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The Art & Science
of Employee
Engagement:
THE DEFINITIVE GUIDE
Introduction 1-5
6-10
11-16
16-19
Getting Started
Using Your Results
Conclusion
01
02
03
04
Contents
Table of
1
About Talmetrix
Talmetrix™ is more than just software. We work with talent-focused companies to capture insights,
analyze data, take action, and achieve organizational growth.
Talmetrix captures and interprets employee facts and feelings to uncover unique insights, leading to
action plans that accelerate the ability to deliver organizational change. Our relentless focus helps
customers retain talent, reduce organizational risk, improve productivity, and ultimately increase
profitiability.
Leading brands, like Coca-Cola and Voya, use the Talmetrix platform to measure and facilitate their
employee engagement to understand and improve business outcomes and processes including:
Stop Guessing, Start Knowing.
Talent Retention
Change Management
Performance
Improvement
Culture Alignment
Innovation
New Leader Assimilation
& on-boarding
Risk Mitigation
Customer Satisfaction
M&A Integrations
2
01: Introduction
The Art and Science of
Employee Engagement
Employee engagement. It’s a buzzword and hot topic, and there’s good reason.
Improving engagement among employees has a direct impact on a company’s
bottom-line. Engaged organizations are high-performance organizations, and
that’s why all leaders — not just HR leaders — should pay attention to their most
critical asset – their PEOPLE. We see two sides to the engagement coin: the
science (gathering valid data using the principles of scientific research) and
the art (embracing the gray area of people management and getting creative
to solve the problems that are unique to your organization). In this eBook, we
answer the most common questions we hear about both the art and science of
employee engagement.
Understanding Engagement
Q: What is employee engagement?
A: Employee Engagement is an employees’ willingness to put forth extra effort
because of the connection they have with the company.
Q: Are engagement and satisfaction the same?
A: No! It’s possible for employees to be satisfied without feeling fully engaged
at their organization. This
can happen when employees are comfortable in their jobs, but aren’t
necessarily feeling energized
or challenged.
Q: How do I align engagement goals with business goals?
A: It’s important for leaders and employees to understand that engagement
has a direct impact on the company’s ability to achieve desired business
results. Identify your engagement goals by starting with your strategic
business goals. For example, if one of your business goals is to “increase
revenue by 20 percent over the next quarter,” identify ways that improved
engagement would make that happen. Perhaps you need a better
communication plan or an incentive program. Connect your engagement
initiative to departments or teams that generate revenue. Like any business
goal, an engagement goal should be measurable and achievable.
3
“In its purest essence,
employee engagement
is the connection
people have
to your company.”
-David Youssefnia, Ph.D.
4
Employees believe in the company. Employees would agree with the
following statements:
“I feel like this company has a strong future”
“This company is headed in the right direction”
Employees love their work. Sure, everyone has bad days, and there are
certainly some aspects of our work that we’d rather not have to do. but if
employees generally enjoy the tasks you’re required to complete as part of
your job, you’re more likely to be engaged.
Employees feel like you have a future at the company. Do employees feel
that they have a clear career path? Do they have support to develop skills
they need (and desire) to move up in the company?
Employees trust senior leaders. It’s possible for employees to trust leaders in
an organization even if they don’t agree with their decisions.
Employees think their managers are doing a good job. Managers are
important when it comes to engagement, since they’re the ones who put
engagement plans into action and report back about what they’re seeing.
If a manager believes in employees, acts in ways that are aligned with
what the company values, and gives employees the tools to succeed,
employees are going to report higher levels of engagement.
Q: What are the key drivers of engagement?
A.There are 5 main drivers of employee engagement.
1
2
3
4
5
5
“Employee engagement is
no different than any other
business strategy—identify what
you want to achieve, measure
what it takes to get there, and
identify the insights that build
success.”
—Chris Powell, Talmetrix CEO
6
02: Getting Started
When getting started, remember that it’s not just up to HR to create and
implement initiatives that improve the employee experience. Because
productivity, turnover, customer satisfaction and the bottom line are all
impacted by engagement, the employee experience isn’t just solely HR’s
responsibility.
Although simplified, an engagement journey requires three main, ongoing
components:
Collection
The capture of employee feedback through multiple formats, including baseline
surveys, pulse surveys, and crowd sourced social feedback is going to be a critical
component to improving outcomes in any company.
Consumption
Organizations need to be sure they are taking advantage, or consuming, existing
organization data from disparate platforms—whether that be house payroll,
performance, customer and revenue data into one easy-to-interpret solution.
The Story
Collection and consumption won’t mean anything unless the underlying drivers are
identified and then acted upon. Any engagement program needs ongoing, real-
time analytics enabling the identification of drivers of engagement, retention,
culture, performance and productivity.
Let’s dig deeper to learn what you need to know as you go about building
suveys.
Building an Employee Survey
Q: What are the different kinds of employee surveys?
A: There are three core methods you can use to survey employees:
“The numbers
tell the
story. 87% of
the global
workforce is
disengaged.
Clearly,
this has a
significant
impact on
both morale
and the
balance sheet.
Employee
engagement
is no longer an
HR strategy, it
is a business
strategy.”
–Chris Powell, Talmetrix
CEO
Baseline Surveys:
These are the long-
form surveys most of us
are familiar with. Many
companies are moving
away from an annual
survey each year in
favor of more frequent,
targeted surveys that
deliver actionable data.
Pulse Surveys:
These short surveys
often include just a few
questions. Pulse surveys
are best for following
up on specific topics
or gauging ongoing
progress during an
engagement initiative.
Learn more about when
to use the Pulse Survey.
Social feedback
surveys:
These surveys ask open-
ended questions to
solicit ideas, comments
or brainstorming from
employees. They’re
intended less for
generating trackable data
about how employees
feel and more for getting
feedback on ideas.
