How to properly measure employee engagement

Written by: Officevibe | Edited by: Sofia Acosta
Published on: October 28, 2022 |  Reading time: 13m

If you were asked to rate your engagement at work on a scale from 0-10, how would you do that? If you answered with a 7 out of 10, what does that mean exactly?

Not a whole lot, because engagement is the sum of many feelings and without the right approach, it’s hard to quantify.

What you can do is ask questions that infer engagement, like are you satisfied with your current responsibilities? Or do you believe in the organization’s mission? Or would you consider leaving your organization for a similar role at another company?

By answering these questions that infer engagement, you can have a more holistic view of how they truly feel at work.

It’s tough to say that you’re “engaged” 7 out of 10, but you can get an idea of how engaged an employee is by asking questions related to engagement. This article will show you how to do just that.

What is employee engagement?

William Kahn, a Professor at Boston University coined the term “employee engagement” in his 1990 paper, “Psychological Conditions of Personal Engagement and Disengagement at Work.” He defined engagement as:

“the harnessing of organization members’ selves to their work roles; in engagement, people employ and express themselves physically, cognitively, and emotionally during role performances.”

In other words, that emotional commitment to the organization is what makes an employee engaged. The tricky part is that this can mean a lot of things.

Is engagement feeling happy at work? Or maybe being satisfied with what you do for a living? Well, yes, it’s both of those things. But it’s also so much more, and leaving other factors out of the equation can significantly distort your view on engagement.

For example, you can be happy at work, but not get enough feedback from your manager. You can get a ton of great feedback but have no opportunities for growth. You can have opportunities for growth, but no work-life balance.

Why is measuring employee engagement important?

Employee engagement has the power to make or break business success because it affects all aspects of work. It’s clear then that having a team of highly engaged employees brings many advantages.

Anne M. Mulcahy, former CEO of Xerox says it flawlessly:

“Employees who believe that management is concerned about them as a whole person – not just an employee – are more productive, more satisfied, more fulfilled. Satisfied employees mean satisfied customers, which leads to profitability.”

If those points aren’t convincing enough, we’ve also uncovered a few extra benefits of employee engagement:

  • Better team performance and alignment
  • Stronger ambassadorship and employer brand
  • Less workplace stress
  • Lower employee turnover

No one would want to pass on these benefits, but they won’t just happen overnight. If you want to reap the rewards of employee engagement, it’s important to consistently measure metrics that contribute to engagement so you can see where it stands and how it can be improved. From there, you can create an employee engagement strategy that addresses shortcomings and reinforces strengths.

🔑 A key part of improving employee engagement is earning employees’ trust. They need to believe that the organization genuinely cares about them in order to feel engaged and committed to their team and organization.

By committing to measuring and improving employee engagement, you’re showing employees that their well-being at work matters to you and that you’re making a conscious effort to make sure they’re happy at work. That alone can improve employee engagement, at least in the short term.

How to measure employee engagement with 10 easy metrics

There are many pieces to the employee engagement puzzle. And understanding 10 of those pieces can tell you nearly everything you need to know about engagement within your team.

Based on Officevibe’s employee experience research, these are the 10 employee engagement metrics you should understand and monitor to measure engagement at work.

1. Feedback

Employee feedback plays into engagement by giving employees the tools and guidance they need to perform their best. Letting employees know what areas they can improve will minimize the risk of confusion, poor quality of work, and even imposter syndrome. That’s because giving great feedback nudges people in the right direction and lets them know you believe in them.

Feedback sub-metrics and questions to measure them

  • Feedback frequency: Are you satisfied with the frequency of feedback coming from your peers?
  • Feedback quality: Is the feedback you get specific?
  • Suggestions for the organization: On a scale from 0-10, if you have new ideas for your organization, what are the chances you will share them?

2. Recognition

It’s difficult to feel engaged when your work regularly goes unnoticed by your peers and direct manager. Oftentimes, lack of recognition isn’t intentional. It’s simply forgotten, especially during bustling periods. But here’s a secret: recognizing employees when work is extra busy is a low-hanging fruit that can make them feel valued and improve employee engagement in only a few minutes.

Recognition sub-metrics and questions to measure them

  • Recognition frequency: How would you rate the frequency at which you receive recognition?
  • Recognition quality: Is recognition meaningful when you receive it?

Acknowledging how your team feels about recognition is key to boosting engagement. Ask these employee recognition survey questions to better understand their needs and expectations.

