Employee engagement is crucial; not just for its own sake, but because it is directly connected to business outcomes. Companies with engagement levels in the top 25 percent experience nearly double the rates of success across a wide-ranging set of metrics including “financial, customer, retention, safety, quality, shrinkage and absenteeism.” Employee engagement brings numerous benefits — it can drive an organization, make all the difference in teamwork, and yield quantifiable effects on the bottom line. Companies with more engaged workers experienced 137 percent higher earnings per share than the competition. But what are measurements of employee engagement? You can’t measure the intensity of a smile, or stand behind someone and chart their level of focus.
A top measurement of employee engagement: recognition
So what’s the best way to measure employee engagement? Shouldn’t we just ask them how engaged they are? While surveys are definitely useful, they have to be short and frequent, and designed in a way that elicits authentic responses. You can also measure your company’s productivity KPIs, but you have to be sure to hold all the possible factors constant. If productivity goes up, you need to narrow down on enough data to rule out other causes, such as better equipment or a new schedule or countless other moving parts of a complex system. To simplify this challenge, we decided to look at one specific behavior that’s characteristic of engaged employees: How often they give and receive recognition. We’ve found that measuring the amount of recognition given is actually one of the most revealing ways to measure employee engagement — and HR tech is the key that makes this possible.
Companies reveal the value of recognition
So, how do we know that recognition is a reliable indicator of employee engagement? One very direct way is by looking at the recognition numbers reported in our customer success stories. When Achievers brings its employee recognition platform into a company, we see key upticks in employee recognition which correlate directly with employee engagement and positive business impact. Let’s take a look at some of these measurements:
- General Motors launched the GM Recognition Program and it reached a 97 percent activation rate. Just six months after the program launched, employee recognition became one of the five most improved areas in their engagement survey. Recognition was also the most commented topic in the engagement survey with more than 5,000 positive comments about the program and how employees felt more appreciated and valued in the workplace.
- The Very Group (previously known as Shop Direct) won first place in the Employee Recognition and Reward category of the UK Employee Experience Awards and raised the number of awards given internally from 8 to 1000 annually. Its own internal measurements found a 17 percent increase in employee engagement during that same period.
- Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey achieved a 14 percent improvement in survey results related to recognition, and a 6 percent rise in its overall engagement scores.
- CHRISTUS St. Michael Health System experienced a 4,500 percent increase in recognitions given, and a rise in associate engagement scores from 66 to 77 percent.
- Olympus reinforced its culture of engagement with an employee centric recognition and rewards program. One year after launching their program, Olympus saw a 102 percent increase in total recognition activity and 189 percent increase in the number of people giving recognition.
HR tech in the spotlight
The way we can measure employee recognition so accurately is due to the precise information streams offered by an advanced HR tech platform like Achievers. When you use technology to send and receive recognition and rewards, you’re creating a mass of data that can be mined for clear figures on your level of employee engagement. Technology (and the data that it analyzes) is such an effective tool; it provides insights that can help you move the needle on employee engagement.
Measuring engagement doesn’t stop at recognition
Since listening to employees is only half the story when it comes to building engagement, it’s also important to look at the other half: acting on the feedback that you receive. We know that feedback levels are a measurement of employee engagement, because of what social science shows us: According to Gallup, “people feel like they don’t matter if they don’t see any action taken to address survey results.” As a matter of fact, Gallup researchers found engagement levels actually sink when organizations send out surveys and then don’t act on the feedback they receive. It seems so straightforward: listen to your employees, and then take action based on what they tell you. And yet only 8 percent — one out of 12 — of the employees in that Gallup research strongly agree that their employer takes action on survey results.
Pro tip: Always take action on employee feedback. It can have a big impact on your business and retain your top employees. In fact, 90 percent of workers said that they are more likely to stay at a company that takes and acts on feedback.
Find the right employee recognition platform
Employee recognition platforms make it easy to build a sustainable culture of recognition. They offer flexible ways to express appreciation, including both social and monetary options, and they let recognition flow horizontally (peer to peer) as well as vertically (between manager and worker). Work anniversaries and special occasions can be honored, as well as spontaneous notice of individual effort and personal achievements.
HR tech does double duty when it comes to employee recognition. In addition to streamlining the act of giving recognition, an advanced HR tech platform allows you to look into all the relevant data and ROIs. You can see measurements of employee engagement such as received recognitions, activities (i.e. likes, comments, social recognitions, and boosts awarded), and you can chart KPIs along various indices. These might include frequency of recognitions sent, number of monthly active users and so on. All this recognition data can be facilitated and housed on one robust platform, making it easy for admins and HR to track the impact of recognition on employee engagement.