What to Measure in the Employee Engagement Survey

You’ve finally admitted that you’ve had enough – enough of reading facial expressions, enough of listening carefully for double meaning, enough of second guessing – all in an attempt to figure out the level of #EmployeeEngagement at your company. You decide to conduct an #EmployeeEngagementSurvey.
Whether you are designing the survey internally or using the services of a provider, you need to ensure that survey questions refer to the emotional and intellectual connection that the employee has with the organization as well as the employee’s contribution to the business outcomes.
Consider if you want to measure Employee Engagement or #EmployeeSatisfaction, since with the latter, questions such as  Are you happy? or Do you have a best friend at work? become important, even though they may have little correlation to the business outcomes.

There are two main survey questions to be answered.  These are then further broken down to questions that deal with the what and how of the engagement

1) What do employees need to be emotionally connected to what they are doing? This is broken down to questions that deal with the following needs.  Employees need to:

  • Work in physical spaces that are conducive to their work
  • Have the right tools to effectively work
  • Be seen and heard
  • Feel that their contributions are valued and valuable
  • Feel a sense of pride in the work that they do
  • Feel a sense of pride in the company that they work for
  • Have a sense of belonging
  • Have fit with the organisation

2. What does your employee need to be intellectually connected to the work that they do? This is broken down to questions that deal with the following needs.  Employees need to:

  • Understand the company’s strategy/ mission/ vision/ core values
  • Understand how the work they do is aligned to the strategy/ mission/ vision/ core values
  • Be effectively led
  • See leaders walking the talk
  • Have the skills for the job they are doing
  • Work with effective processes
  • Be clear about their career paths
  • A view of their future within the organization

The survey questions can be grouped under different headings such as : Physical space, Strategy, Work Process, Technology, Leadership, Communication, Executive Management and any other headings that are important to your organization.

While some companies take the survey as an opportunity to ask about the kitchen sink I would caution against this approach, since it weakens the impact of the survey, and sends incorrect signals about what it important.  If there is a core competency or strength that your company sees as important to its business outcome then by all means include questions about that.
Be aware that what you measure is what you will get responses on.

Does your company conduct Employee Engagement Surveys? If so what is measured?
If not what do you want to measure?
Maxine Attong is an Organisational Development Consultant, Executive Coach and Author. Check out my website www.maxineattong.com to learn more about me.

P.S. Save the date – March 15,2017. Breakfast seminar: Maximising Human Capital in the New Economy.

Measuring Employee Engagement

If you can not measure it, you can not improve it.” Lord Kelvin

At times, we are only aware that our weight has shifted when we put on our clothes.  Whether it’s a looseness or tightness, we conclude that our weight has changed. If we want to know exactly how our weight has shifted, we get on a scale for an accurate evaluation, then we  decide, do nothing, or change the way we eat or exercise to return to the way we like our clothes to fit.
So too with #EmployeeEngagement. (See this article for a definition)  As leaders, we may unaware of the level of employee engagement.  While the reactions, the behaviours or the utterances of staff may be strong indicators of their level of engagement, the only way that leaders can determine if employees are engaged and the extent of their engagement, is to measure it, via an employee engagement survey.
Why do  you measure anything? Why do you measure your weight?
Measurements assist us to :

  • Establish where we are and have a common understanding- I weigh x pounds. I am over/ under or at a comfortable  weight.
  • Understand what is needed or not needed- I do not need to do anything. I need to lose/ gain weight.
  • Establish what is considered normal/ standard – For my weight, age, height and lifestyle I need to stay the same, gain/ lose weight.
  • Predict outcomes – If I maintain/ change my diet and exercise routine, I will stay the same/ gain/ lose weight
  • Indicate what we need to fix  – I don’t need to fix anything, I need to eat more/ less.

The same with the #EmployeeEngagementSurvey.  The #EngagementSurvey is a measuring tool whose results:

Provide an objective evaluation of engagement
  • Communicate the employee’s emotional and mental involvement
  • Give clues about what is needed to further engage employees.
  • Indicate how well the business outcomes are being met

Surveys can be internally designed and conducted, though some companies prefer to use a third party.
Regardless of who is designing the survey, the company needs to establish:

How does your company measure employee engagement?

