Business Leadership Today

Four Ways To Evaluate Employee Engagement


Muriel Call, Staff Writer

Employee engagement encapsulates the passion and commitment an employee exhibits toward their job. Engaged employees invest their energy and dedication into their work, believing their contributions significantly impact the organization’s performance. 

Their motivation extends beyond the monetary compensation they receive, as they perceive a direct correlation between their personal well-being, their performance, and the overall success of the company.

Employee engagement has emerged as a critical priority in the workplace. It acts as a catalyst for innovation, fosters resilience, amplifies well-being, attracts top talent, and guarantees a customer-focused approach—all of which are essential for enduring success. 

Engaged employees tend to exhibit higher productivity and superior performance. They often demonstrate a profound loyalty and commitment to their organization’s values and objectives. Recent research has highlighted a worrisome pattern, however. 

Employee engagement in the United States is diminishing. According to Gallup, only 30% of people report feeling highly engaged at work, and 17% say they are actively disengaged, marking an 11-year low. This means that for every two people who are engaged in their work, there is one person who is actively disengaged.

This downward trend in engagement carries substantial consequences for productivity, employee morale, and the holistic well-being of organizations. Given this context, it becomes crucial for organizations to effectively evaluate and improve employee engagement. 

There are four proven ways to evaluate employee engagement:

  1. Retention rate
  2. One-to-one meetings
  3. Stay and exit interviews
  4. Employee engagement surveys

These methods can help organizations not only assess the current state of engagement but also implement strategies to enhance it.

Four Ways To Evaluate Employee Engagement

There are many ways organizations can evaluate employee engagement, but the following four ways are the simplest and most effective. 

1. Retention Rate

The retention rate is a metric that quantifies the proportion of employees who remain with an organization over a specific period of time. It serves as a valuable indicator of the organization’s ability to maintain and engage its workforce.

The formula for calculating an organization’s retention rate is as follows:

(Remaining employees during a set timeframe / Initial number of employees during the same time frame) x 100 = Retention rate

In other words, you divide the number of employees who have stayed with the organization for a specific period by the initial number of employees for the same period and then multiply that number by 100 to get the retention rate in percentage.

A good retention rate, typically 90% or more, often indicates strong employee engagement. It suggests that employees are satisfied with their jobs and the organization, leading them to stay longer. 

A low retention rate can signal potential engagement issues. However, while it can highlight that employees are leaving, it may not provide direct insights into the reasons behind their disengagement and departure. In order to improve engagement and retention, organizations must understand why employees are leaving. 

While retention rates shed some light, they only represent a fraction of the overall scenario. Enriching this data with additional evaluation methods, including feedback, one-to-one discussions, and stay or exit interviews, can provide a more comprehensive understanding of retention dynamics.

For example, Briggs Industrial Solutions, a company specializing in equipment repair, looked at retention rates and leveraged engagement surveys to identify areas impacting engagement and retention. 

They discovered that technicians, a critical part of their workforce, were leaving before reaching three to five years of tenure. By addressing the feedback from the surveys, Briggs was able to implement strategies to improve engagement and retention. 

In the next few sections, we’ll examine engagement evaluation methods that can help organizations gain a deeper understanding of key performance indicators (KPIs)  like retention rate and craft more effective engagement strategies.

2. One-to-One Meetings

One-to-one meetings are an essential component of effective management and employee engagement. These meetings can be either formal or informal conversations that provide an opportunity for managers to understand how employees feel about their roles and what can be done to help them thrive.

The purpose of one-to-one meetings is to foster open dialogue between managers and employees. They serve as a platform for employees to share their thoughts, ideas, concerns, and aspirations. 

By putting time on the calendar for these meetings and ensuring they occur as scheduled, managers send a strong message that they genuinely care about their team members.

While there may be an initial investment of time, the benefits of well-conducted one-to-one meetings far outweigh the costs. They can prevent larger issues from arising, saving time in the long run and making the manager’s role more enjoyable and rewarding. 

Regular, proactive, and quality meetings with team members take significantly less time than reacting to big problems, such as losing a good employee and having to scramble to replace them.

The structure of a one-to-one meeting can vary depending on the needs of the team and the individual. However, a typical meeting might include discussing recent work, addressing any issues or challenges, exploring professional development opportunities, and setting goals for the future.

To gauge employee engagement during these meetings, managers can ask questions like:

  • How do you feel about your current projects?
  • What aspects of your work are you most passionate about?
  • Are there any obstacles that are hindering your productivity or job satisfaction?
  • How can I, as your manager, better support you?

By asking these questions, managers can gain valuable insights into their team’s engagement levels and identify areas for improvement. Just keep in mind that the key to successful one-to-one meetings is active listening and open, honest communication.

3. Stay and Exit Interviews

Stay interviews and exit interviews are two strategic tools that organizations use to assess employee engagement and identify areas for improvement.

Exit interviews are conducted at the conclusion of an employee’s tenure. They serve as a valuable source of feedback, helping leaders understand why an employee is leaving and identify potential improvements for the role to make it more appealing in the recruitment process. 

These discussions can highlight immediate concerns that, while not directly related to employee retention, are crucial to addressing disengagement issues. Tackling these issues can significantly improve the employee experience for the next person who will fill the role.

Stay interviews are proactive discussions that help managers understand what they need to do to retain an employee. This approach can build trust, boost engagement, and help organizations do a better job of retaining talented employees.

