In this article, we address the thorny question of how to measure Employee Engagement and look at the best questions to include on an Employee Engagement survey.
Employee Engagement is key to success in the contact centre. There is a clear link between engaged employees and the level of customer service that you can provide.
This article covers:
- What is the best way to measure Employee Engagement?
- How often should you do an Employee Engagement survey?
- How many questions should you ask in your Employee Engagement survey?
- What are the best questions to ask?
- How to work out a trackable Employee Engagement score
- The formula for Employee Engagement score
- Tips for increasing Employee Engagement
What is the best way to measure Employee Engagement?
It is generally accepted that the best way to measure Employee Engagement is through an Employee Engagement survey.
This can be supplemented by other indicators that are proxies for engagement. This includes absence and attrition rates, as well as indirect factors such as Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) or NetPromoter Score.
In addition, there is no substitute for walking round the company and talking with people. Good leaders will instinctively have a good feel for the mood of the company and how engaged everyone is.
How often should you do an Employee Engagement survey?
Best practice has found that you should survey all of your employees at least once a year.
This is usually implemented as an Annual Employee Survey. The downside of an annual survey is that it only provides one measurement point per year and can be viewed as the annual “sheep dip” exercise – the results of which could be ignored for the next 12 months.
Smarter companies now carry out a quarterly Employee Engagement Survey.
In order to track the survey across time you should survey 25% of your employees every quarter. In this quarterly survey, you should ask a number of calibration questions (ideally 4-5) that are consistent across each quarter so that you will be able to track trends.
‘Pulse points’ can help capture weekly data
In addition to the quarterly survey you could also carry out some regular ‘pulse points’ of the organisation. This could be in the form of a happy or sad face or could be in response to weekly questions.
“We use an annual survey combined with an open ‘Pulseometer’ for daily feedback. This is a forum-based in-house built tool that colleagues can post feedback as and when they need – under topics such as incentives, product, ideas etc… They receive a response within 24 hours that others can also see and comment upon.
“The Pulseometer also records sentiments of unhappy, indifferent and happy through an emoji-type icon.” – Thanks to Susanne
“We have a pulse check that when the employees log on they can either hit a sad face or a happy face, then the team manager will pick up with those who have sad faces.” – Thanks to Liz
How to structure your survey
How many questions should you ask in your Employee Engagement Survey?
There is no right or wrong answer here. Most companies operate surveys in the range of 5 to 25 questions.
As a rule of thumb, if you ask between 10 and 12 questions you should be able to get an optimum level of participation and feedback.
We would suggest that your 10-12 questions look something like this:
- 4 or 5 Calibration questions – These are the questions that are identical every quarter that you can use for tracking engagement across time.
- 4 or 5 Fact-finding questions – These are questions that you use to discover the attitudes of your staff and how they are being managed, but are not tracked over time.
- 2 to 4 Voice of the Employee questions – These are open questions with text boxes that allow staff to articulate their frustrations as well as offer suggestions of how things could be improved.
Make sure that you include a mix of yes/no questions, some on a scale of 1-5 or 0-10 and others that are open questions where the employee can put in verbatim answers.
If you need to ask more questions, you can do this in the optional “fact-finding questions” as part of the next quarterly survey.
What are the best questions to ask?
1. Calibration questions
These are questions that you should ask in the same way every quarter. A weighted average of these questions is used to generate an Employee Engagement Score.
Pick 4 or 5 of these questions:
- When did you last get recognition for doing a good job?
- Do you have a best friend at work (or someone at work who you could confide in)?
- Do you trust your manager?
- Do you feel that you have received enough training to do a good job?
- Do you feel valued in your current job?
- Would you recommend the company as a place to work to a close friend/family member) (The NetPromoter type question*)
* Other variants of the NetPromoter type question are:
- How likely would you be to recommend <work place> as a place to work to your friends?
- If there was a vacancy, would you advise a friend to apply to work here?
2. Fact-finding questions
These are supplemental questions that will give you ideas about what is driving or hindering Employee Engagement.
