There are many ways to improve employee engagement. Some businesses decide to build a vibrant company culture while others believe in extravagant benefits and perks.
The truth is, you won’t know what’s best for your team until you’ve measured employee engagement. And without conducting thorough research, any attempts to improve the employee experience will be founded on speculation.
In this article, we lead you through a simple 3-step process to measure employee engagement. This process allows you to prioritise the parts of your business that need improving so you don’t waste money and resources on futile endeavours.
The 3-step process goes like this:
Measure overall engagement: You will begin by conducting an Employee Engagement Index Survey (EEI) to measure overall engagement. Then, we’ll teach you a formula to convert these survey scores into an EEI value. You can use this to assess engagement on an individual, department or company-wide level.
Conduct a driver analysis: Measuring employee engagement is essential, but you can’t do anything until you know what’s driving it. To make informed decisions about what to improve, you need to conduct a driver analysis.
Find correlations: In this third and final stage, you’ll plot overall engagement and engagement drivers on a graph. By looking for correlations, you can discover exactly what’s driving engagement at your company. With this information, you’ll be ready to start improving employee engagement.
By the time you’ve finished reading this article, you’ll be armed with the data you need to improve employee engagement.
Step 1: Measure overall engagement with an Employee Engagement Index (EEI) survey
The most common way to measure employee engagement is with a survey. The problem is that survey responses consist of multifarious opinions and attitudes. This is qualitative data, and it’s a nightmare to interpret.
An EEI survey allows you to measure “overall engagement”. This data will be qualitative at first, but you’ll run it through a formula to make it quantitative. This makes it much easier to understand the state of engagement from an individual, departmental and company-wide perspective.
The accuracy of this data depends on the quality of your survey. Asking the wrong questions will lead to an unreliable representation of overall engagement. This will throw everything out of whack.
So, you must be sure you’re asking the right questions in your EEI survey. To do that, we need to establish what employee engagement actually means.
What do we mean when we talk about employee engagement?
Employee engagement is a loose term and it isn’t helpful when designing an EEI survey.
To ensure your survey responses accurately represent the current state of engagement, you must ask the right questions. That means asking questions about every engagement outcome.
By asking questions about every engagement outcome, you paint a detailed picture of the current state of employee engagement.
So what are the primary employee engagement outcomes?
- Loyalty: This is an employee’s emotional connection to their role. It’s manifested in the length of time an employee stays at your company (tenure), the days they take off work (absenteeism) and their inclination to support their colleagues.
- Pride: This is a feeling that manifests itself in multiple ways. It’s shown in body language, but it’s also expressed in the quality of work produced. Instead of simply “getting the job done,” a proud employee will strive to complete their best work time and again.
- Advocacy: This determines how an employee talks about your business and their job. It’s visible in their social media posts and conversations with friends, family and colleagues. It also determines their likelihood to recommend your business as a good place to work.
- Productivity: Productivity represents efficiency and extra work performed by an employee (from their own initiative). It’s often referred to as “going the extra mile” or “discretionary effort”. It could also be considered “motivation.” For example, are they motivated to invest more time when the situation calls for it?
Now that we understand what we mean by “employee engagement”, let’s look at how you might design an effective EEI survey.
Designing an effective EEI survey
An EEI survey aims to measure overall employee engagement.
To do that, you need to ask questions that target each of the four engagement outcomes (loyalty, pride, advocacy, and productivity). This provides an accurate representation of current engagement levels.
So, let’s look at some questions you could ask in your EEI survey. We’ve written the engagement outcome that each question targets in brackets.
Example EEI survey questions
- “I am proud to work for [company name]” (Pride)
- “I would recommend [company name] as a great place to work” (Advocacy)
- “I rarely think about looking for another job at another company” (Loyalty)
- “I feel a responsibility to support my coworkers with their tasks” (Loyalty)
- “I see myself working at [company name] in two years.” (Loyalty)
- “[Company name] motivates me to go beyond what I would do in a similar role elsewhere” (Productivity)
The number of questions you ask in your EEI survey is up to you. You might ask five or you might ask 30, depending on your goals. All that matters is that you ask questions that target each engagement outcome.
How do employees respond to the questions?
Employees answer these questions using a five or six-level Likert Scale. If you’ve responded to a survey before, this will look familiar.
They go like this:
Employees respond to each question with one of the following statements (we’re using a six-stage Likert Scale in this example).
- Strongly disagree (1)
- Disagree (2)
- Slightly disagree (3)
- Slightly agree (4)
- Agree (5)
- Strongly agree (6)
Each response is linked to a numbered score. If an employee responds with “Agree” for example, they score 5 points for that question.
As you can see, we’re getting closer to our goal of turning qualitative data into quantitative data. But we’re not there yet.
Let’s find out how you can turn these survey scores into easy-to-interpret EEI values.
How to convert survey scores into EEI values
After an employee has answered all of the questions they’ll be awarded a score.
Let’s imagine your survey contains 28 questions. The survey score will range from 28 (min.) to 168 (max.). Answering “strongly disagree (1)” for every question will score 28 whereas answering “strongly agree (6)” for every question will score 168.
