High levels of employee engagement can make a big difference to your small business, but as with anything, in order to benefit from it and improve it, you need to be able to somehow measure it. If you can understand what your levels of engagement are now, you can identify what improvements you need to make, and can then tell whether the various things you put in place in an attempt to improve engagement have actually worked.
But ‘employee engagement’ sounds vague and fairly unquantifiable – it’s not like counting how many widgets a team has made or how many invoices remain unpaid. So how can you measure how ‘engaged’ your workforce is, both before and after?
There are various specialist online tools for measuring engagement, and improving it. Some of these are particularly aimed at small businesses, so this type of product isn’t necessarily something which is only accessible to bigger organisations. Cost isn’t necessarily prohibitive either, especially when set against the tangible financial benefits genuine improvements to employee engagement can bring.
These tools can give engagement ‘scores’ which do make it feel more quantifiable and easy-to-understand, as well as helping pinpoint specific areas for improvement, making sure that steps you take are as effective and efficient as possible.
It’s fairly easy to put together your own staff survey through cheap or free survey tools online, such as survey monkey, to gain information about how staff are feeling about their jobs, the work of the organisation and their experiences at work.
You can use questions that are based on a number of statements, with employees being invited to rate how much they agree or disagree with the statements, or open questions inviting feedback, or a mixture of both.
Our article on key factors relevant to employee engagement may be a useful starting point with what sort of thing you might want to ask in your survey, but there is plenty of help available in designing suitable questions to get an accurate picture.
As well as survey questions and scoring systems, there are a variety of more informal tools you can use to gain a greater understanding of how engaged your workforce is, and identify areas for improvement.
Team meetings or individual meetings can be useful, either specifically for this purpose, or even if they are regular meetings not for this specific purpose, the level of participation in discussion can help indicate whether staff feel able to raise concerns, and feel their input is valued.
Performance review processes can provide a good source of information, either through specific questions on the relevant subjects, or by reviewing the contents of any self-appraisal element to the process, particularly any opportunity staff have during the process to give upward feedback,
You could conduct specific focus groups to gain more detailed information, and there may be a variety of other feedback opportunities that may help as well, such as customer surveys, online reviews and colleague testimonials.
Any effective measurement of employee engagement levels will contain information about a variety of factors, and will be broken down into whatever categories are most useful for you – by department, location, team or function. If the data you gather doesn’t allow any breakdown, it will hamper your efforts to address issues and identify the most effective improvements.
Once you have your data, and have a breakdown enabling you to identify areas of concern, the single most vital thing is to remember is the importance of actually doing something with all that information. Too often we see businesses of all sizes identify that there is a problem somewhere, or an improvement that could be made, and don’t somehow get around to actually doing anything about it.
Remember that trust and integrity and credibility of leadership and employees feeling that they have a ‘voice’ in the organisation are both key indicators of high engagement levels, and make sure you do something with the information you get, acknowledging areas of concern and taking visible steps to improve things.
If you would like advice and ideas on measuring engagement levels in your small business, do get in touch.