On a scale of 0-10, how engaged are you at work? If you answered with a 7 out of 10, what does that mean exactly?
Measuring Engagement is difficult because it can be hard to define. Whatever it is, we want to improve it, increase it, make it better. Happily's research finds that there are 11 factors, or dimensions, that determine an employee's engagement to their work.
“[Employee engagement is] the harnessing of organization members’ selves to their work roles; in engagement, people employ and express themselves physically, cognitively, and emotionally during role performances.” — William Kahn, Psychological Conditions of Personal Engagement and Disengagement at Work (1990)
The Many Dimensions of Engagement
We've broken engagement down into 11 dimensions that together help us better understand, measure, and improve our organizations. Each dimension encompasses different aspects of work life that have been empirically shown to impact the physical, cognitive, emotional states of an employee.
Happily Pulse Survey Questions are designed to provide the most complete and insightful understanding of your employee engagement.
Happiness leads all other dimensions because it is emotionally-driven and therefore volatile (most susceptible to change). It provides the most real-time and useful indicator of how people and teams will perform on a daily level.
Feedback has significant potential to benefit employees in terms of individual and team performance. Employees need a clear understanding of how they can improve. Continuous communication is critical.
Feedback has traditionally been tied to performance reviews. This makes the feedback biased towards justifying an evaluation rather than focusing on helping the employee improve.
Feedback can come from anywhere (a manager, a peer, a friend) but employees must, at all times, feel that they get enough feedback to feel appropriately engaged with their tasks at hand.
3. Relationship with Manager
"People leave managers, not companies." According to Gallup, managers account for 70% of the variance in employee engagement. In good companies, managers make a difference.
Managers set standards for their team. And their direct reports want to impress them! For an effective relationship, managers should have a meaningful interaction with each direct report at least once every 2 weeks. Employees who have regular meetings with their managers are three times more likely to feel engaged in their company and thrive at their job.
Employees need work-life balance to stay productive and engaged in their work. Studies have shown that workplace stress and burnout have a mediating effect on employee engagement. Both physical and mental wellness are considered.
By measuring wellness on a weekly basis, burnout can be appropriately assessed and brought to the attention of managers who are at the frontlines of the problem.
A study from Deloitte found that "organizations with recognition programs which are highly effective at enabling employee engagement had 31% lower voluntary turnover than organizations with ineffective recognition programs."
Employees need to feel that their work is visible to others and that their effort gets the acknowledgment that it deserves. Recognition has been cited as 1 of 5 major activities that are shown to be a predictor of employee engagement.
And it doesn't take much to do!
6. Personal Growth
A study of Why People Really Quit Their Jobs, by Adam Grant and his team, found that employees left because their job wasn't enjoyable, their strengths weren't being used, and they weren't growing in their careers.
Employees need to feel that they are growing and learning at all times, both personally and professionally. Managers can play a role by being a coach and directing learning opportunities to their teams. And they also must make career development opportunities clear and transparent.
7. Relationship with Colleagues
The support that employees get from their coworkers is strongly linked to how well they are able to manage stress (wellness). Studies show that satisfaction with one's coworkers relates significantly to engagement.
The more embedded a person is in their job, the less likely they are to leave it. If there are conflicts or issues among coworkers and team members, managers and leaders need to be able to act immediately.
One of the most popular ways to measure engagement is using the eNPS (employee Net Promotor Score), a concept originally developed by Bain & Co. as a way to measure customer loyalty.
"On a scale from 0-10, how likely are you to recommend this organization as a good place to work?" and "Why?"
Loyal employees who are proud to work with you are your greatest assets in attracting better talent and helping overcome challenges during crisis.
Grant's research points to the importance of an employee having an enjoyable experience at work. Work satisfaction groups together how employees feel about their compensation, benefits, work experience, work environment, and more.
Apart from pay, challenging work has been identified as the key motivator for employees. Employees need to feel that they're leading fulfilling careers and doing work that is the right fit of challenging, explained in Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi's theory of Flow - The Psychology of Optimal Experience.
10. Company Alignment
Many of the dimensions above (recognition, personal growth, satisfaction, ambassadorship) are only possible if the work done by the employee is aligned with the goals, missions, and objectives of the organization.
Do you know how your work contributes to the company's mission? How well would you rate your performance towards team goals?
Company alignment provides managers and leaders with an understanding of how well their people are able to contribute to the company's objectives. Any mismatch is an underutilization of resources that hinders growth, development, and engagement of the employees involved.
Recent studies focus on how mindset plays a critical role in unleashing employee engagement. "Social, educational, and organizational psychology illuminates how mindsets are a personal resource that may influence employees' engagement via their enthusiasm for development, construal of effort, focus of attention, perception of setbacks, and interpersonal interactions."
Managers play an important role in managing and shaping the mindset of their teams.
Why every day?
Employee engagement insights and analysis are only as good as the data available. And the more data we have, the better we are at understanding what is going on and the context of the problem.
When someone is asked to rate if they receive enough feedback on a scale of 1-5, how is a 3 different from a 4? And would the response change depending on when you asked the question? Definitely.
To get a real-time understanding of employee engagement, daily pulse surveys are most effective. A weekly or monthly pulse frequency fails to leverage behavioral conditioning effects — and without them, employees generally respond through extended effort and without care resulting in unreliable and bad data. Studies show that daily action enables habit formation, which results in responses that are more consistent, natural, and truthful.
And with better data, we can provide better insights and support to those who need it most.
Quick Links to Employee Engagement Resources:
- The Impact of Employee Engagement on Performance, Harvard Business Review (2013)
- Guides and Case Studies on People Analytics, Google Re:Work
- [Is HR Missing the Point on Performance Feedback?](https://gnldr.website/tracker/click?redirect=https%3A%2F%2Fsloanreview.mit.edu%2Farticle%2Fis-hr-missing-the-point-on-performance-feedback%2F&dID=1554280647390&linkName=Is HR Missing the Point on Performance Feedback?), MIT Sloan Management Review (2018)
- The Missing Piece in Employee Development, MIT Sloan Management Review (2017)
- What Makes Work Meaningful — Or Meaningless, MIT Sloan Management Review (2016)
- Stress at the workplace, World Health Organization (2007)
- The employee experience: Culture, engagement, and beyond, By Josh Bersin et al, Deloitte Insights
- HR Must Make People Analytics More User-Friendly, Harvard Business Review
- Employee Engagement 3.0 – From Feedback to Action, By Josh Bersin
- Shaping Tomorrow’s Workplace, A Case for Recognition & Rewards, Deloitte
Research Papers & Books
The Meaning of Employee Engagement by William H. Macey
Business-unit-level relationship between employee satisfaction, employee engagement, and business outcomes: A meta-analysis by Theodore L. et al
The Employee Experience: How to Attract Talent, Retain Top Performers, and Drive Results, Maylett and Wride
Strategic Human Resources: Frameworks for General Managers, Baron and Kreps
Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle, Nagoski
Workplace Stress: The need for Communication and Knowledge Sharing, Ganapathi (2012)
[Perceptions of work stress causes and effective interventions in employees working in public, private and non-governmental organisations: a qualitative study,](https://gnldr.website/tracker/click?redirect=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov%2Fpmc%2Farticles%2FPMC5353523%2F&dID=1554280647390&linkName=Perceptions of work stress causes and effective interventions in employees working in public, private and non-governmental organisations: a qualitative study,) Stansfeld et al. (2016)
See links in the write-up for additional resources