Now, it’s time to convert these scores into an EEI value.
To do that, we calibrate the scale so that the highest possible EEI value is 100 regardless of how many questions you ask in your survey.
So, let’s divide 100 by the maximum survey score (in our example, that’s 168) to find the conversion factor.
100 / 168 = 0.5952
In this example, to convert a survey score into an EEI value, all you need to do is multiply the survey score by 0.5952.
E.g. 96 (survey score) x 0.5952 = 57.1 (EEI value)
The EEI value ranges from 16.67 to 100, regardless of whether you’re measuring an individual, a department or an entire team.
Let’s look at how this works in practice for a team of 6 employees.
There you have it: a simple formula that converts employee engagement into a numeric value. And don’t forget, you can use this method to calculate employee engagement for individuals, departments and teams.
Note: It’s important to phrase your survey questions in a “positive” context. This is because agreeing with the question must indicate positive engagement (score high), whereas disagreeing must indicate negative engagement (score low).
Step 2: Conduct a driver analysis
So far, you’ve gathered a bunch of eye-opening data. You’ve designed a survey to measure overall employee engagement and converted the survey scores into EEI values.
These metrics tell you how things are going at your company. But they don’t tell you what’s driving employee engagement.
Without knowing what’s driving employee engagement, you cannot make informed decisions about what to improve.
That’s why we’re going to conduct a driver analysis.
What is a driver analysis?
A driver analysis tells you what’s making your employees engaged. This is different for every business, so can’t find this data online or steal it from a competitor.
Some teams might find leadership extremely important but care little for growth opportunities, whereas others might value learning and development above an ethical company mission.
These drivers depend on the personalities and behaviours of your employees and are therefore liable to change over time.
What drives employee engagement?
Employee engagement is influenced by a variety of factors. Things like how you reward employees and onboard new hires affect how they feel about their job.
To simplify the many things that drive engagement, we’re going to create four primary categories:
These categories are known by the acronym LEAD, and together, they comprise almost every engagement driver.
Designing an Engagement Driver survey with LEAD Questions
The first stage of a driver analysis is designing an Engagement Driver survey.
Just as you did when calculating EEI values, you’re going to design this survey using a Likert scale. However, this time your questions are going to be a little different.
You’re going to ask what are known as LEAD questions.
The purpose of these questions is to determine employee attitudes towards the four driver categories (Leadership, Enablement, Alignment and Development).
This phase of measuring employee engagement is also known as “cultural diagnostics”.
What questions should you ask in an Engagement Drivers survey?
Here are some examples of questions you might see in an Engagement Drivers survey:
- “I receive appropriate recognition when I do good work.” (Leadership)
- “Day-to-day decisions here demonstrate that quality and improvement are top priorities.” (Leadership)
- “I’m provided with the tools I need to do my job well.” (Enablement)
- “I believe there are good growth opportunities for me at this company.” (Development)
- “I know what I need to do to be successful in my role.” (Alignment)
Notice how each question is targeting a specific engagement driver. The purpose of this survey is not to find out “how engaged” your employees are, but to determine employee attitudes towards how your business operates.
Step 3: Find correlations between overall engagement and engagement drivers
You’ve got your results from your Engagement Drivers survey, but how can you determine what is driving engagement at your company?
Well, it’s all about correlation.
In the following graph, “Employee EEI Value” is represented on the Y axis and “Employee Question Score” is represented on the X axis. Each dot represents an employee who has responded to the LEAD question “I’m provided with the tools I need to do my job well.”
In this example, employees who feel they are given the right tools for the job are engaged, whereas those who don’t are disengaged.
This is called positive linear correlation and it shows that having the necessary tools for the job is an engagement driver for this team.
Let’s look at another example.
Here, we see employee responses to the question “I receive appropriate recognition when I do good work” against their EEI value.
In this case, there is no discernible correlation between employee engagement levels and answers to this question. Therefore, It’s safe to assume that receiving recognition is not an engagement driver for this team.
Making informed decisions
It should now be clear why conducting an Engagement Driver Survey is so important. Without this data, it’s impossible to know which aspects of the employee experience are influencing engagement.
From here on, the onus is on you to prioritise the changes. Typically, changes that are easy to implement and generate the most impact should be at the top of your list.
Keep your finger on the pulse
The process outlined in this article is substantial.
This is why a full employee engagement appraisal like this can only take place once or twice per year. Any more than that and employees will become frustrated by the constant influx of surveys and questionnaires.
Nevertheless, it’s wise to keep your finger on the pulse. As employees come and go and business objectives evolve, employee engagement will fluctuate.
Techniques like one-on-one meetings, pulse surveys and lifecycle surveys allow you to monitor engagement fluctuations throughout the year. You can also use Employee engagement KPIs to track how employee engagement is affecting other business metrics.
These methods don’t paint a full picture of employee engagement, but they do help you keep track of how engagement is evolving throughout the year. If engagement should take a sudden nosedive, for example, you’ll be able to identify the cause and react before it gets worse.
And that’s that. A complete guide for measuring employee engagement in the workplace! By now, you should have a bunch of useful data that you can use to move employee engagement in the right direction.