The Employee Engagement Index Defined

The Employee Engagement Index Defined

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What is an Employee Engagement Index? How does it fit into engagement models? How does it enable and prioritize action? 

These are all excellent questions that need to be understood to understand the results of your employee engagement survey, and to turn employee feedback into actionable successes. 

Defining the Employee Engagement Index

In its Dictionary of People Metrics, the Victorian Public Sector Commission (VPSC) describes the Employee Engagement Index as a measure of engagement levels relative to employees and their day-to-day jobs. “It is based on survey questions that assess factors such as the effort and enthusiasm they put into their daily activities. It is designed to measure the extent to which employees contribute their discretionary effort to the firm. 

Indeed, study after study asserts that when employees are engaged in their work, discretionary efforts climb and positive outcomes follow. However, while VPSC’s Employee Engagement Index definition is on the mark, it doesn’t get to the crux of what you really need to know about the Index:  

The Employee Engagement Index is Very Much About Sentiment

The study of engagement within your organization is rooted in how your employees respond to a prescribed series or “Index” of survey questions.  

Based on rigorous scientific survey design and validation the four following statements are by far the most significant indicators of employee engagement advocated by WorkTango: 

1. I would recommend this organization as a great place to work  

When an employee is willing to recommend your organization to others in effect they become your talent ambassador — advocating on your behalf, elevating your employer brand — based on their own rewarding employee experiences. That kind of endorsement is an irrefutable sign people are engaged. 

2. My organization inspires me to give my very best at work 

Inspiration is about being mentally stimulated to do or feel something The second Employee Engagement Index statement is the leading measure of discretionary effort. It also serves as a first step towards finding out what’s so inspirational about the work and workplace. Asking more questions and correlating data brings more clarity to what it is that engages the minds and hearts of your people. 

3. I intend to be working at this organization a year from now 

Loyalty and retention are the underlying stories behind this Index query. People who respond in the affirmative are less likely to jump ship voluntarily. And more likely to be committed to the success of their employer. 

4. I’m proud to work for our organization  

An “agree’ or “highly agree” rating from employees is a nod that you’re doing lots of things right. By slicing and dicing responses using a variety of different considerations such as age, job, tenure, location, direct manager and so on, you can see where pride and enthusiasm resonates strongest. Investigate why. And apply learnings to other less enthused populations in your organization.  

Why Does the Employee Engagement Index Matter?

Becoming familiar with sentiments around work and the workplace can help senior leaders grasp where organizational efforts need to focus so that employees feel a stronger sense of belonging and commitment. Direct managers benefit similarly when they cotton on to areas under their sway that have an effect on the engagement levels of their team.  These valuable insights lead to accountability. Accountability leads to action. And action leads to results.  

How is an Employee Engagement Index Interpreted?

This four-pronged measure gathers intellectual and emotional connections to your organization as well as work ethic behaviors and attitudes.  

While the Employee Engagement Index exposes pivotal feedback, a high or low score needs context. The real value comes when you cross-reference Index responses with data linked to other influential engagement factors like Goals & Alignment or Learning & Development, for instance. A regression analysis will indicate whether there’s a high correlation between engagement and one or both of these factors. Should either be found to be highly impactful, you then know where to channel efforts to maintain or improve the employee experience. 

Your organization can better understand whether an uptick or decline in the Engagement Index is driven by other impactful factors including: 

  • Company Outlook
  • Compensation & Benefits
  • Direct Managers
  • Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
  • Enablement
  • Job Satisfaction
  • Recognition
  • Senior Leadership
  • Team Collaboration
  • Trust & Safety 

Looked at individually and in combination, these influential measurements add perspective. And guidance for action. 

How Does the Engagement Index Fit with Employee Engagement Overall?

The purpose of the Engagement Indexis to capture, compute and convey employee sentiment.  It’s your barometer. Engagement factors unearth what influences employee sentiment and to what extent. They’re your drivers. By fitting the two together they paint a picture of employee engagement (whether that’s in a moment of time or over a comparative period of time).     

How are employees feeling about a recent change management initiative?   

What could be done differently?  

Are employees comfortable enough to voice their own opinion even when it differs from group opinion? 

Do their direct managers regularly share relevant information from senior leaders? 

The Engagement Index is your springboard. “Knowing” what it is you want to understand about engagement becomes the perfectly executed dive into pools of water that forever shift. The decisions you make and actions you take subsequently are what make your employee engagement efforts sink or swim. 

How Does an Employee Engagement Index Enable Action?

Let’s say you’ve received your Employee Engagement Index results. There’s a concerning increase in the number of respondents who indicate they don’t expect to be working in the organization a year from now. Why is this sentiment changing?  

A deeper dive tells you the “loyalty” sentiment of employees from a certain geographic region is noticeably lower when compared to the organization as a whole.  

You might think this is important because of the low score. But is it a red herring? Or is it a high impact area of concern?  A regression analysis will bring clarity, telling you what factors are surfacing and influencing the region’s responses.   

A more comprehensive examination reveals a significant number of people from this employee population also “disagree” or “highly disagree” with the following statements: 

“This is a good place for me to develop my career” 

“I have opportunities at work to learn and grow” 

“I receive regular recognition or praise for doing good work” 

Armed with such information, and given that career growth is the highest impact driver on engagement, these low score/high impact results signal a clear area of focus.   

So, what can you do to stave off attrition in this location?  

  • Share insights with the division’s management 
  • Give leaders the tools and resources to become more supportive, more communicative, more generous in their praise 
  • Encourage regular one-on-one meetings so that leaders get to know their team members as individuals with personal and professional goals – and using what makes them tick, to stick around. 
  • Expand opportunities for career development outside of conventional corporate-ladder promotions (chairing a committee, for instance, taking a lateral move or accepting a governance-oriented volunteer role on a not-for-profit Board)   
  • Set short and longer-term KPIs to hold leaders accountable for improving their team’s employee engagement scores 
  • Issue check-in pulse surveys to monitor changes among affected employee populations 

Each of these measures are ACTIONS that demonstrate the organization is listening. Actions that are prioritized specifically for an area of the organization that’s falling short. Actions that enable leaders and empower employees. Actions that address crucial employee sentiments defined by the Employee Engagement Index and contribute to a people-centric culture that inspires loyalty, enthusiasm and pride.