How to measure employee engagement and morale

Written by

Vinay Goel

Published

August 4, 2021

Employee engagement has been established as an important catalyst for success, growth and productivity. But if leaders don’t clearly understand the root cause of disengagement, it can sometimes be a case of too little, too late. Good intentions aside, the reality is that only 15% of employees globally consider themselves to be engaged at work, with 18% saying they felt decidedly discouraged in their roles.


Without tracking relevant metrics and benchmarks, HR departments risk implementing an ineffective plan, missing real opportunities for meaningful engagement, and potentially wasting resources. This makes it challenging to create a strong business case for employee engagement programs. One particularly illuminating statistic is that only 25% of companies in the UK have specific engagement objectives, despite engagement being a top priority for employers across the country. For many companies, clear and actionable metrics can bridge the gap between employee engagement being a ‘priority’ and it being a defining feature of their workplace culture.


In this article, we’re exploring practical, actionable ways to measure employee engagement and morale to keep your efforts on the right track and make a compelling case for employee engagement.

How do I measure employee engagement, employee experience and morale?


Firstly, it’s important to differentiate between engagement, experience and morale, as these will each require specific metrics for effective tracking and measurement.


Employee engagement is the level of commitment an employee offers an organisation, their level of contribution and the energy they invest in their role. Morale is about how enthusiastic an employee feels about their job and the organisation. Employee experience is driven by external factors and is focused on the work environment itself, tools, amenities and the support an employee receives.

Recommended methods for measuring employee engagement


There are several different methods for measuring key engagement metrics, each with their own unique benefits and challenges. Leaders may benefit from using a combination of the following methods for a rich, well-rounded insight into workplace culture.

Surveys


Anonymous surveys are a good way to get a feel for the ‘sentiment’ your employees hold towards your organisation. They should be formatted to support multiple choice answers and numerical ratings (e.g. satisfaction scores) to make benchmarking and mapping over time more effective. 


Surveys are especially useful in larger organisations where you want to get a good overall sense of engagement in different teams, departments and at different levels of the business. In smaller businesses, the pool of employees may be too limited to get a general picture of engagement.


Successfully implementing an engagement survey starts with defining your goals - what you hope to achieve from the process. Be as specific as possible - for example, are you trying to benchmark against your industry? Are you evaluating a problem you have already identified but don’t know the full scope of? Are you trying to design a targeted engagement initiative?

Be sure to include leading questions that expand on issues and provide more specific insights. A good example would be, “What do you feel drives your success at work?” with answers to choose from that include management support, personal career goals or a passion for the work itself.

In-person interviews


One-on-one conversations are a good way to get to understand the engagement levels on an individual level. Using standardised questions and topics, you can more easily map sentiment over time and separate individual trends from organisational ones. Take exit interviews, for example. If only one of the ten people who have left in the year have criticised their leader’s management style, this could be more of an individual qualm than an organisational one. However, if this issue continues to rear its head in exit interviews, then HR teams have grounds for further investigation.


In-person interviews are good for organisations of any size, as one-on-one facetime helps to keep employees, HR representatives and management in touch with one another. However, it’s worth noting that they should be handled by HR professionals as well as management to ensure fairness and objectivity.

Sentiment analysis 


This option utilises machine learning to explore, track and map employee sentiment over time. Using state-of-the-art people analytics software and mapping against key trends and metrics, sentiment analysis platforms such as Totem’s people analytics platform engages employees to curate and supply key analytics and insights to the organisation.


Sentiment analysis is a good choice for both large and small companies, as it uses minimal resources to analyse and report on any number of employees engaged at the organisation. For small companies with more limited resources, it allows a single platform to perform engagement analysis and reporting without putting pressure on the organisation’s resources. For large organisations, it allows every team, level and department to participate equally, saving time and resources for busy HR departments.

Choosing the right employee engagement metrics and KPIs


A common question asked about employee engagement is how to track it in a way that is measurable, accurate and actionable. Here are the metrics to prioritise when you’re tackling the complex issue of employee engagement.

