Employee Engagement: Redefined

By Bradley Wilson - January 09, 2020

Introduction

The term employee engagement has been around since the early 1990s, but over the past 15 years the drive to engage employees has picked up steam. Despite the fact that the concept that has been around for decades and widely embraced in HR circles, the definition of employee engagement can be surprisingly vague. For some, engagement has merely replaced what was formerly called employee satisfaction; others have adopted an employee engagement definition that encompasses many factors that impact the well-being of individual employees.

In the following chapters, we’ll clarify the answers to the most important questions: What is employee engagement? Why is employee engagement important? And most critically, how can engagement be improved—and not simply measured?

Table Of Contents

 

Chapter 1: Clarifying The Employee Engagement Definition

Chapter 1: Clarifying The Employee Engagement Definition

Much of the lack of agreement about employee engagement’s definition stems from the evolution from employee satisfaction to employee engagement. Employee satisfaction was the key metric most commonly used in the early years of surveys. Employee satisfaction provided a general view of how employees felt about their company (e.g. are employees satisfied or dissatisfied with the company as a place to work), but it had little or no connection with organization performance. In some studies employee satisfaction was a driver of organization performance, and in other studies performance was a driver of satisfaction. This lack of consistency in the satisfaction-performance relationship did little to convince leaders about the importance of employee opinions and feedback to organization success. Further, the construct of satisfaction represented a passive relationship between the employee and the organization. It reflected satisfaction with what the organization was doing for employees, leaving out the employees’ responsibility to the organization.

Engagement was built upon employee satisfaction by including a behavioral element. While it was important to understand how employees felt about the company, evaluating their willingness to act based on those feelings made all the difference in the relationship with organization performance. No longer was the construct passive or one-way. Engagement focused on what organizations contribute to employees, and what employees are willing to do in return. When it came to the link between employee engagement and organization performance and success, study after study demonstrated that organizations with higher levels of employee engagement were more profitable, had higher levels of customer satisfaction, quality, safety and more. The arrow finally went one way employee engagement to organization success, and the quest to understand and influence engagement took off.

The concept of employee engagement has been widely embraced by HR for well over a decade, but employee engagement remains misunderstood by many people. Some organizations feel they have little to show for the time and effort invested in employee engagement. This is not for a lack of effort; rather it is often misguided effort. To realign our efforts around practices that produce real, strategic change, we must first have a proper definition of engagement, and an understanding of what is keeping people from engaging in the first place.

What questions should you ask your employees to measure engagement? Download our free guide, Using Employee Survey Questions In A People Analytics Practice, to find out.

What Is Employee Engagement? An Employee Engagement Definition

As noted previously, the satisfaction measure some organizations used in the early days of surveys touched on an element of engagement without assessing the full dimension of engagement itself. The construct of engagement built upon that by adding a behavioral dimension. Engagement measured not just how the employee felt about the organization (an emotional attachment) but what the employee was willing to do as a result of that emotional attachment.

Employee engagement measures:

  • The emotional attachment that employees have to the organization, typically measured by pride in the organization and a sense of accomplishment at work.
  • The behaviors resulting from that attachment, typically a willingness to advocate for the organization and a willingness to stay with the organization.

Employee engagement is effectively measured using four questions: two measuring emotional attachment and two measuring the behavioral elements.

Redefining Engagement: Building An Effective Employee Engagement Model

At Perceptyx, we know that engagement is a virtuous cycle: engagement yields higher performance, leading to corporate and personal success, which, in turn, builds higher engagement. The question is: How do we kickstart that engine, and keep it spinning in a positive direction? The answer: by removing barriers.

We have seen that employees will engage with the organization when they can anticipate their own personal success. The employee’s definition of success may include the ability to work with smart colleagues and have an influence on decisions or how work gets done; it could focus on being treated with respect by one’s manager and colleagues, or feeling that the organization is willing to invest in the employee’s growth and development; or it could reflect a confidence in the decisions of leaders and the strategic direction and future of the organization. Regardless, in order to determine the factors that are preventing employees from anticipating their own success within their current organizational environment, we need a better understanding of how engaged employees are experiencing the organization.

