Measure Engagement with the Right Questions

January 23, 2014

The least effective way to measure employee engagement is to ask employees if they are engaged in their jobs.

Far more than 3 of 10 likely would say, “Yes.”

measuring employee engagement
How do you measure employee engagement? With the right questions.

Instead, major research organizations measure engagement by employees’ answers to questions shown to be related to positive, productive feelings about their jobs. Though their approaches differed, all three big, respected business organizations landed in about the same place: 30 percent of workers are actively engaged.

Gallup, for example, uses a list of 12 factors in its ongoing polling and consulting:

  1. I know what is expected of me at work.
  2. I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right.
  3. At work, I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day.
  4. In the last seven days, I have received recognition or praise for doing good work.
  5. My supervisor, or someone at work, seems to care about me as a person.
  6. There is someone at work who encourages my development.
  7. At work, my opinions seem to count.
  8. The mission or purpose of my organization makes me feel my job is important.
  9. My associates or fellow employees are committed to doing quality work.
  10. I have a best friend at work.
  11. In the last six months, someone at work has talked to me about my progress.
  12. This last year, I have had opportunities at work to learn and grow.

Employee Engagement has been a subject of Gallup’s research resources for years yet it is far from the only organization trying to measure workplace attitudes and their correlation to productivity. The Temkin Group conducted a benchmark study of employee engagement in 2013.

Temkin asked 2,400 U.S. employees to rank from 1 to 7 whether they completely agree or disagree with three statements:

  • I understand the overall mission of my company.
  • My company asks for my feedback and acts upon my input.
  • My company provides me with the training and the tools I need to be successful.

From the answers, Temkin created an engagement index with a scale of 7 to 21. Though its major focus is the customer/consumer experience, Temkin looked at the employee experience because, not surprisingly, more engaged workers mean more satisfied customers. In fact, “customer experience leaders have 2.5 times as many highly engaged employees as do customer experience laggards,” the group says.

Dale Carnegie in its big 2012 survey with MSW Research Gallup asked 1,500 U.S. workers questions about 28 emotions, positive and negative, and found five positive emotions drive employee engagement. Engaged workers feel some combination of valued, confident, inspired, enthusiastic and empowered.

To gauge engagement levels, Dale Carnegie also asked respondents two questions:

  • How likely are you to recommend your company to your friends as a place of employment?
  • How likely are you to recommend your company to others for the purpose of doing business?

Despite varied methodologies, all three studies found only 3 of 10 workers are engaged.

So ask yourself: How do you think your employees would answer any of these questions?

More importantly, what can you do about it?

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