How to measure employee engagement

  •  By
  •  Murray Humphrey

In a world where it’s increasingly difficult to keep hold of great employees, finding an effective way to measure employee engagement is vital.

It’s so important that we can ensure that those key to the day-to-day operations of our business are engaged and happy in their roles.

As a HR professional, the responsibility falls on your shoulders to find new ways to boost morale and also measure employee engagement to make sure the actions you're taking are effective.

In this blog, we'll cover the basics of engagement and a few ways you can measure employee engagement in your business.

What is employee engagement?

It’s important when measuring employee engagement that there is a clear understanding of what the term actually means.

Employee engagement is about more than just employee happiness (which is, of course, really important), it’s also about how invested employees are in the future of the business.

Day-to-day, an employee might be content with their role and employee benefits, but if a recruiter came knocking, would they spring at the opportunity to move on, or are they willing to have a conversation to find ways to stay?

With the estimated cost of recruitment expected to be around 20-30% of the role's final salary (plus all of the time it takes), it’s no wonder businesses are desperate to keep engaged staff rather than finding new hires – it just makes good business sense.

How to measure employee engagement

With this in mind, how can you go about actually measuring employee engagement?

It’s a fairly subjective idea, but you can easily access a lot of data to contribute to your actions and planning going forward and the methods of collecting the data are quite simple.

1. Engagement surveys

This one might feel obvious, but it's a popular choice for a reason.

Sending out surveys to measure employee engagement can have many perks whether done digitally or in a more traditional paper format.

Many businesses are torn about whether surveys should be conducted anonymously or not, and the general consensus is very much split.

Anonymous surveys typically can gather more honest opinions from staff who would like to air grievances or general problems, but they tend to be negatively skewed.

If you are concerned about the culture of the business or feel there is anger towards senior leaders, the likelihood is that you will get much more negative feedback than constructive feedback. That’s not to say negative feedback is bad, because it gives us clear ways to improve.

But, typically, without being able to follow up on negative responses and find out how and where we can help in specific situations, it might not be the most practical method.

2. Focus groups

Focus groups can be a great way to measure company-wide employee engagement if you’d like to encourage honesty and conversation in the responses you receive.

Often, individuals will feel more confident in sharing their honest opinions in groups that share their own interests.

Employee focus groups can provoke discussion and actually end up creating collaborative ideas to make changes that directly impact staff.

Hearing these conversations can be immensely valuable for instructing the direction of your actions, as you are not just gathering and acting on one opinion, you’re getting a wider and more detailed sample to work with.

3. 1-2-1s

If you’re identifying high turnover in particular areas or are sensing disengagement, a number of one-to-one meetings might be a good idea.

Not only is it a good way to gauge the opinions of employees in those positions, but it is a great opportunity to check in on employees on a more personal basis and check on their wellbeing and general happiness.

This makes your staff feel more valued and can encourage honesty if they are in a confidential environment.

Understanding your findings

Employee engagement is a fairly subjective idea, so unless you are conducting a survey where you can see specific metrics (eg. x% of staff say they know what the company goal is for 2022) It can be hard to use your results to make impactful change.

To begin with, it will always be beneficial to have clear engagement goals to work towards.

These will help you identify useful questions or statements to follow up on to ensure your hard work is contributing to the vision of the company. In fact, a Harvard study found that those who had clear goals were 10 x more successful than those who didn’t.

Here are a few employee engagement objectives you could try:

  • Staff absences below x% for the quarter
  • Staff retention exceeds x%
  • Internal newsletters and comms are regularly opened by staff
  • The company has a good reputation on sites like Glassdoor

With an objective in mind, you will be able to identify specific keywords and actions that demonstrate engagement, and your data collection methods can reflect these metrics.

Simple ways to boost employee engagement

With statements and the more specific metrics that you find, you can make meaningful changes that directly work towards your goals.

Demonstrate how you're addressing their concerns

If your employees have trusted you with honest and specific feedback, it is your role to ensure any concerns or issues are addressed.

Instilling this belief in your employees that they are being heard is absolutely crucial to the long term success of your employee engagement initiatives.

Perks and rewards

Once you’ve taken care of the important things, you can start to look at more trivial perks or rewards.

Rewarded employees that feel valued and heard are invested in the success of the business, and make measuring and maintaining employee engagement a simple and rewarding task for HR teams.

Check out our guide to 5 great gifts for employees to get started.

A better workplace pension

It’s not enough to add in a pool table or a paid team activity anymore. Employees want and deserve benefits that help them and that they can actually use.

One of the most requested benefit options is a pension that works for employees and businesses. It’s no surprise that financial stability is one of the main reasons many of us work, and it can be key to developing lasting relationships between staff and the business.

Penfold's award-winning digital pension for HR teams is designed to help employees take control of their savings and secure their financial future.

Employees choose from four carefully crafted investment plans, monitor performance and see exactly where your savings go with our Pension Power feature.

Need help? Just speak to your dedicated Penfold account manager - no more questions for you to deal with!

Request more information today to learn more about how Penfold can help increase employee retention and engagement.

A photo of Murray Humphrey

Murray Humphrey


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