7
Q: How do I create great survey questions?
A: At their core, surveys seem simple — ask a question, get an answer. But the
kinds of questions you ask can nudge people toward a certain answer or
away from what they mean. If you partner with an Employee Engagement
solution provider you may be able to utilize their scientific survey questions
(Talmetrix has a survey question library of over 200 questions). If you want
to add questions that are unique to your organization, here are the writing
basics:
Q: What’s the difference between a “confidential” survey and an
“anonymous” survey?
A: In a confidential survey, responses could be combined with other data, such
as demographics or other filters, to conceivably connect responses to an
individual, particularly if response rates are low. By combining data in this
way, efforts are made so that you can’t connect results to one individual.
An anonymous survey ensures that responses cannot be connected to individual
people. How? Make sure you’re fully transparent with employees about which
type of survey you’ll be using, and don’t use the terms interchangeably.
A well-built survey tool will include an anonymity threshold. This means that
groups below a certain size (3 is an industry standard) can’t be filtered for
demographics or other factors, as it would make it easy to connect answers to
people. Ensure any survey tool you use has this threshold, particularly if you have
small departments or are a smaller company. This will create a higher sense of
confidence in your employees and will higher participation and honesty.
Write questions based on your key business drivers. If you want to boost retention,
ask questions focusing on the employee’s future at the organization and their
promote-ability. If you want to boost performance, ask questions about whether
employees have the tools they need to do their job.
Avoid double-barreled questions. Aim to find out about one thing per question.
Don’t ask for multiple ideas in one question. For example, this question is
problematic: “On a scale of 1 to 5, how well do your managers and teammates
communicate?” It’s not clear if the question is asking about how good managers
and teammates communicate with each other, or how well they communicate with
the survey-taker.
Cut the jargon. Avoid mushy business terms that hide exactly what you’re asking
about. For example, “Do you feel your contributions help leverage corporate
success?” should be reworked to “Do you feel your work contributes to the
company’s bottom line?”
1
2
3
“If the business
is growing and
evolving, yet
the company
is not doing
anything to
help individuals
acquire new
skills to do
their job better
and faster,
eventually
two things will
happen. Either
that individual
may start to
underperform
and eventually
be rolled out,
or that person
will disengage
and leave.”
Chris Powell,
Talmetrix CEO
8
Q: How do I prepare employees for a survey?
A: Tell employees what you will be asking about, why you’re asking, and what
the timeline will be for them to observe the actions taken as a result of their
feedback.
Share the topics you’ll be asking about. Not knowing the topics could make
employees feel apprehensive, or inspire misinformation. You don’t have to go into
extreme detail — simply remind employees that the survey will ask how they feel
about work or their working conditions, it will be coming up soon, and that you hope
their answers will be candid.
“Reliability, which is aimed at consistency,
is why surveys tend to be longer than what
some people may prefer. That’s because
with surveys, employees can respond with
false positives—they’re not necessarily
telling you the truth in that scenario, even
if it’s anonymous. Talmetrix has built in
reliability is so that we can tease out if
there are any false positives in how
employees respond.”
– Chris Powell, Talmetrix CEO
1
9
Share your goals. If you have data about your current engagement levels and why
you need to improve engagement, share it! If you’re simply interested in getting a
baseline, let employees know that’s what the survey is for. Tying their feedback
to company goals will also connect their engagement to desired business outcomes.
Give a timeline. Let employees know what they can expect after the surveys. After
all, if they’re sharing their deepest thoughts with you, they deserve to know what
the next step is. Ideally, you have a timeline for when you will share the results and
determine what actions you’ll take. If your timeline changes, be transparent about it.
Open communication will go a long way if there are changes or delays.
Make sure they know they are being heard. Trust is easily eroded and hard to earn
If you aren’t timely in how you communicate and act on what you’ve learned from
your survey, you can end up destroying the trust you’ve been working to build. At
minimum, acknowledge what you are asking for, confirm you received it, and share
what you are going to do (or not do) with it. Then be sure to thank employees for
their opinions.
Q: What should I know about response rates?
A: An acceptable response rate will depend on the size of your company, and
the response rate from employees will vary from survey to survey. The best
way to get a large amount of responses is to ask about things people feel
connected to. Questions about organizational culture tend to get good rates,
while things like benefits or facilities get lower rates.
If you get a surprisingly low response rate, look at whether your survey is user-
friendly. Is it easy to complete? Is the link to the survey working? If people must
jump through hoops to complete it, they might drop out at a higher rate.
If you get a low response rate — such as 250 out of a pool of 1,000 — run a
demographics analysis on the respondents to see if it is representative of the
group. Even smaller response sizes can be useful.
Be sure to pay attention to response rates over time. If you’re communicating,
optimizing the surveys you send, and acting on the results of your feedback—
and employees are seeing the benefits to providing
feedback—your response rates should remain high or increase.
“Many organizations choose anonymous (or
confidential) surveys to encourage employees to give
more honest feed-back, but it’s important to know that
anonymity really gets down to the level of reporting
you’re after…The more specific you want to get, the
less anonymity really helps you get there.”
—Chris Powell, Talmetrix CEO
2
3
4
Q: How often should I survey employees?
A: Some leaders assume that more surveys are always better, but that’s
not necessarily true. The ideal survey cadence will be different for every
organization, but here are the guidelines we at Talmetrix follow:
Q: What is survey fatigue and how do I avoid it?
