Employee engagement is a tricky subject, and even trickier to measure. Being tricky, though, does not excuse leaders from constantly monitoring it, due to the tremendous impact it has on performance.
Job Satisfaction is so hard to measure accurately. How do you know if someone is truly engaged? How do you know what "engagement" means? There are so many definitions of the word, that it's hard to tell if an employee is engaged or not.
Research from Gallup has grouped employees into one of three buckets; actively disengaged, not engaged, and engaged.
It's easy to tell if an employee is "actively disengaged." They're completely checked-out, and actively seek employment elsewhere. The most challenging groups to deal with are those that are engaged, as leaders seek to keep them engaged and the more the better, and those that are not engaged, or we should rather call it 'insufficiently engaged' as those are the employees that with the right amount of boost, can perform well and get back on track.
Feeling the vibe at the office is important but absolutely insufficient as leaders are not always the first choice of employees in terms of who to share their frustration with, fearing loss of employment or looked at as negative or troublemakers. Annual surveys, which are utilized by many companies, are also far from enough. Employee engagement is far too critical to the company's success than to be measured once a year.
Pulse Surveys, which are short surveys conducted on a more frequent basis (determined by need and an evaluation of urgency and severity of employee engagement challenges) are a much more hands on tool, as long as they are short, take no longer than two to three minutes, and provide a good picture of where employees are at. Scaling questions work great for Pulse Surveys and I find them to be the most effective. Having said that, Pulse Surveys would be insufficient unless accompanied by frequent Pulse Meetings that would allow leaders to ask open-ended questions, gather information and let the employees do most of the talking.
Suggested topics for Pulse Meetings may include:
1. Brainstorming of ways to improve self, team, unit, company.
2. Reports of experience with team members and at the workplace overall
3. Gathering of information, which may be essential for broader picture: is employee going through a personal crisis? Health issues? Be careful not to probe, but be there and offer support when needed
4. Mutual discussion of challenges, and brainstorming of ways to overcome obstacles.
5. Genuine active listening to ideas and suggestions