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How Do You Measure Employee Engagement?

If your goal is to improve employee engagement at your firm, you first need to find out just how engaged your employees are now. Discover various ways to gauge employee engagement, both now and in the future. These include employee surveys, exit interviews, “stay” interviews, and other engagement barometers such as training investment and employee referrals.

A balanced scorecard is also helpful, not just in measuring employee engagement but also in assessing performance in general. This approach can be applied to organizations as a whole, to teams, and to individuals.

Speaking of measuring individual performance, odds are, you'll want to retool the performance appraisal process at your firm to gain a more accurate read. Your new process should involve establishing goals for employees that are specific and achievable — an engagement driver in and of itself.

The performance appraisal process should also help employees develop their own employee development plan — that is, their own sense of where they are in the company and where they're going.

Employees who demonstrate high performance should be duly recognized and rewarded. Positive reinforcement is a key pillar of engagement. It's not enough to simply tell your employees that you want them to perform; you must also recognize that performance and perhaps even reward it.

Consider rewards (which usually have a cost associated with them) and recognition (which are typically free or of minimal cost), both essential components of an effective engagement strategy.

On the flip side, employees who fail to perform also need your attention. What can you do to help a struggling employee get back on track? First, you must identify the cause of the poor performance. (If you guessed “disengagement,” you're right!) Then you can take steps to address the problem.

Only in very rare circumstances should this involve firing the employee. Typically only bad bosses or bosses who make poor hiring decisions routinely give employees the ax. Good bosses — bosses who are engaged — have an ongoing performance-related dialogue with their employees, giving their staff the chance to improve long before their performance becomes cause for termination.

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