A: As consumers, we’re used to answering a lot of survey questions. Every time
we stay in a hotel or call a customer service number, we’re asked to take a
survey afterward. When we’re being asked survey questions at work too, we
can start to feel overloaded by all the feedback requests — what we call
“survey fatigue.” Here are three ways to avoid it:
Watch for drops in participation and response quality. Participation will always
vary, but if you start to see a consistent drop over time, or a decrease in how
many questions participants answer, employees are probably feeling some
fatigue. You can try decreasing survey frequency or reducing the number of
questions you ask.
Make sure employees know the goal. The culprit of survey fatigue might not be
the actual survey, but the process around it. If employees don’t know why they’re
being asked to answer questions or how their answers will be used, they’ll likely
shut down. Make sure managers are equipped to share information about the
survey goals.
Act on responses. If you run a survey but don’t take any action, employees will
likely stop completing the surveys Knowing just how critical it is, keep employees
in the loop about survey results and your action plans.
1
“Employees
are
responsible
for their
own
engagement.
At some
point,
it’s
opt in
or
opt out.”
Chris Powell,
Talmetrix CEO
8
Think of the annual
survey as the yearly
checkup. Use your
longest, once- a-year
survey to measure
vital signs of the
organization. Then,
use shorter surveys
throughout the year to
focus on more timely or
specific issues.
Keep employees’
workload in mind. Your
surveying cadence will
depend on what’s
going on in the business.
If everyone is overloaded
with extra work during
a busy season, it’s
probably not a good
time to roll out a new
survey.
The more frequent your
surveys, the shorter they
should be. If you choose
a frequent survey
schedule, keep them
to a few questions.
Reserve longer surveys
for twice-a-year or
yearly sessions.
1 2 3
1
2
3
10
11
Section 3: Using Your Results
You started the process by and planning your overall engagement strategy.
When do you did this, you thought about what you needed to know and why
you needed to know it.
Once you have your survey results, don’t fail to revisit how well your goal
matches up with reality. All of that information will go into how you shape
your action plan, a critical part of ensuring you’re improving the employee
experience. What new insights did you get about your workplace from your
survey? That’s what you want to capture.
As you build your action plan, be sure you don’t try to do too much at once.
It can be tempting to address all the issues uncovered by your survey, but it’s
crucial that you develop an achievable action plan that doesn’t take months
to come to fruition. There will be plenty of time to address all the information
you got from the survey; follow the process instead of trying to improve
everything in one fell swoop. Before you get to that point, you’ll want to start
understanding your results.
Understanding Your Survey Results
Q: What are the different kinds of survey analysis?
A: You’ll hear about three different kinds of analysis:
Trend analysis looks at how your results trend year over year, quarter over quarter,
or survey over survey. It’s a look backward and simply establishes whether things
are getting better or worse, and whether it’s happening slowly or quickly.
Linkage analysis tries to find correlations between trends. It identifies links between
the trends and trackedoutcomes (such as turnover or performance). It’s difficult
to establish cause and effect in engagement efforts, as it’s unrealistic to set up
to identical departments and then run a survey on each to see which kind of
manager is more effective, for example, or how different groups of people react to
a bad manager. Instead, you’ll look for signals in the data. The more you survey, the
more data you’ll have, and the more useful linkage analysis will become.
Predictive analysis looks at your trends and correlations and makes it possible to
speculate on what might happen next. You can break results out by department,
age, performance levels or other variation, and, by comparing with other trends in
the past, make predictions on what might happen in the next quarter or six months.
Remember that you’ll probably get some uncomfortable truths in survey results.
There will be people who want to trumpet the “good” results and disown or
deny the unfavorable ones, but it’s up to HR to be a fair witness to the truth of
the survey.
3
2
1
12
There may be pushback from leaders who don’t want to believe the results,
who insist that the survey didn’t include the right questions, or who say the
results were affected by a bad quarter. Don’t make the mistake of neglecting to
use that data.
Q: What do I need to know about benchmarks?
A: Benchmarking simply means comparing survey results with results
from a prior survey, another time, location or even another company.
Benchmarking can be useful if you’re in the dark about what your
engagement results mean, or if you’re surprised by your results.
External benchmarks come from other organizations. Choose organizations
that are like yours in size and industry, and make sure the survey data you’re
comparing is relevant and recent.
Consortium benchmarks are often provided by third-party organizations and
consist of compiled benchmarks across an industry. These benchmarks can be
useful to get a handle on engagement results that might be affected by industry
booms or downturns.
Workforce studies are snapshots of a workforce demographic across industries
and different-sized companies at a certain point in time. These can prove to be
an effective tool to compare to and watch over time.
It’s important to note that benchmarks should just be used as a guide. Every
organization is different, and you can’t assume that your results will directly
mirror anyone else’s. Consider how your situation is different (survey timing,
employee demographics, company strategy, resources, etc.) when you refer to
benchmarks.
Using Survey Results to Act
Q: After a survey, how do I prioritize action?
A: The results are in! Here are three steps you can take after a survey to keep
moving forward.
Break down the results. Focus on efforts and effects. A simple nine-box matrix
can help you identify the high-, middle- and low-effort actions you can take
to improve engagement and compare them with the high-, middle- and low-
impact effects those actions would have. The benchmark would be taking 1-3
areas of opportunity at a time, build an action plan, execute the action plan, and
then re-survey to determine the success of the action plan.
Look for the easy wins that will show employees you take their concerns
seriously and are willing to make changes now, even as you prepare to
approach long-term problems strategically.
1
1
2
3
“Think about
your action plan in terms
of effort and impact.
Start with low-effort
and high-impact to get
the best payoff.
If you take on the
tough stuff first,
you never make
progress.”
—Chris Powell, Talmetrix CEO
13
14
Establish accountability. Assign every action step to a person or team. Show
managers how they can take specific actions to boost engagement among their
direct reports. Instill a sense of responsibility among everyone that engagement
is up to them.
Understand the stakes. When you review the results of an engagement survey,
you have a lot of options.
