Employee Engagement - How to Measure?

Employee Engagement is typically measured using an Employee Engagement Survey that has been developed specifically for this purpose. Employee engagement surveys must be statistically validated and benchmarked against other organizations, if they are going to provide useful results. Without these things, it is difficult to know what you are measuring and whether the results are good or bad.

Engagement can be accurately measured with short surveys that contain just a few questions, but such short surveys can only provide an indication of whether employees are engaged. They have a hard time explaining why employees are engaged or disengaged because they lack detail. In order to get a complete picture of employee engagement, a survey needs to include about 50 to 80 questions that cover a complete range of topics related to employee engagement.

Have you considered kicking off an employee engagement program? It takes effort, but committing to a proven process up front can help you and your organization succeed with the following factors −

  • Increasing Productivity
  • Improving Retention
  • Enhancing Performance and
  • Transforming into a high-performance culture.

The following steps will put you on the road to measuring and improving engagement at your organization.

Define a Goal for Employee Engagement

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to setting a goal for your employee engagement program, and you will need to get more specific than simply setting out to “Improve Engagement”.

To set a useful goal, tie it to one of the following three things −

  • Improving company culture
  • Managing talent more effectively or
  • Creating a high-performance organization.

These goals will get results that go beyond simply changing a number on a survey report.

Establish Key Metrics and Measurements

Use your goal to identify the factors you’ll be measuring as part of your employee engagement survey. The questions are likely to fall into three categories −

  • Satisfaction − These questions will ask about how employees feel about their job, pay, benefits and so on.

  • Alignment − These questions will determine whether employees’ goals and motivations are aligned with the organization’s mission.

  • Sense of future − It is important to ask whether employees feel they have a future at your organization, especially if you are interested in improving retention.

During this step, you will also determine the kind of survey you will run. You may be asking questions across different categories with answers on a 1-5 scale, or you might use open-ended questions. Check out the “Art and Science of Employee Engagement” for their best practices.

Communicate Effectively for Transparency

Communicating clearly and consistently is important at every step of the engagement process, but when you are running an employee survey, it is vital. Employees may be wondering what will happen to their answers, what exactly is being measured and whether their responses are anonymous. Communicating effectively throughout the process will help create buy-in from employees, so ensure leaders and managers have the answers they need to keep everybody on track.


As you move through your employee engagement process, be sure to keep your communication lines open. After the survey, employees may feel like the communication drops off as leaders try to determine an action plan for the organization.

Keep them informed about the results from the survey and what is coming next; transparency throughout the process will help keep it moving. Use the following three guidelines when developing your communication plan −

  • Communicate Your Goal
  • Tell Them Why You’re Doing This
  • Don’t Overcommit

Overcoming Roadblocks

Every employee engagement initiative runs into conflicts at some point. Once survey results are revealed and it is time to plan, one of the most common roadblocks is a lack of alignment or trust among leaders who are trying to take the next step. Other leaders may suddenly decide there aren’t enough resources or enough time to make the changes necessary to improve engagement, or may not feel empowered to make it happen.

This is a critical moment for your engagement program and one where the HR can take a leadership role. Go back to your original goal and remind others of the commitment to positive change.

Build an Action Plan

Your survey results show you where your company is now; your goal will provide something to aim for. Your action plan for getting there will depend on your company’s culture, engagement goals, risk tolerance, budget and other variables unique to your organization. Work with department and company leaders to create timelines and accountability for action, being explicit about which tasks belong to which people.

Check out the best practices for building an action plan and consider these four steps as you set out to develop your action plan.

  • Revisit Your Strategy
  • Follow Established Processes
  • Work Quickly
  • Listen to Feedback
  • Thank Employees
  • Focus on Long-Term Success

Measurement Tips for Employee Engagement

Companies that have engaged employees considerably outperform competitors whose employees are not engaged. A study conducted by Dale Carnegie Training indicates that the differential is a staggering 200 percent. Measuring employees’ engagement is challenging because it is based largely on the employee perception, which is subjective.

In addition, there is no hard and fast definition of employee engagement. As a result, there are no standard analytic tools used for measurement purposes.


While surveys are the most common method used to evaluate engagement, there are six steps to take for their results to provide meaningful data.

  • Evaluate manager’s/employee relationships
  • Analyze communication levels
  • Take stock of benefits
  • Don’t underestimate the importance of empowerment
  • Review rational factors
  • Study employee choices

Considering the employees’ disengagement is a primary cause of company failure, it is critical you use effective measurement methods. Relying on simple satisfaction surveys is not enough. To most accurately determine how your employees feel, you must include questions that cover key factors as well as analyze their daily choices. This will enable you to best understand your employees and make any necessary adjustments to increase their level of engagement and ultimately the overall success of your company.

Why Should Employers Measure Employee Engagement?

Finding great developers, project managers and other technical roles is a difficult task and keeping these top performers is even harder. People don't want to work in a place where they don't have a voice or work for a company that seems to let the good people go while holding onto those that do the bare minimum. In short, top people want to feel their opinions and hard work are valued.

On the other hand, companies that do the work to build a positive culture will reap the benefits and increasing employee engagement is a big part of that. Employee engagement, as per experts, drives all the good things an organization needs to thrive better customer outcomes, better employee retention and increased productivity.


"Employee engagement is important because a well engaged employee means the difference between just showing up or excelling at what they do. With today's increased competition for top notch talent and the huge costs to retrain new staff, engagement becomes more important than ever.

When engagement is low, things can get off track really quick and it can spread like wildfire, best practices are usually the process that falls apart when engagement is low, though best practices are what produce ideal outcomes," says Gabe Zuckerman, CEO & Co-Founder of Dopamine and author of The Gamification Revolution.

Let us face it, if you cannot measure it, you cannot manage it and if you cannot manage it, then how can you improve it? The time has come for organizations to start giving engagement the focus it deserves. We measure KPIs for business data and we are getting better at that. Now, we have to start using an analytical process to find out what motivates and helps retain your employees.