This article was updated on August 27, 2018.

Although the term employee engagement has become somewhat of a catch-all buzzword, the research is definitive: organizations with the highest percentage of actively engaged employees are also those who consistently experience success both internally and with external partners. According to Gallup, employers with a highly engaged workforce experience between 25 and 65 percent less turnover, depending on the type of organization. An engaged workforce achieves more, produces better results and feels more loyalty to their employer.

Analyzing workforce engagement begins with identifying the specific issues important to your particular workforce. That information can then be used in conjunction with cold, hard data to measure engagement success factors to discourage turnover and set new barometers for success.

Defining an Engagement Baseline

It's impossible to set realistic future engagement goals for your organization unless you first establish your current baseline. Likewise, goals set by copying models used by other organizations are not likely to succeed — your workforce and workplace has unique challenges that deserve a unique engagement strategy.

While your strategy for heightened engagement must be specific to your workforce, you don't need to reinvent the wheel just to get the data necessary to proceed. When designing an engagement baseline and needs-assessment survey, tap into external expertise and best practices. Your internal surveys should focus on vital engagement categories, such as employee satisfaction with goals, peer and leader relationships and company culture.

Going From Survey Results to Engagement Success

Baselining your workforce is but the first step in beginning to develop your organization's overall engagement strategy. A properly designed survey will ensure that your path to success can come directly from the areas that show a need for extra attention or improvement. If a majority of your employees are not happy with the goals set before them, you'll know that there's a disconnect between the talent available and the expectations of that talent. Perhaps quite a few of your employees feel as though they lack rapport with co-workers or supervisors. That may guide your future recruitment process to hire for fit, placing extra emphasis on team building from the outset instead of looking at black-and-white skills.

As you dive into designing your go-forward engagement strategy, consider these five areas of importance to employees, designated by Deloitte University Press:

  • Meaningful work
  • Hands-on management
  • A positive work environment
  • Growth opportunity
  • Trust in leadership

Once you gather employee survey results you can assess how they correlate with these areas and determine specific opportunities to affect change and drive engagement.

Measure, Proceed, Measure Again

Engagement doesn't happen overnight. And an individual employee's reaction to newly implemented measures may take some time, especially if your baseline shows a high level of disengagement. You aren't yet done analyzing workforce engagement, but your methods of collecting data will likely change as your engagement strategy takes root.

For instance, if your employees find long surveys bothersome, you could instead provide a quick question for them to answer before signing into the enterprise network each day. Although your aims may seem more qualitative than quantitative, you could also partner with your CIO to design sensitive metrics that serve as early indicators of success or the need for strategy refinement.

It should not be a shock to hear that an engaged and happy worker is also a productive and loyal one. So you know what your desired outcome is for your workforce. By communicating with your employees and gathering data about what they need, you can build a strategy to keep them happy, engaged and working toward the goals that will keep your organization successful for years to come.

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