Defining Employee Engagement * It Is What You Need It to Be

I’ve followed and been involved in discussions too numerous to count on the proper definition of employee engagement, is engagement real or just the latest HR buzz word, and similar. The reality is well expressed by APQC in a recent Workforce Management article about a study of various leading organizations and their engagement efforts:

“Each organization in the study is clear about what it means to be an engaged employee. That definition is reinforced through standard processes and practices for collecting employee engagement information.”

Each organization defined engagement differently, depending on their company’s priorities, goals and experiences. And this is just fine. The catch is that companies must be able to define engagement for their environment, and then set clear processes and metrics to measure engagement consistently on an ongoing basis. These processes and metrics must be established before engagement efforts begin in earnest or results will be skewed. As I’ve said before, if you don’t know what you’re working towards before you begin, how will you know when you’ve arrived?

APQC indicates the benefits of high levels of employee engagement based on both qualitative anecdotes and quantitative research as:

• Increased quality, productivity and attendance
• Increased new product innovation.
• Reduced in team member turnover (19%) and workers’ compensation claims (27%)
• Increased net revenue (22%)
• Increased EBITDA (43%)

But what are the risk factors of creating an environment in which workers cannot engage? A poll cited on the Engagement Factor blog found those who are disengaged:

• See job responsibilities and assignments as tasks to get done with less regard for the impact
• Strive for the path of least resistance versus working toward maximum results
• Exhibit self oriented behavior versus an interest in their customers and team Procrastinate

If you’re ready to begin measuring employee engagement in your organization, a succinct resource is from HR Magazine, offering suggestions for defining engagement for your organization, distinguishing employee engagement from employee satisfaction and what that means for how you measure both, who should be involved in structuring the surveys, and tricks of the trade.

Paul Hebert of i2i just reminded me in a comment to include the Enterprise Engagement Indicator, which provides both a measure of how ready your organization is for engagement activities as well as what your current level of engagement is within your organization. Thank you for the recommendation, Paul!

How do you define engagement in your organization?

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