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How Do You Really Measure Employee Engagement?

When you want to get serious about engagement in your workplace, how do you really measure it?

As recruiters of professional and tech talent, we have a pretty good view of the importance of engagement and how it affects the performance and productivity of your company. From our perspective, engagement starts with the candidates we refer to you. To retain top talent, you need a heads-up on your real-time engagement to understand how to attract new talent and retain the talent you already have on board.

The many forms of measuring engagement

The best way to measure engagement is often.

Since engagement became a hot topic, it has matured in many companies into an annual survey provided to employees who may—or may not—tell the truth. There are potential repercussions to hard truths offered even in anonymous surveys. For employees, it is easier to stick to neutral ground.

If your annual, and often expensive, engagement survey comes back all thumbs up, you either have a really great company or your survey efforts are stale or worse. The warm data is sent to senior management for review. By the time remedial efforts make it to the workplace, time has passed and the results are no longer relevant. While your company can cross it off their checklist, the real effort to understand what is going on with your workforce is lost in translation.

That is not to say that annual surveys are a waste. An engagement assessment method from Deloitte sums up the basic steps in most engagement survey efforts:

Define what you want to know about engagement
Deploy a survey
Review results and develop actionable steps
Execute on your plan and monitor outcomes through pulse surveys

Engagement software is becoming common, making it easy for you to survey once a year or once a day—but is it working?

These tools have their place when used thoughtfully. The raw data and anonymous feedback is important. So are your numbers on retention, accepted and declined offers, reasons for separation, and issues that repeatedly arise concerning expectation, performance management, supervision, and communication. Neither your workforce nor your workplace is static, and engagement is the measure of how well they align with each other.

Understanding people means spending time with them. Do you know your workers personally? Is the relationship awkward? If glass walls divide administration and employees, you can be sure that division shows up in workforce satisfaction. What about human communication—time in the break room, or the lunch room?

The goals of engagement are different for each company but supporting creativity and innovation, and increasing retention, are pretty good objectives. Measuring human engagement—and the likelihood that people want to stay and work with you—is a worthy goal.

As recruiters, our worthy goal is to provide the right candidates to companies seeking a good fit for their job position and their long-term institutional vision.

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