A 2022 Gallup report on the work environment found that businesses with engaged employees have 23% higher profits than companies with “miserable workers”. Such businesses also see lower absenteeism and higher customer loyalty.
Unfortunately, Gallup’s 2023 report goes on to tell us that only 23% of employees are actually engaged.
The solution? Effective employee engagement strategies designed to help you create a better company culture, reduce staff turnover, and eventually boost your company’s profits.
But before you can do any of that, you need to know how to measure employee engagement, and what measurement methods really work.
Once you have the tools to measure engagement, you’ll have a solid foundation for improving your engagement levels and reaping the benefits that highly engaged employees bring.
What to do before you start measuring employee engagement
Understand your workforce
Each employee is different with their own unique preferences, needs, and motivations. As such, it's important to get to know your teams well — their needs, challenges, and everything in between — so that you can tailor your employee engagement strategy to work best for them.
Start by getting to know your workforce better: who they are, how they work, and what currently gets in the way of them engaging.
For example, there is often a huge digital inclusion gap between frontline staff and their desk-based coworkers. This gap makes it very hard for frontline workers to engage with their organizations and roles – and even harder for business leaders to get to know them in the first place.
This is where engaging your first-line managers becomes crucial. By enabling first-line managers with the skills and tools to get to know their teams, you have a hotline directly to your frontline – and their engagement preferences.
It’s also important to consider the types of metrics you use for your specific workforce. Desk-based engagement metrics may not accurately reflect the engagement levels of people working in frontline roles. Transit, healthcare, logistics, or manufacturing workers (to name a few) will often have different requirements, channel preferences, and motivations for engagement than other employees.
Therefore, it's essential to understand the specific engagement requirements of your staff, track tailored engagement metrics, and create strategies to address them.
Agree on engagement goals and outcomes
Once you know your workers’ needs, it is important to agree on engagement goals and outcomes with other stakeholders in your organization. This could involve gaining the buy-in of senior management, employee representatives, or other key stakeholders.
Clearly defining your goals and desired outcomes will help ensure that efforts and metrics used to improve engagement are focused and aligned with your overall business strategy. Goal and outcome KPI could include:
- Goal: Increase employee retention by 10%
- Outcome KPI: Employee retention rate
- Goal: Reduce employee turnover by 25%
- Outcome KPI: Voluntary resignation rate
- Goal: Drive employee satisfaction by 15%
- Outcome KPI: Employee satisfaction survey or ENPS scores
By taking these steps before measuring employee engagement, you can ensure that you have a solid understanding of your workforce, metrics that reflect your business objectives, and clear engagement goals to achieve.
There are a number of metrics and methods that can help you gauge a holistic view of employee satisfaction, productivity, and overall engagement in your company, 10 of which we’ll dive into in more detail below.
10 ways to measure employee engagement
Both survey and non-survey methods are available methods to measure employee engagement. Typically, it’s best to use a mix of both to get a holistic overview of employee engagement.
How to measure engagement with survey methods
Surveys help you reach a considerable number of employees at once.
Running employee surveys can be a time-consuming, paper-filled process, but it’s still a great starting point for building the foundation of your employee engagement efforts. And with modern Employee Survey tools now available to streamline the whole process, it needn’t be such a laborious task.
Here are three survey measurement methods you can implement:
1. Annual employee engagement surveys
An annual employee engagement survey measures employees’ experience, motivation, and passion for their job and organization. It reveals how your employees go about their daily jobs and what you can do to improve their engagement on a large, long-term scale.
You can use these surveys to get ideas on areas for improvement and a basis for new recommendations and goals.
Similarly, you can use employee surveys to evaluate your company’s culture and see whether the desired cultural values are practiced among desk-based and deskless employees.
However, employee engagement surveys are only effective if you conduct them correctly.
Here are four best practices for conducting employee surveys:
- Use a mix of survey questions: Ask both multiple-choice and open-ended questions. This helps your company collect the most insights into employee engagement without overwhelming respondents.
- Leverage mobile apps: Paper surveys don’t cut it. They’re time-consuming since you wait for employees to return the survey papers before you can analyze them, and they’re often disregarded by employees completely or inaccessible by teams that are not in the corporate office, such as frontline teams. Digital surveys take far less time to create and share, and the response is almost instant. So, create surveys that employees can complete from their personal or corporate devices from any location.
- Share employee survey results: Share the survey findings with your office and your frontline workers and let them know what actions you’ll take. Managers and leadership need to assure employees that they’re listening and taking into consideration the feedback received.
