Once known as job satisfaction surveys, employee evaluations asked if employees liked certain workforce elements. Now these tools can measure organizational effectiveness, promote engagement and drive business outcomes. But those benefits can only be realized if the evaluations are structured, delivered and assessed correctly.
As the aftermath of economic woes continues to reverberate across industries worldwide, a key component of enhancing productivity and ensuring optimal performance in the marketplace is to create and sustain an engaged workforce.
Some 93 percent of high-performing companies utilize employee engagement surveys compared with 78 percent of lower performers, according to a February “HR Metrics Pulse Survey” conducted by i4cp, a network of corporations focused on improving workforce productivity.
The ability to obtain business value as a result of employee engagement surveys, however, rests with each individual company. Consider soup company Campbell and its commitment to engagement.
“At Campbell, it’s all about delivering a superior employment experience,” said Christi Downes, director of organization effectiveness at Campbell Soup Co. “Our success model is premised on the belief that maximizing shareholder value requires us first to win in the workplace in order to win in the marketplace.
“A fully engaged workforce better positions us to win in the marketplace by delivering superior business performance, which ultimately translates to creating maximum shareowner value,” she said.
The Evolution of Employee Engagement Surveys
A few years ago, employee engagement surveys were better known as “job satisfaction surveys,” but they have evolved over time and broadened in scope.
“People realized it’s more than just how satisfied employees are in the workplace,” said Tom Smith, head of organizational development and diagnostics at Lane4 Management Group, a professional services firm specializing in organizational change, leadership development and executive coaching. “Engagement is this notion of people coming in to work and [being] aligned with the purpose of that organization. If they are engaged, are they therefore going to work that 10 percent harder?”
The evolution of employee engagement surveys was necessary to link their impact to the bottom line.
“More than 10 years ago, we found that a lot of the traditional satisfaction-type surveys that try to measure everything weren’t very effective,” said Dr. Jim Harter, chief scientist of workplace management and well-being at Gallup. “So we had to understand: What’s related to business outcomes? How do you communicate the information and report it in a way that’s actionable?”
Over time, Gallup has studied in-depth business outcomes and determined the elements that best represent how an employee becomes involved and enthusiastic in their jobs.
“There are emotional enthusiasm, as well as cognitive involvement components, to [employee] engagement,” Harter said. “We looked at what questions work best in measuring those things and which were actionable and which are related to business outcomes.”
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