EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT FAQ’S

Let’s answer questions.

EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT IS A CRITICAL COMPONENT OF ANY WORKFORCE.

When leadership is invested in increasing engagement—the right way and with the right science behind it—it can be very valuable to productivity, quality of work, and the bottom line. Below are some commonly asked questions around employee engagement—to help you understand the power of this practice and how to best apply it to your business.

HERE IS A LIST OF OUR MOST ASKED QUESTIONS.

What is employee engagement?

Employee engagement is what best describes and measures the level of motivation, commitment, and conscientiousness of the employees who make up your workforce. It is best understood as the right combination of factors that cause your people to want to work harder, stay longer, and care more.

Learn more about the definition of employee engagement. 

What is an employee engagement score?

Your employee engagement scores are derived from the items on your survey. So, your organization’s scores are truly in the hands of the survey designer. Some scores are much better indicators of performance than others.

The most meaningful engagement scores are an average of three or four summary types of items that focus on the core nature of engagement for your organization. These engagement summary items should represent the best predictors of change within the most important performance indicators for your company.

After testing hundreds of items over 40 years we have established that the following four items represent the single best measure across business and industry:

  1. Overall, I am extremely satisfied with this organization as a place to work.
  2. I would gladly refer a good or family member to this organization for employment.
  3. I rarely think about looking for a new job with another company.
  4. I am proud to work for this company.

It’s also good to note that the right specific and actionable items should always be included in the survey, but NOT part of your engagement scores as the research findings and recommendations will be biased.

How do I recognize engagement, what does it look like?

Disengaged employees are only concerned with what they have to do. Engaged employees want to know what else they can do to help. As people become more engaged, their work goes from feeling like a job, to a career, to their chosen way of life. They take personal responsibility for the success of their team and their company. Research shows that engaged employees have stronger friendships at work, find more meaning in their work, and are much more likely to advocate for their company. Specifically, as people become more engaged they want to work harder, stay longer, and care more.

Learn more about how to recognize engaged employees and four critical choices your employees make every day that impact your business.

How do I engage my workforce?

To be honest, we find this question highly problematic because it involves a misleading assumption. There is no right answer in a vacuum. People always answer with their pet action plan or what best fits their business or consulting model, and this is wrong. If you ask an oncologist how to treat cancer, and he/she gives you a specific answer without examining the patient, they are NOT professional. The only right answer is “it depends”. Anyone who makes a specific recommendation about how to engage your workforce, within your culture without doing the research and taking the time to understand your company is, in our opinion, not giving credible advice. If you want to engage your workforce, first do the research, second identify the top drivers of engagement and third, from that list of key drivers, select a small number (one to three) of factors that you think you can address most effectively and go to work.

What are the most effective employee engagement activities?

This is such an important question. But it is often misunderstood and misleading because the question presumes that there is a right answer. The only honest answer is it depends on your culture, your business, and your leadership. And most of all, it depends on your people. But, from a practical perspective, the most effective employee engagement activities in your organization should be defined by identifying the factors, through the appropriate research, that are the most important drivers of engagement within your company. Then you can be certain that the engagement activities that best address those factors will be the ones that are most effective and have the most impact.

How do I choose employee engagement survey items?

The single most important component of the survey is a proven, valid, credible overall engagement index. Without this, any research findings or recommendations will be of limited value at best, and at worst, misleading. For more information on this please see the FAQ above on “What is an employee engagement score?”

The remainder of the survey should be made up of specific, actionable items, that are all potentially addressable by some level of leadership or management. These items should all involve organizational or management issues that could indicate factors that are either detractors from or drivers of engagement. We have found that there are some items that are so universally important that omitting them from the survey would create the risk of missing a critical opportunity for improvement. We always recommend these core items.

We also know that every organization is different. Whatever it takes to equip employees for success in retail might be very different from what it takes in manufacturing, to point out just one of many possible examples. Therefore, we have developed, and strongly recommend, a process for better understanding the uniqueness of each company and choosing those items from an extensive library of proven items, (and even in some cases relying on expert judgement to write a new item or two) that might best capture and explain those unique factors. Our most successful projects have involved surveys with between 25 and 45 items that can be completed by employees in five to eight minutes.

Learn more about six proven pitfalls of designing an employee engagement survey and how to avoid them.

How do I use pulse surveys?

We can state, with complete confidence, that the best foundation of a successful long-term employee engagement initiative is the annual employee survey, as long as it is designed, administered, and analyzed appropriately.

This being said, a mid-year pulse survey to monitor progress and increase accountability can be a very helpful addition. We recommend a shortened survey that still includes the engagement index and also those items that were selected by managers and leaders for goal setting and action planning. We have learned that across an entire workforce, employee engagement is an enduring condition that doesn’t significantly improve in a lasting way in short periods of time. It takes a focused, disciplined approach, over time, to make truly lasting changes.

As far as the overall engagement initiative is concerned, overly frequent surveys that lead to changing priorities and messaging can do more harm than good. However, if leadership has a specific question about such things as the level of acceptance and/or appreciation of a new program, or, employee preferences about changes that could possibly be made to the benefits package, to name just two examples, then a pulse survey can be an effective way of getting an answer.

Even though surveys are our business, we do caution against too many surveys. In a recent study conducted on a random sample of 5000 employed Americans, the results showed that employees who were asked to take four or more surveys a year began to passively sabotage the results. They reported being less honest, less likely to complete the survey, and less likely to take the survey at all. More isn’t always better!

The remainder of the survey should be made up of specific, actionable items, that are all potentially addressable by some level of leadership or management. These items should all involve organizational or management issues that could indicate factors that are either detractors from or drivers of engagement. We have found that there are some items that are so universally important that omitting them from the survey would create the risk of missing a critical opportunity for improvement. We always recommend these core items.

We also know that every organization is different. Whatever it takes to equip employees for success in retail might be very different from what it takes in manufacturing, to point out just one of many possible examples. Therefore, we have developed, and strongly recommend, a process for better understanding the uniqueness of each company and choosing those items from an extensive library of proven items, (and even in some cases relying on expert judgement to write a new item or two) that might best capture and explain those unique factors. Our most successful projects have involved surveys with between 25 and 45 items that can be completed by employees in five to eight minutes.

How do I keep my team engaged?

Please see the FAQ’s on “How do I engage my workforce?” and “What are the most effective employee engagement activities?”

How do I retain top talent? AND How do I manage top performers?

The answer involves two powerful words: listen and individualize. Never assume that your top performers’ needs and preferences are just like yours or other talented people. John Wooden, arguably the most successful coach in history, once said, “The worst form of discrimination is treating everyone the same.” For example, many top performers deny that they need recognition. But upon further investigation it may prove that they make this claim because the recognition they have received to-date didn’t fit their preference. Some people crave a big, public splash, others are embarrassed that. Discover who they want to know when they have a big achievement, who they want to receive recognition from, the important things they do that no one notices, and how they like to be appreciated. The number of options is really unlimited, but only one or two, for some people, feel right.

And recognition is only one of so many issues deserving consideration. What about career goals and ongoing growth and learning, their need to find a greater sense of purpose in their work, and their need to work in a trusting environment? How do they like to be involved and included? When do they need more communication? When do they need to be listened to? How closely do they need to be supervised? How do they learn best and what kind of feedback do they want the most? The list goes on. The possibilities are unlimited! Until you get to know your most talented people and your top performers you can’t possibly get it right. Ask, listen, and be prepared to individualize your approach based on what you learn.

CAN’T FIND THE ANSWERS YOU NEED?

Reach out to one of our engagement experts to have a discussion, we would love to provide you more insight. Or, learn more about who we are and what we do.