Measuring your team's engagement

There are a lot of studies out there that demonstrate a direct link between employee engagement and business performance. The higher the engagement the better the business does.

So how engaged is your team? Not sure? Here’s how you can find out.

Measuring your employee engagement
What is employee engagement?

Employee engagement is a positive emotional commitment to the employer. That commitment motivates your team to do their best work, with high levels of effort, behave according to the values of the organisation, care about the future of the organisation and believe that what they do makes a difference to it.

Employee engagement isn’t employee satisfaction.
Your team can be satisfied with working for your organisation and with their job but have little emotional connection, let alone commitment, to either. You can read more about why satisfaction isn’t enough here.

Employee happiness isn’t the same as engagement.
Engaged employees are happy. Happy employees are not necessarily engaged. Putting fun things, events or activities into the office may make work more enjoyable, build camaraderie and relieve stress (amongst other benefits) but it doesn’t mean you’re creating the emotional commitment you need to increase employee engagement.

How do you measure employee engagement?

If you’ve got a team of 5 or more you can consider the most common method – a survey. Team smaller than 5? Click here.

1.   Consider your budget in terms of time, money and resource before choosing a provider

There are 3 key stages to employee engagement – set up, live, and analysis and reporting.

Online survey tool providers, like Survey Monkey, have employee engagement templates that you can use. The questions in the templates across providers may vary a little but are based on industry knowledge and expertise.

Whilst Survey Monkey is great if you want to keep your costs down and do it yourself, other providers, like Qualtrics, offer more help and support – for a higher price!

Otherwise you can use an agency, like us, to help you, saving time and resource. This will also help you maintain the anonymity measuring employee engagement needs – more on this in a moment.

2.   Set up your data so that you can report on what matters

Which ever way you choose to set up your survey, it’ll be sent out by email and completed by your employees online. This means that you may be able to upload information you know about your employees to save them having to answer questions about it – this will depend on which provider you choose.

Typically the data you upload would include:

  • name – split out into first name and surname
  • email address
  • job title
  • department
  • line manager
  • gender
  • age
  • tenure – the length of time they’ve been with the company for
  • level of seniority
  • number of direct reports
  • location

Some of these may not be relevant for your business, or you might have other data that you believe may influence how they feel about working for your organisation.

Information like gender and age helps you to see any issues that may not be obvious so that they can be addressed. An example would be a business with more men than women, where the women are less engaged than the men; the reason may be in the answers to the questions or indicate a male orientated workplace culture.

If not everyone in your team has a workplace email address, you’ll either need to use their personal email address with their permission, or give them time on a computer or tablet using a unique link or log-in. You’ll need to consider this when choosing your provider.

3.   Measuring your employee engagement is about getting honest feedback from your team

This is why it’s done anonymously. Your employees should have no fear of repercussion because of how they answer.  This means that you need to make sure that only someone with the ability to keep confidential information secure should have access to the raw data. If you own a small business and are thinking of measuring your employee engagement yourself, you must not allow an individual’s responses to affect your behaviour towards them. If you have any doubts about this being possible, I’d recommend using a neutral third party!

This will also affect how you set up teams in your data for reporting. If a team has less than 5 people in it (although a few providers will let you go with 3), it will have to be combined with another team for analysis and reporting. This is so that no one person’s answers can be identified – the average is what you’ll see in the reporting, sometimes with the minimum and maximum answers. So if you have teams with less than 5 people think about what combination will make the most sense and who the questions about their line manager will actually be about.

4.   Creating awareness about the survey

To get an accurate picture of how engaged your team is, you need as many of them as possible to answer the survey. The most engaged employees will answer the survey with the least amount of reminding. So you need to make sure everyone knows about it to encourage those that are less engaged to do it.

How you communicate to your team will depend on the size of your business and what internal communication tools you have in place. Create an integrated communication plan if possible. This means using several different ways to get the same message to your audience effectively.

Measuring your employee engagement

Consider using:

  • email
  • posters and flyers in communal areas
  • team meetings
  • intranet or other internal digital communication platforms

Record a short video of you talking about it (if you’re the most appropriate person) and circulate the link.

Include information about:

  • what it is
  • why you’re doing it – benefits for the business and your team
  • how it will work – step by step and what to look out for
  • when the survey will be available
  • who is conducting the survey

Keep communication going through to the go live date, whilst it’s live, and afterwards. 

Whilst the survey is live, countdown to the close date. This way everyone will know how much more time they have to answer it. Keep line managers informed about what proportion of their team has answered so they can encourage their team to take part.

After the survey closes, announce the completion rate – what percentage of the team answered the survey, and thank everyone for doing it. Give a date for when top line results will be announced.

5.   Going live

This is usually the least involved stage! 