Author Dick Finnegan suggests five key questions to ask during stay interviews that can lead to higher trust and engagement among employees:

  • What do you look forward to at work?
  • What are you learning at work?
  • Why do you stay here?
  • When was the last time you thought about leaving, and what prompted it?
  • What can I do as your manager to make work better for you?
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When managers learn to ask, listen, and probe with these questions, they learn what is really important for their employees and how they can do better in serving them.

In conducting both stay and exit interviews, it’s important to create a safe and open environment where employees feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and experiences. The goal is to gain insights that can help improve engagement and retention, so active listening and empathy are key.

4. Employee Engagement Surveys

Employee engagement surveys are a powerful tool for evaluating and increasing engagement within an organization. They allow for quick, confidential feedback from employees, increasing the likelihood of obtaining honest responses.

There are several types of employee engagement surveys, including annual employee engagement surveys and pulse surveys.

Annual employee engagement surveys are comprehensive surveys conducted on a yearly basis. They provide a broad understanding of employee engagement across the organization and track progress toward yearly goals. 

These surveys can help organizations formulate new recommendations and goals for the upcoming year and assess how well they are delivering on their culture. However, while useful, these large annual surveys may not accurately reflect employee sentiments throughout the entire year.

On the other hand, pulse surveys are short, frequent surveys that focus on specific aspects of engagement. Their brevity and frequency make it easier and faster to gather up-to-date employee feedback. 

Unlike large annual surveys, which can sometimes be misleading and even negatively impact engagement, pulse surveys gather feedback in small, digestible bits. This allows managers to quickly respond to the feedback, meeting the universal needs people have for being engaged at work.

Pulse surveys are one of the most effective ways to evaluate employee engagement with surveys. The process itself can actually increase engagement by demonstrating to employees that their voices are heard and that management is responsive to their feedback.

When designing effective engagement surveys, here are a few tips:

  • Keep the survey concise and focused.
  • Ask clear, direct questions.
  • Ensure anonymity to encourage honest feedback.
  • Use a mix of question types (e.g., Likert scale, open-ended).
  • Regularly share results and actions taken based on the feedback.

Employee engagement surveys, especially pulse surveys, are a valuable tool for organizations to gain real-time insights into employee engagement and act on the feedback received.

A Few Rules of Thumb

When it comes to evaluating employee engagement, it’s essential to understand not only the best practices but also the pitfalls to avoid. 

Here are a few key points to keep in mind to ensure your efforts are effective and meaningful:

Don’t Rely Solely on Surveys or Survey a Sample Population

While surveys, especially those that are well-designed and carefully executed, can provide valuable insights, they should not be the only tool in your arsenal. 

It’s important to supplement survey data with other methods, such as one-to-one meetings and stay interviews. These methods can provide a more comprehensive and nuanced understanding of employee engagement.

Don’t Just Focus on Quantitative Evaluation Methods

Numbers can offer a clear and straightforward picture of certain aspects of employee engagement. However, they don’t always convey the whole story. 

Qualitative feedback, which captures employees’ thoughts, feelings, and experiences in their own words, is equally important. It can reveal the nuances of employee engagement and provide deeper insights into what’s working and what’s not.

Don’t Mistake Satisfaction for Engagement

A satisfied employee isn’t necessarily an engaged one. While satisfaction relates to the extent to which employees are happy and content with their jobs and work conditions, engagement goes a step further. 

Engagement involves a deeper emotional commitment to the organization and its goals. Engaged employees are not just satisfied but also enthusiastic and motivated to contribute to the organization’s success.

Always Follow up as Soon as Possible on Feedback

Surveys and other feedback mechanisms are only effective if actions are taken based on the feedback. Timely follow-up demonstrates that you value your employees’ input and are committed to making improvements. It also helps build trust and fosters a culture of open communication and continuous improvement.

How To Develop an Employee Engagement Evaluation Strategy

Developing a strategy to evaluate employee engagement is a critical but challenging aspect of an organization’s overall engagement strategy. 

A robust employee engagement evaluation plan can significantly enhance the effectiveness of engagement strategies. This plan should address the following key questions:

  • Who is responsible for employee engagement?
  • What factors drive employee engagement?
  • How do we gather the feedback we need to evaluate employee engagement?
  • How do we respond to feedback quickly and effectively to improve employee engagement?

There are numerous tools available on the market that can help assess and boost employee engagement. One such tool is PeopleThriver.

PeopleThriver is a pioneering approach to employee engagement, retention, and high performance. It assists managers and team members in building and maintaining workplace cultures that drive exceptional performance. 

Simultaneously, it positively impacts the well-being and growth of managers, team members, and the communities they serve.

PeopleThriver is a repeatable, scalable system designed to enhance engagement and retention. It empowers organizations to effortlessly train all their managers to drive high levels of employee engagement and reduce turnover with simple habits they can adhere to without diverting managers away from their work for lengthy training sessions.

PeopleThriver leverages pulse surveys to gather valuable feedback from team members. It also provides quick, five-minute training videos to help organizations swiftly and dramatically improve engagement and retention without having to compete on pay. 

This innovative tool underscores the importance of a comprehensive, multi-faceted approach to measuring and enhancing employee engagement.

Developing an effective employee engagement evaluation strategy is a dynamic and ongoing process. It requires a commitment to continuous learning, adaptation, and action. Employee engagement programs like PeopleThriver can streamline the process.

By asking the right questions, leveraging the right tools, and fostering a culture of open communication and feedback, organizations can not only evaluate but also improve employee engagement. This, in turn, can lead to improved performance, higher retention rates, and a more positive and productive workplace.

Muriel Call

Muriel Call

Staff Writer / Editor

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