Every organization has highly engaged employees. If we can understand what those employees are experiencing in the company we can encourage leaders to do more of that across the entire organization. In effect, we are determining what the organization is already doing right, so leaders and managers can implement those practices across the organization.

To do this, we must first clearly identify the engaged population by measuring the behaviors indicative of full engagement on the job. Organizations will often conflate conditions that inspire engagement with things that are indicators of engagement; measuring those conditions alone do not measure engagement. Engagement is an outcome measure, meaning it grows or declines as a result of all the experiences employees have on the job. While any workplace element can influence engagement, some elements have more influence than others. It is critical to understand which workplace elements have the greatest influence; these areas are where we want to focus action.

Once the engaged population is accurately and clearly defined, their perceptions can be compared against those of the disengaged population. This offers leaders insight into those things that have the greatest influence on employee engagement, and are preventing their employees from experiencing or anticipating success in their role. These drivers—or influencers of engagement—can and do vary by company, by region of the world, by country, by industry, and by company subgroup, such as function, division, or job type. Just as the removal of these barriers can help employees better anticipate achieving their desired measure of success and growing engagement, the act of taking action on survey results builds trust in the organization, further fueling the engagement engine through increased anticipation of success for all.

While analyses of employee perceptions allow us to identify organizational strengths and opportunities, it is the discovery and understanding of the barriers to engagement that are most important to building an engaged workforce. It is only through an analysis of these barriers that we are able to understand what’s getting in the way of greater engagement—and help managers and leaders take action appropriately. When those barriers are eliminated, the anticipation of success yields willingness and ability to apply discretionary effort on the job.


Engagement Isn’t The Only Thing

With all the focus on engagement—an ill-defined term for many people—and with the fact that engagement can fluctuate due to factors outside an organization’s control, our clients are sometimes tempted to throw their hands up in frustration, and we understand the impulse.

As we noted in a previous article, engagement is important, but it’s not the only thing. The measures outlined above specifically don’t include conditions—but those are critical to producing an outcome of engagement. To gain insight into the conditions that may be barriers to engagement, employee feedback is crucial. A survey program that takes employees’ temperature with regular engagement checks—and also allows understanding of the employee experience and the barriers to engagement—is a critical part of building an effective employee engagement model. Though engagement can fluctuate for reasons outside of the organization’s control, if there is a consistent and sustained effort to remove barriers to engagement, the result will be a net positive for the company—and employees.

Benefits Of Employee Engagement

Research has consistently established connections between engagement, performance, and success. What we know is that having engaged employees is a competitive advantage. Because the recipe for achieving engagement is not the same in every company, engagement is a unique competitive advantage that is not easy to replicate. Organizations can’t achieve engagement by copying the actions taken by other companies. Highly engaged organizations have worked hard to build a longer-term focus and insight into their specific employee population. How we can influence engagement and improve it requires deeper understanding than can be gained from a book or copying the actions of other companies.

At Perceptyx, we believe that employees will engage with the organization when they can anticipate their own level of success. (Tweet this!) Engaged employees work harder and smarter, advocate for the organization, and are more likely to stay with the organization for the long term.

Understanding and growing engagement is a primary responsibility for every leader and manager. Engagement is a major influence on the performance of their team—and ultimately, their team’s success.

Now that we’ve defined what engagement is and its indicators, in the next chapter, we’ll examine how to measure it—and most importantly, how to increase employee engagement.

Chapter 2: How To Measure & Increase Employee Engagement

Chapter 2: How To Measure & Increase Employee Engagement

In the last chapter, we defined employee engagement. In this chapter, we’ll examine how to measure and increase employee engagement.

A challenge for many organizations is whether to encourage their managers to focus on engagement or the employee experience. It is essential to remember that engagement is an outcome of the work experience. While it’s critical to measure both engagement and elements of the employee experience, it is important that the conditions that influence engagement are not confused with engagement itself.

