Measuring Employee Engagement / Organizational Climate

By Les Wallace, PhD

Differentiating Employee Engagement

Engaged employees are productive employees. In fact, Gallup says engaged teams produce 20 percent more than their non-engaged counterparts. As a board of directors, it’s up to you to define the organizational culture and climate you expect. With so much at stake, it’s as important as your role in setting fiscal parameters or customer expectations for good performance.

Don’t know where to start? After more than 30 years experience and research, I can tell you it’s simpler than you may think.

My co-author of A Legacy of 21st Century Leadership, Jim Trinka, and I, devoted an entire chapter to his research on the leadership behaviors most directly related to engaging employees. From the Gallup organization’s bellwether findings on the components of employee engagement, and its “Q12” set of questions, Trinka’s own in-depth research found five of those questions to be the key differentiators of leader behavior that generates engagement:

  • “Do I receive ample appreciation for doing good work?”
  • “Do my opinions and input seem to count?”
  • “Does someone at work encourage my development?”
  • “Do I feel I have opportunities to learn and grow?”
  • “Do I receive timely feedback about how I am doing and my progress?”

Look closely at these questions and you’ll see the relationship with the immediate supervisor is the critical element an employee uses to determine how much engagement to give.

Survey Measures: Scope and Frequency

If you’re one of the many organizations seeking the “Best Place to Work” award in your area, then you’ve already committed to an annual, full-scope employee survey with more than 100 questions. What if I told you that you need to do these only about every four-to-five years? As a board your focus is in the key indicators of a positive organizational culture, as the five questions above demonstrate, not the weeds of the details.

The annual fuller scope survey has been a valuable management tool and report of “key metrics” for boards of directors to confirm the organization is being led according to the values they have established. However, the once- a-year, full scope survey is an industrial model in a virtual era. Progressive organizations have moved to more frequent measures of employee engagement and organizational climate.

I favor quarterly, random short surveys on several key indicators of engagement that can be easily reported on a board dashboard.

What five questions might I recommend you ask of a random sample of employees on a quarterly basis?

  • “I believe I can be successful with my work.”
  • “I have opportunity for growth and development.”
  • “In my work unit my ideas and opinions are respected and appreciated.”
  • “I am receiving regular helpful feedback and appreciation about my performance.”
  • “I am getting the organizational information I need to feel a part of our larger team.”

Each of these questions gets at drivers from which high levels of employee engagement emerge. As scores go up you are confirming an engaged workplace. As scores do down your executive team may need to do a bit more diagnosis—but at least it has timely warning of trouble.

Simplifying the Annual Survey

If your organization is doing well yet you still wish to confirm the levels of engagement and open the door for improvement I suggest a skinnier survey—my version. Down load the PDF here. It is a combination of specific inquiries and open-ended responses to provide detailed metrics and subjective comments from your associates:

Related Readings:

Signature Resources provides several tailored, employee engagement services.

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