When leaders approach communication and human resources professionals to ask for an employee engagement plan, what are they really asking for? Sometimes, they are simply asking for a tactic—a celebration or other event designed to make employees happy. Some are asking for programs to help employees manage through change smoothly. Others are looking for comprehensive programs that ensure employee loyalty and discretionary effort that will have a direct impact on an organization’s products and services.
For me, it’s always been crystal clear that leaders are truly asking for change that can impact an organization’s bottom line and goals. A successful engagement strategy is simply measured through positive business results: Employees being productive every day, living the brand promise and delivering a positive customer experience. When the tactic or effort does not have this kind of impact, leaders believe that the employee engagement effort has failed.
So herein lies our challenge: Beginning engagement efforts with the right goals and measurement methods in mind.
Part of the problem is that most engagement surveys measure three key factors. I’ll use the definition used by Aon Hewitt. They measure if an employee stays with the organization, says good things about the organization and its products/services, and strives to go above and beyond. Most measurement is received through the annual employee survey and is based on self-evaluation. An employee decides how they will rate themselves on these questions.
I started struggling with this definition several years ago when I worked with Canada’s largest grocer, with a workforce of more than 100,000 employees. It had a large unionized workforce and a turnover that made sense, given that many employees were students, seasonal workers and people starting out in their careers....
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