If you’re only making an effort to collect employee engagement at the end of each year, then we’ve got news for you: You’re doing business wrong.
Your employees are your most valuable asset, so why aren’t you investing more time into hearing what they have to say? The more you ignore the importance of employee feedback, the more you risk your employees becoming disengaged—at a huge cost to your organization’s performance.
Annual employee engagement surveys are no longer sufficient to both gauge and address employee disengagement. Gartner reports that “traditional annual engagement surveys … should be augmented with other forms of feedback collection to build valid insights with actionable guidance” (full content available to clients).
The fact is, if you’re not measuring employee engagement, you can’t improve it.
In this article, we break down what methods you can use to improve employee engagement in your organization, including extra feedback processes. We’ve also thrown in a handy downloadable engagement template to help you define and structure your employee engagement actions.
First things first—define what employee engagement means
Before you can take action on improving and measuring employee engagement levels you need to know what an engaged workforce looks like in your organization and for your employees.
There’s no singular definition of employee engagement, but here are a few suggestions to help you work out what engagement might mean to your employees:
- Being part of a positive work culture and environment
- Having opportunities to further their learning and development
- Having a sense of purpose and feeling like they make important contributions
- Receiving regular recognition and/or rewards for their achievements
- Having flexibility to work outside of the office
- Maintaining a good work/life balance, supported by the organization.
Complement annual engagement surveys with continuous feedback
Engagement occurs when employees feel like their voices are heard. When employees only have one opportunity during the year to give their opinions and share real feedback, they’re getting the impression that engagement surveys are little more than a forced HR measure.
Here’s the main problem with annual engagement surveys: They’re retroactive, and are a one-way flow of crucial feedback. Annual surveys don’t allow managers to respond directly to concerns at the time they arise. Issues that are raised in annual engagement surveys may have been lingering for close to a year, by which point, employees start to become disengaged and unheard. And more than this, because surveys are anonymized, there’s no way to directly address the employee’s concerns face-to-face.
Annual surveys can be a good way to measure the overall pulse of the organization, but if you truly want engaged employees, you need to commit to continuous feedback loops. Managers need to solicit, provide, and encourage continuous feedback—in both directions—in order to foster a culture of open communication and thus making employees feel heard.
How to integrate continuous feedback into your organization
Continuous feedback is a mutually beneficial process. Employees feel valued, while managers can align feedback with strategic business objectives.
The great thing is that implementing continuous feedback will cost you nothing. Simply set aside time during one-on-ones, team meetings, and similar forums for giving and receiving feedback. How often you exchange feedback should be decided between managers and individual employees.
Conduct regular employee pulse surveys
Another way to solicit more timely feedback on a larger scale is to schedule regular employee pulse surveys. These surveys are a reliable way of tracking overall trends in engagement across your team and/or organization, and helps managers know where and how to take action on a more regular basis.
Because employee pulse surveys are generally a lot shorter and simpler than annual engagement surveys, they typically receive higher completion rates of around 90 to 100%. Pulse surveys are usually around five to 15 questions long and a mix of scaled questions and short open-text questions. For example:
- “On a scale of 0-10, how well has the leadership team effectively managed the recent changes in our organization?”
- “Do you feel that the leadership team takes your feedback seriously?”
How to integrate employee pulse surveys into your organization
It’s a good idea to focus on one “theme” for each pulse survey, such as gauging the success of a new workflow, the effectiveness of employee/manager communication, workplace culture, etc., as this will help to hone in on specific actions you can take.
You’ll also need to decide on a suitable survey cadence for your organization. Evaluate factors such as whether there have been any major changes in the organization recently, new management, changes in office environment/workplace, and how often you currently solicit feedback.
Next: Start improving engagement by completing an employee engagement strategy template
We know it can be overwhelming to get started on implementing new employee engagement initiatives, so we’ve created this engagement strategy template for you to map out key actions.
This employee engagement strategy template will help you lay out the actions and goals you need to take to help improve employee engagement within your organization.
You can also check out some further reading:
- Why Employee Engagement Is So Important to Retaining Your Team
- Everything You Need To Know About The Importance Of Employee Recognition
- These Are the Employee Wellness Ideas That Job Seekers Really Want
Note: The applications selected in this article are examples to show a feature in context and are not intended as endorsements or recommendations. They have been obtained from sources believed to be reliable at the time of publication.