Pick 4 or 5 of these questions:
- Do you find the technology helps or hinders you in doing a good job?
- If you had an idea, do you trust your direct leader to represent your idea?
- Followed by, Do you know who your boss reports to and do you trust them to represent you?
- Do you feel you are provided freedom and agency to handle internal or external customer concerns?
- Do we treat and communicate with you the way we train you to treat and communicate with customers?
- Have you recently shared feedback with your manager about what they can do to better engage you at work?
- Do you feel a sense of belonging to the company?
- Do you feel valued in your current job?
- Do you think that career and progression opportunities are clearly communicated to you?
- Do you think anything will change as a result of this survey?
3. Voice of the Employee questions
These are open-ended questions with a dialogue box where the employee can provide individual answers to key questions.
Pick 2 to 4 of these questions:
- How do you feel about going to work every morning? The responses on this question can over time show the difference made by management changes or other changes to the call centre environment.
- What I like best about working for the Company is:
- What are your biggest frustrations in working for the company?
- If you were CEO for the day, what would you change?
How to work out a trackable Employee Engagement Score
The simplest way to produce a trackable Employee Engagement score is to apply a weighted average across the 4 or 5 calibration questions that you ask in every survey.
You then add in a weighting factor so that the total adds up to 10.
Here is an example:
Question 1 – Would you recommend the company as a place to work to a close friend/family member? (The NetPromoter type question – This is on a score of 1 to 10, where 10 is most likely)
- 9–10 = 3 points
- 7–8 = 2 points
- 6 = 1 point
- 4 or 5 = 0 points
- 3 or less = -1 point
Question 2 – When did you last get recognition for doing a good job?
- Past week = 3 points
- Past month = 2 points
- Past quarter = 0 points
- Never = -1 point
Question 3 – Do you trust your manager?
- Yes = 2 points
- Somewhat = 1 point
- No – 0 points
Question 4 – Do you have a best friend at work? (or someone at work who you could confide in)?
- Yes = 1 point
- No = 0 points
Question 5 – Do you feel that you have received enough training to do a good job?
- Yes = 1 point
- No = 0 points
The formula for Employee Engagement Score
Employee Engagement Score = Question1 + Question 2 + Question 3 + Question 4 + Question 5
You now have a score from -2 to 10. You can simply average this across employees so that you can track progress.
It is important that you do not share too widely how this scoring system is worked out or you may find that some team managers try to “game” or manipulate the scores – for example by giving out lots of praise in the week before the survey comes out.
Tracking progress across time
In order to track progress across time it is essential that that you consistently ask the same questions across every quarter. In this way, you can build up a fair comparison.
If you find that one question is not really working for you it is possible to bring in a new question from your fact-finding questions. You would need to run it in parallel for a few quarters to able to compare it against the calibration question that you are looking to change.
Rather than designing your own survey, you may be able to use a pre-designed Employee Engagement Survey.
Gallup have done a lot of work on Employee Engagement and have come up with a standardised list of 12 questions or statements that they ask.
This is a sample report from Gallup Q12 but includes the 12 engagement statements https://q12.gallup.com/content/pdf/SampleQ12ReportOverall.pdf
Other companies such as Bright Index survey both customers and also employees to help measure Employee Engagement. They ask interesting questions from a customer perspective, such as “Do we make it easy for our staff to help customers?” There is an interesting pdf http://www.brightindex.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/BRIGHT-Forum-events-June-16-2015.pdf that details some of their findings.
Potential downsides to measuring Employee Engagement by quarter
There are a number of problems to be faced with trying to measure Employee Engagement on a quarterly basis.
- Employees may not answer truthfully. This is particularly the case if there is a belief that answers could be attributed back to the individual (the best Employee Engagement Surveys are anonymous).
- Managers may influence the results. With questions such as “When did you last receive positive feedback?” or “Do you trust your manager?” managers may try to influence results, for example standing over someone while they complete the survey or telling staff not to bother filling it in.
