8 Ways to measure employee engagement (and 1 way not to)

Key takeaways from this article: Improving employee engagement is only possible if it is being consistently sorted, responded to and measured. Continuous feedback provides to be a fantastic tool to track whether employee engagement is improving or deteriorating. Monitoring how employees are tracking on their goals can show how engagement impacts productivity. We’ve updated this […]


Key takeaways from this article:

  1. Improving employee engagement is only possible if it is being consistently sorted, responded to and measured.

  2. Continuous feedback provides to be a fantastic tool to track whether employee engagement is improving or deteriorating.

  3. Monitoring how employees are tracking on their goals can show how engagement impacts productivity.

We’ve updated this blog for August 2019 with two new ways to measure employee engagement. Enjoy!

Recently on the Insights blog we discussed some hard evidence on employee engagement and how it can have real bottom-line impact on an organization.

This is great to know, but of course, we can’t work to improve engagement if we aren’t measuring it consistently. This is why many organizations haven’t been able to prioritize engagement in the past. Luckily, with the technology available today, tools like sentiment analysis, keyword analysis and automated continuous feedback make it easy to establish an engagement framework and consistently measure your employee engagement. Now every organization can be empowered to understand how engaged their employees are, and work to improve engagement over time.

On that note, we want to address one method for measuring employee engagement that should definitely be discarded.

How not to measure employee engagement

Traditional employee engagement Surveys

Yes, really. We know this is against the grain, but we also know traditional annual or bi-annual employee engagement surveys simply don’t work for their intended purpose.

The major problem with traditional engagement surveys is they are infrequent, long-winded, and frankly annoying for staff to complete. This results in a low adoption rate, providing low quality (and outdated) data. It also fails to provide any relevant insights for leaders to act on. Once employees see the lack of results, they lose faith in the value of surveys and the cycle continues. At worst, engagement surveys can actually have a negative impact on engagement and morale!

So now that we’ve looked at how not to measure employee engagement: let’s look at some more effective ways to gather and interpret employee engagement data, as well as show you the root causes of these results so you can act on them.

How to measure employee engagement

1. Gather continuous feedback

In order to get insights out, you need to first capture the right information. Having a Continuous Feedback process in place to take light input from employees on a monthly basis will provide far more relevant insights than an annual employee engagement survey.

By sending a quick pulse form to staff each month to see how they are going, you can give your people the opportunity to give feedback on things like how they are progressing towards their goals, if they need additional training or support, what they have been achieving, and more. These answers help to identify areas that may be adding or detracting from engagement levels.

Of course, it’s one thing to have this information available, but how can these large sums of data be effectively analyzed and understood? This is where analytics tools come into play.

2. Use happiness analytics

Happiness Analytics is one analytics tool offered through intelliHR that will help to breakdown and understand the insights gathered through continuous feedback, so action can be taken.

Through your continuous feedback pulses, include a question asking employees to rate their happiness in their role on a scale from 1-10 (10 being the happiest). Under the Happiness Analytics dashboard in intelliHR, you’ll then be able to track average happiness over time, and break down happiness scores among different teams, business units, pay grades, locations and more.

Here we can see that the IT department was having a consistent drop in happiness ratings from August through to October but then saw considerable uplift in November! Later in this blog we’ll look further into how the reasons behind this can be identified.

How to Measure Employee Engagement

Asking employees to rate their happiness is one simple question that staff can answer in a single click, but it gathers a whole host of invaluable insights. You’re able to learn what is making your staff happy or unhappy, identifying trends and sudden changes. Importantly, the process of responding helps to quickly build trust and becomes the foundation of a virtuous engagement cycle.

3. Check happiness keywords

To take Happiness Analytics one step further, we can also look at Happiness Keywords. The Happiness Keywords tool uses AI to analyze responses from employees, highlighting significant words or phrases that are impacting on happiness levels in your organization. This not only helps leaders to understand the causes impacting on happiness, but also manage them proactively.

Revisiting our earlier example on the IT department, let’s look at Happiness Keywords to see what common themes may be behind the recent uplift in overall happiness.

How to Measure Employee Engagement

In this case, the Happiness Keywords tool has shown us that happiness recently increased thanks to the energy from a recent influx of new starters joining the team.