3. Happiness

Happiness is one of the top-of-mind employee engagement metrics for most managers, yet many don’t know how to measure it – understandably so. Many factors can contribute to happiness, so the first step is narrowing down happiness (or lack thereof) stemming from work.

Happiness sub-metrics and question examples

  • Happiness at work: Generally speaking, how would you rate your level of happiness at work?
  • Work-life balance: Do you have the flexibility to take time off when you need to?

4. Relationship with peers

Considering the average employee spends just as much, if not more, time with their colleagues than their family and friends, it’s no surprise that having a good relationship with your peers is important to engagement. If your employees collaborate and communicate well, and respect each other, the entire team will thrive.

Relationship with peers sub-metrics and questions to measure them

  • Collaboration between peers: Do you and your peers collaborate well together?
  • Communication between peers: Are communications among peers honest and transparent?
  • Trust between peers: On a scale from 0-10, how safe do you feel to be yourself around your peers?

Trust is paramount to a team’s success. Check out these five strategies to build trust and boost collaboration with your peers.

5. Relationship with managers

Officevibe’s data report, “The state of the employee experience”, showed that 75% of employees who display low engagement levels or leave their jobs say that it’s due to their manager or leadership. That’s why it’s crucial to maintain positive and supportive relationships with your employees, and keep a close eye on this metric at all times.

Relationship with manager sub-metrics and questions to measure them

  • Collaboration with manager: When you ask your direct manager for help, can they devote time to help you?
  • Communication with manager: Are you satisfied with how frequently you meet with your direct manager?
  • Trust with manager: Do you feel your direct manager cares about your well-being?

6. Personal growth

Feeling stagnated at work is a fast-track ticket to disengagement. Employees want to feel challenged and mentally stimulated, while also having a clear idea of where they are headed. Detecting early signs of a dwindling personal growth metric can let you know that your team members are in dire need of guidance and motivation to feel engaged.

Personal growth sub-metrics and question examples

  • Autonomy: Do you feel you have enough freedom to decide how you do your work?
  • Mastery: How would you define the level of challenge you have at work?
  • Purpose: Can you see how your work contributes to your organization’s success?

7. Alignment

Feeling aligned with your company’s vision, mission, and values is a key contributor to engagement. When you understand where your organization is headed and how you play a role in reaching broader objectives, you’re more likely to be productive at work and genuinely enjoy your job.

Alignment sub-metrics and questions to measure them

  • Ethics and social responsibility: On a scale of 0-10, how environmentally-conscious is your organization?
  • Values: Are you motivated by your organization’s values?
  • Mission and vision: Do you believe that your organization is able to reach its objectives?

8. Satisfaction

An engaged employee feels satisfied with their role within their team or company, and all aspects surrounding it. If they do not feel supported with the right resources or fairly compensated for their work, employee satisfaction will decrease and so will engagement. If caught on time, you can make quick changes and prevent issues from becoming larger and more difficult to tackle.

Satisfaction sub-metrics and questions to measure them

  • Compensation: Do you trust you are paid fairly compared to similar roles in other organizations?
  • Role within organization: Are your responsibilities clear?
  • Workplace: Do you feel like your work environment reflects your organizational culture?

Start gauging team sentiment and morale with this 10-question employee satisfaction survey template.

9. Wellness

Gone are the days of hustle culture and high-stress environments. Employees are now prioritizing health and wellness, and signs of stress and overwhelming workloads are important to flag. The good news is that employees are talking about this metric more openly, so measuring it through surveys can help you keep tabs on how everyone feels throughout the whole year.

Wellness sub-metrics and questions to measure them

  • Personal health: Do you feel that working at your organization allows you to have a healthy lifestyle?
  • Stress: On a scale from 0-10, how reasonable is your workload?

Check in on your team and their well-being with these employee wellness questions, surveys, and templates.

10. Ambassadorship

It’s one thing to be happy at work, but it’s another to truly advocate for your organization and its offerings. By monitoring and measuring ambassadorship, you can divide your team into three categories:

  • Promoters
  • Neutrals
  • Detractors

To measure employee engagement, be sure to evaluate the employee experience from the perspective of each of these groups. You’ll learn what makes promoters feel engaged, why detractors are disengaged, and where gaps can be filled for neutrals.

Ambassadorship sub-metrics and questions to measure them

  • Employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS): On a scale from 0-10, how likely are you to recommend your organization as a good place to work?
  • Pride: When you say what organization you work for, how do you feel?

