Tracking Employee Engagement as a Business Metric

October 31st, 2018
Tracking Employee Engagement as a Business Metric

At Antisyn, we’re a little obsessed with measuring our business’ success through key performance metrics. And helping our clients measure their success. But one of the most important key performance metrics that defines a company’s success is also one of the most difficult to measure and track… Employee Engagement.

If you’ve struggled to implement effective measurement and tracking of this metric, you’re not alone. We did too. For years, we had a system for tracking our key metrics for sales, profitability, operations, customer satisfaction, and other success measurements that are based on numbers and hard data. But we’d always come up short in turning feelings into trackable metrics of employee satisfaction, or “engagement”.

Our first core value is “Focus on the People”, so making sure we were tracking the success of those “warm and fuzzy” feelings was absolutely critical to us. After a lot of conversations among our team and some good, old-fashioned experimenting, we’ve finally implemented a system that we feel captures the essence of that “warm and fuzzy” feeling and turns it into a measurable, trackable metric.

And your business can too.

The Dream Team

Engaged employees are happy, productive, and actually like coming to work – your dream team members. Every organization has a select few of these employees and is hopefully working to nurture more through good management and hiring to fit your overall culture. I know we are.

But it wasn’t just employees quitting that we wanted to avoid, there’s an even worse potential fate for employees – becoming unmotivated, unhappy, and just generally “phoning it in” every day.

Remember the movie Office Space? We didn’t want a company full of Peters.

We knew that measuring employee engagement was critical to our ability to improve and continue to build our “dream team”.

Getting Started

Finding the system that worked for us involved a lot of trial and error.

There are a lot of great tools out there that help gather employee feedback and turn it into measurable data on employee engagement that can be easily recorded on dashboards.

After doing quite a bit of research, the system we chose is called Engagement Multiplier.

Regardless of which system you use the key is in finding a solution that works for you, and then actually using it.

When we were evaluating tools, we focused on finding one that would be easy for everyone to use. Not just easy for our leadership team to setup and implement, but also easy for our employees to use.

Since we have a lot of employees on the go and out of the office frequently, we also wanted to make sure that the tool we chose would work well on both desktop computers and mobile devices.

Asking the Right Questions

We put a lot of thought into making sure we were asking the right questions on our employee engagement survey. Obviously we wanted to ask our employees how they felt about Antisyn as a company, our leadership team, and how happy they were as an Antisyn employee.

It was also important to us that when we surveyed our employees, we were checking in with how our employees thought our clients felt about us. Because we knew that our employees had unique insight into how engaged our clients were. Insight from a different point-of-view than our leadership team might have.

We wanted to make sure that the questions we were asking were giving us a 360 degree view of how all the people who interact with Antisyn as a company felt about us - whether they were employees or clients.

Rolling it Out Successfully

We knew that there were two things that were critical to making our employee engagement survey an honest and dependable metric we could evaluate.

#1: We Needed to Do It Regularly

This couldn’t be a once-and-done survey. And it couldn’t become just an annual event. Because we view employee engagement as a critical metric that impacts our success as a company, we knew that one of the cornerstones of our system would be gathering regular employee feedback. And getting it often enough that we had a chance to steer things back on track.

So we settled on a quarterly schedule for our surveys.

#2: We Needed it to be Anonymous

We knew if we wanted an honest measurement of our employees’ engagement levels, we needed honest responses from them. So we decided to eliminate every barrier to that level of honesty we were looking for and implemented a truly anonymous survey system.

And we made sure our employees knew and trusted that it was truly anonymous.

Acting on the Data

We also knew that we couldn’t make the mistake of thinking that gathering feedback is all we needed to do. We would have to be ready to act on the data we gathered, too. We didn’t want to get this part wrong and sit on valuable feedback about how to make Antisyn a better place for our employees and our clients.

So we timed our employee engagement surveys to go out before our leadership’s quarterly planning sessions. Then, at every planning session, we can reflect on the results and ask ourselves the single most important question we can ask, “How do we create a better experience?”

This gives us the chance to improve employee engagement, which we know will drive better success for our clients.

What We’ve Learned

We’ve made our fair share of mistakes in trying to turn employee engagement into an actionable data-centric metric. But we’ve learned from them. Here’s what we’ve learned so far as we focus on making our program successful:

  • Don’t be Afraid to be Vulnerable
    It’s not always easy to face hearing your company needs to improve in an area. It’s usually uncomfortable. But we’ve found that getting feedback is exactly the motivation we need to improve. And getting specific data allows us to create a plan.
  • The Problems Might Not be What You Thought They Were
    Before we implemented our employee engagement surveys, we were essentially flying blind. So, we were surprised by some of the areas where we didn’t perform as well as we thought we would. Now that we know what we didn’t before, we’re able to take steps to improve. And it’s even easier to ask the questions we need to be asking to continue getting actionable data.
  • Challenging Your Misperceptions and Assumptions is a Good Thing
    Why were we surprised by some of our findings? Because of our own misperceptions and assumptions – the kind all humans make. Our employee engagement surveys brought us up against those assumptions and gave us the data we needed to make our team more successful.  

The Struggle is Real

We struggled to effectively evaluate employee engagement for a long time. And we struggled to turn that evaluation into a data-centric report that we could use to implement an improvement plan for just as long. Along the way we tried different tools and processes, but we never gave up on our determination to make it happen when one or the other didn’t work out. And we’re glad we didn’t, because we now have a system that gives us honest insight into how people feel about our company, and what we need to do to improve.

The struggle is real… and a hard one. But it’s an immensely rewarding one, and we wish every company the best of luck on their journey of turning employee engagement into a measureable, and actionable, business metric.

Philipp Graves is our founder and CEO here at Antisyn. Our passion is helping local businesses improve their relationship with technology and turn it into an asset that fuels their growth.