhaps improve) employee engagement. DATE, Bersin wrote a well reasoned follow up that does in fact just that. In it, 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 – is the employee happy or not at the time they are asked. 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 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% 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 the work they are doing, consider their current mood, reflect on how their response will be perceived by the company, and choose how to respond. They are less adept at capturing how an employee is engaged in the work.
And isn’t that 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 understand employee engagement by providing engagement statistics.
For example, if the company has a good social intranet, they can measure many areas of engagement. Some simply show how engaged they are with the intranet itself, but others demonstrate engagement with the company:
- 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 is opportunity 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 engagement.
The future of employee engagement measurement may not be tool to measure engagement but one that aggregates data from many sources – from intranet, CRM system, and the mood monitors described in Bersin’s post to provide an even more in depth measurement of employee engagement.
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