TAPPING INTO THE EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT PULSE – THE CASE FOR CONTINUOUS MEASUREMENTS

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What do we think of when we hear the term Employee Engagement? A lot of us have filled up those long annual employee engagement surveys at some point in our careers. Designed with the intention to gauge the pulse of an organizations employee, they try to understand the stickiness factor. This basically translates to trying to get to know whether the employees who respond to the survey are going to stick around for the long haul or not. These surveys also try to understand how likely an employee is to recommend the organisation to his peers outside the organisation.

We are working in a highly connected and competitive environment. Speed and accuracy in terms of delivering business products and services has become the ultimate paradigm of success in most industries. This is a revolutionary change to how the industry as a whole operated a decade earlier where business relationships were forged for the long run on the basis of experience and knowledge and loyalty to these relationships trumped momentary fluctuations in productivity. The advancement of technology has changed the old way of doing things and has almost rendered knowledge obsolete. The stress of upskilling and staying relevant has added onto the overall stress of working.

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Source: Disengaged Employees May Be Impeding India’s Growth by Steve Crabtree, Business Journal, October 29, 2013, Gallup.

This shift to flash fast delivery and operations coupled with changes in the social environment has made it a challenging time for employees. With families becoming fragmented and professionals managing households single handed instead of being part of a community employee are forced to manage more both in their personal and professional lives.  The creation of the “isolated” employee – who has to act as a Super Person – ably assisted by apps and technology has emerged as a trend. However, in a way, the employee is never really “isolated”. The wide range of Social media ensures that the employee is connected 24/7 to the virtual social network and uses it on a continuous recurrent basis throughout the day to express thoughts, feelings and describe experiences.

In an environment such as this, how is it possible to gauge employee engagement through an annual survey? Is a once a year survey even relevant, leave alone sufficient to understand an employee’s pulse. Organizations need to wake up to the idea of continuous measurement.

The pulse of an employee needs to be tapped on a periodic basis. In fact, the rate of attrition within an industry or an organization is a vital clue as to how frequently employee engagement should be measured.

Most Human Resource managers would agree. However, the challenge is that engagement surveys, even annual ones are expensive. How can an organization feasibly conduct multiple such surveys and get results that generate high quality insights?

The answer unsurprisingly lies in technology. Organizations have already shifted away from paper based survey to online surveys. The same technology has the scope to create and implement new age employee engagement measurement systems. This can further be augmented with the help of Business Analytics that enables statistical procedures in real time. For example, if an organization has 300 employees, these statistical procedures use a sample of 30 (10%) employees and their attributes within an organization and segment all 300 employees into various groups. These groups could be termed as new employees, high risk to attrite employees and super – speciality groups that might need to be specifically addressed.

In such a technology and analytics enabled survey, employees who have put in their papers will automatically not be considered.  The sampling system standardizes the whole process and gives the same result that you would get in the case of a large scale survey. HR Manager would also have access to an automated dashboard which will collate and visualize employee engagement data. The HR Manager can then choose to get a bird’s eye view of employee engagement health or zoom in on certain segments to understand what is working and what is not.

A process of continuous monitoring and creating interventions whenever a dip in engagement is detected can transform engagement levels within an organization. The Human Resource department controls the climate within a company. Human Resource Managers are always seeking to cultivate the best growth and productivity environment for the workforce. What better way is there to achieve this than having a constant awareness and insight through the pulse of their organizations workforce.

This is the era when we are going to witness the emergence of an empowered Human Resource Manager. Empowered with analytics and technology and enabled with tools and processes, Human Resource Managers would be able to successfully make the HR function the nerve centre of the organizations they work in.

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