Building Better Business Case for Employee Engagement and Communication

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Employee engagement is not a nice-to-have, but how do you measure it?
--Source: 15five

Employee Engagement

Employee engagement is tightly connected with organizational culture and a key way of seeing what people think about the work climate.

Engaged employees result in increased organizational performance because they tend to care about how thing are running, resulting in process improvements, fresh ideas, better problem solving, and have more drive to succeed.

Measuring Employee Engagement

So what are the qualitative metrics involved?

According to Gallup, businesses with highly engaged teams experience a 20% lift in productivity. According to the Workforce Institute on Absenteeism, businesses saw a drop in absenteeism (unearned PTO) by 41% when teams were engaged in their work.  

On average, highly engaged teams will experience a 40% improvement in turnover. This improvement can vary from 24% in high-turnover organizations to 59% in low-turnover organizations. You can find more details about this in the Gallup Q12 Meta-Analysis Report.

Since engagement and communication go hand-in-hand, effective employee communication is a leading indicator of financial performance and a driver of employee engagement. Companies that are highly effective communicators had 47% higher total returns to shareholders over the last five years compared with firms that are the least effective communicators.

Being able to measure engagement in your organization is critical to building a convincing business case on how it's improving and in turn the impact brought to an organization. Measuring business metrics (unearned PTO, improvement in turnover etc) requires time since you need a good sample of data to be able to flag trends. Usually you need to wait 6 months to a year to be able to say how the organization is trending in terms of turnover etc.

There are far more immediate tools you can use today to capture measurable employee sentiment and engagement.

Tools

In many organizations, company intranet has become a main tool to share information and collaborate. It is also often used as a communication and engagement tool. By enabling some of these engagement features you can gain a relatively quick insight.

Here are some of the features we recommend to measure and improve your employee engagement through company intranet:

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Staff recognition and new staff shout outs can serve as a broadcast to communicate new employees joining the team. You can also enable "likes" and  "comments" to see how many of the staff are actually reading new updates and actively "liking" the update. Higher likes in turn mean your staff is excited about new members joining the team and care about them being welcomed to the group.

Polls
Timely polls can gather valuable insight about what your staff thinks about various issues. It's an easy way to test ideas.

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Remember to keep things simple in terms of poll questions and answer options. We also recommend enabling the ability to suggest a new poll to give your staff an option to voice what is important to them. A time limit encourages interested parties to cast their votes. If they miss something they care about, they will check that area of the site more often. Naturally more votes mean better engagement, but make sure that questions are relevant and relatable.

Idea submissions
Just as polls, idea submission allows staff to describe an issue and their idea in detail. The key here is to collect the name with each idea and not making it anonymous. This promotes ownership of the content that's created. Additionally, we recommend enabling likes and comments so that others can vote up the idea or ask questions. Anyone who submitted an idea always wants to be recognized, we recommend including "resolution" or "outcome" section for each idea where management can comment on whether this idea is [In Works] or [More Detail Required]

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Featured Staff News
Another great tool which is free in most intranets is the Featured Events tool. We recommend featuring spotlight articles on your employees to bring up interesting stories and spark a conversation. If available in your intranet, enable comments and likes to be able to see what kind of engagement you get on this content.

In summary

Measurement is critical. Companies that are less-effective communicators are much more likely than highly effective communicators to report having no formal measurements of communication effectiveness.
Build quick and concrete evidence of employee engagement by enabling social likes and comments features in your intranet. Take advantage of some of the built-in widgets such as polls, idea submissions, and shout outs.

Photo by rawpixel.com on Unsplash

Leave your comments on what are some of the things you're curious about and we'll try to get an expert insight on the topic

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Yaroslav Pentsarskyy is the founder of OrigamiConnect, a rapidly growing service and product offering which enables organizations to get an intranet designed for them without starting from a blank page. He's also 8 time Microsoft MVP, speaker at many local and worldwide tech events, and a published author of several SharePoint related books.

@spentsarsky