What is the impact of engagement in the workplace and how do you measure engagement?
Engagement in the workplace is where employees are willing to give their best at work. In other words, they give discretionary effort. The theory behind this is that businesses perform better when they have engaged employees. We looked at this in our last blog (What is the state of employee engagement in 2018?)
Is this the experience of HR professionals at the coalface, though? This is a question that a survey from the website HR.com sought to answer. The survey involved speaking to HR professionals and those with HR responsibilities in a range of organisations.
One of the key findings of the survey is that most organisations don’t have high levels of engagement in the workplace so can make improvements. What is the impact of making those improvements, though?
The impact of engagement in the workplace
The response from survey participants couldn’t be clearer, as 91 percent believe there is solid evidence that links engagement in the workplace to business performance. This figure can be seen in a report produced by HR.com based on the survey’s findings.
While this finding is interesting, the report’s authors say it doesn’t address the question of whether engagement in the workplace directly improves business performance or is simply associated with it. This is because factors that improve engagement will also improve performance.
That said, the survey did go further to discover the performance indicators that respondents thought most affected engagement in the workplace. Productivity and customer service came out on top with 80 percent and 79 percent of respondents respectively saying engagement has a high or very high impact on these performance indicators.
In fact, two-thirds or more of the survey respondents said engagement has a high or very high impact on other performance indicators too, including product quality, company brand, and financial performance.
In addition, the survey found an even clearer link between business performance and engagement in the workplace. Of companies who have highly engaged employees, 62 percent were in the top quartile of financial performers. When it comes to organisations with lower levels of engagement, only 40 percent are in the top quartile of financial performers.
How do organisations measure engagement?
Results from the survey confirm the theory that engagement in the workplace is at least linked to business performance, and it probably plays a direct role too. To improve rates of engagement, however, organisations need to measure their current position. So, how do organisations measure engagement?
Surprisingly, 47 percent don’t measure engagement in the workplace at all. This is despite many of those same organisations believing it is linked to business performance. That said, organisations with greater numbers of employees are more likely to measure engagement.
The authors of the report offer suggestions as to why so many organisations don’t measure engagement:
- Small organisations may believe they understand levels of engagement without the need for formal measuring tools as senior managers are more directly in touch with all levels of employee
- Organisations with low levels of engagement don’t want to highlight the fact
- Organisations might not have the measuring or reporting tools, or the capabilities, required to measure engagement
Methods of measuring engagement
Of the organisations that do measure engagement, surveys are the most common method of collecting the information – 77 percent of organisations use surveys. Other methods of measuring engagement include exit interviews (52 percent), one-on-one meetings (45 percent), and analysing retention rates (42 percent).
The authors of the report described the use of exit interviews to measure engagement as “troubling” as it is difficult to create conditions where the employee is comfortable telling the truth. They also express concern at the use of passive methods of measurement such as customer satisfaction or productivity.
That said, over 80 percent of respondents said they use multiple methods to measure engagement in the workplace.
In terms of frequency, 42 percent of organisations formally measure engagement once a year while nine percent measuring continuously. Organisations that are highly engaged are more likely to measure continuously than organisations with lower engagement rates.
So, what are the takeaways from the report? Firstly, there is a link between engagement in the workplace and business performance. Secondly, measuring success is important, as demonstrated by the fact that those with the best levels of engagement continuously monitor and measure.