Doing nothing is not one of them. That’s why building an action plan is such a
critical moment on the road map to engagement. When the organization took
the initiative to survey employees, it established an understanding that it would
do something with the results. If organizational leaders pull back from action,
they disenfranchise employees and risk creating a culture that’s exactly opposite
of what they had hoped for.
Remember to stay flexible during the process. You set a goal, but it’s entirely
possible the results you’ve gotten send you off into an entirely different
direction. Be ready to adjust and modify your approach depending on the
results. There’s no doubt that an engagement initiative takes a lot of work.
Getting buy-in from company leaders, writing and administering a survey
and assembling the results aren’t easy. But creating and implementing an
engagement action plan — the steps your organization will take to make
engagement happen — can seem overwhelming, and it’s where many
engagement initiatives fail.
If you find engagement scores are much lower than expected, or your culture
needs more work than expected, it’s easy to lose courage and conviction when
it’s time to take action. Here are three tips to keep the momentum going and
focus on action after an engagement survey.
Q: How do I help employees take responsibility for their own engagement?
A: You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink — and in some
ways, that applies to employee engagement as well. After all the surveys,
communication, action plans and changes, what moves the needle on
engagement are the decisions made as a cohesive unit between executives,
managers, and individual employees. Employees play a vital role in their
own engagement, and it’s vital that they understand that.
Of course, sometimes employees aren’t clear about their responsibility toward
their own engagement simply because employers don’t communicate it clearly
enough. To ensure you’re getting the message across, here are three main
messages you should focus on.
You are responsible. Employees are responsible for the degree of effort they
bring to their work. Leaders and managers can inspire employees, but
employees must take that inspiration and use it to motivate themselves.
2
3
1
For example: If an employee survey reveals that employees don’t feel
motivated because the leave policy is unreasonable, they never get the time off
they want and they feel overworked, changing the leave policy seems like an
obvious choice. Employees may then feel engaged because the organization
listened, took them seriously and made a change for the better.
You have a choice. So, what about those employees who don’t feel more
motivated even after a change is made? It’s possible that your organization
has multiple issues that you uncovered through the survey process. This is why
it is critical to slice and dice the data into different segments (age, tenure, job
type, geography, etc…) to ensure you are address the specific needs of the
employees.
Unfortunately, you might simply have employees who aren’t a good fit and are
having trouble aligning their own motivations with those of the company.
It happens, but it means it’s time for some hard conversations.
Make sure employees understand that the organization can do only so much,
and at some point, it’s up to them to step up and either motivate themselves or
move on.
Your managers are there to help. Managers are on the front lines of
engagement efforts. They can serve as the voice of the organization for
employees — and a direct line from employees to the top level. Ensure
employees understand the role managers play in engagement, and how
managers are often the ones implementing any action plans.
Because managers are so important, it’s essential to empower them to make
change happen. It’s not useful to tell employees to work with managers on
change initiatives, and then not give managers the tools or autonomy to put
those plans into action.
2
3
4
15
“Talmetrix does not offer a one-size-fits-all
solution. We are not forced to adapt to a
prescribed set of engagement questions,
but instead can use a variety of validated
or custom survey questions, send unique
pulses as needed, or use the social feed-
back tool to capture sentiment on a variety
of topics. This enables us to quickly adapt
our employee feedback needs as they
occur. We love the flexibility!”
-Kim C., SHRM-CP, Senior Director,
Human Resources, Assurex Health
“Talmetrix has taken the heavy-lifting
off my plate and guided me step-
by-step through implementing an
employee engagement program. They
made the process easy and didn’t force
me to be a software expert.”
-Marcella H., Human Resources
Manager, Altair Global
16
Section 4: Conclusion
Engagement efforts aren’t a
top-down proposition.
All employees need to understand their roles for an engagement effort to
succeed. Knowing there is an art and science to any engagement initiative,
keep these 4 things in mind as you look to improve the employee experience:
1. Be ready for change.
Change during an engagement initiative moves in all directions — across
departments, up from the rank-and-file, cascading through different levels. As
you empathize with your employees, remember that change elicits all kinds of
emotions, some bad and some good. But that’s exactly why you’re asking them
questions—and then listening to what they say—early and often.
2. Don’t get overwhelmed.
No matter what you find, you may wonder where you should start making
changes — or you may feel that the problem is too great to solve. It may even
be tempting to blame others or point fingers in an effort to avoid change. Work
to identify the high-, middle- and low-effort actions you can take to improve
engagement and compare them with the high-, middle- and low-impact
effects those actions would have.
“Change is
inevitable in an
organization.”
Chris Powell,
Talmetrix, CEO
17
Some companies get fired up about taking on tough issues first and really want
to dig in to problems that make take months to resolve. And it’s true, some
changes will take longer — but focusing on a long-term problem, no matter the
payoff, shouldn’t be your first priority. You know that culture change doesn’t
happen overnight, so look for the easy wins that will show employees you take
their concerns seriously and are willing to make changes now, even as you
prepare to approach long-term problems strategically.
3. Make sure business leaders continue to own the process.
Business leaders must be responsible for putting into action any changes that
need to be made in the organization. HR will be there to support them every
step of the way, but improving business outcomes isn’t just one disciplines or
departments responsibility. Part of that support is in making sure business
leaders have the right tools, they know the power and importance of
communication, and in helping to manage successful “hand-offs” throughout
the journey.
Drive Greater Engagement
in Your Organization
Through Workforce Insights
Identify the drivers of engagement, retention and culture for your organization,
and don’t stop there.
From survey building through action planning, Talmertrix powers
talent-focused companies to:
- Capture unique and meaningful employee insights
- Analyze date
- Take informed action
- Achieve organization growth
18
Stop Guessing,
Start Knowing.