Make sure you’ve considered all eventualities so that everyone that wants to can complete the survey, including different languages and literacy.

Keep an eye on completion rates so that you can respond if necessary. Low completion rates may indicate low engagement, issues with access to the survey or the survey itself.

Your team should be given adequate time within their working hours to complete the survey. You shouldn’t expect them to do this in their own time. Ideally you should also make sure that there is a private space for people to use if they want to.

6.   Analysing the results 

Most online providers have fantastic analysis tools. You’ll be able to cut the data in a lot of different ways. But first take a look at the overall result for your team’s engagement. Spend time looking at the top line results. 

Most platforms will show you the results as % of answers for each option of every question and top 2 box vs. bottom 2 box. This last one means that where your employees have answered the questions using a 5-point scale (e.g. 5=Strongly agree, 4=Agree, 3=Neither agree nor disagree, 2=Disagree, 1=Strongly disagree) and the results are shown as percentage that answered 5 or 4 vs. percentage that answered 2 or 1. You’re likely to see a chart and the percentages e.g. 46% vs. 22% – they won’t add up to 100% unless no one selected 3=Neither agree nor disagree.

Looking at these results, you’ll be able to see what your organisation is doing well and what it’s not. BUT the lowest scoring questions are not necessarily the things you need to focus on. 

“What?!” I hear you say!

Just because your employees are telling you that you’re under-performing in these areas, doesn’t mean they actually care about it. If they don’t care about it, it’s not influencing their engagement.

To find out what matters to them and makes a difference to their engagement you need to analyse the relationship between all of the answers to all of the questions and the answers given to an overarching question, like how likely they are to recommend working at your business. Some providers will enable you to do this analysis within their system. If this isn’t available you’ll need to download the individual responses as one spreadsheet, open in Microsoft Excel or similar, and use the CORREL function on the answers of each question. The results will be between +1 and -1.
Closer to +1 indicates a positive correlation – if one increases, so will the other.
Closer to 0 indicates no relationship.
Closer to -1 indicates a negative correlation – if one goes up the other goes down.

You need to find the questions with the highest positive correlation that are under-performing and these are the ones you should look to improve. There are usually similarities between some of them – you’ll have 2 or more in the same area e.g. pay and benefits, working environment. 

Once you’ve picked out the overall trends, take time to cut the data and look for differences. Use the data you uploaded to do this. You’re looking for groups of your people that are more or less engaged than each other. Then you need to find out why. Sometimes the reason is in the answers to the questions within the survey, sometimes it’s not.

If you find that you need more information to be able to create your plan for improvement you can invite members of your team to a meeting to discuss it in detail. Any meeting like this must be neutral and fact finding only. Whoever runs it must be able to distance themselves from what is said and not take anything personally or react.

You won’t be able to improve everything straight away.
Choose what you’re going to work to improve carefully. Remember that you now have a team of people that are expecting you to share results and make working for you better.

Choose 1 or 2 quick wins – things that you can turnaround in less than 3 months. This will demonstrate that you’re taking this seriously and things are going to change.

For anything bigger make sure you carefully estimate how long it will take to improve and what will be involved. Never over-promise. If you say you’ll do something you must do it – avoid disappointing your team. If they’re disappointed, they’re also feeling let down and that will have a detrimental effect on engagement. The total opposite of what you’re trying to achieve!

7.   Reporting back to your team

When you’ve decided what you’re going to improve and you have a top-line plan of how you’re going to achieve it, it’s time to share with your team. You need to ideally do this within 2 weeks of closing the survey and definitely within a month, otherwise you may be seen to be dragging your heels.

Include the following:

  • Thanks for taking the time to complete it
  • Overall response rate (80% is generally considered good)
  • Overall engagement rate (Gallup has UK employee engagement as 11%, 2018)
  • Result for overarching question e.g. likelihood to recommend
  • Top 5 scores overall
  • Bottom 5 scores overall
  • Top 5 and bottom 5 by team if appropriate
  • What you’ll be focusing on
  • Next steps
8.   Things to remember

This is a snapshot of your employee’s engagement at one point in time.

Make sure you consider what’s been going on in and around your business at this time that might have an effect on the results.

Measuring employee engagement is often done just once a year. Consider a monthly pulse survey – 2 or 3 regular questions + <2 timely questions so that you can track how your team are and respond accordingly.

What to do if your team is smaller than 5 people

No matter how approachable you are and how regularly you catch up with your team on an individual basis, there may be things that are difficult to discuss with you and are impacting their engagement.

Using a neutral third party to talk to your team will give you the feedback you need whilst maintaining some anonymity. This is likely to be done largely through discussion giving the opportunity to ask deeper questions than a survey.

You’ll be able to use the findings to make changes to your leadership style and team practices, in turn making your business better.

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