How To Measure Employee Engagement

These four indicators of engagement evaluate whether or not employees are engaged:

  • Intent to stay
  • Referral behavior
  • Pride in organization
  • Intrinsic motivation

These indicators can be measured by asking employees to rate their agreement with statements such as:

“I intend to stay with the company for at least the next twelve months.”
“I would recommend the company as a great place to work.”
“I am proud to work for the company.”
“My work gives me a feeling of personal accomplishment.”

Responses are most commonly rated on a five-point Likert scale, from “strongly agree” to “strongly disagree.” Engagement may be calculated using an average of the percent favorable scores for all questions, or by calculating the percentage of respondents that agreed with all engagement measures; employees who have neutral or negative responses on any of the indicators are not fully engaged.

Engagement scores indicate the what, meaning current level of engagement in the workforce, but on its own the score offers no information about why an employee is or is not engaged. To increase employee engagement, it’s necessary to examine all aspects of the employee experience, to see which factors are driving or blocking engagement.

Measurement of engagement is important, but understanding the elements of the work experience that have the greatest influence on engagement is essential to growth and improvement. Understanding and addressing the factors that influence engagement creates an opportunity to open a dialogue with employees.

How To Increase Employee Engagement

When faced with the task of improving employee engagement, should managers focus on engagement or the employee experience? Research tells us that engagement is an outcome metric; it is influenced by elements of the work environment. As such, approaches to improving engagement without impacting the work environment are doomed to fail. Pizza parties and doughnuts, while delicious, won’t result in improvements in engagement. Meaningful and lasting improvements in engagement are solely the result of changes in the work experience. Employee engagement metrics can tell us whether an employee is having a positive or negative employee experience, but to pinpoint the areas of the experience that are failing employees (e.g. barriers to engagement), a broader data set is needed.

Employee feedback about management, resources, opportunities for growth and development, leadership, communication, and other important elements of the work experience can help identify friction points. By analyzing this data in conjunction with engagement data, we can see the biggest gaps between employees who are engaged and those who are not. This allows us to pinpoint the barriers to full engagement—those experiential factors that get in the way of the indicators of engagement and yield low engagement scores.

When faced with the task of improving employee engagement, the most successful approach is to address the barriers to engagement, rather than trying to “fix” low engagement scores. (Tweet this!)

Measuring employee engagement is like using a bathroom scale to measure weight. Stepping on the scale will provide a number. Changing that number requires a focus on the factors that yielded it, namely diet and exercise. Understanding the factors that resulted in the number will help reveal the strategies needed to get the desired result. In the same way, the analysis of survey data will uncover the barriers to engagement, so they may be addressed to get the desired result.

While it’s important to track engagement indicators, it is more productive to understand how the indicators of engagement and the barriers to engagement are related. Allow employees to evaluate multiple workplace elements and look for connections in the data to determine the critical focus areas. This focus will be unique to each organization, and sometimes to each organizational subunit. Implement actions that address the workplace elements that are preventing employees from achieving success. Keep an eye on the outcome measures, but place more attention on the elements in the employee experience that influenced it.

What questions should you ask your employees about the employee experience? Download our free guide, Using Employee Survey Questions In A People Analytics Practice, to find out.

Set Realistic Expectations For Improving Employee Engagement

It’s important to have realistic expectations when seeking to increase engagement. As noted above, because engagement is an outcome, even after identifying and addressing engagement barriers, it can take some time before the positive impact of those changes shows up on engagement measures. Improvements in engagement metrics tend to be incremental and gradual; since many organizations measure engagement frequently, it is unlikely that engagement scores will rise sharply on a weekly, monthly, or even quarterly basis. What’s most important is to get them trending upwards. Don’t give up on a good action plan that doesn’t yield immediate results. Give the plan time to take hold and create lasting change.

Engagement is rooted in the employee experience, many elements of which are ingrained in organizational culture. Those things take time to address and improve. In fact, that’s one of the reasons why organizations that foster high engagement have such a competitive advantage—increasing employee engagement can’t be done overnight. Given the link between employee engagement and multiple metrics of business success, improving employee engagement is something that is worth pursuing on a long-term basis.