Maxine Attong is an Organisational Development Consultant, Coach, Speaker and Author. Check out my website www.maxineattong.com to learn more about me.

P.S. Save the date – March 15,2017. Breakfast seminar: Maximising Human Capital in the New Economy.

Employee Engagement or Employee Satisfaction?

What do you want? Do you want employees to be satisfied or to be engaged?

I know that a lot of companies use the two interchangeably, and I am suggesting that they stop. They are not the same.
Think about the things in your life that you are satisfied with versus the things that you are actively engaged with. For instance, you may be satisfied with the community that you live in, the roadways are well maintained, the play areas are clean and the garbage is collected on a regular basis. If you don’t attend residents’ meetings, or are not actively involved in ensuring that things run smoothly or  do not participate in the community’s events, then you’re not engaged.
We all have our favourite restaurant, where we are always satisfied with the food and the service, but, on the occasion that the dish isn’t well prepared we become dissatisfied and complain. We may be interested that the restaurant keeps its doors open but we are not vested in its success, we are not engaged with the restaurant’s business outcomes.
These arguments extend to the company – while it is flattering that employees are satisfied, companies need to appreciate that satisfaction is not #EmployeeEngagement. Read this article for a definition of employee engagement.
When companies focus on #EmployeeSatisfaction they are constructing a relationship, in which, the employees are the clients and the company is of service to the employees. When something goes wrong, the employees do not perceive any personal responsibility to improve the situation; while they may make recommendations, they will fold their arms and wait for someone to fix it, or wait to be told to fix it.
When we focus on employee engagement, we don’t have to worry about when things go wrong, because we know that employees see themselves as part of the solution, they have a vested interest in offering recommendations, and in fixing things.
There is the argument that satisfied employees will become more engaged. I can appreciate this from an emotional point of view – satisfied employees are happy employees and  will (more likely) work better. But what happens when the employees become unhappy or dissatisfied? What then? Whose job is it to make them happy or satisfied?

I believe that if companies focus on employee engagement, then they won’t have to worry about employee satisfaction. If companies only focus on employee satisfaction, then they cannot be certain that employees are engaged.

What do you want? Do you want employees to be satisfied or to be engaged?

Maxine Attong is an Organizational Development Consultant who specialises in Employee Engagement. Check out my website www.maxineattong.com to learn more about me.

P.S. Save the date – March 15,2017. Breakfast seminar: Maximising Human Capital in the New Economy.

Engage employees – it’s a two way thing

I was having lunch with her when she said.” I don’t believe in employee engagement.” I was intrigued by her statement, since this colleague is a rational thinker. She explained, ”Companies often have employee engagement “initiatives” during which they give employees gifts or host employee events. Employees in turn, view these “initiatives” as performance incentives and demand more for more performance. The result? Performance does not increase and the company hosts another initiative”
I know what she meant, I saw it before, and responded,“That’s not engagement, that’s a bribe.”
Her eyes lit up “Exactly!”
We discussed some more and agreed on a few things.

  • Employee engagement is not done in a vacuum. It is set in the context of achieving the companies strategic intentions or business outcomes.
  • #EmployeeEngagement is not solely the company’s responsibility nor solely the employees’ responsibility. Employee engagement is jointly the company’s and the employees’ responsibility.
  • The company is like that electrical socket in the wall, and the employee is the plug. Unless the two are connected, at the same voltage, there will be no engagement and it will be difficult to make anything work. The socket needs the plug as much as the plug needs the socket for engagement to happen.

We concurred that definitions are important as some companies practice a different concept of  employee engagement.

  • #EmployeeEngagement is the emotional and intellectual involvement of employees with the work that they do.
  • Emotional refers to the way that the employees feel about what they do, why they do it and how they work. The company / leadership is involved in creating environments or #SafeWorkSpaces that encourage a positive emotional response.
  • The intellectual involvement speaks to how the company envisions employees, its philosophy around Human Capital and how to maximize performance as tasks are performed. For the employees it speaks of their ability, skills set, capacity for learning and how well equipped they are for the job.

