When you read about engagement in the workplace, it’s almost always linked to productivity. That’s because productivity invariably suffers when your staff is disengaged and demotivated in their work.
The good news is that rising levels of engagement among your staff is one of the best and quickest ways to increase productivity.
Currently, just 36% of U.S. employees are engaged in their work and workplace, according to a Gallup study. Globally, 20% of employees are engaged at work.
Low engagement among staff is most likely more about working conditions than financial considerations – although, of course, a fair day’s pay will inevitably lift your workers’ spirits. But equally important is that staff feel valued and that their employees care, that they trust their colleagues, and have opportunities for progression.
If businesses could address some of these issues, output per worker would most certainly increase. One study estimates the total cost of disengaged employees in the US is a whopping $450-500 billion each year.
What does an engaged employee look like?
Employee engagement affects the whole business. When your employees are engaged, they’re more likely to:
- Be committed to producing quality work and contributing positively to the business.
- Have lower stress levels, having a bearing on their health and wellbeing at work.
- Be actively involved in finding solutions to problems.
- Stay safe at work. According to one study, firms whose employees were engaged reported 70% fewer safety incidents compared to organizations where the staff was disengaged in their work.
- Remain in their job.
The most popular, and easiest method of measuring engagement, is by conducting staff surveys.
Companies often use these annually, but there’s also merit to conducting shorter “pulse surveys” to garner employees’ opinions on changes within the business, or views on the management team for example. Shorter surveys can be posted on the company intranet with comments enabled so that feel free to voice their opinions.
Longer surveys consist of more questions based on leadership, strategy, and benefits. These can produce results that will influence longer-term decisions around the business.
Gallup has come up with a set of 12 key questions that will help you measure staff engagement. For a more in-depth look, you can build on these and tailor them around your own organization. Annual surveys often ask up to 40 questions of staff.
These are some of the questions you should be asking:
- Do I have the tools I need to carry out my duties?
- Do I feel like an important part of the company?
- Is there someone who encourages my development?
- Do I have opportunities to grow and learn?
- Have I received recognition for the work I do within the last seven days?
Central to measuring employee engagement is good communication. Ensure transparency among staff and allow them to be involved in the decision-making process to give them a sense that they’re fully involved in the business.
You can continuously measure employee engagement through social communities, focus groups, and by implementing a system that encourages feedback.
Once you’ve got a handle on employee engagement, productivity levels will rise correspondingly. Here are some ways you can measure it:
There is more than one measure of productivity, and you can build any number of metrics into your productivity analysis to suit your business goals.
The simplest and quickest way is to divide your revenue by the number of employees you have. This establishes a baseline: your organization’s average output divided by the number of your staff.
For large organizations, you might want to measure different levels of productivity across departments. The method remains the same: simply choose the output you want to measure. Be sure to take into account anything that could limit productivity, such as complex projects or staff absences.
Try breaking projects down into individual tasks and assigning each task to an employee. This gives the best measure of individual productivity levels.
Find out what employees are saying
What are the staff themselves saying? A good measure of productivity is to listen to employees – there’s no better way than to find out directly what makes them more productive, and if there are any issues that could be limiting their output.
Once again, communication is key. Poor communication can impact productivity in many ways, leaving businesses counting the costs of misunderstanding or misinformation.
So use employee feedback to help raise their productivity. Use tools such as the internet and social media to find out what they’re saying. Or try more official channels such as regular employee reviews. A mixture of both will give you a more rounded picture.
The better you communicate with your staff, the more engaged and therefore productive they’ll be.
And, finally, measuring productivity should also include customer feedback and of course, customer retention. Happy customers and clients are the best measure of how your business is performing as a whole.