In order to drive meaningful change, examine the deeper culture of the organization, and how a commitment to improving the employee experience aligns with organizational values. This commitment must become a core value of the organization rather than a short-term initiative. When a culture of ongoing improvement in the employee experience is fully embraced, it will lead to high engagement and the competitive advantages enjoyed by organizations with highly engaged workforces.

In the next chapter, we’ll examine the employee engagement survey, and what it should include to satisfy the objectives outlined in this chapter.

Chapter 3: The Employee Engagement Survey

Chapter 3: The Employee Engagement Survey

As mentioned in the previous chapter, to identify the barriers to engagement, the employee engagement survey must go beyond just measuring the indicators of engagement. Effective survey design takes into account the organization’s need for, and interest in, the data. What are the insights that the organization and managers need about people that they don’t currently have?

Certainly the current state of engagement in the organization makes that list. But an effective employee engagement survey will go well beyond measuring engagement to delve into the factors that influence engagement (Tweet this!), using employee survey questions that cover many elements of the employee experience.

Employee Engagement Survey Questions

Surveys offer the opportunity to ask about the core elements of the employee experience, ranging from broad topics such as the organization’s clarity of direction and communication from senior management, to very specific questions about the employee/manager relationship, regularity of performance feedback, teamwork, resources, continuous improvement, and employee empowerment. These questions represent the elements of the work experience that may be barriers to employees fully engaging with the organization.

Employee perceptions about all these aspects of the work experience can be comfortably captured with 30–40 questions. Post-survey analysis will uncover the aspects of the experience which have the biggest impact on engagement. Identifying these engagement drivers and barriers inspires the development of specific action plans that demonstrate to employees that leaders have listened carefully to their feedback and are committed to making changes that will result in a work environment that is continuously improving.

What questions should you ask your employees about the employee experience? Find out with our free guide, Using Employee Survey Questions In A People Analytics Practice.

Types Of Employee Survey Questions To Include

In addition to the employee engagement questions measuring the indicators of engagement, the survey should include scaled items for quantitative data to show trends, make comparisons, and run analyses. Open-ended employee engagement survey questions should be included for qualitative feedback; it then becomes possible to triangulate between quantitative and qualitative sources of data and follow-up conversations after the survey.

Those conversations are as much a form of research as the survey itself. Whether they are conducted via focus groups or team meetings, they are a continuation of a meaningful business research program, and can be just as influential in forming plans.

Other critical items to ask employees to rate include:

  • My manager gives regular feedback.
  • My manager treats all employees with respect.
  • I have a good relationship with my manager.
  • I have the resources needed to do good work.
  • My current responsibilities position me for further success in the organization.
  • There is effective cooperation across departments.
  • I feel like I am a valued part of the company.
  • I see the link between my work and company objectives.

These are all important elements of the employee experience that influence employee engagement, as well as their ability to anticipate success.

Beyond these questions, the Perceptyx platform allows cross-survey analytics. Segmenting the employee population allows us to compare responses to engagement indicators, and review (for instance) the relationship between current levels of engagement and evaluations of onboarding via 30-day and/or 60-day onboarding surveys. The system can determine what was missing in the early experience of employees that may prevent them from subsequently recommending the company as a good place to work. The same procedure can also be used with other surveys, such as exit surveys. For employees that voluntarily left the company, we can look back and see how they responded to survey questions before they left. This analysis can establish a predictive model of attrition, and drive programs to help retain top talent.

All of these data sources and analyses allow deeper understanding of the behaviors that should be encouraged to reduce attrition and improve the likelihood of full engagement and all its benefits. Cross-survey analytics allow more focused, shorter surveys, while expanding the scope of the data we can examine. With the ability to look at perceptions across the employee lifecycle, we can more easily pinpoint the factors that influence the desired outcome: full engagement.

