September 17, 2018
Gallup’s Q12 survey is the current industry standard of measuring employee engagement. It asks employees how strongly they agree or disagree with 12 statements. A few of these statements are:
Gallup presents their findings in their yearly State of the American Workplace report.
Of the companies analyzed, trust in a manager is the most common metric of engagement. 9 of the 12 companies ask this. The second most common metric is having a supportive, positive work environment. Open communication and alignment with the company’s values and purpose are third.
In contrast, there are some factors that only a few of the surveyed companies measure. Two companies measure employee ambassadorship. One measures collaboration, organizational agility, and the employee’s holistic happiness. Another outlier uses “innovation” when measuring employee engagement. But an employee can engage without being innovative, or innovative without engaging. Certainly, asking the right question is a difficult problem to solve.
Traditional methods of measuring employee engagement don’t reveal true nature of engagement. Or disengagement for that matter. They are also out of touch with the way we live today. Yet, some companies are on the right track. Seven of them measure employee alignment with company values and mission statement. But a mission statement means different things to each individual employee. Wouldn’t it be better for employees to define their work purpose in their own words? In a way that makes sense and is meaningful to them?
The second difficulty to overcome when measuring employee engagement is timing. Feedback is most useful when it’s ongoing, easy to provide, and able to benchmark against goals. So, meet your employees where they are and request feedback on their terms for best results. People are more reflective at home or on the sidelines of their children’s soccer games than at the office. A survey available on their smartphone is preferable.
Lastly, the largest hole in measuring employee engagement data is “quality of life.” Employees require meaning and purpose in their broader lives to find meaning at work. If an employee engages outside of work, it usually means they engage with their roles at work as well.