Absenteeism


High levels of absenteeism can be caused by several different issues. It could be a brief spike due to an external factor (for example 24% of UK employees admit to having called in sick to watch a sporting event), or a more sustained pattern due to issues such as illness, stress or family responsibilities. Whether employees are burnt out or feel that their workplace isn’t providing adequate support, they are far more likely to become disengaged. They will begin working just to get by, rather than being an active participant in an organisation reaching its long-term objectives.


In times of high absenteeism, one-on-one interviews, surveys and sentiment analysis can help get to the bottom of the issue by uncovering these underlying causes. It may be that an employee is struggling with remote working or balancing personal and professional commitments. Uncovering common causes for absenteeism is a crucial first step to increasing engagement, reducing turnover and on the whole creating a more positive, supportive workplace culture.

Staff turnover and retention


Usually, when companies have high retention rates it means they’re doing something right. On the flip side, when companies suffer from high turnover it often means that their mission, culture or leadership is not properly engaging their employees.


By measuring staff turnover and retention, leaders can find common reasons for employees leaving. This then forms the basis of well-informed, targeted problem-solving to fix common pain points in an organisation’s culture. Potential solutions may include more flexible work hours or guided support and development. But leaders cannot simply pluck a solution out of the air in the hopes that it will fix a specific problem. They need actionable data so they can implement the right solution and measure its effectiveness over time.

Productivity and profitability 


Disengaged, low morale or unhappy employees are more likely to only put in as much work as they need to earn their salary, while engaged employees are meeting their best productivity levels. According to Gallup, just 8% of employees in the UK are engaged at work, while 73% are not engaged (putting little energy into their work), and 19% are actively disengaged (acting out their unhappiness at work). This means that just 1 in 12 employees are being their most productive, affecting your organisation’s long-term profitability. 


Sentiment analysis, interviews and surveys are a good way to start identifying and overcoming issues that are hindering productivity. Key areas for disengagement uncovered by Gallup’s report included not being given the opportunity to do their best work, and a lack of support in career and skills development. This is interesting because it indicates that there is a clear desire in employees to reach their full potential and contribute, making this an opportunity for organisations to jump in and improve productivity and profitability.

90-day new hire failure rate


Employees can become engaged and motivated with the right staff engagement initiatives and programs. New hires are a good source of information on whether organisational engagement processes are needed, or if current processes and initiatives are hitting the right target. 


If new hires are leaving within the first 3 months, this indicates serious problems that need further investigation. Specifically, it can reveal serious flaws in either the recruitment process or onboarding. Either the wrong people are being hired, or new team members aren’t getting the support and leadership needed to settle in and reach their full potential. Onboarding interviews and exit interviews are useful in these instances, so HR teams can discover exactly where the biggest flaws lie.

Employee Net Promoter Scores (eNPS)


Net Promoter Scores (NPS) are widely used by organisations to rate customer service and experience, but these 1-10 question surveys are also very useful for monitoring employee morale, experience and engagement. Questions about feeling valued at work, the ability to balance work and life commitments, or the quality of leadership are all good focus points for this type of anonymous survey.


eNPS is a very effective way to get a big picture view of engagement and morale in the workplace, as it maps general sentiment in key areas. So, how does it work? Your survey should have a specific focus area in line with your goals - for example, if employees feel valued at work. Each question has a 1-10 rating scale for employees to fill in their individual responses. The NPS is then calculated as the percentage of promoters (people who scored 7-10) minus the percentage of detractors (those who scored 0-6) to create an average.


At Totem, we’re taking the hard work out of measuring and mapping employee engagement. By using innovative machine learning technologies, our people analytics software offers a platform that collects and analyses employee sentiment and key engagement metrics to deliver actionable workplace engagement insights. Sign up for FREE today, or request a demo of Totem’s employee engagement platform.