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How To Measure Employee Engagement in the Modern Workplace

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Engaged employees are key to any enterprise’s success. Here’s how to measure employee engagement metrics and form initiatives for higher engagement levels.

 

What is employee engagement? Employee engagement is the amount of enthusiasm and emotional investment an individual team member has in their company, colleagues, and overall mission of the organization. Engaged employees are more dedicated to achieving their goals, supporting their coworkers, and contributing to the enterprise’s operations and culture.

Not only do high engagement levels help individual employees succeed, but employee engagement is also critical to any company’s success A Gallup report revealed that organizations with engaged employees have 21% higher profitability, and another Gallup survey showed that companies with engagement rates in the top 20% experience 59% less employee turnover and a 41% shrink in absenteeism.

In order to improve employee engagement, you have to measure it first. Unfortunately, traditional employee engagement techniques aren’t enough for the modern enterprise. Using a workforce analytics platform like ActivTrak to supply managers and employees with in-depth visibility into working habits so they can find opportunities to boost engagement levels and improve the employee experience while yielding better business outcomes.

In this article, we’ll cover the importance of measuring employee engagement and explore why traditional methods alone aren’t suited for the modern enterprise. We’ll then go over some better ways to measure employee engagement and support the right employee engagement strategy for you, your team, and your enterprise.


Why Measure Employee Engagement?

Measuring employee engagement is important not just for productivity and profitability, but also for company culture and retention. Employees who are not engaged at work tend to feel more burnt out, leaving them less motivated and unsatisfied in their positions. In turn, these employees are more likely to stop collaborating or communicating with coworkers, work less productively, and even leave the organization. All of this contributes to even more disengagement in your company, resulting in a vicious cycle that costs U.S. employers around $500 billion each year.

At its core, measuring employee engagement is all about supporting team members in the most effective ways. With productivity data, managers can uncover quantifiable ways to measure engagement. Productivity data provides insights into hours spent working, time spent per application, how often employees are context switching or multi-tasking, and other patterns and trends. This helps managers intervene as soon as possible, reallocate resources, and assess other ways to boost employee engagement.

Productivity data also supplies employees with an objective, data-driven approach to measuring their personal engagement levels. This enables employees to advocate for themselves and the support they need, and even rearrange their schedule to accommodate the ways they work best. By allowing employees and managers to share visibility into employee engagement levels, productivity data helps everyone feel satisfied with their engagement levels and fulfilled in their roles.


Why Employee Engagement Surveys Alone Aren’t Enough

Many companies rely on employee engagement surveys in order to measure levels of employee engagement. However, surveys aren’t actually the best way for enterprises to measure employee engagement. Although tools like pulse surveys can yield some valuable insights and should never be discounted entirely, some gaps occur when companies exclusively leverage more traditional methods of measuring employee engagement.

  • Surveys don’t typically offer holistic insights

Employee engagement surveys can offer a great snapshot of employee engagement and sentiment, but that’s all they offer: a snapshot. The fact is most employee engagement surveys are conducted infrequently and anything can happen over the course of three months, much less six months or a year. Employees can become disengaged for many reasons — staff turnovers, workplace policy shifts, and changing projects, just to name a few — and infrequent or even annual engagement surveys don’t really capture a full picture of overall employee engagement. Instead, they usually capture a “snapshot” of employee engagement at a specific point in time that is not necessarily reflective of overall trends.

Similarly, infrequent employee engagement surveys are plagued by “recency bias.” It’s natural for employees to focus on the most recent happenings while responding to a survey, but that doesn’t necessarily result in the most informative responses. Thanks to recency bias, many surveys only gauge how an employee is feeling at a particular moment, rather than an overarching and continuous view of overall engagement.

  • Surveys don’t work for employees

In the modern workplace employee engagement surveys can sometimes feel a little old school. They can be time-consuming, confusing, and full of too many questions for an employee to reasonably answer effectively. Completing these surveys can take time away from employees, preventing productivity and suppressing engagement without delivering the valuable insights employers seek.

These issues are compounded by the fact that surveys tend to ask the wrong questions about employee emotions, motives, and options. The open-ended questions are often vague and highly subjective, while the “yes or no” questions are too simple. Neither approach gives managers any indication of how to improve. Survey questions like these may also encourage employees to give perfunctory or even untruthful answers. Even on anonymous surveys, employees might still feel hesitant to answer truthfully for fear of being scrutinized. For surveys to work, it’s important for employers to keep all these challenges in mind when designing their questions.

  • Surveys don’t lead to action plans

Even if they can offer helpful general insights, survey results don’t generate actionable insights, and it’s notoriously difficult to implement real change from a survey.