Using Employee Engagement Survey Data For Action Planning

Once the engagement drivers and barriers are identified and leadership has determined the areas of focus for the next six to 12 months, action plans can be developed. We have found the following five-step process effective for action planning:

  1. Ask the right questions on the survey. Make sure the questions reflect the issues that are of greatest interest and value to employees.
  2. Listen and pay attention to the feedback. Create a true dialogue to demonstrate to employees that the survey process is an essential tool for continuous improvement.
  3. Involve employees in the action-planning process. Many times leaders want to move from asking directly to solving, skipping the steps in between. Leaders may be tempted to figure out solutions behind closed doors, but the more engaging approach is to involve employees. Often, employee solutions are more effective and less complicated than those suggested by leaders, because employees are closer to the problem.
  4. Solve the problem. There are multiple action types that may be implemented. It is possible that actions are already underway to address the issue; remind employees of the work in progress on the issue. New actions may need to be implemented. Remember that not every issue can be actioned, as time and resources may be limited. Be clear with employees about what can be done and what may have to wait. Keep in mind that taking even a single action, if done well and thoroughly, can make all the difference by showing employees that their input mattered.
  5. Respond with communication, remembering that employees do not naturally connect the dots between survey feedback and improvements. Acknowledging employees’ survey responses goes a long way toward shaping employee perceptions and building confidence that leaders care enough about feedback to do something with it. Tell employees what actions are in place, and tell them again and again. Update them on the progress of the actions. Keep the actions front and center in communications during the course of the year.

In the next chapter, we’ll look at how to use the data from your engagement surveys to increase employee engagement.

Chapter 4: Employee Engagement Ideas & Activities

Chapter 4: Employee Engagement Ideas & Activities

If you do a Google search for employee engagement ideas or employee engagement activities, you’ll get millions of results suggesting that employee engagement can be increased with fun activities in the office or other perks.

This is a misguided notion.

Speaking from my own experience—and what I have learned by working with our clients at Perceptyx—employee engagement isn’t something that can be “fixed” with a party or ping-pong table in the office. In fact, these well-intended approaches can backfire when employees believe a company is trying to take the easy way out, as opposed to addressing the core experiential and performance issues that affect morale and engagement. A friend recently recounted a story about his prior employer. It was a toxic environment but management tried to boost morale one day by bringing in a snow cone machine. From that point forward, when my friend came home after a hard day and his wife could see it on his face, she would try to lighten his mood by asking, “What happened? No snow cones today?” Snow cones aren’t a bad thing, but they will not make up for the experience employees have with a company.

Using our own company as an example, Perceptyx has incredibly high engagement. According to our internal survey results, our employees rank in the 99th percentile on pride, willingness to recommend the company as a great place to work, and intent to stay—and we have experienced very low rates of voluntary attrition, in the single digits, over the 16 years we’ve been in business. While we have great benefits and some fun perks for our employees (including the ping-pong tables—but not the snow cone machines), we know that engaging employees involves more fundamental factors.

This should be understood intuitively, if given even a moment’s thought. Though employees love great benefits and ways to blow off steam around the office, perks and fun activities won’t compensate for a disengaging work environment. An employee with a disrespectful manager isn’t likely to be convinced to stay in the job because of an office party; an hour’s break doesn’t outweigh the unpleasantness of the other 39 hours in the workweek in the employee’s overall experience.

This chapter focuses on real employee engagement ideas and activities, which are not as simple as those millions of search results suggest. The hard truth is: Effective employee engagement strategies are not one-off events. Growing and maintaining a high level of engagement is a continuous process that must be embedded in the culture of the organization.

Find out how to improve the employee experience at all stages of the employment journey with our free guide, The Employee Experience Playbook.

Employee Engagement Ideas That Don’t Work

Drawing on my own experience as an example, employee engagement initiatives that don’t work are those that do not properly assess the barriers to engagement before determining which actions to take.

Prior to joining Perceptyx, I oversaw strategic planning and key performance management for an organization that had high turnover and a significant disconnect between external perceptions of the brand and the internal employee experience. The leadership team decided to focus on creating a “people-first” environment to help reduce our voluntary attrition rates. They designed and deployed a people-first initiative which included barbecues on the beach each quarter, monthly birthday breakfasts, cubicle decorating contests, and a prom-style holiday party. All of these fun activities intended for employee engagement were well-meaning and leadership hoped that they would impact employee retention.

