Laurie Zaucha, VP, Human Resources & Organizational Development, Paychex
No matter what business you’re in, where you’re located, or how many employees you have, the term “employee engagement” applies to you and your workforce. Employee engagement – and disengagement –can affect many aspects of your business, perhaps even more than you think. From productivity to performance to retention to how your clients or customers view your company, fostering an engaged workforce can have a measurable impact on your organization’s employee experience, employer brand, customer satisfaction and business results.
How one defines employee engagement can vary depending on who you ask, but to me, it is the emotional connection an employee has to the organization and their level of commitment to its success. Fostering this isn’t easy. It takes a concerted effort and commitment to listening to your employees intently and acting on what you hear. In today’s tight labor market, attracting and retaining the very best talent is paramount and challenging. To win the war on talent and compete effectively in the marketplace, employee engagement must be a high priority for any business.
Let’s take a deeper dive into how to measure employee engagement, invest in tools to quantify and drive it, and what to do with the data collected:
Measuring Employee Engagement
Every organization is different and how you define engagement in yours may differ from the way we define engagement here at Paychex. Our HR team’s goal is to ensure we have an environment where our entire workforce of 13,000+ employees across more than 100 U.S. locations can be engaged. Like many organizations today, we must take into consideration that our workforce is made up of multiple generations and the way we engage Baby Boomers differs from the way we reach Millennials or Generation Y and Z employees.
Here at Paychex, we recently introduced a new way to measure employee engagement. Our goal was to make it streamlined and simple, frequent and relevant, aligned with our culture and fun to participate in. We distribute a short pulse survey to our employees twice per year with each consisting of no more than 10 questions. Our formula for these surveys is simple: (1) three questions are always reserved for the engagement measurement that cover whether employees are saying positive things about us, what the likelihood is that they’ll stay with us, and to what extent they’re striving to go above and beyond for the organization;
Technology also offers employees a means to connect and can create a sense of community across the company – both keys to employee engagement
(2) questions customized to the business unit in which they’re working; and (3) an open-ended question that, through a transparent pair-wise voting process, helps identify the highest priorities for improving engagement. Data is reported in real-time, provides actionable insights and is leveraged immediately.
Engagement will fluctuate with changes in the business cycle or industry, so it’s important to measure employee engagement over time to identify trends and patterns. It’s equally important to trust your gut. Numbers don’t lie, but emails you receive from employees, hallway conversations and posts on social media can be just as telling as survey results.
Technology as a Measurement Tool
Determining which engagement metrics mean the most to you and your business is one of the most difficult steps in the process. But once you’ve figured that out, technology can be a tremendous help in giving you a better and more frequent gauge of what your organization’s level of employee engagement might be at any given time.
The pulse survey approach is a great way to solicit employee feedback in real-time and over time, allowing you to measure the specific things you’ve determined are important to you and your organization. Other direct and indirect measures like employee turnover rates, customer satisfaction scores, exit survey data, third-party survey results, and overall business results can be combined with the data received through your pulse surveys to provide a more holistic and unbiased view of the entire workforce. Perhaps even more exciting is that today’s technology analytics solutions allow for the integration of this data to easily and more effectively paint that full picture for you and your team, keeping in mind that engagement survey data must be kept anonymous.
Technology as a Connection Tool
Technology also offers employees a means to connect and can create a sense of community across the company – both keys to employee engagement. Today’s workforce is multi-generational, multi-location, and multi-talented. Technology allows us to have a broader sense of community across dispersed locations and teams and to build on a shared experience. From video calls and conferences to online communities and chat, technology can offer all employees a sense of connectedness to both one another and your brand.
Maintaining employee engagement after hire is critical, but companies can lay a strong foundation for employee engagement well before that. Creating that emotional connection to your company starts with the very first encounter. Thanks to technology, talent acquisition teams can develop custom messages to prospects on a targeted basis and carry that message throughout the sourcing, hiring, and on-boarding processes. Use photos and memes to convey your culture, values and work environment in sourcing campaigns. Use digital interviewing to visibly connect with candidates during selection. And create a pre-boarding curriculum to draw them in between acceptance of an offer and their start date.
At the end of the day, you want prospects, hires, and employees to all feel connected to your organization from their very first encounter with your brand – and technology can help you do just that.
Take Action, Take Action, Take Action
Employee engagement is nothing without action, and engagement can get worse if you ask and don’t act. When your employees devote time to providing you feedback whether via survey or another means, it’s your responsibility to take action. You may not be able to fix everything right away, but you must acknowledge the feedback and talk about what you can do. After all, engagement is a choice and it’s on the organization to provide an environment that encourages all employees to be engaged.