Once started, employee engagement is not something that can be left alone. Creating and maintaining an engaged workforce takes careful nurturing, monitoring, refining, and managing. But sometimes you have to admit to yourself that your engagement strategy isn’t, well, engaging.
One of the more visible parts of your engagement plans are the events which you run.
As with any HR strategy, you’ll need to tweak and refine your tactics to suit your workforce. But there are three telltale signs that can mean your plans are missing the mark.
Here’s what to watch for:
The first sign is the most visible and tangible: attendance. When you’re running programmes you’ll be recording who attends, both the amount of people there and who actually shows up. So, is it just the same people coming to the events, are those stalwarts still in attendance, or are people just coming for one event and not participating further?
The success of your plans is based on people gaining the understanding and education of what you wish to change, improve and engage on. And if people are not attending then you will not achieve these plans. Watch the attendance numbers closely, but also watch who is attending. If you only see a specific demographic of your workforce attending programmes, it likely means you need to broaden your tactics to reach a wider audience.
Keep in mind: Attendance might be lacking because no one’s heard of your events. Check and see that you are communicating to your staff in the most appropriate ways to all of the groups. A quick survey on your internal communications platform will reach everyone, and also tell you who’s listening.
When you’re doing your events you will be collecting feedback, and if you’re not you should be. This is a really easy way for you to see whether you are getting a good return on your investment from immediate engagement pulse checks.
You’ll be measuring the ratings that staff give and also reading the suggestions they make on what they liked and didn’t like. Hopefully you will be doing this in the NPS format so you get an easily understood measure of overall satisfaction, and you can then ask for feedback on what to improve. Over time, you can also use this score to track trends.
So, are your scores as high overall? Are you scoring more lower scores than you did before? Who is scoring you highly, people on your team or people you do not know?
This area can be your early warning system, and lets you know if things are going towards needing a makeover. The scores also give a great insight into potentially where and what you are losing impact and value in.
You’ll want to run some focus groups where you ask your staff why they did and did not attend the events and what kind of events they would like to see. You might not be able to grant all their wishes with your budget, but there might be small tweaks (for instance, something closer to the office so that people can easily return to their cars or public transportation after the event without a cab ride) that you can accommodate.
Also consider what time of day events are going to be most popular, and which days of the week. Each business has its own best and worst times and days and you need to work through a bit of trial and error to find what works best for you.
Each year you are likely to be undertaking an external survey, be it for an award, like Best Places to Work, or just for the analysis itself, and this gives you a lot of information across your business on how your staff are feeling at that moment in time.
Many times, when surveying people internally, you’ll get good scores, good attendance and feel as if the impact is still strong. While this data is valuable, people don’t want to be seen to be being negative in something they probably really value. Those external surveys and their independent data points are the final of the areas where you may need a makeover. While I understand analyzing the data can be frustrating, there’s massive value in finding the areas where improvement can be most effective.
The data for these surveys is usually very detailed so you will be able to see by country, department, and sometimes team where scores are dropping or where engagement is falling. It may be a little after the event, but they probably give you the most detailed analysis on where team wise you should address your makeover.
To help this along, try to work out whether you can tailor the external survey to meet your needs for the best data. This could be in how you count people into departments or areas, or in questions that are asked. It would probably be useful to see what other surveys are out there, as these may give you better information which to improve your engagement plans.
Remember, employee engagement doesn't happen overnight. Rather than noting only one observation or data point, you need to be looking at all of them, all the time, to help inform your future plans.