4 April 2018

Five things HR needs to know about employee engagement


Cathryn Newbery

Cathryn Newbery

Cathryn Newbery is head of content and community at Ciphr. She was previously deputy editor at People Management magazine. You can find her on Twitter @c_newbery.


Employee engagement HR transformation Strategy culture and values


David Godden, VP at Thymometrics, offers advice on why engagement matters, the failings of traditional surveys, and how real-time feedback could benefit your organisation

1. Low engagement is a serious problem

“Employee engagement around the world has become a real problem,” says Godden, citing a Gallup report which found that 87% of the global workforce is actively disengaged at work. “Low employee engagement has a direct bearing on other human capital problems, including employee turnover, performance, absenteeism – all of which affect profitability. It’s estimated that 32% of workers aged between 18 and 35 see themselves leaving their job within a year – that’s extremely bad news for employers trying to attract and retain a strong workforce.”

Adds Godden: “Millennials, who now surpass all other demographics of workers, are very comfortable working with online tools in all aspects of their work and personal lives. If they can’t get the support they need at work, they quickly check out. More than half of millennials plan to leave their company in the next two years – an alarming statistic.” High staff turnover is costly for organisations, he says, as you need to consider the cost of a recruiting a new team member, training costs, the potential loss of intellectual property to a competitor, and the resulting upheaval to teams – all of which ultimately affects the bottom line.https://www.ciphr.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/demographic-chart-1.jpg

2. Traditional methods of employee engagement are flawed

Traditional ways of finding out how employees feel – such as annual surveys, 360-degree surveys, focus groups, and ad-hoc surveys – are flawed, says Godden. “They are all useful methods, but are discrete snapshots with little correlation between then. As a result, they tend to be blind to trends, lack agility and employees see them as manager-driven activities. They also tend to give you little or no warning of employee issues until it’s too late.”https://www.ciphr.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Comparison-chart.jpg

3. Engagement is now a core strategic focus for HR

“The role of HR is to continually monitor employees and assess the results of their efforts,” says Godden. Real-time engagement tools help teams to “tap into the daily ups and downs of an organisation, with clear indicators of what’s working well and what needs improvement,” he adds. “The data is more accurate, timely and relevant. Problems can be identified, and strategic action taken, quickly. These timely interventions will help employees stay connected to the organisation and its goals.”

4. Always-on engagement doesn’t have to be hard

One of the reasons why annual surveys have been popular is that HR departments can outsource their creation, compilation and analysis to a third-party provider – swiftly removing one item from their ever-growing to-do list.

But, says Godden, always-on engagement isn’t difficult if you have the right tool. Thymometrics’ engagement survey enables employees to anonymously provide feedback on a number of key themes whenever they want. As well as assessing employees’ satisfaction on key themes, the tool also asks them to rate the importance of each element – so HR can better identify the areas that require their most immediate attention. In-built reporting dashboards enable HR and managers to instantly analyse results by, for example, subject, team, or location, and identify trends over time to assess the impact of interventions.

 5. But it does have to be supported by cultural change

“Employee engagement must be a leadership responsibility – not just an HR one,” says Godden. “Moving to always-on feedback may require a shift in your organisation’s thinking. But it can have an enormously positive effect: it can help to improve your corporate brand, and reflects the trend for greater organisational transparency that we are seeing with the growth of social media and Glassdoor. It’s all part of the new world of work where the individual has to be highly valued.”

Want to see the Thymometrics engagement tool in action? Watch our on-demand webinar here