Chris Powell,
Talmetrix, CEO
19
Talmetrix offers:
A configurable platform built to be as flexible as your
organization grows
Fast and easy implementation created based on HR business
leaders’ needs
Dedicated support committed to your success
Expert action planning provided by Solutions Advisors
that support you on the most critical parts of your journey
Still have questions? Contact our Talmetrix team.
Click Here to Contact Talmetrix
Email the Solutions Advisor team at info@talmetrix.com
Call the Solutions Advisor team at (513) 399-6301

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The Art & Science of Employee Engagement

  • 1. The Art & Science of Employee Engagement: THE DEFINITIVE GUIDE
  • 2. Introduction 1-5 6-10 11-16 16-19 Getting Started Using Your Results Conclusion 01 02 03 04 Contents Table of
  • 3. 1 About Talmetrix Talmetrix™ is more than just software. We work with talent-focused companies to capture insights, analyze data, take action, and achieve organizational growth. Talmetrix captures and interprets employee facts and feelings to uncover unique insights, leading to action plans that accelerate the ability to deliver organizational change. Our relentless focus helps customers retain talent, reduce organizational risk, improve productivity, and ultimately increase profitiability. Leading brands, like Coca-Cola and Voya, use the Talmetrix platform to measure and facilitate their employee engagement to understand and improve business outcomes and processes including: Stop Guessing, Start Knowing. Talent Retention Change Management Performance Improvement Culture Alignment Innovation New Leader Assimilation & on-boarding Risk Mitigation Customer Satisfaction M&A Integrations
  • 4. 2 01: Introduction The Art and Science of Employee Engagement Employee engagement. It’s a buzzword and hot topic, and there’s good reason. Improving engagement among employees has a direct impact on a company’s bottom-line. Engaged organizations are high-performance organizations, and that’s why all leaders — not just HR leaders — should pay attention to their most critical asset – their PEOPLE. We see two sides to the engagement coin: the science (gathering valid data using the principles of scientific research) and the art (embracing the gray area of people management and getting creative to solve the problems that are unique to your organization). In this eBook, we answer the most common questions we hear about both the art and science of employee engagement. Understanding Engagement Q: What is employee engagement? A: Employee Engagement is an employees’ willingness to put forth extra effort because of the connection they have with the company. Q: Are engagement and satisfaction the same? A: No! It’s possible for employees to be satisfied without feeling fully engaged at their organization. This can happen when employees are comfortable in their jobs, but aren’t necessarily feeling energized or challenged. Q: How do I align engagement goals with business goals? A: It’s important for leaders and employees to understand that engagement has a direct impact on the company’s ability to achieve desired business results. Identify your engagement goals by starting with your strategic business goals. For example, if one of your business goals is to “increase revenue by 20 percent over the next quarter,” identify ways that improved engagement would make that happen. Perhaps you need a better communication plan or an incentive program. Connect your engagement initiative to departments or teams that generate revenue. Like any business goal, an engagement goal should be measurable and achievable.
  • 5. 3 “In its purest essence, employee engagement is the connection people have to your company.” -David Youssefnia, Ph.D.
  • 6. 4 Employees believe in the company. Employees would agree with the following statements: “I feel like this company has a strong future” “This company is headed in the right direction” Employees love their work. Sure, everyone has bad days, and there are certainly some aspects of our work that we’d rather not have to do. but if employees generally enjoy the tasks you’re required to complete as part of your job, you’re more likely to be engaged. Employees feel like you have a future at the company. Do employees feel that they have a clear career path? Do they have support to develop skills they need (and desire) to move up in the company? Employees trust senior leaders. It’s possible for employees to trust leaders in an organization even if they don’t agree with their decisions. Employees think their managers are doing a good job. Managers are important when it comes to engagement, since they’re the ones who put engagement plans into action and report back about what they’re seeing. If a manager believes in employees, acts in ways that are aligned with what the company values, and gives employees the tools to succeed, employees are going to report higher levels of engagement. Q: What are the key drivers of engagement? A.There are 5 main drivers of employee engagement. 1 2 3 4 5
  • 7. 5 “Employee engagement is no different than any other business strategy—identify what you want to achieve, measure what it takes to get there, and identify the insights that build success.” —Chris Powell, Talmetrix CEO
  • 8. 6 02: Getting Started When getting started, remember that it’s not just up to HR to create and implement initiatives that improve the employee experience. Because productivity, turnover, customer satisfaction and the bottom line are all impacted by engagement, the employee experience isn’t just solely HR’s responsibility. Although simplified, an engagement journey requires three main, ongoing components: Collection The capture of employee feedback through multiple formats, including baseline surveys, pulse surveys, and crowd sourced social feedback is going to be a critical component to improving outcomes in any company. Consumption Organizations need to be sure they are taking advantage, or consuming, existing organization data from disparate platforms—whether that be house payroll, performance, customer and revenue data into one easy-to-interpret solution. The Story Collection and consumption won’t mean anything unless the underlying drivers are identified and then acted upon. Any engagement program needs ongoing, real- time analytics enabling the identification of drivers of engagement, retention, culture, performance and productivity. Let’s dig deeper to learn what you need to know as you go about building suveys. Building an Employee Survey Q: What are the different kinds of employee surveys? A: There are three core methods you can use to survey employees: “The numbers tell the story. 87% of the global workforce is disengaged. Clearly, this has a significant impact on both morale and the balance sheet. Employee engagement is no longer an HR strategy, it is a business strategy.” –Chris Powell, Talmetrix CEO Baseline Surveys: These are the long- form surveys most of us are familiar with. Many companies are moving away from an annual survey each year in favor of more frequent, targeted surveys that deliver actionable data. Pulse Surveys: These short surveys often include just a few questions. Pulse surveys are best for following up on specific topics or gauging ongoing progress during an engagement initiative. Learn more about when to use the Pulse Survey. Social feedback surveys: These surveys ask open- ended questions to solicit ideas, comments or brainstorming from employees. They’re intended less for generating trackable data about how employees feel and more for getting feedback on ideas.
