Liz Alton

Organizations that measure employee engagement can map out effective strategies to address issues and maximize productivity. Understanding what employees want, increasing recognition programs and deepening leadership engagement are just a few best practices to cultivate a motivated and committed workforce.

Businesses investing in how to measure employee engagement are gaining a competitive talent advantage. That’s because motivated, committed employees are the lifeblood of an organization.

But measuring something as nebulous as employee engagement can be challenging. Researchers Dr. Mary Hayes and Jared Northrup note in the ADP Research Institute®’s (ADPRI) quarterly Today at Work report that “tracking an ethereal state of mind is difficult, to say the least, and an employee’s positive feelings about work can easily be blown off track by myriad forces large and small.”

Yet understanding worker mindset is essential to cultural well-being and an organization’s bottom line. Read on to learn about various tools and strategies that can help you get a handle on your employee engagement.

Understand the business case for measuring employee engagement

Measuring employee engagement can give you insights into your employees’ interior worlds and how they impact the workplace.

“Workplace emotional experiences are a major contributor to the quantity and quality of our work, not to mention our well-being,” says Amy Leschke-Kahle, ADP’s vice president of talent insights and innovation. “If an organization is blind to how employees are experiencing work, they may also be missing out on visibility into the differentiating factors that contribute to productivity, quality and well-being.”

In its report, the ADPRI released data from its Employee Motivation and Commitment Index, a real-time way to measure the state of worker allegiance. When making the case for measuring an employee’s positive feelings about work, highlight one of the work world’s most important metrics: productivity.

ADPRI researchers found that high-productivity workers were 2.6 times more likely to be highly motivated and committed than moderately productive workers and 4.6 times more likely than low-productivity peers.

Think in terms of motivation and commitment

ADPRI researchers focused on those two aspects of measuring the hustle and loyalty of their workers — motivation and commitment — to give employers a richer lens into the employee experience.

“Think about motivation being the precursor, the getting ready aspect of employee engagement. Is the employee in an environment in which they feel ready and positioned to contribute their best?” Leschke-Kahle explains.

Once you’ve identified whether those precursor elements are in place, look at the conditions for long-term success. “Think about commitment as being the conditions where employees can sustain their best work,” says Leschke-Kahle.

When organizations take steps to foster motivation and sustain commitment, employee engagement is likely to skyrocket.

“Organizations should double down on the universal action that helps virtually all employees feel more engaged at work — frequent attention from their team leaders.”

Amy Leschke-Kahle, vice president of talent insights and innovation, ADP

Create feedback loops that act on insights

As organizations implement employee engagement surveys, it’s important to recognize what those surveys will and won’t achieve. What’s measured gets managed. Yet, it takes more than measuring engagement to move the needle.

“It will give the organization visibility into how employees are feeling about their experience at work, but there are actions that are required to address the opportunities,” Leschke-Kahle says.

For example, employees who lack motivation may need more frequent leadership engagement to understand what they’re working toward or more tangible recognition for contributions. Turn insights into actionable strategies customized for your workforce.

Increase engagement with recognition and visibility

Finding ways to listen to what your workforce is saying and recognizing their contributions are essential to long-term engagement.

For certain workers, this might mean exploring compensation or employee growth pathways. For others, service recognition or annual performance awards can go a long way toward motivating high performance.

It’s also helpful to look at other aspects of the workplace culture. Do workers see representation that reflects their experience among other team members, leadership and key stakeholders? Are diverse voices invited to weigh in on critical workplace issues?

If you identify gaps in these areas, exploring how to course-correct can have an immediate impact on employees.

Drive deeper engagement with leadership

As the saying goes, workers typically leave bad managers. But engaged, invested leadership can increase motivation and help employees feel they’re playing a key role in shaping the organization’s future.

“Organizations should double down on the universal action that helps virtually all employees feel more engaged at work — frequent attention from their team leaders,” Leschke-Kahle says. She points out that data from StandOut powered by ADP shows that employees who receive weekly attention from their team leaders are over three times as likely to be fully engaged.

For HR leaders, the call is to move engagement into the everyday realm. How often are managers scheduling one-on-ones with their teams? Are leaders hosting regular sessions and huddles with teams to understand what’s working and reinforce the larger vision?

As Leschke-Kahle frames it: “We all know how important communication is to engagement, but it’s not just any kind of communication. The key is to create an environment and expectation that each employee will receive frequent (at least weekly) attention from their most important people at work about their near-term work and from a strengths-based lens.”

Engaged employees drive productivity and growth

Employers may feel that employee motivation and commitment are elusive to measure. Yet by asking the right questions and taking clear strategic action on the insights generated, it’s possible for organizations to improve engagement, boost productivity and ultimately thrive.

Learn more about how employee engagement surveys help organizations track critical metrics in “Measuring Worker Motivation and Commitment,” a section of the Today at Work quarterly report from ADPRI.

This article originally appeared on SPARK powered by ADP.

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