Identify the best time(s) to survey employees: It might be smart to run your survey during slower periods of work, so that employees have enough time to devote to the survey. Similarly, there’s solid advice to avoid conducting surveys during high-stress periods or bonus season. Such periods skew the survey results and give an unrealistic picture of everyday employee engagement and satisfaction.
2. Pulse engagement surveys
Employee pulse surveys allow you to send more frequent survey requests to your teams. Instead of the annual snapshot of data you gain from once-a-year surveys, pulse surveys let you measure employee engagement levels in real time.
This short survey format allows your teams to provide quick feedback on any aspect of the job or organization, from team dynamics and workflows to company policies and leadership. It’s a great way to learn more about what’s working for your employees on a daily basis and identify what could be improved.
Pulse surveys are much shorter, providing less data than annual surveys but offering real-time insights into employees’ current feelings about the workplace and their job satisfaction.
As such, pulse surveys can be incredibly effective at identifying any sudden decreases or increases in employee morale and engagement, helping you spot them and take action quickly.
You can also tailor pulse surveys to navigate different occasions and identify trends in employee engagement year-round, instead of just once a year. For example, you could send a survey after an important organizational announcement or when there’s been a period of major change.
However you choose to use them, regular pulse surveys are a great way to measure employee engagement and ensure your workforce feels heard.
3. Employee net promoter score (eNPS)
Chances are your organization is already using the net promoter score (NPS) to measure customer satisfaction and loyalty. The same metric can also be used internally to measure employee engagement.
The employee net promoter score (eNPS) provides a solid basis for understanding employee engagement and loyalty in a cost-effective way. By tracking the eNPS scores over time, you can identify trends in employee engagement — which can help you understand how the changes you implement affect staff engagement.
Expert tip: On its own, eNPS is not the most effective way to measure engagement.eNPS it tells you the ‘what’ but not the ‘why’ of an employee engagement score. Only measure employee engagement via eNPS if you can follow it up with more detailed methods, such as employee engagement surveys.
Further methods for measuring employee engagement
4. Implement an employee app with analytics features
Many leaders aren’t aware of the reasons behind the lack of engagement and increasing turnover rates in their business — especially frontline managers. Due to the nature of frontline organizations — varied work environments, conflicting shift patterns, and a historical reliance on paper — it is more difficult to engage with frontline workers and even harder to measure their engagement levels.
As such, employee feedback and surveys don’t always provide the response rates you want, and employees don’t always provide insights you can act on.
To address this, you can implement an employee engagement super-app like Blink to create a digital space that invites a multidirectional, real-time conversation where frontline workers (and their desked counterparts) can speak directly to management — and to each other.
You can also use this technology to measure the outcome of their work environment and assess how your workers engage with your content, interact with other teammates, and participate in company-wide conversations.
For instance, Blink offers Frontline Intelligence — an integrated analytics tool that measures employee engagement by tracking:
- Content metrics: See how your workers interact with posts, files, or pages you share. You can track important metrics such as reach, impressions, likes, comments, and link clicks.
- Communication flows: View how many team members communicate with others using the employee app. Visualize the growth in communication and changes in relationships over time to keep a tab on your organization’s employee engagement.
- Internal trends: Get an overview of trending posts and topics in the employee feed to understand which content performs best and when.
This allows you to uncover who your promoters of engagement are, and who’s in line with your company’s mission and values. You can capture the insights that aren’t explicitly communicated to you – and integrate that into your next steps.
This data can help you detect feelings of disengagement early on and do a root cause analysis before they become a serious problem, affect productivity and quality of work, and increase your turnover rate.
Ensure that you also measure the adoption rate for your employee app. A high adoption rate can be indicative that your employees are engaged in their roles and understand the value that a new tool is bringing to the business. You may see differences in app usage trends between the office and frontline workers. If that is the case, add questions surrounding employee app usage in the next employee survey.
If you’re looking for an employee app that’s designed for frontline organizations, check out Blink. This all-in-one platform gives:
- Frontline workers access to the people, processes, communications, and applications they need to do their jobs — all through their corporate or personal devices.
- Leaders access to the data they need to improve the employee experience in meaningful ways.
1-1s are one of the most effective ways to measure employee engagement.
These meetings allow you to have meaningful conversations with each of your team members about their performance, goals, and satisfaction levels. They also give employees an opportunity to provide honest and constructive feedback about their work environment, so that they can help influence real, positive change within the organization.
