I saw some discussion on Twitter recently about measuring employee engagement.
I can confirm that I was polite in my contribution.
Of course if measuring employee engagement is something you feel it is important to do, then there are the obvious solutions. Annual surveys and pulse surveys and temperature checks. Surveys on paper surveys on apps. Big fat long surveys and little ones too. Hit a button as you leave the office emoticon style how are you feeling today type checks.
They are all there to choose from. To measure something for you.
Measurement. In inverted commas.
Because of course there is more to engagement than percentages. Filled in forms and one to five ratings and net promoter scores and do you have a best friend at work?
I’ll confess. About all of that I am so….. meh.
Data is useful. Important.
I get it. Evidence. Proof. Business cases and return on investment and a basis for decision making.
But there is more to how your employees feel than numbers. The day to day experience can’t easily be quantified.
Percentages are neat and tidy and precise. But people are not.
So here are my strictly unscientific, untidy, unquantifiable and entirely subjective ways to assess how your people really feel about working at your place. No survey required.
First up. Good noise. I always think that when people are happy at work, when there is some team spirit going, on you can not only feel it but hear it. There will be laughter and chatting. Good noises, team noises, having fun and working at the same type noises. Silence… tells you something else.
Next is absence and lateness. Something that you can actually put a percentage on if you choose. I don’t mean the genuine stuck on the motorway serious illness sent home because they look terrible sort of absence and lateness. Instead the I can’t be arsed type. The dog ate my homework type. Which really translates into I don’t really care all that much. And you know you know the difference.
The state of the place. Disengaged employees don’t care about where they work. Sometimes, very low levels of engagement translate into deliberate damage to the environment. I once worked for an organisation in which casual damage and graffiti were rife. If people like their jobs and like their colleagues they will be part of making it a nice place to be every day.
Collaboration. Especially when it comes to new stuff and change. Engaged employees will pitch in, ask questions and take it on board. People who are disengaged, won’t. See next point.
Moaning. People who are unhappy at work, moan. Simple but true. And if there isn’t anything to moan about they will moan about that. From the big stuff to the minutiae. Pity parties all round.
Ideas. Engaged employees have ideas and are willing to share them. You will get suggestions for improvements, sometimes without evening asking. They will speak up because they feel that they can and they want things to be better.
Grievances. Employees have a legal right to raise a grievance and have it dealt with in accordance with the ACAS code. But when employees are engaged and have strong relationships with their managers you are much more likely to see people having conversations about their issues in an adult way rather than writing a formal letter. Ditto discipline.
The extracurricular. Engaged employees come to learning events. They take part in team activities. They are part of the dress down day, the charity bake-off, the wellbeing month and the team lunch. Because they want too. When people are disengaged, for whatever reason that may be, they will put often put themselves outside anything that is strictly the day job.
Finally, and perhaps the most telling of all. The language that people use. How they speak to each other. Whether it is broadly positive or negative. How much time is spent in criticism or in anger. Them or I. The management or us. They or we.
So by all means run your survey. Figure out a percentage and where you sit in comparison to other companies and set a target for next year.
But don’t forget to look and listen to what else your people are telling you about their level of engagement.
Even when they don’t even know it.