  • 9. 7 Q: How do I create great survey questions? A: At their core, surveys seem simple — ask a question, get an answer. But the kinds of questions you ask can nudge people toward a certain answer or away from what they mean. If you partner with an Employee Engagement solution provider you may be able to utilize their scientific survey questions (Talmetrix has a survey question library of over 200 questions). If you want to add questions that are unique to your organization, here are the writing basics: Q: What’s the difference between a “confidential” survey and an “anonymous” survey? A: In a confidential survey, responses could be combined with other data, such as demographics or other filters, to conceivably connect responses to an individual, particularly if response rates are low. By combining data in this way, efforts are made so that you can’t connect results to one individual. An anonymous survey ensures that responses cannot be connected to individual people. How? Make sure you’re fully transparent with employees about which type of survey you’ll be using, and don’t use the terms interchangeably. A well-built survey tool will include an anonymity threshold. This means that groups below a certain size (3 is an industry standard) can’t be filtered for demographics or other factors, as it would make it easy to connect answers to people. Ensure any survey tool you use has this threshold, particularly if you have small departments or are a smaller company. This will create a higher sense of confidence in your employees and will higher participation and honesty. Write questions based on your key business drivers. If you want to boost retention, ask questions focusing on the employee’s future at the organization and their promote-ability. If you want to boost performance, ask questions about whether employees have the tools they need to do their job. Avoid double-barreled questions. Aim to find out about one thing per question. Don’t ask for multiple ideas in one question. For example, this question is problematic: “On a scale of 1 to 5, how well do your managers and teammates communicate?” It’s not clear if the question is asking about how good managers and teammates communicate with each other, or how well they communicate with the survey-taker. Cut the jargon. Avoid mushy business terms that hide exactly what you’re asking about. For example, “Do you feel your contributions help leverage corporate success?” should be reworked to “Do you feel your work contributes to the company’s bottom line?” 1 2 3 “If the business is growing and evolving, yet the company is not doing anything to help individuals acquire new skills to do their job better and faster, eventually two things will happen. Either that individual may start to underperform and eventually be rolled out, or that person will disengage and leave.” Chris Powell, Talmetrix CEO
  • 10. 8 Q: How do I prepare employees for a survey? A: Tell employees what you will be asking about, why you’re asking, and what the timeline will be for them to observe the actions taken as a result of their feedback. Share the topics you’ll be asking about. Not knowing the topics could make employees feel apprehensive, or inspire misinformation. You don’t have to go into extreme detail — simply remind employees that the survey will ask how they feel about work or their working conditions, it will be coming up soon, and that you hope their answers will be candid. “Reliability, which is aimed at consistency, is why surveys tend to be longer than what some people may prefer. That’s because with surveys, employees can respond with false positives—they’re not necessarily telling you the truth in that scenario, even if it’s anonymous. Talmetrix has built in reliability is so that we can tease out if there are any false positives in how employees respond.” – Chris Powell, Talmetrix CEO 1
  • 11. 9 Share your goals. If you have data about your current engagement levels and why you need to improve engagement, share it! If you’re simply interested in getting a baseline, let employees know that’s what the survey is for. Tying their feedback to company goals will also connect their engagement to desired business outcomes. Give a timeline. Let employees know what they can expect after the surveys. After all, if they’re sharing their deepest thoughts with you, they deserve to know what the next step is. Ideally, you have a timeline for when you will share the results and determine what actions you’ll take. If your timeline changes, be transparent about it. Open communication will go a long way if there are changes or delays. Make sure they know they are being heard. Trust is easily eroded and hard to earn If you aren’t timely in how you communicate and act on what you’ve learned from your survey, you can end up destroying the trust you’ve been working to build. At minimum, acknowledge what you are asking for, confirm you received it, and share what you are going to do (or not do) with it. Then be sure to thank employees for their opinions. Q: What should I know about response rates? A: An acceptable response rate will depend on the size of your company, and the response rate from employees will vary from survey to survey. The best way to get a large amount of responses is to ask about things people feel connected to. Questions about organizational culture tend to get good rates, while things like benefits or facilities get lower rates. If you get a surprisingly low response rate, look at whether your survey is user- friendly. Is it easy to complete? Is the link to the survey working? If people must jump through hoops to complete it, they might drop out at a higher rate. If you get a low response rate — such as 250 out of a pool of 1,000 — run a demographics analysis on the respondents to see if it is representative of the group. Even smaller response sizes can be useful. Be sure to pay attention to response rates over time. If you’re communicating, optimizing the surveys you send, and acting on the results of your feedback— and employees are seeing the benefits to providing feedback—your response rates should remain high or increase. “Many organizations choose anonymous (or confidential) surveys to encourage employees to give more honest feed-back, but it’s important to know that anonymity really gets down to the level of reporting you’re after…The more specific you want to get, the less anonymity really helps you get there.” —Chris Powell, Talmetrix CEO 2 3 4
