Measuring Employee Engagement – Have we got it all wrong?


I read with interest Paul Hebert’s recent post on his Incentive Intelligence blog titled “You Don’t Need to Measure Employee Engagement“.  Paul makes the argument rather successfully that engagement is a philosophy and not a measure and that we have a good number of metrics established already that result from engagement (employee retention, successful product offerings, new hires from employee referrals instead of through head hunters to name but a few).

I hadn’t thought much about this but tend to think he is on to something.  As I often do, I equated the ideas he and those who added to the conversation offered to golf and believe Paul may well be onto something important…

In golf we track our overall score on each hole and for each round as a means of monitoring how well we perform on any given day and over time to a set standard (“par”).  As we progress in the game we become more and more concerned with a host of other metrics that, from my perspective at least, offer much more meaning and value with respect to continuous improvement and sustainable performance.  Measures such as the number of fairways hit, greens in regulation, sand saves and up and downs from near the green.  By tracking these we are able to identify where best to focus our development efforts.  And the further we go down the path we begin to look at even more important factors such as our mind-set on any given day, weather conditions and the course design itself as determinants of relative success. 

When I look at engagement from this viewpoint I equate my handicap to an overall engagement score – it will fluctuate to some degree each time I play but over time will (hopefully!!!) improve as I concentrate on different performance variables.  Likewise with engagement…if we concentrate on the individual performance variables the overall engagement level of each individual in the organization will show improvement over time….

And so we should ask – does measuring engagement on a quarterly or annual basis really matter? Or would we have better success in building a sustainable culture of engagement by passing on these short-term engagement scores in favour of the deeper metrics we already track and then score overall engagement every second or third year?

I’m thinking Paul has opened a conversation worth exploring in some depth…and plan to do some additional thinking along those lines…in the meantime, while my overall golf game is solid, I have a need to tighten up with my wedges so I’ll be heading to the range to hit a few buckets!

As always….I look forward to your thoughts and enjoy your day!  Ken

1 Comment
  1. Drew Hawkins 7 years ago

    I think that engagement is best measured in incremental steps and not on annual or even quarterly things. Concentrating on the little things, like you mentioned, will positively affect the whole in the long run.

    One example in our own walls, we were trying to make the logging of product returns more efficient and accurate. We ended up taking audits on the process on a weekly basis instead of monthly. Over time, we saw great improvements. Incremental measures work.

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Want to learn more or have a question about Managers Caddy? Please send me an email and I will get back to you as quickly as I can. Thanks - I look forward to talking with you very soon, Ken


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