The pace of technological change, when overlaid with other forces such as global economic rebalancing and political uncertainty in many areas of the world, is realising a broad sweep of social change. In the workplace, this manifests as a heightened desire for equity, expectations of improved remuneration prospects and wider benefits, and assumptions of corporate transparency. Overall, it should therefore not come as a surprise that employees today seem increasingly disaffected or only sporadically committed — and that, globally, only 13 percent of employees may be fully engaged, as stated by a recent Gallup report.
Actively disengaged employees cost American companies between US$ 450 billion and US$ 550 billion in lost productivity per year; in Germany the estimated range is €112 billion to €138 billion. And the global situation isn’t much better. These staggering figures are clearly a cause for great concern, and leaders need to look behind the curtain at the more prevalent causes for disengagement. So when last, if ever, have you conducted an employee engagement assessment in your organisation?
Engagement assessments differ from climate assessments in that the latter typically measure ‘hygiene’ issues — the extent to which employees are satisfied with their pay and working conditions. Research conducted internationally among a range of organisations has shown a clear correlation between the extent of employee engagement and customer satisfaction and profitability. As such, there is no longer any debate about the direct linkage between organisation success and an engaged, committed workforce that identifies strongly with the organisation’s vision and goals. The key issue is how to elicit and inspire greater degrees of employee engagement and to institute a measurement mechanism to determine the actual extent and degree of engagement in the workforce.
It is pointless assessing the level of engagement as a once-off intervention. Assessments need to be undertaken regularly. The initial measurement can then set a baseline against which subsequent measures, which should be established at least once every two years, can be benchmarked.
What does it measure?
Employee engagement assessments typically measure the motivational elements of the employee’s job, such as the following:
The extent to which the employee feels they are properly acknowledged for superior performance. Research has shown that being recognised regularly and consistently is a prime motivator of the ‘new millennials’, i.e. those employees who only came into the workforce in the new millennium.
- Opportunities to contribute
Is the employee encouraged and empowered to make a contribution by going the extra mile?
- The work itself
Is the job content interesting and challenging? To what extent can the job be customised to meet the employee’s expectations for meaningful work and take full advantage of the employee’s inherent strengths?
- Opportunities to grow
Both competency development and career development opportunities need to be assessed. If an employee’s realistic expectations of career advancement are not met, they will look for the right opportunity elsewhere.
- Quality of leadership
This comprises the extent to which leadership adopts a coaching management style and is seen to be interested in the employees’ needs and career development.
- Identification with the organisation’s vision and values
Are the employee’s personal values congruent with the stated organisation values and are these values visibly lived by the organisation’s leadership?
Who should do it?
It is very important to choose the right measurement tool and to accept that no one tool will be suitable for all situations in a typically diverse workforce. It is also obviously essential that the measurement methodology employed actually measures what it is designed to measure. For these and other reasons, many organisations use assessment specialists to design and administer their employee engagement assessments.
Finally, if one accepts that an engaged workforce will outperform a disengaged or ambivalent one, it is crucial to track the outcomes of the engagement assessments against predetermined performance metrics such as employee retention rates, absenteeism levels, customer satisfaction, individual performance ratings, and financial issues of increased sales revenue and profits. While the assessed level of employee engagement will not be the only determinant of improvement in these measures, the evidence internationally is that there is a direct correlation between improved levels of employee engagement and superior organisational performance.
DOWNLOAD: The Definitive Guide to Integrative Improvement to learn more about integrative improvement and how it can help you accelerate your business performance through the engagement and empowerment of your workforce.
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