  • 12. Q: How often should I survey employees? A: Some leaders assume that more surveys are always better, but that’s not necessarily true. The ideal survey cadence will be different for every organization, but here are the guidelines we at Talmetrix follow: Q: What is survey fatigue and how do I avoid it? A: As consumers, we’re used to answering a lot of survey questions. Every time we stay in a hotel or call a customer service number, we’re asked to take a survey afterward. When we’re being asked survey questions at work too, we can start to feel overloaded by all the feedback requests — what we call “survey fatigue.” Here are three ways to avoid it: Watch for drops in participation and response quality. Participation will always vary, but if you start to see a consistent drop over time, or a decrease in how many questions participants answer, employees are probably feeling some fatigue. You can try decreasing survey frequency or reducing the number of questions you ask. Make sure employees know the goal. The culprit of survey fatigue might not be the actual survey, but the process around it. If employees don’t know why they’re being asked to answer questions or how their answers will be used, they’ll likely shut down. Make sure managers are equipped to share information about the survey goals. Act on responses. If you run a survey but don’t take any action, employees will likely stop completing the surveys Knowing just how critical it is, keep employees in the loop about survey results and your action plans. 1 “Employees are responsible for their own engagement. At some point, it’s opt in or opt out.” Chris Powell, Talmetrix CEO 8 Think of the annual survey as the yearly checkup. Use your longest, once- a-year survey to measure vital signs of the organization. Then, use shorter surveys throughout the year to focus on more timely or specific issues. Keep employees’ workload in mind. Your surveying cadence will depend on what’s going on in the business. If everyone is overloaded with extra work during a busy season, it’s probably not a good time to roll out a new survey. The more frequent your surveys, the shorter they should be. If you choose a frequent survey schedule, keep them to a few questions. Reserve longer surveys for twice-a-year or yearly sessions. 1 2 3 1 2 3 10
  • 13. 11 Section 3: Using Your Results You started the process by and planning your overall engagement strategy. When do you did this, you thought about what you needed to know and why you needed to know it. Once you have your survey results, don’t fail to revisit how well your goal matches up with reality. All of that information will go into how you shape your action plan, a critical part of ensuring you’re improving the employee experience. What new insights did you get about your workplace from your survey? That’s what you want to capture. As you build your action plan, be sure you don’t try to do too much at once. It can be tempting to address all the issues uncovered by your survey, but it’s crucial that you develop an achievable action plan that doesn’t take months to come to fruition. There will be plenty of time to address all the information you got from the survey; follow the process instead of trying to improve everything in one fell swoop. Before you get to that point, you’ll want to start understanding your results. Understanding Your Survey Results Q: What are the different kinds of survey analysis? A: You’ll hear about three different kinds of analysis: Trend analysis looks at how your results trend year over year, quarter over quarter, or survey over survey. It’s a look backward and simply establishes whether things are getting better or worse, and whether it’s happening slowly or quickly. Linkage analysis tries to find correlations between trends. It identifies links between the trends and trackedoutcomes (such as turnover or performance). It’s difficult to establish cause and effect in engagement efforts, as it’s unrealistic to set up to identical departments and then run a survey on each to see which kind of manager is more effective, for example, or how different groups of people react to a bad manager. Instead, you’ll look for signals in the data. The more you survey, the more data you’ll have, and the more useful linkage analysis will become. Predictive analysis looks at your trends and correlations and makes it possible to speculate on what might happen next. You can break results out by department, age, performance levels or other variation, and, by comparing with other trends in the past, make predictions on what might happen in the next quarter or six months. Remember that you’ll probably get some uncomfortable truths in survey results. There will be people who want to trumpet the “good” results and disown or deny the unfavorable ones, but it’s up to HR to be a fair witness to the truth of the survey. 3 2 1
  • 14. 12 There may be pushback from leaders who don’t want to believe the results, who insist that the survey didn’t include the right questions, or who say the results were affected by a bad quarter. Don’t make the mistake of neglecting to use that data. Q: What do I need to know about benchmarks? A: Benchmarking simply means comparing survey results with results from a prior survey, another time, location or even another company. Benchmarking can be useful if you’re in the dark about what your engagement results mean, or if you’re surprised by your results. External benchmarks come from other organizations. Choose organizations that are like yours in size and industry, and make sure the survey data you’re comparing is relevant and recent. Consortium benchmarks are often provided by third-party organizations and consist of compiled benchmarks across an industry. These benchmarks can be useful to get a handle on engagement results that might be affected by industry booms or downturns. Workforce studies are snapshots of a workforce demographic across industries and different-sized companies at a certain point in time. These can prove to be an effective tool to compare to and watch over time. It’s important to note that benchmarks should just be used as a guide. Every organization is different, and you can’t assume that your results will directly mirror anyone else’s. Consider how your situation is different (survey timing, employee demographics, company strategy, resources, etc.) when you refer to benchmarks. Using Survey Results to Act Q: After a survey, how do I prioritize action? A: The results are in! Here are three steps you can take after a survey to keep moving forward. Break down the results. Focus on efforts and effects. A simple nine-box matrix can help you identify the high-, middle- and low-effort actions you can take to improve engagement and compare them with the high-, middle- and low- impact effects those actions would have. The benchmark would be taking 1-3 areas of opportunity at a time, build an action plan, execute the action plan, and then re-survey to determine the success of the action plan. Look for the easy wins that will show employees you take their concerns seriously and are willing to make changes now, even as you prepare to approach long-term problems strategically. 1 1 2 3
  • 15. “Think about your action plan in terms of effort and impact. Start with low-effort and high-impact to get the best payoff. If you take on the tough stuff first, you never make progress.” —Chris Powell, Talmetrix CEO 13