- Low participation rates. When surveying annually it is easier to communicate a message that the survey matters. With quarterly surveys you may find a lower participation rate.
- It can be very hard to change Employee Engagement over time. A common complaint is that “the dial is stuck on the same level” – a lot of initiatives may be brought in but the Employee Engagement Score remains constant.
- Results can be inconsistent. As with any Employee Engagement Survey, it can be highly influenced by external factors such as the weather, bad news such as redundancies being announced or poor market factors.
- People tune out the measurement. When a measurement is done on a quarterly basis, there is a possibility that people can tune it out.
- If it is used as a target. Goodhart’s law states – “When a measure becomes a target, it ceases to be a good measure.” This is named after the economist who originated it, Charles Goodhart.
Tips for increasing Employee Engagement
Here are some tips that have been sent in by our readers.
Give time off the phones to complete the survey
We book our teams offline for 30 mins to complete the survey together so they have time to think about their answers and reflect on the past few months – Thanks to Pamela
Line managers are key to Employee Engagement
Line managers are integral to engagement because they have such an influence on the drivers of engagement – reward, recognition, co-workers, sense of accomplishment, etc.
If you haven’t already, it’s worth having a workshop with line managers in your organisation to stress how much they matter and give tips on how they can increase engagement throughout the company. – Thanks to Shona
Communicate new job opportunities
We’ve introduced an opt-in text service to text people who want to know when new jobs or development opportunities are announced as well as emails on the back of this feedback – Thanks to Pamela
Provide feedback on what you have done as a result of surveys
Updating staff throughout the year on what’s been done as a result of their feedback helps them to understand that it’s taken seriously. I think it’s important that people see that action is being taken on the back of the results, otherwise they won’t be as enthusiastic about filling it in next time – Thanks to Pamela
We use “you said, we did” boards to keep all the themes alive between the surveys – Thanks to Liz
Engage staff as part of the wider family
One part of our Employee Engagement is featuring staff in our advertising campaigns (they volunteer), and we also did a meet-the-team video for our social channels.
We even brought some pets into the office for the day. It was great fun for everyone – Thanks to Naomi
Development and promotion opportunities help to show how people are engaged
We know that people are engaged when they want to be developed and we have internal promotions. If people are not engaged they do not want to progress.
If there are more requests for work shadowing, applications for internal vacancies, that’s a good indicator of engagement.
If internal staff don’t apply for vacancies advertised internally, they are probably not engaged.
– Thanks to Liz, Florence and Shona
Give visibility to the board
Employee Engagement Surveys help influence the board regarding questions about pay – it helps justify pay enhancements to the directors. – Thanks to Jules
Refer a Friend schemes
There may be indirect measures of Employee Engagement. We have a refer-a-friend scheme when we are doing a recruitment drive for new agents (if they pass probation, the person referring gets £250).
We find it’s an indication of engagement when the number of people sharing the vacancy on social media is higher than previously. – Thanks to Shona
Senior management need to be approachable
We do a ‘back to the floor’ day and all managers have to go in and sit with advisors. We do it monthly and it’s very powerful – Thanks to Liz
It’s great to have the senior leadership out on the floor. But this needs to be consistent and not just for a couple of weeks before the engagement survey comes out, as staff see straight through this – Thanks to Pamela
Make it anonymous
We use anonymous surveys which hide the IP address of the respondents. It encourages honesty. – Thanks to Jules
Transparency is important
As a company, you need to be very transparent. Agents should be fully aware of the company goals and have the ability to follow the progress over time.
If they can see that they make a difference it will engage them to walk the extra mile. – Thanks to Mea
Your systems and processes may frustrate Employee Engagement
How people feel about coming to work is different from how they feel about the work they do. Your people come to work to do a good job, but if your systems and processes frustrate them, their engagement level will be low. – Thanks to Nicky
Thanks to Dave Salisbury, Nathan Millward, Brian Zotti, Jim Robertson, Robert Cosgrave, Connor Bourke, Liz, Mea, Pamela, Nicky, Shona, Shaun, Jules and Naomi for their input into this article.