by Pete Tosh
Founder, The Focus Group
How Engaged are Your Employees?
The most recent employee engagement numbers from the Gallup organization indicated that employee engagement is slowly improving in the US. Their March 2016 report indicates engagement levels at 34.1%. While the numbers have been creeping steadily upward since 2011, it’s not a glowing report. Gallup’s recent interviews found 49.5% of employees were “not engaged” and 16.5% were “actively disengaged.”
Think about your organization. If you surveyed your employees, would the results be better than the national average? Hopefully so, but wouldn’t it be good to know? Even if a higher percentage of your employees are engaged, is there still room for improvement?
The benefits of improving employee engagement have been well documented. In the past decade, literally dozens of research studies have indicated increases in productivity, customer satisfaction, fewer accidents, and other positive outcomes in workplaces that have focused on creating a culture of engagement. Increasing employee engagement has a positive impact on the bottom line.
So, how do you do it? Let’s look at how the process worked in one large organization.
The client was a worldwide organization with several facilities in the US. The VP of Human Resources got in touch because he had heard of the Employee Engagement Survey and wanted to learn more. The company was metrics driven. They relied on data to measure Key Perfomance Indicators (KPIs) – quality, ship times, and other operational efficiencies. They believed that increasing employee engagement would have a positive overall effect, and they were seeking a way to measure improvements.
We talked about the process, the methodology, and the potential benefits, and the management group agreed that conducting the survey would be a logical first step. Together, we identified the specific objectives and defined the survey segments – by facility, and by supervisor within each facility.
An Opportunity for Employees
The VP was conscious that the survey might be viewed as “another useless exercise from corporate,” so we made a special effort to explain the value. Information was sent to each facility management team and work team, communicating the company’s real interest in each employee’s perspective. We toured the survey sites and used a Powerpoint presentation to introduce the survey to groups of employees, again affirming the objectives: listening to their opinions, encouraging their development, and providing the opportunity for them to do what they do best each day.
After the surveys were completed at each of the facilities, the results were compiled. We prepared a report that analyzed results by location, by supervisor, and by question. Comparisons to a database of previous surveys from similar organizations were also provided to identify areas of strength and opportunities for improvement. We met with the management group to discuss the results, and then continued working with them to create an action plan that could be implemented across the organization, but would work directly to strengthen each supervisor’s skills.
A year later, we duplicated the process using the same survey at the same locations, with the same work team segments. Using the previous survey as a benchmark, employee engagement increased by 10%. The VP and the management team were delighted with the results and with the capability they had developed to correlate changes in employee engagement with their other KPIs.
Does this approach make sense for your organization?
There’s very little downside risk to an investment in employee engagement. The return from even small improvements in productivity, downtime, or turnover can pay off in multiples of the cost to implement a plan to increase employee engagement. The logical first step is an Employee Engagement Survey.
Georgia Employers’ Association has recently improved our methodology and reduced the cost of our survey to only $17/employee for GEA member companies.