How to Set in Motion a Virtuous Cycle of Employee Engagement

You'll never know how committed or happy your workers really are unless you ask. Four steps to take after receiving feedback

Written by Bryan Pearson

Just how engaged are your employees? It’s a question business leaders should be asking themselves more regularly. It’s certainly no secret that having an engaged team is a recipe for success—71% of executives interviewed by the Harvard Business Review rank employee engagement as very important to achieving overall organizational success. But many SMEs are reluctant to actively seek out and measure employee engagement.

Perhaps it’s a function of size; many entrepreneurs or small business bosses feel that they have an accurate gauge on how engaged their employees because they interact with the majority of their staff on a daily basis. You know how the team is feeling, right? They would come and see you if they had a problem, right?

Well, that’s not always the case. Even if you pride yourself on having an open and honest culture, you should never underestimate just how difficult it is for a lot of people to broach their concerns in person. Issues that are difficult to address in a face-to-face conversation can bubble under the surface, with disastrous impacts on both morale and staff retention. And if your company is on a growth trajectory, it can become all too easy to focus on your business objectives and neglect the human elements that have helped get you there.

MORE MEASUREMENT:6 Steps to Finding Out How Engaged Your Staff Really Is »

The one thing we’ve done consistently for LoylaltyOne’s 23 years of operation—ever since it was a small shop of just 20 people—is to measure engagement among our employees. I can’t emphasize enough the power of providing a forum for staff to tell you what’s working and what’s not.

Right from the first time we held our first engagement survey, we’ve uncovered valuable insights, all the way from robust critiques of company strategy to preferences for what night of the week company drinks should be held. I believe having this forum is a crucial reason why LoyaltyOne is routinely named one of the best employers in Canada across a variety of awards.

As we have grown, the science behind our annual engagement survey has become more robust, but the fundamentals are much the same for a company of 2,000 and for one of 10. The crux of the information you need can be gleaned from a standard set of questions based around the employee’s intent to stay, their pride in working for the organization, and whether they would refer friends to work at the company. Combine this with questions that ask staff to explore the things you are doing well you’re your opportunities for improvement, and you will have a pretty robust idea of how engaged your employees are.

Once you’ve got this information, you need to actually do something with it. Here are four elements we’ve found crucial in creating an optimal environment in driving employee engagement:

€¢ Share the feedback: If you’re asking for feedback, you need to be prepared to share it with all your staff to indicate that it has been received. I’m not saying it has to be shared verbatim, but try to provide employees with at least an interpretation of what you’re hearing
€¢ Engage employees in solving any problems raised: Simply having staff take the monkey off their backs and hand it to you is not a recipe for success. Engaging your staff in joint problem solving can be an incredibly empowering experience. Employees will actively create solutions to solve the issues that impact them the most
€¢ Link and label: Ensure that any changes that are implemented as a result of the employee survey are clearly labeled as such. This helps employees to see engagement measurement as the primary mechanism to make constructive suggestions about the changes they want to see within the company
€¢ Measure again: The following year, ask staff whether they felt action was taken on the feedback they provided in the previous year. This gives the entire feedback process transparency and accountability, and focuses efforts on effecting requested changes

By following this process you can help create a virtuous feedback cycle of listening, acting jointly, labeling the resulting actions and then measuring again. In our experience, it’s a circle of activities and responses that over time create an optimal environment for positive employee engagement.

Bryan Pearson is an internationally-recognized expert and author in the field of customer loyalty. As President and CEO of LoyaltyOne, a pioneer in loyalty strategies and data-driven marketing, Bryan has spent more than two decades developing meaningful customer relationships for some of the world’s leading companies. Bryan has spearheaded LoyaltyOne’s expansion into new markets across the globe and has grown the AIR MILES Rewards Program into Canada’s premier coalition loyalty program with more than 10 million participants.


Do you agree? How do you measure and improve employee engagement? Let us know by commenting below.

Originally appeared on PROFITguide.com