1-1s can be used as a more informal and frequent performance review, and they can give you detailed insights into the current state of employee engagement. By keeping track of these meetings over time, you can identify any sudden drops or increases in engagement, and take action accordingly.
6. Performance reviews and feedback meetings
As a more formal 1-1 process, performance reviews and regular feedback meetings can be used to make critical decisions on employee compensation, necessary training, and proposed career development. But you can also use them to gauge and measure employee engagement.
Highly-engaged workers are more likely to perform well in their jobs. Gallup found that engaged workers are 18% more likely to have above-average employee productivity.
To effectively gauge your employees’ performance and improve engagement, develop a continuous feedback process so that employees know how they’re doing and what’s expected.
Here’s how you can implement a reliable feedback process:
- Create a list of opportunities when employee feedback can give you critical insights into how your company operates, such as at the close of onboarding and recruitment or during quarterly and annual performance reviews.
- Use various methods and strategies to collect feedback to keep employees engaged and get the most relevant answers for the situation.
- Implement engaging and constructive conversations between managers and employees at least once every two months. Ensure managers are practicing active listening and that they are actually implementing change based on the feedback.
7. Exit interviews
Exit interviews are an important component of any employee engagement strategy. They provide invaluable insight into the reasons why employees choose to leave your company, and can help you identify areas that need improvement in order to keep your best talent.
Some example exit interview questions to ask could include:
- Why are you leaving the company?
- What was the motivation behind your decision to search for a new job?
- Can you identify the factors that had a positive or negative impact on your ability to succeed in your role?
- Based on your experience, do you have any recommendations for onboarding new employees?
- How did you feel about the management of your role?
- Did you feel appreciated by your team, supervisors and/or managers?
- What were the most enjoyable aspects of this job?
- What was the most challenging aspect of this job for you?
Not all employees are willing to offer honest feedback during an exit interview, so consider implementing a post-exit survey where you can ask more detailed questions about employee satisfaction and engagement while the person is still employed at your organization.
This allows you to better understand the motivations behind each employee’s decision to leave and take action to prevent similar situations from occurring in the future.
If you want to stay two steps ahead of the exit interview, however, stay interviews can be a potentially transformative addition to your employee engagement strategy. Currently deployed by only 27% of US HR decision-makers, stay interviews help you understand how well your current employees’ expectations are being met when it comes to meaningful connections.
How to measure employee engagement through key metrics
8. Internal communication receptiveness
Effective internal communication can be used to bridge the gap between managers and employees, build trust in the workplace, and boost employee engagement. But it’s not enough just to communicate – you need to measure how your employees actually react and respond to the content you share.
That’s where key metrics come in. From employee app usage data, to the amount of content employees interact with or create, there are a number of metrics that can give you valuable insights about employee engagement.
You can measure receptiveness to your internal communication by tracking how much of your content is consumed, whether it’s posts or newsletters.
Specific metrics like post likes and response rates, message opens, and even file analytics can tell you how receptive your teams are to internal communication efforts. If you’re using a super-app like Blink, you can track these metrics over time to monitor how well your internal messages are being received.
The data from these analytics can give you the confidence you need to leave certain channels of communication behind. If frontline workers are not engaging with email — or don't even have access to it! — then waste no more time sending email comms, for example. An accessible mobile tool like Blink can pave the way for greater internal communication receptiveness by giving everyone equal access to messages, wherever they log in from.
9. Voluntary turnover rate
If an employee voluntarily resigns from an organization, it’s voluntary turnover.
Voluntary turnover is on the rise. According to the Institute of Corporate Productivity (i4cp) and Fortune’s global survey of 1,195 respondents in Q1 of 2022, 77% of large organizations experienced high voluntary turnover in 2021.
To calculate the voluntary turnover rate, divide the number of employees that voluntarily left your company by the average number of workers you had during that period.
These are the top reasons of voluntary turnover outlined in Microsoft’s 2022 Work Index report:
- Personal well-being or mental health (24%)
- Work-life balance (24%)
- Lack of confidence in senior management or leadership (21%)
- Lack of flexible work hours or location (21%)
In other words, a high voluntary turnover rate means your workers struggle to stay engaged with the company due to a lack of support and direction.
If you notice high voluntary turnover, conduct a voluntary turnover analysis to know the exact cause:
- Check for trends: Compare your voluntary turnover rate to the previous period and look for possible trends and early warnings. For instance, if you see many employees leaving after two years, it may be due to a lack of career advancement opportunities. And if you see new hires leaving within the first year, onboarding might be the issue.