We can also look at a real life example from an intelliHR customer. Using the happiness analytic for the first time, one CEO saw comments about low inventory levels and noticed these complaints were coming from frontline staff. After doing some investigation in the raw feedback, they were able to ascertain the company was in fact, not holding enough stock. Knowing this, they then increased their stock levels and consequently had a record year in sales – all thanks to one small insight that otherwise may have gone unnoticed.

how to measure employee engagement

4. Monitor goal progress

Another measure of employee engagement can be how people are progressing towards their goals. Consistent stagnation or lack of progress could signal disengagement or frustrating roadblocks, while a cohort that’s hitting their goals again and again is a good sign of an engaged and motivated workforce. After all, engaged employees are 31% more productive, according to the University of California.

When tracking goals in intelliHR, you’ll have automatic access to analytics dashboards breaking down goal performance across teams, supervisors, location and more. In this example, we can see that goal progress is lagging behind, and this could be a sign of suffering engagement rates, which can be investigated by looking into continuous feedback responses to determine reasons behind this. Another area where these reasons can be identified in intelliHR is in the goal comments section. Every goal set in this system has a comment thread section where managers and their direct reports can liaise on how goals are going and uncover any roadblocks that could be affecting this.

But what about large organizations or big teams? It’s just not always possible to manually read through all goal comments or all feedback responses for every single employee.

The good news is simply, you don’t need to do that at all. Which is where our next tool comes in.

5. Track team sentiment

Historically, it has always been relatively simple to analyze large chunks or quantitative data like a happiness rating from 1-10, but finding trends in qualitative data like written responses on surveys wasn’t always as easy. This is now possible with the growing accessibility of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and one way intelliHR has harnessed this is through its Sentiment Analysis tool.

Sentiment analysis uses AI to determine the emotional tone behind different words and phrases in what employees are saying in continuous feedback, goal comments, performance management records, diary notes and most other forms completed through the system.

Sentiment is one measure of employee engagement in that it shows how positive or negative staff are feeling as well as exposing the root causes of this. In this example, we can see trends in average employee sentiment over time.

It’s also possible to drill down to the source data and see where these positive or negative scores have been measured from.

6. Monitor task completion

So all of the above sounds great, but what if staff won’t even engage with your feedback? The first sign of this is the Task Completion analytic, which shows the average response time for different types of online-issued check-ins, as well as what’s being ignored. This can then be broken down by Business Unit, Supervisor, Pay Grade, and the type of check-in (form design) itself to find trends.

This will allow HR and individual managers to personally respond to and understand the reasons why tasks are being left incomplete. From here, we can begin to gain an understanding of why people aren’t engaging, and then offer guidance on how they can benefit from engaging in feedback. This is an opportunity to build trust and ensure all staff get an equal opportunity to benefit from having their say.

measure employee engagement

7. Look at productivity

Ideally, you’ll want to pick up on drops in engagement well before they start having an impact on productivity, but this is another measure we can look at in combination with other metrics to get a holistic view of engagement.

We know that companies with engaged employees pull in 2.5 times more revenue compared to competitors with low engagement levels, and disengaged employees make 60% more errors, so it’s fair to say there is a natural correlation between engagement and productivity.

Of course, there can be many other factors that lead to low productivity like lacking resources, poor health or absenteeism among others, but if productivity has dropped, it is worth investigating if declining engagement has been a factor in this. Using the tools covered above will aid in this.

Likewise, if productivity has increased, you may want to uncover the driving force behind this to ensure it continues.

8. Consider attrition reasons

Almost 8 in 10 employees said they’re likely to leave in search of another position after just one bad day on the job.

Addison Group

After productivity loss, the ultimate price for lacking employee engagement is attrition. While we definitely recommend taking more proactive measures to monitor engagement before it results in staff leaving, if you haven’t been monitoring engagement previously, this is definitely worth taking a look at. Attrition Reasons will tell you why employees left and can provide insight into problems that may be leading to disengagement.

Understanding these drivers may impact how you approach engagement with your team, particularly at certain stages of tenure. For example, if you have a higher than normal loss of new team members you may need to review your onboarding approach, perhaps increasing feedback opportunities during the probationary period so you can better understand if new team members are facing any issues.

how to measure employee engagement

Now that you know how to measure employee engagement, you might also want to start thinking about employee experience. We recently explored this here on the Insights blog.