Using Employee Engagement & Satisfaction Data to Strengthen Company Performance
Strong company performance.
It is the always desirable, sometimes elusive result that keeps CEO's, CFO's, and COO's up at night. Companies place so much focus on external ways to strengthen their company performance that they may be missing the obvious- Human Resources contribution. Depending on your company culture, you may or may not have HR present "at the table". But, if they are, who better to assist leadership with furthering the performance and revenue goals of the company? There are many ways HR can assist. HR can do this through fiscally smart recruiting, training and development programs, and coaching, to name a few. However, tools that companies may not focus on using are employee satisfaction and employee engagement surveys.
Companies often use either employee satisfaction surveys or employee engagement surveys to take the temperature of the company. It often ends there. Many do not use the two survey types in conjunction, nor do they take the next step of analyzing the data to get to the results they want. Namely, stronger company financial performance.
Employees who are satisfied and engaged are far more likely to outperform their non-engaged, less than satisfied colleagues. "In good times, employee engagement is the difference between being good and being great, and in bad times, it's the difference between surviving and not," said James K. Harter, Ph.D., Gallup's chief scientist of workplace management and well-being and co-author of 12: The Elements of Great Managing (Gallup, 2006). "In good times and bad, low engagement reduces performance and profit. And under the current circumstances, many companies can't afford to let those drop."
So, what are the differences in the types of surveys and why use a blended approach? Employee satisfaction surveys have long been the fashionable approach. When they are well written, they give insight into how satisfied employees are with benefits, compensation, perks, management style, employee recognition, etc. What these surveys do not tell you is how engaged they are with the company. Just because an employee feels well compensated or well liked, it may not mean they are engaged with the company values and goals. Thus, they may not be working toward company profitability.
Employee engagement surveys measure the levels of enthusiasm an employee has for the company. It can indicate how committed and involved they are with the company. The greater the engagement, the more the employee is working toward strong company performance.
An employee who is highly satisfied with the extrinsic rewards of the company and who is highly engaged will be a true company advocate. They are the employees that are moving the company forward from a revenue perspective. The employees who may be dissatisfied with the extrinsic rewards (compensation, benefits, the supervisor they work for) but who believe in the company values are valuable too. By identifying them, leadership may be able to adjust the extrinsic rewards so that they move to the high satisfaction/ high engagement category.
The employees who have high satisfaction but low engagement are the ones to watch. Because they are not engaged, they are no longer working toward the success of the company at the level of performance leadership hopes for. Often, these employees are mediocre performers, at best, who are being paid well enough to stay, or who feel the benefits outweigh leaving. The last category, the low satisfaction/ low engagement employees are those who are unhappy to the degree that they are probably already looking to leave the company.
By using a blended approach- an employee survey that addresses both the satisfaction and the engagement of employees- leadership will have a greater ability to identify changes or adjustments that can truly benefit the bottom line. And, while there is no "magic bullet", this approach will certainly help leadership reach stronger company performance especially in tough economic times.