  • 16. 14 Establish accountability. Assign every action step to a person or team. Show managers how they can take specific actions to boost engagement among their direct reports. Instill a sense of responsibility among everyone that engagement is up to them. Understand the stakes. When you review the results of an engagement survey, you have a lot of options. Doing nothing is not one of them. That’s why building an action plan is such a critical moment on the road map to engagement. When the organization took the initiative to survey employees, it established an understanding that it would do something with the results. If organizational leaders pull back from action, they disenfranchise employees and risk creating a culture that’s exactly opposite of what they had hoped for. Remember to stay flexible during the process. You set a goal, but it’s entirely possible the results you’ve gotten send you off into an entirely different direction. Be ready to adjust and modify your approach depending on the results. There’s no doubt that an engagement initiative takes a lot of work. Getting buy-in from company leaders, writing and administering a survey and assembling the results aren’t easy. But creating and implementing an engagement action plan — the steps your organization will take to make engagement happen — can seem overwhelming, and it’s where many engagement initiatives fail. If you find engagement scores are much lower than expected, or your culture needs more work than expected, it’s easy to lose courage and conviction when it’s time to take action. Here are three tips to keep the momentum going and focus on action after an engagement survey. Q: How do I help employees take responsibility for their own engagement? A: You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink — and in some ways, that applies to employee engagement as well. After all the surveys, communication, action plans and changes, what moves the needle on engagement are the decisions made as a cohesive unit between executives, managers, and individual employees. Employees play a vital role in their own engagement, and it’s vital that they understand that. Of course, sometimes employees aren’t clear about their responsibility toward their own engagement simply because employers don’t communicate it clearly enough. To ensure you’re getting the message across, here are three main messages you should focus on. You are responsible. Employees are responsible for the degree of effort they bring to their work. Leaders and managers can inspire employees, but employees must take that inspiration and use it to motivate themselves. 2 3 1
  • 17. For example: If an employee survey reveals that employees don’t feel motivated because the leave policy is unreasonable, they never get the time off they want and they feel overworked, changing the leave policy seems like an obvious choice. Employees may then feel engaged because the organization listened, took them seriously and made a change for the better. You have a choice. So, what about those employees who don’t feel more motivated even after a change is made? It’s possible that your organization has multiple issues that you uncovered through the survey process. This is why it is critical to slice and dice the data into different segments (age, tenure, job type, geography, etc…) to ensure you are address the specific needs of the employees. Unfortunately, you might simply have employees who aren’t a good fit and are having trouble aligning their own motivations with those of the company. It happens, but it means it’s time for some hard conversations. Make sure employees understand that the organization can do only so much, and at some point, it’s up to them to step up and either motivate themselves or move on. Your managers are there to help. Managers are on the front lines of engagement efforts. They can serve as the voice of the organization for employees — and a direct line from employees to the top level. Ensure employees understand the role managers play in engagement, and how managers are often the ones implementing any action plans. Because managers are so important, it’s essential to empower them to make change happen. It’s not useful to tell employees to work with managers on change initiatives, and then not give managers the tools or autonomy to put those plans into action. 2 3 4 15
  • 18. “Talmetrix does not offer a one-size-fits-all solution. We are not forced to adapt to a prescribed set of engagement questions, but instead can use a variety of validated or custom survey questions, send unique pulses as needed, or use the social feed- back tool to capture sentiment on a variety of topics. This enables us to quickly adapt our employee feedback needs as they occur. We love the flexibility!” -Kim C., SHRM-CP, Senior Director, Human Resources, Assurex Health “Talmetrix has taken the heavy-lifting off my plate and guided me step- by-step through implementing an employee engagement program. They made the process easy and didn’t force me to be a software expert.” -Marcella H., Human Resources Manager, Altair Global 16
  • 19. Section 4: Conclusion Engagement efforts aren’t a top-down proposition. All employees need to understand their roles for an engagement effort to succeed. Knowing there is an art and science to any engagement initiative, keep these 4 things in mind as you look to improve the employee experience: 1. Be ready for change. Change during an engagement initiative moves in all directions — across departments, up from the rank-and-file, cascading through different levels. As you empathize with your employees, remember that change elicits all kinds of emotions, some bad and some good. But that’s exactly why you’re asking them questions—and then listening to what they say—early and often. 2. Don’t get overwhelmed. No matter what you find, you may wonder where you should start making changes — or you may feel that the problem is too great to solve. It may even be tempting to blame others or point fingers in an effort to avoid change. Work to identify the high-, middle- and low-effort actions you can take to improve engagement and compare them with the high-, middle- and low-impact effects those actions would have. “Change is inevitable in an organization.” Chris Powell, Talmetrix, CEO 17
  • 20. Some companies get fired up about taking on tough issues first and really want to dig in to problems that make take months to resolve. And it’s true, some changes will take longer — but focusing on a long-term problem, no matter the payoff, shouldn’t be your first priority. You know that culture change doesn’t happen overnight, so look for the easy wins that will show employees you take their concerns seriously and are willing to make changes now, even as you prepare to approach long-term problems strategically. 3. Make sure business leaders continue to own the process. Business leaders must be responsible for putting into action any changes that need to be made in the organization. HR will be there to support them every step of the way, but improving business outcomes isn’t just one disciplines or departments responsibility. Part of that support is in making sure business leaders have the right tools, they know the power and importance of communication, and in helping to manage successful “hand-offs” throughout the journey. Drive Greater Engagement in Your Organization Through Workforce Insights Identify the drivers of engagement, retention and culture for your organization, and don’t stop there. From survey building through action planning, Talmertrix powers talent-focused companies to: - Capture unique and meaningful employee insights - Analyze date - Take informed action - Achieve organization growth 18
  • 21. Stop Guessing, Start Knowing. Chris Powell, Talmetrix, CEO 19 Talmetrix offers: A configurable platform built to be as flexible as your organization grows Fast and easy implementation created based on HR business leaders’ needs Dedicated support committed to your success Expert action planning provided by Solutions Advisors that support you on the most critical parts of your journey Still have questions? Contact our Talmetrix team. Click Here to Contact Talmetrix Email the Solutions Advisor team at info@talmetrix.com Call the Solutions Advisor team at (513) 399-6301