At the same time the people-first initiative started, we began administering a semi-annual employee pulse survey, using free software and making up our own questions. We found that only 50% of employees agreed that the company had a people-first culture. But over three years and after a great deal of expense, we never moved the needle on that survey item and never made a dent in employee turnover. Though well-intentioned, the people-first initiative was completely ineffective, because it failed to address the actual issues that stood in the way of people engaging on the job.

On further analysis—after finally using Perceptyx technology—we uncovered three differentiators that determined whether an employee agreed or disagreed that the company was creating a people-first culture:

  1. Manager respect: Employees who felt disrespected by their managers were, unsurprisingly, not in agreement that the company had a people-first culture.
  2. Resources: Employees who had the resources they needed to do their work were more likely to agree.
  3. Work/life balance: Employees who were overburdened with work and stressed were less likely to agree.

After seeing the connection between survey responses on these three factors and perceptions about the people-first culture, leadership realized that all the fun activities did nothing to address manager respect, resources, or work/life balance. In fact, many people would leave the quarterly barbecue—only to have eight hours of work to do that night before returning to work the next morning. Not only were we failing to address the real issues that were barriers to engagement, our good intentions might have made things worse.

Employee Engagement Best Practices

Leaders and organizations should not fall into the trap of believing that activities and benefits will make up for an environment and culture that does not allow employees to thrive. It seems like an easy way out, but if it doesn’t produce the desired results, it can be a waste of time, money, and effort. If a company does not address the core issues in the corporate culture and employee experience, leaders shouldn’t expect perks or fun activities to make a significant positive difference. (Tweet this!)

So here’s our recommendation: Organizations should focus on improving the overall employee experience by first identifying and addressing the current barriers to engagement. These are the “employee engagement activities” that will actually make a difference. Adding fun activities in the office to boost employee engagement is great once the barriers to engagement are removed—but it’s essential to start by solving the core problems first.

The approach we at Perceptyx recommend is in many respects more straightforward, but it takes consistency and commitment over time—because it involves company culture. Changing the organization’s culture is like changing your diet; it only works if it is practiced every day. Parties and fun activities are like diet pills—they promise a fast and easy solution, but they can’t deliver results if the person taking them isn’t also controlling what they eat and maintaining a healthy level of activity. Address the core issues to meet both immediate needs and the organization’s long-term strategies first; once that’s done, your engaged employees will no doubt appreciate the parties and ping-pong tables. Set yourself and your organization up for success by understanding the difference between the two and prioritizing the approach.

Having reliable, actionable data and the ability to glean impactful insights is critical to understanding and addressing barriers to engagement. In the next chapter, we’ll take a look at what you need to consider when choosing an employee engagement survey provider.

Chapter 5: How To Select Tools & Survey Vendors For Employee Engagement Programs

Chapter 5: How To Select Tools & Survey Vendors For Employee Engagement Programs

The employee engagement space has evolved a great deal over the last decade. Ten years ago the dominant providers of employee engagement survey programs were large consulting firms. These firms were strong on theory and methodology, but weaker on advanced technology that enhanced the user experience for both survey respondents and those who worked with the data. Slow data analysis and reporting, often requiring weeks or months to get access to results, were challenges that most organizations encountered with these survey vendors.

All that has changed. Vendors are now much more focused on the technology, and many firms have their own proprietary employee engagement software, platforms, and apps. Administering surveys with real time technology is now the norm, and that has had a major impact on the speed of analysis and reporting.

Though the technology gap between vendors may have closed, there are still big differences between them. In this chapter, we’ll examine the factors organizations should consider when choosing their employee engagement survey vendor.

Not All Employee Engagement Survey Programs Are Created Equally

At first glance, it might appear that most survey providers are offering the same thing: online employee engagement survey tools. But the software is only one factor in choosing a vendor.

First, it’s important to recognize that many technology-forward providers have rigidly built systems; they prescribe a specific methodology, a limited set of predetermined questions, and the same frequency of surveying for all clients. This design is usually self-serving. These vendors are selling what they can offer, and billing their technical limitations as good science or design.