Ways to measure employee engagement metrics

Employee engagement is a complex issue that requires effort from everyone in the organization. The most common way to measure engagement is using surveys, but it’s important to complement them with other tools and processes. When conducting surveys, you should also consider taking various approaches depending on what you are looking to measure.

Here’s how you could be measuring employee engagement on a regular basis.

Surveys to measure employee engagement

Annual engagement surveys

An annual employee engagement survey can be used to gather high-level, organization-wide insights for leadership teams. Oftentimes, these surveys are used to guide broader business strategies and initiatives in preparation for the next year.

While these surveys do measure employee engagement, the possibility of bias is high and responses may not accurately reflect how employees felt across the entire year.

Pulse Surveys

Short, frequent employee engagement surveys are a great way to keep a pulse on the vibe in your team. There’s no need to make this process complex. It can be as simple as regularly asking your team 5-10 questions related to the various engagement metrics mentioned above. With the responses you collect, you can measure employee engagement at any given time. Do this consistently over a few months, and you’ll see fluctuations that can further guide your engagement strategy.

Getting started doesn’t have to be difficult. Collect valuable insights with a pulse survey tool and uncover any issues that might be affecting your team.

eNPS surveys

The employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS), a derivative of the customer-centric Net Promoter Score created by Fred Reichheld, quantifies a company’s employee loyalty and pride. It does so by asking a single, simple question: “On a scale of 0 to 10, how likely are you to recommend our organization as a great place to work?”

To best leverage this method, send the eNPS question at least once a year with one or two follow-up questions. A score above 10+ is something to be proud of, and anything below 0 should be further assessed.

💡Learn everything you need to know about the employee Net Promoter Score, including its methodology, how to calculate it, and what you can do to improve your score.

Non-survey methods to measure employee engagement

One-on-one meetings

Another great way to measure engagement is through regular one-on-one meetings with employees. Similar to your employee engagement surveys, you can structure these conversations with talking points based on the 10 metrics of engagement.

The advantage of this method of collecting feedback is that it’s face-to-face (either in person or virtually). And because it’s a private, safe conversation, you can get much more detail about each issue that’s brought up. The key for managers is to remove that fear from employees so they feel safe opening up.

If you’re looking for help with your one-on-ones, our free one-on-one meeting templates should help you.

Stay interviews

Using structured interviews for employees is a great way to collect feedback and find out what makes them engaged or what holds them back from being engaged. Some of the most insightful conversations to have are stay interviews, where you ask employees who are happy at work what makes them want to stay. The goal is to find out what you’re already doing well and how you can better leverage it.

Improve employee retention by conducting your next stay interview with these 6 questions.

Exit interviews

In most cases, an exit interview will not convince a departing employee to stay. However, they should still be part of your process to measure engagement as they can help you find out what you could have done better to improve engagement.

Employee turnover rate

Turnover rate shows the percentage of people that left your organization during a given period. Employees usually change jobs when they no longer feel challenged, see no opportunities for growth, or have a negative experience at work. A high turnover rate can therefore indicate that engagement is low. When paired with an exit interview, you can get to the root issues impacting engagement levels.

What to do after you measure employee engagement

Measuring employee engagement is only the first step. As an organization, you need to be committed to continuously improving engagement. Here is what you can do with employee survey results.

Communicate the results

If you sent out a survey, send employees a thank you message for completing it, communicate a summary of the results, and share what the next steps are in an upcoming team meeting. Keeping your team in the loop allows them to get involved in their own employee engagement journeys.

Pick one or a few things to improve

You’ll likely find multiple points of improvement. This is normal. Instead of overwhelming yourself or your team by trying to tackle everything, pick the area or areas that would have the biggest impact on engagement. Start small, and brainstorm with your team on things like:

  • How you can improve each item
  • Who will be held accountable
  • How you’ll be able to measure its effectiveness (set a goal)

Once you narrow this down, you’ll be able to build an action plan and start actively working towards increasing employee engagement.

Follow up and repeat

Continuously follow up with team members to see how things are going, and if there’s anything you need to do to readjust and realign on the goal.

Repeat the process over and over. Measuring employee engagement isn’t a one-shot deal. Engagement takes time to build and will always evolve, so it’s important to stay agile.

Employee engagement tools are here to help

When assessing how to measure employee engagement, remember that you are not alone. Tools like Officevibe exist to facilitate every part of your employee engagement strategy, from surveying employees with automated Pulse Surveys to scheduling one-on-ones and keeping track of all your engagement metrics in one tidy place.

By following the tips in this article and using the right tools, you’ll be on your way to successfully measuring engagement within your team.