What are Reliable Indicators for Measuring Employee Engagement?

In Brandon Hall Group’s HCM Outlook 2021 Study, 70% of organizations rated assessing and driving employee engagement as important or extremely important. Engagement ranked second — two percentage points behind fostering an inclusive workplace — as the year’s top people priority.

Brandon Hall Group defines employee engagement as an outcome based on all the experiences an employee has with an organization. But there are many competing definitions of engagement and some organizations see the level of engagement simply as the result of their annual engagement survey.

The overwhelming majority of organizations — 84% — use engagement surveys to measure employee engagement. Exit interviews are inexplicably a distant runner-up at 59%. While you might uncover the factors that drove employees to leave during the exit interviews, you are only gaining insights after the damage is done. “Stay” interviews, which make much more sense because they occur while a worker is employed and still has skin in the game, are used by only 17% of organizations.

Top Approaches to Employee Engagement Measurement

Most organizations (40%) annually measure the engagement of experienced employees (tenure of at least one year), according to Brandon Hall Group’s Employee Engagement Benchmarking research. Another 20% use an ad hoc approach. The method that makes the most sense to us — assessing employee experiences continuously or frequently in a variety of ways to see fluctuations and trends over time and make adjustments — is used by only 12% of organizations. About 9% of organizations never measure.

Among workers employed for less than one year, an ad hoc approach to measuring engagement is most common (24% of organizations), followed by measuring only at the end of one year.

With inconsistent measurement and working with various definitions of engagement, it should not be surprising that only 15% of organizations deem their workforces as highly engaged. Meanwhile, 34% of organizations believe their workforces are only somewhat engaged or actively disengaged.

  • Are we evaluating employee engagement in ways that make sense relative to our business objectives and the importance of retaining and engaging talent?
  • If not, how should we change the way we assess engagement?
  • What are the most reliable indicators of employee engagement?

While most employers struggle to effectively measure engagement, they have a solid grasp of the key indicators of increased engagement, according to our benchmarking data.

Most Reliable Indicators of Increased Employee Engagement*

While evaluating employee  experiences and listening to  employee feedback is critical, the metrics above — most  of them standard business data that most organizations collect — are excellent indicators of engagement.

Sentiment about employee experiences, ideally collected and analyzed frequently, especially in the VUCA environment most employers operate in today, helps explain the  “why” of engagement or  disengagement. This is  critical.

But since engagement is an outcome of how employees experience the organization, leveraging business metrics to evaluate engagement or how it is trending is most effective.

In today’s business climate, measuring engagement  through annual surveys is insufficient. Those surveys portray a moment in time  that may not be reflective of how employees experience the organization over the course of the year. Consider, for example, the levels of engagement when the coronavirus pandemic first broke out and all the highs  and lows that followed. Measuring employee experience toward the end of 2020 would probably not come close to telling the true story of the preceding  months. Engagement should be assessed on an ongoing basis through a variety of  methods.

Employers should take a  close look at experience measurement platforms,  such as Qualtrics, Glint, UKG, Quantum Workplace, Workhuman and others in  a fast-growing segment. They enable you to measure  experience frequently — and in several ways — to provide  a clearer view of employee  experiences and how to improve them. Then, look at  key business metrics to get the best picture of engagement. 

Complimentary Download: Employee Engagement- A Business Outcome Driven by Everyday Employee Experiences (Research Summary)

Workforces are twice as likely to be somewhat engaged or actively disengaged than highly engaged, according to Brandon Hall Group’s 2020 Employee Engagement Study. Why? Organizations define engagement in many different ways and struggle to provide employees with everyday experiences that resonate with their values, interests and aspirations. The key to building engagement is delivering experiences that matter most employees. This report, a summary from Brandon Hall Group’s 2020 Employee Engagement Study, provides strategies for success.

Employee Engagement- A Business Outcome Driven by Everyday Employee Experiences

Brandon Hall Group Strategy Briefs answer the critical questions learning, talent, HR and business leaders must address to manage their human capital. To tackle these critical questions in more detail, we built tools, frameworks, research summaries and business builders based on up-to-date research and case studies for you to implement best and next Human Capital Management (HCM) practices. To gain access to these valuable resources, contact [email protected].

Leading minds in HCM choose Brandon Hall Group to help them build future-proof employee-development plans for the new era. For more than 27 years, we have empowered, recognized and certified excellence in organizations around the world, influencing the development of over 10,000,000 associates and executives.

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Mike Cooke

Chief Executive Officer of Brandon Hall Group Mike Cooke Prior to joining Brandon Hall Group, Mike Cooke was the Chief Executive Officer and co-founder of AC Growth. Mike held leadership and executive positions for the majority of his career, at which he was responsible for steering sales and marketing teams to drive results and profitability. His background includes more than 15 years of experience in sales, marketing, management, and operations in the research, consulting, software and technology industries. Mike has extensive experience in sales, marketing and management having worked for several early high-growth emerging businesses and has implemented technology systems to support various critical sales, finance, marketing and client service functions. He is especially skilled in organizing the sales and service strategy to fully support a company’s growth strategy. The concept of growth was an absolute to Mike and a motivator in starting AC Growth, in order to help organizations achieve research driven results. Most recently, Mike was the VP and General Manager of Field Operations at Bersin & Associates, a global analyst and consulting services firm focused on all areas of enterprise learning, talent management and talent acquisition. Tasked with leading the company’s global expansion, Mike led all sales operations worldwide. During Mike’s tenure, the company has grown into a multi-national firm, conducting business in over 45 countries with over 4,500 multi-national organizations. Mike started his career at MicroVideo Learning Systems in 1992, eventually holding a senior management position and leading all corporate sales before founding Dynamic Minds. Mike was CEO and Co-Founder of Dynamic Minds, a custom developer of software programs, working with clients like Goldman Sachs, Prentice Hall, McGraw Hill and Merrill Lynch. Also, Mike worked for Oddcast, a leading provider of customer experience and marketing solutions, where he held a senior management position leading the company into new markets across various industries. Mike also serves on the Advisory Board for Carbon Solutions America, an independent sustainability consulting and carbon management firm that specializes in the design and implementation of greenhouse reduction and sustainability plans as well as managing the generation of carbon and renewal energy and energy efficiency credits. Mike attended University of Phoenix, studying Business Administration and Finance. He has also completed executive training at the Chicago Graduate School of Business in Chicago, IL.