For example, a number of providers advocate daily or weekly engagement pulse surveys. Some organizations may find value in a frequent pulse survey strategy, but on their own, daily pulses will not provide the depth of information needed to identify both engagement barriers and drivers, or to gain predictive capabilities. In addition, unless the organization is large enough that each individual employee won’t be surveyed more than two or three times per year, this strategy can backfire and result in survey fatigue.

This is a measurement-first strategy, and while data is collected frequently it should not be confused with actual listening. As we noted in this article, survey frequency should be driven by both corporate and HR analytics strategy and followed up with consistent action and clear communication.

Partnering with a survey provider who offers a one-size-fits-all solution is like going to a doctor who prescribes cough syrup for all her patients, whether they have a cold or a sprained ankle. It will work in some cases, but not in most.

What questions should you ask your employees about the employee experience? Find out with our free guide, Using Employee Survey Questions In A People Analytics Practice.

What To Look For In Your Employee Engagement Survey Vendor

The most important feature organizations should look for when choosing a survey provider is a technology and methodology flexible enough to allow them to get the data they need as quickly as possible (Tweet this!) so they can take action around it. Rather than a vendor pushing a specific methodology or other one-size-fits-all solution, look for one that will act as a partner in exploration. Your vendor should be focused on providing what your organization needs—not trying to fit you into the same box as everyone else.

At Perceptyx, we tend to partner with large, complex, multinational organizations—including more than 30% of the Fortune 100. We can confidently say that one approach does not fit all of them; each listening program we design for these clients is very unique. Global organizations tend to have very specific needs and requirements; the survey provider must be able to support surveys in any language, and have the ability to analyze thousands of open-ended comments—as well as the technology to translate them as needed and group them into themes. Also important is the ability to integrate both employee demographic data and business performance data, to identify connections between the employee experience and performance outcomes, and to link data across multiple surveys. The ability to customize the entire experience, to match the unique culture and brand of each organization, and flexibly adapt questions to the specifics of culture, region, and location within the org chart—and still provide real-time results—is critical. These capabilities add up to powerful functionality. In addition, data integrity and security is a huge issue for multi-national organizations—providers must know the different guidelines to follow in the U.S., EU, or other jurisdiction, and how to properly handle data transfers across borders.

The other important factor to consider when choosing an employee engagement survey vendor is future needs. The organization may have a specific need now, but the more it can prepare for the future with an understanding of what the data and people analytics function may look like five or 10 years from now, the better off it will be. As needs change, will the one-size solution of today fit tomorrow? It’s important to consider so you don’t have to make a change in several years when you outgrow your provider’s capabilities. Look for a provider that can scale with the organization in terms of survey work and organizational growth, and you can avoid having to make a change further down the road.

Perceptyx: Redefining Employee Engagement

Engagement is a critical ingredient for organization success that can be measured through employee opinions and behavior. The four indicators of engagement—intent to stay, referral behavior, pride in the organization, and intrinsic motivation—both measure employees’ attachment to the organization and their behavior, and gauge current levels of engagement. A broader survey of 30–40 questions measures employee perceptions about core elements of the work experience and collects the data needed to identify both the drivers and barriers to engagement. These results, when coupled with a team debrief and joint action planning, help make needed changes to the employee experience. Deep analytics identify the systemic issues and actions that leaders and managers should take to remove barriers to engagement and performance. This is the most direct path to improving employee engagement.

Parties and perks are great, but taking the right actions to improve the employee experience should be the focus for any engagement program. The ultimate goal is to kickstart the “virtuous circle,” where the anticipation of success yields willingness to apply discretionary effort on the job, leading to improvements in organization performance, which drives organization success and a continuing willingness on the employee’s part to go above and beyond in their work. To support a successful engagement program, choose a survey provider with a methodology flexible enough to allow you to get the data you need quickly—and to change or scale with your needs.

At Perceptyx, we work with some of the biggest and most complex companies in the world. Our survey platform has the flexibility to fit the needs of organizations of all types and sizes, to collect the data you need to solve your company’s biggest problems—and report results quickly, with user-friendly dashboards highlighting important data points and trends. Get in touch and let us show you how we can support you in achieving your goals for your engagement program.

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