Take the Employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS), a common survey for measuring employee engagement, as an example. A single question — usually along the lines of, “How likely are you to recommend working at your organization?” — is answered on an 11-point scale from 0 to 10. Then, the organization’s eNPS engagement score is tallied up by subtracting the “Detractors” (0-6) from the “Promoters” (9 or 10) and ignoring the “Passives” (7 or 8). This type of survey doesn’t offer insight into employee sentiment, nor does it offer a way to help the number of employees marked “Passive” or neutral. Managers need employee engagement strategies that consider everyone, and encourage all team members to get involved in boosting engagement.

Although the insights delivered by employee engagement surveys, including the eNPS, can be useful and are far better than never checking in with your employees about their engagement levels, they rarely provide enough information on their own to help employers understand and proactively improve employee engagement.


Instead of only relying on infrequent surveys, managers should capture their employees’ engagement levels by analyzing everyday activities, habits, and trends.This enables team leaders to take a continuous, action-oriented approach to measuring employee engagement. Here are three tips for team leaders on how to more fully measure employee engagement:

  1. Focus on quantifiable data — With data-driven views of employee engagement, managers can analyze continuous measurements of employee engagement over time. Instead of point-in-time surveys with potentially subjective answers, data provides a solid foundation for identifying issues and collaborating toward solutions. The integrity of concrete data also enables team leaders to accurately and confidently advocate on their team’s behalf.
  2. Collect everything with a purpose — Thoughtful, intentional data collection helps managers and employees gain visibility into engagement levels. This enables managers to ignite constructive conversations around improving engagement and allows employees to brainstorm and propose their own engagement-boosting solutions. As a result, all team members can contribute to a culture of continuous improvement.
  3. Become an effective coach — Effective coaching can help managers zero in on the right insights and quickly take action. There are four steps to being an effective coach: first, identify employee challenges and the teams that need support. Second, collaborate to dive into the issue and diagnose its source. Third, drive transparent conversations with team members in order to find solutions. Finally, track and assess all changes in engagement levels.

Measuring employee engagement is an ongoing process, and it works best when everyone is involved at every stage. Through these three suggestions, managers can accurately assess employee engagement levels and collaborate with team members on ways to boost engagement and productivity.


Measuring Employee Engagement the ActivTrak Way

At ActivTrak, we believe managers can improve their employees’ engagement, well-being, and job satisfaction through targeted enablement. Our platform gathers all kinds of workforce analytics in order to provide managers with quantifiable insights, which helps managers gain visibility into team-wide engagement levels.

ActivTrak uses intuitive dashboards to show overall summaries of activity and drill down into employee engagement metrics. By letting managers and team members view their engagement analytics, everyone can work together to spot early indicators of disengagement and effectively target root causes. Also, ActivTrak’s granular reports help managers spot trends in working patterns, make sense of work data, and promote healthier and more sustainable work habits. Not only does this help promote engagement and prevent burnout, but also helps cultivate a culture of improvement.

Managers can also use employee activity data to establish engagement benchmarks and baselines. Managers can gauge engagement levels across their teams and get alerted when certain employees fall severely below or rise above certain thresholds, enabling them to make smart choices about workflows and resources that will support employee engagement.

The ActivTrak platform also supplies managers with coaching opportunities in the form of employee-facing views, leaderboards, and personalized recommendations. These features encourage managers to involve employees in the measurement of their own engagement, and automated emails through ActivTrak enable managers to consistently share insights with employees. In turn, managers can become more effective coaches who create long-lasting change.


Boost Engagement with Data-Driven Strategies

There’s no doubt that employee engagement is critical to any company. Numerous studies have shown how engaged employees are more present at work and more satisfied in their roles, which helps the entire organization succeed. Employee engagement must be measured accurately, consistently, and in ways that promote real change — and surveys, especially on their own, don’t offer enough data for the modern enterprise.

Instead, managers should purposefully collect quantifiable data to measure employee engagement and become effective coaches. The ActivTrak platform allows managers to take a data-driven approach. By collecting workforce analytics and displaying them through easy-to-understand visualizations, managers and employees can understand their engagement and promote better work habits together. Teams can reference benchmarks and thresholds to measure their goals and progress, and managers can leverage customized recommendations for individuals.

Keeping employees engaged is simple with ActivTrak, and our platform benefits employees and managers alike. Through workforce analytics, the ActivTrak approach and platform actively encourages healthy, happy, and engaged employees who are ready to do their best work for their organization. Start measuring employee engagement today, and use our employee engagement platform to boost employee engagement, employee retention, and employee satisfaction.

 Pro-Tips

  1. Create a culture of continuous improvement and collaboration by purposefully, consistently, and accurately collecting data.
  2. Focus on coaching, not criticizing. Being an effective coach means empowering employees to boost their own engagement and offering personalized tips.
  3. Ensure employees have visibility into their data, so they can understand their own engagement levels. Remember the ActivTrak motto: insight, not oversight!

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