Employee engagement is widely regarded as in something of a crisis at the moment, with study after study revealing the depths to which it has plummeted in organizations around the world.
Whilst there are many articles out there talking about the way managers can look to improve employee engagement, this one is going to instead look at how it can be measured. I believe there are some clear similarities between how engagement amongst employees is measured with that of customers.
The most common method for testing sentiment amongst customers is the focus group or survey. These set piece events court opinion from a relative minority of the target group, and are typically conducted outside of the time of actual engagement with the company.
Social media has altered this approach by allowing organizations to monitor what is being said about them in real-time, and by using analytical software, sentiment can then be extracted from this data to determine how happy people are. Not only is this data providing real time insight, it also gives organizations much greater breadth of insight, thus allowing individualized responses rather than the mass market approach forced upon them by sampling.
Similar principles exist for measuring engagement within the organization. The annual staff survey is often the predominant tool used to test for engagement and works in much the same way as customer surveys. Not only is the set piece event not a timely request for feedback, it also fails to provide detailed and actionable insights into how people are really feeling.
Contrast that with peer to peer performance appraisal systems that allow employees to share their thoughts in real time. Such systems are more akin to the data received from customer comments made on social media. They provide managers with extensive data on the relationships employees are having with one another. Data analytics then turns this information into trends and insights that shed light on the general mood of the organization.
It does it in a way that allows managers to spot warning signs in real time, whilst also of course contrasting poorly performing siloes with their stronger peers elsewhere in the organization.
Employee engagement rightly holds a strong place in the minds of managers, but without the right tools for measuring and analysing employee sentiment, it seems unlikely that the engagement battle will be won any time soon.