I recently had the opportunity to speak about employee engagement and employment brand with students in University of San Francisco's Master's program for organization development. One of the questions we tackled - and ones that many HR professionals are trying to tackle in boardrooms across the country - is, "What is employee engagement and why does it matter?"
Employee engagement has emerged as a critical driver of business success in today's competitive marketplace; promoting retention, fostering customer loyalty and improving organizational performance. Simply put, Gallup defines engaged employees as those who are involved in, enthusiastic about and committed to their work.
Engaged employees are not just satisfied with their job - they are energized by their job. They are more likely to put in extra effort, and that's at the heart of why monitoring and improving employee engagement is a business imperative. The higher the level of engagement, the more employees are willing to work hard for the success of their organization.
Engaged employees also tend to stay longer. A study by Glint revealed that the regrettable attrition rate of disengaged employees is 12 times higher than highly engaged employees over the period of a year.
At Glassdoor, we care about engagement for two reasons: engaged employees drive business success, and high engagement tends to lead to a positive employment brand.
Employment brand is the outward face of the employee engagement. Actually, it's not just employee engagement - it's also job seeker experience and alumni engagement. And because platforms like Glassdoor exist, a company's employment brand is no longer owned by its HR or marketing team - it's now owned by the employees, job seekers, and former employees.
A positive employment brand is golden.
With a positive and authentic employment brand, companies can attract well-qualified candidates in less time and land them more easily. The more closely the employment brand "promise" matches candidates' real experiences, the more likely new hires are to get up to productivity quickly and feel great about their decision to join.
On the flip side, a negative or lukewarm employment brand can have a chilling effect on recruiting. Any company who has had a "Glassdoor problem" - meaning bad reviews and low ratings on Glassdoor - has felt the impact in recruiting.
At my last company, we were getting hammered with bad reviews. The company had been acquired but even before that, employees were posting pretty negative reviews. When we got a sales call from Glassdoor, we were pissed off. They created this vehicle for employees to air their dirty laundry, and now they wanted us to pay to improve our profile? It felt like blackmail.
Fortunately, our staffing manager saw right away that we didn't have a Glassdoor problem - we had an engagement problem. He asked me what was being done to address the issues that our employees were bringing up on Glassdoor.
What drives employee engagement & how do you measure it?
To improve engagement and its effect on employment brand, it's important to understand what creates engagement and how to measure it.
I like to draw parallels between improving corporate health (as indicated by employee engagement) and what people do to improve their personal health. You may look at one or two overall indicators to gauge your health but you need to understand and address the root issues if you are actually going to improve it. For example, you might notice that your weight is on the rise. Weighing yourself over and over again is not going to change your weight. You have to address the "inputs" like exercise and food in order to change the outcome of overall weight.
So what are the inputs when it comes to employee engagement? There are many different surveys out there, but I'll point to one that's always on and available to all employers for free: Glassdoor Reviews. Glassdoor reviews measure:
- Culture & Values
- Work-Life Balance
- Comp & Benefits
- Career Opportunity
- Senior Management
- Recommend to a friend
- Business Outlook
- CEO Rating
Glassdoor is measuring both "satisfiers" and "engagement drivers" - think of them as different scales. Work-life balance and compensation/benefits (including health insurance, vacation and paid time off, and 401k plans) are satisfiers, in other words, you have to get them right or they become dissatisfiers, but they are not usually drivers of engagement.
According to a 2017 Glassdoor research study, employee satisfaction and engagement are dependent upon:
1. The culture and values of the organization
2. Quality of senior leadership
3. Professional growth opportunities
"While pay can help get new talent in the door, our research shows it's not likely to keep them there without real investments in workplace culture: making a commitment to positive culture and values, improving the quality of senior management, and creating career pathways that elevate workers through a career arc in the organization," said Glassdoor Chief Economist Dr. Andrew Chamberlain.
How do you measure employee engagement?
Measuring employee engagement is easier than ever with fast feedback tools like Glint. Glint is designed for continuous improvement, facilitating an ongoing cycle of feedback, learning, and change between managers and employees. It's a process that helps employees feel heard and everyone feel empowered to do their best work.
Glint helps companies measure factors including:
- Growth & Learning
Together with feedback tools like Glassdoor and Blind, employers have an arsenal of resources at their fingertips to measure engagement and generate actionable data then strategies that employees, managers and the C-suite can implement.
How do you increase employee engagement?
Increasing employee engagement starts with giving people a voice - encouraging employees and team members to submit feedback through internal channels, company surveys or sites like Glassdoor. As employees share more and more feedback, a culture of feedback and listening develops and they become more comfortable expressing feedback both through online tools and face-to-face.
Open, honest communication amongst all employees not only means people have useful feedback to help them improve but also that there is a feeling of trust and respect in the workplace. Fostering a feedback and listening culture should improve engagement because people feel they can offer input without judgment or backlash, and help the company on its path to success.
Acknowledging feedback is imperative to this process. Whether writing a response on Glassdoor or following up with a conversation with an employee after feedback was given, it can be effective to schedule secondary meetings or simply make time to discuss feedback over coffee once people have had time to digest what's been said.
Next, take action on key drivers of engagement - equip and empower managers to do this, but also get your executive team involved. Tackle it from the top and the bottom. Additionally, one thing I always suggest is to involve everyone in identifying solutions and taking action.
Remember, when employees are engaged they are more productive and innovative, less likely to leave an organization, and more likely to be excellent ambassadors for your company's employment brand.
Marca Clark is the Director of Learning and Organizational Development at Glassdoor.