There are many traditional ways that companies measure performance and they’re most often tied to the bottom line or some other financial or output indicator. While these measurements are, of course, important, a more difficult to measure, but oft overlooked component of performance is employee satisfaction and engagement. It’s not a coincidence that some of the top performing companies in the world often show up on “best places to work” lists.
Employee engagement is actually a more comprehensive way of describing what is most important for companies to measure, in that, beyond general satisfaction, it indicates a commitment to the company and to co-workers, plus an enhanced sense of well-being. Often employee engagement is said to include a positive emotional attachment to the workplace. And while it’s great to have happy employees, engaged employees feel like they understand expectations and are in control of their futures, and understand how they fit into the company. Moreover, they feel like the company is invested in them. Often happiness is actually a result of engagement.
According to Gallup, engaged business units show a 21% increase in profitability. But this is just one benefit, as organizations also find a 41% decrease in absenteeism, a 17% increase in productivity, and 59% less turnover. Considering these numbers, the savvy leader realizes employee engagement isn’t just about having a happier workplace, but that it’s a strategic driver for organizational success.
The Employee Satisfaction Survey – Aimed at Increasing Engagement
To keep on top of employee engagement, you need to have a measurement tool to find your baseline. This is why companies should start administering an annual (or bi-annual) survey to get a read on employee sentiment. The type of information you can glean from these surveys can be eye-opening. Some topical areas you’ll want to cover are:
- Communication: Do employees feel like communication is clear, concise, and open?
- Trust: To people feel trusted and trusting of their co-workers, managers, and leadership team?
- Leadership: Are leaders held accountable and do they provide vision and support to their teams?
- Employee development & fulfillment: Are employees’ skills valued, utilized, and developed?
- Goal Setting: Are company objectives appropriate, clearly stated, and achievable?
Of course, there are other areas you could cover that might be more pertinent to your particular business, but the idea is to get an in-depth understanding of how your employees are feeling. It’s often easiest to group surveys into sections and then ask for answers on a numeric scale to help quickly identify trends in answers or anomalies that might be present in particular departments or teams. Providing a few open-ended questions can also be helpful for deeper insight.
We offer a similar survey before most of our team building and professional development programs to get an accurate pulse on the group. Since we’re a third party, we satisfy another important component of these surveys, which is anonymity. By using numbers for answers, they can’t be tied back to employees. When we offer open ended questions, we will often rewrite the answers or distill them down to their main points to protect people’s identity. This privacy helps assure participants that it’s okay to be completely honest without concern for punishment. Remember, a trusting workplace is essential for engagement.
In summary, an annual employee survey is a great way to start building a more engaged workforce – something we’ve learned to be invaluable in a company’s success. However, it’s just the first step. The essential next step is taking action and making commitments to change company policies based on the feedback received. This may mean investment in professional development programs, changes to cultural norms, or time set aside to help build trust between employees. It’s paramount that workers see this as a change-inducing experience so that they will be invested in the process. And, ultimately, it’s critical for companies to take employee engagement seriously to remain competitive in the increasingly complex world of business.
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