As the tradition of an all-day office arrangement becomes less effective than remote working — possibly even riskier — much of the workforce is now confined their makeshift home offices, relying on internet connections and new technology. This sudden change to remote working has changed how employees can be managed and measured. With so many variables, how can managers supervise teams from afar? Better yet, considering how mobile and dynamic workers can be, how can employers measure engagement in this new working climate?
Employee engagement is elusive and often difficult to capture. Not every company shares the same meaning; where some focus on satisfaction or happiness, others might more closely align its definition with a sense of measurable performance, professionalism and the effectiveness of an employee to satisfy business objectives.
While the exact nature of employee engagement seems hard to pin down, and schemes are not typically shared between firms, the challenges they all face almost always are.
Businesses share similar barriers to success, which have become so common they start to feel familiar to many professionals.
- Saturated or muddled comms channels. The influx of new technology is both a haven and a frustration for remote teams; too much and it becomes confusing, too little and it risks isolating talent. The saturation, or overabundance, of tech can be harmful, just as much as lacking the proper channels can ensure teams won’t communicate. Balance is the goal and, before introducing new platforms, consider their unique value to your team and wider organization.
- Proper investment into engagement programs. Employee engagement needs investment and executive buy-in for its success. Policies and protocols alike should be written, distributed and managed regularly, ensuring the expectations are universal across your business. An engagement program is only as effective as its authors – which is a collaboration between HR, L&D department, and key seniority figures.
- An unsure culture. The emotional and intellectual commitments of your employees will be directly moved by the role and support of your business. If the culture is founded properly on professionalism and commitment in strong measure, then the outcomes of work should follow high standards too. In the absence of a structured, driven workplace — one with demonstrable spirit and culture — then the performances of employees may start to struggle.
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Measuring Employee Engagement
Here are some tips for measuring employee engagement.
- Embrace metrics (such as OKR). Having your engagement program goal-posted to tangible metrics or measurables will draw a more accurate picture of success, because its numeric, rather than a woolly interpretation. This will help employees to understand their performance more simply. It also eliminates interpretation and makes the process of reflection, overall, far more transparent.
Metrics like Objective Key Results, or OKRs, measure the effectiveness of employee engagement schemes. This clever solution, which embraces metrics to clarify performance, will make it easier to define the success rate (or failure) of an engagement initiative. An application of OKR can be as simple as you make it.
- Drive results. Another helpful tool is the employee Net Promoter Scores (or eNPS), which will help managers to gauge more honestly (and truthfully) the satisfaction of employees by understanding their experiences. Unlike OKRs, which are objective, eNPS aim to demystify employee experiences, to reveal a score about the wider culture of business. This metric works like an employee recommendation, which expresses their level of satisfaction with a business.
- Build plans firmly on information over guesswork. Touchpoints in your engagement program should include company-wide, tailored surveys, regular one-to-ones, and even focus groups. Gatherings with real face-to-face time, supported with confidential (possibly anonymous) surveying can give real insight into your employees. You need to ensure that how you extract this information isn’t misguided, or prompts favorable answers, rather than gleaming honest representations of your business and its internal culture.
Overall, these tools — surveys, meetings, and focus groups — should help uncover the (many) layers of employee perception, which is otherwise difficult to measure and calculate.
Companies should embrace flexibility to overcome the riddle of measuring employee engagement. Employee engagement strategies can learn and improve from metric-based methods of evaluating satisfaction and happiness, understanding the honest and uncensored view of your business. Metrics are clear tells about the health of an organization’s perception from the people that matter: your employees.