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Employee Engagement Metrics: The Last Guide HR Will Ever Need

04 March
by Aley Brown
7 minute read

If you're an HR professional in the modern era, I bet a thousand dollars that you’re strategy includes focusing on employee engagement. (But don’t hold me to that bet, I don’t want to go broke!)

And if you are focusing on employee engagement, I’m sure you want to know how to test if your strategies are actually working. Enter: employee engagement metrics.

After listening to our audience, we found that there was an increased appetite for knowledge on how to measure all of the different strategies, initiatives, and programs your HR teams are implementing to improve employee engagement.

The hard part about measuring employee engagement is that employee engagement is subjective for each employee. So it can be very hard to measure.

Employee Engagement Metrics

Thus the need for a list of employee engagement metrics that you regularly collect data on, and then check for improvements over a certain cadence. This is really the only way to guarantee that you will have data on how your strategy is performing.

So, what employee engagement metrics should you be tracking? We will cover the following in this blog:

  1. Development and Growth
  2. Satisfaction/Happiness
  3. Employer Brand
  4. Strength of Work Relationships
  5. Communication
  6. Appreciation
  7. Health

Now that you know all of the metrics, let’s hop in…

Employee Engagement Metrics: Are you growing?

When we talk about growth, we mean everything besides your actual height (I’m 5 foot 6 inches, thanks for asking).

You should assess your employees skill levels, knowledge of relevant topics, and their competence in certain areas of their field.

So, how do you do this?

There are several different ways. The first includes asking them questions in a survey, where they do a self assessment around their growth.

You can ask them questions like:

  • Do you feel that your skills have improved in the last year?
  • Are you getting the growth you need from (company name)?
  • Do you feel that your skills and knowledge are in alignment with people in your position throughout your field?

I could go on with the questions, but you get the point. The answer to these questions will help you gauge whether or not people feel that they have growth at your company.

Employee Engagement Metrics

The alternative to this is much more complicated. It involves coming up with competency testing for the different positions and departments at your organization, and then testing your employees and reviewing improvements in scores.

You could come up with actual multiple choice tests, project work, or even have managers rate employees on the different competencies. You would then compile the average improvement (or deterioration) over a certain cadence, and figure out the percent change for your entire organization over that cadence.

This method is definitely more complicated, but it can provide much more in-depth data about how your company is actually doing compared to the survey method.

Employee Engagement Metrics: “Because I’m Happy”

Cue Pharrell William’s “Happy” song!

Something that's important to note when working on this employee engagement metric: employee satisfaction (or happiness) is not the same as employee engagement. It is pretty common to get the two mixed up.

For example, imagine an employee who loves coming to work because they get to sit next to their best friend and chat all day. This doesn’t necessarily mean they are engaged.

And imagine an employee who comes to work everyday ready to work hard to help the company meet its goals. They could be so stressed from this pressure that they aren’t happy, even though they are very engaged.

So when you are thinking about employee engagement, make sure that you understand the difference from employee satisfaction.

Employee Engagement Metrics

The ultimate goal is to make sure that your employees have an ideal amount of both engagement and satisfaction.

To measure this metric, it is a good idea to survey your employees about their overall happiness levels. Make sure to ask supporting questions as well in the survey.

Here are some great examples:

  • Are you happy in your overall job?
  • Do you enjoy the day to day experience of working here?
  • What is your average stress level at work?
  • How often do you have a “bad day”?

Employee Engagement Metrics: Employer Branding Is No Joke!

In the most simple terms, employer branding is what people think or say about your company from an employment perspective. Are you a good company to work for? Do people think you overwork your employees?

I know what you're thinking: how is this an employee engagement metric? Well, a pretty big part of your employer brand is employee ambassadorship. This is how well your employees champion your employer brand outside of work.

A great representation of this could be your employee referral program. People don’t want to refer their friends and family to work at a company if they themselves don’t think the company is all that great.

You can also use social monitoring tools to see if your employees are sharing your content on their social channels, and if the sentiment is mostly positive or negative.

Employee Engagement Metrics: Relationships Make a Job

Your company can have the best benefits and culture in the world, but at the end of the day, the relationships your employees have with people at your company is what retains them.

The famous quote: “People leave managers, not companies,” depicts this perfectly.

Because of this, your company should measure the strength of relationships within teams and also between a manager and their direct reports. You can then compile this data to see if there is a trend in having strong relationships or weak relationships, and then take steps to correct the problem if own arises.

This can also be done with survey questions. You can ask employees to rate, on a scale, the strength of their relationships, if they have close friend at work, and if they think they are getting the management they need to be successful.

Employee Engagement Metrics: Communication

Nothing makes employees more engaged than a culture with a strong emphasis on communication.

And sense communication is such a broad scope, it is important for your HR team to analyze the different areas of communication your employees interact with, and then test the efficacy of each of them.

Employee Engagement Metrics

For example, you should consider communication from the CEO, corporate announcements, office/location communications, communication between a boss and a direct report, and communication between coworkers. Survey questions should then be designed to test each of these areas.

These questions can be as simple as: “How effective is the communication you receive about corporate announcements?”

And then from this data you could set goals for improvement, and then retest in a years time.

Employee Engagement Metrics: Appreciation

This is one of the most important employee engagement metrics because people love to feel recognized for their work.

In a recent study, researchers were able to prove that 75% of employees who felt like they got recognition from their manager at least once a month reported being satisfied with their job. And those that were recognized every week? 85% of them reported feeling satisfied.

So, why do we care about this?

When people feel recognized, and thus satisfied at work, they will be more productive and will stay at your company far longer. This improves your bottom line and improves employee retention at the same time.

To test this, you will need to ask employees a few survey questions. The first being how often their managers show them recognition, and the second is asking them how satisfied they are with their jobs.

If you notice that people aren’t reporting feeling recognized, give managers at your company training about how to recognize their employees, and also develop employee appreciation programs on a broader corporate level.

Employee Engagement Metrics: Health is Wealth

I know what you’re thinking. Why is health seen as an employee engagement metric?

Well, in my opinion, they are correlated. When someone is engaged properly at work, their health should be better. And when someone isn’t healthy, their work suffers.

Now, I’m not talking about directly asking your employees about smoking, their weight, or their family health history. I’m talking about how your employees actually feel.

Employee Engagement Metrics

Mentally do they feel healthy? Do they feel like they work in an environment that is conducive to a healthy lifestyle? Are they personally satisfied with their health?

Develop questions like this (with the help of your legal team!), to see how your employees are actually doing. And then use this data to work on improving your own company to support your workforce’s health goals.

Of course, you don't want to start policing your employee's health. That's not the point we're trying to make. But you can control how burned out they feel by their roles. Do they have too much on their plate? Are they taking a lot of sick days to simply recover from their workload? These questions are great when you are trying to understand how a job impacts an employee mentally and physically.

Employee Engagement Metrics: The Final Takeaway

We all know that employee engagement is a trending topic in today’s HR space.

With that said, it's still something that HR teams sometimes slack on, especially when taking a data-driven approach to their employee engagement strategy. To fix this problem, have your team develop employee engagement metrics from the suggestions above, and then test those metrics in regularly occurring cadences.

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