- Gather employee feedback: Collect qualitative data from surveys and exit interviews to determine why employees leave your organization.
- Prepare an employee turnover report: Translate the voluntary turnover data into monetary value. That’ll help you follow up with different departments and levels of hierarchy and develop an actionable plan to increase retention rates.
Analyzing the voluntary turnover rates for the first year is especially important since new employees represent a lot of pure cost. A time-to-productivity analysis can tell you when an employee’s productivity has risen to a point where their contribution outweighs their cost.
For example, if the average threshold productivity occurs at the six-month mark, any employee who leaves before that incurs a financial loss to the company.
10. Employee absenteeism rate
Absenteeism is the habitual failure to come to work or stay there during working hours, and it is often unplanned and unannounced.
It’s important to differentiate unexcused absences from legitimate ones, and to be aware of the disruption that absenteeism can cause to your organization. That’s because it will negatively affect anyone working with this individual and undermine trust between employees and management and the employees themselves.
A high employee turnover rate is a strong indicator that your company needs to make adjustments before this behavior impacts your workforce’s productivity and relationships. Absenteeism is often also a reflection of poor management, so your managers must be aligned on the appropriate policies and be upskilled to develop their leadership abilities.
To measure the absenteeism rate, divide the number of unexcused absences in a given period by the total workdays. Multiply the result by 100 to get the absenteeism rate for that period.
As a rule of thumb, an absenteeism rate of 1.5% is considered healthy. Employees do fall ill and request time off for various reasons, so you shouldn’t expect a rate below 1.5%.
However, an absenteeism rate above 2% indicates issues. Your workers may be burnt out, feeling disengaged, or in conflict with their peers or supervisors.
The best way to prevent employee absenteeism is to intervene early.
Develop an action plan by:
- Asking your managers to arrange regular check-in meetings, especially with underperforming employees.
- Implementing flexible work policies for employees struggling with personal issues.
- Getting your managers to address the problems between workers who are having conflicts.
- Ensuring management forms meaningful connections with employees and their leadership style receives positive feedback.
Comparing employee engagement measurement methods
How not to measure employee engagement
Measuring employee engagement incorrectly often leads to unreliable results and an inaccurate view of how well your team is doing. Common mistakes when it comes to measuring engagement include:
- Not setting KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) which can provide you with measurable goals to strive for. Without these, it can be difficult to determine whether the changes you've implemented have had a positive or negative impact on your employee engagement levels.
- Relying on just one method to measure engagement, such as employee surveys. This can not only be a problem that stops you from capturing the full image of engagement for your employees but can also lead to the overuse and over-reliance on surveys to measure engagement.
- Ineffective methods of communication. If you rely on a communication channel that employees aren’t engaging with today — like an intranet — then you're highly unlikely to capture the richness of data that you need. That’s why we would always recommend an employee super-app over a back-end intranet.
What to do after you have measured employee engagement
Whatever your employee engagement metrics and methods show, it’s important to note that engagement is not an activity, project, or initiative. It's an outcome you earn from consistently offering value to your business.
Remember: as trends continue to change, so will employee expectations. Keep your finger on the pulse of employee engagement levels within your organization and take swift action where necessary.
There are many digital tools to keep a tab on employee engagement. However, the best solution is one that’s designed specifically for your employees, and can provide all of these solutions in one place.
If you have a frontline-focused workforce, check out Blink. Blink offers interactive employee surveys, cutting-edge content analytics, and intuitive communication tools to measure and actively improve employee engagement.
Blink provides a solution to fixing the broken feedback loop and filling the knowledge gap between leadership and frontline workers.
Measuring Employee Engagement FAQs
How do you measure employee engagement?
The most common way of measuring employee engagement is through surveys. Surveys can assess a range of factors that are important to understanding the level of engagement in your organization, such as job satisfaction, commitment, and feedback. Other methods include exit interviews, internal communication receptiveness tracking, and pulse surveys.
What are the tools for measuring employee engagement?
Tools for measuring employee engagement vary depending on the type of workforce and the desired metrics. Survey tools, such as Blink, can be used to measure employee engagement through regular pulse surveys. Exit interviews are also a useful tool for measuring employee engagement, as they provide insight into why employees have chosen to leave your organization and what could be improved in order to keep your best talent.
How is an employee engagement KPI measured?
Employee engagement KPIs can be measured through surveys, eNPS scores, exit interviews, and internal communication receptiveness tracking. Employee engagement KPIs should be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound in order to accurately measure progress over time.