Human resources (HR) professionals and company leaders are increasingly tasked with assessing and improving employee engagement within the workforce – but where do you begin? The first step is to conduct an engagement study. Often referred to as an annual employee survey or employee satisfaction survey, the engagement study will establish a baseline for understanding where you are as an organization and provide detailed insight for guiding efforts to improve engagement and retention in your workforce.

The challenge is that not all engagement studies are created equal. This makes it critical that you ensure your engagement study delivers on five key objectives to effectively inform your next steps and achieve your organizational goals. As business leaders increasingly focus on measuring and improving employee engagement, research and survey companies continuously introduce new employee engagement survey methods and tools. Many of these new survey tools focus on measuring engagement itself, which is contradictory to the definition of engagement, and miss the mark on delivering insights to effectively inform next steps.

When evaluating the objectives of engagement studies, you must consider the proven definition of employee engagement. Research tells us that employee engagement is a consistently changing state of mind, unique to each employee and impacted by workplace conditions surrounding the organization, manager, team and job. Furthermore, research shows that an engagement study must use an open-ended methodology to collect all possible workplace characteristics that are impacting the workplace conditions, or drivers, of engagement for each employee.

Below are five objectives engagement studies must deliver to effectively guide engagement and retention in your organizations.

  1. Understand attitudes around workplace conditions that drive engagement
  2. Identify opportunities to improve workplace conditions that drive engagement
  3. Uncover insights to develop highly targeted engagement strategies
  4. Assess intent to stay and turnover risks
  5. Discover potential compliance issues

Make sure your first step to increasing engagement and retention in your workforce is the start of a successful journey to achieve desired business outcomes. Ensure your engagement study clearly delivers upon the five objectives outlined above in order to establish a solid baseline and obtain specific guidance to begin increasing employee engagement amongst your workforce. And again, proceed with caution – not all tools are created equal.

 

References

  1. Harter, J. K., Schmidt, F. L., & Hayes, T. L. (2002). Business-unit-level relationship between employee satisfaction, employee engagement, and business outcomes: a meta-analysis.  Journal of Applied Psychology, 87(2), 268-279.
  2. Schaufeli, W. B., Salanova, M., González-Romá, V., & Bakker, A. B. (2002). The measurement of engagement and burnout: A two sample confirmatory factor analytic approach. Journal of Happiness Studies, 3(1), 71-92.
  3. Shirom, A. (2003). Feeling vigorous at work? The construct of vigor and the study of positive affect in organizations. In Emotional and physiological processes and positive intervention strategies (pp. 135-164). Emerald Group Publishing Limited.
  4. Langelaan, S., Bakker, A. B., Van Doornen, L. J., & Schaufeli, W. B. (2006). Burnout and work engagement: Do individual differences make a difference?. Personality and Individual Differences, 40(3), 521-532.
  5. Saks, A. M. (2006). Antecedents and consequences of employee engagement. Journal of Managerial Psychology, 21(7), 600-619
  6. Sears, Lindsay E. and Fynes, Jamie “Work Institute Drivers Model: The Most Important Workplace Conditions for Engagement and Retention”.