What are your questions on #EmployeeEngagement? Post them on my Facebook page MaxineAttong or here and I’ll answer them.

My 5 questions are:

  1. How does Employee engagement contribute to strategic goals?
  2. How to measure Employee Engagement?
  3. What is the leader’s role in Employee Engagement?
  4. What is the employee’s role in Employee Engagement?
  5. How do companies engage employees?

Which of these questions resonate with you?

Maxine Attong is an Organisational Development Consultant who specialises in Employee Engagement. Check out my website www.maxineattong.com to learn more about me.

P.S. Save the date – March 15 2017, Breakfast Seminar: Maximizing Human Capital in the New Economy. Drop me a note for further details

The other side of change

Today as I downloaded pictures from my phone to my laptop, I was faced with my year in review. 2016 has been a watershed year for me – a year of upheaval, a year of change, a year of faith, a year of self-belief and a year of broken promises.

I’ve been through the emotions associated with grief as I dealt with the change– that was not of my own making – and I can testify that it’s not easy.

I’ve been looking at myself, being sad, feeling angry, throwing confetti at the pity party and I did not recognize myself.  My rational mind found my behavior incongruent with the logic of the situation – I understood and agreed with the reasons for the change and yet I was in pain.  The mind tried its best to console me with all the clichés and euphemisms – “this is temporary, it’s for the better, you still have health and strength” – and none of it worked

My body and soul were in the midst of a deep grief…wallowing.

Four months later all parts are reconciled and all parts have accepted the change.

As I looked at the pictures, and reminisced over my experience, these are the things I can share:

·         Change is painful. There is no magic pill, there is no distraction that lasts long enough and numbness wears off. There is no choice you have to go through the pain.

·         Sitting still and doing nothing is an essential activity  during times of change

·         Talk to people whom you trust about the change and be quiet with all others

·         You can function effectively while grieving, once you honor your need to rest

·         Self-belief is a great antidote for change

Now I am grateful that I have gone through the pain and  am on the other side of  change. Sure there will be residual effects, but I am resilient and I have all that I need to go again.

How do you manage change?

(If you need help to manage change- business or personal – visit my website www.maxineattong.com  and drop me a line)

Settling is for Dregs

When we were kids, my mom made citrus juice. She added brown sugar to a jug of water and stirred with a big wooden spoon.  She squeezed the citrus into the sugary water – pulp, seeds and all – and mixed vigorously.

I loved to watch the ingredients swirl and gradually become still. The pulp and seeds floated to the top while the undissolved sugar settled at the bottom of the jug.  From this I learned an invaluable lesson – Settling is for Dregs.

As I grew older, these became my watchwords. I often ask myself, “Am I settling?”

At the beginning, in the swirl of the newness, I enjoy the flow but as the novelty wears off I step back and assess where I am.  “Am I floating at the top with the pulp and the seeds or am I like the sugar at the bottom of the jug?” Let me confess that the residue at the bottom of the jug – the sweet, gooeyness with a small hint of citrus – can be the most delectable part of the juice.

But, just as I knew when I was ten, that the dregs were not the healthiest bits of juice, I know as an adult that settling is not healthy for me regardless of how sweet it may be.

Don’t get me wrong Settling is not the same as Settled. When you are settled there is a sense of satisfaction, that where you are is exactly where you should be.  Even though all is not perfect you stand in the decision that you make and you don’t have to defend or justify your position.  You’re generally happy with where you are and happy for others who are doing their thing. You are willing and have the energy to do what you need to do.

On the other hand, you are settling when you are pretending that where you are is where you want to be. When dreams are compromised because for whatever reason you are afraid or unwilling to float to your top ( whatever that top may be) – that’s settling.  Settling is when you know that you are at the bottom, stuck in the sweet stuff and you feel badly about it.  Settling is when you don’t think that there is anything else for you, so you sink to the bottom and accept that this is what you deserve.

I know that I am settling when:

  • I’m frustrated that I’m not doing something else
  • Every day I complain about my present lot
  • I can’t look at myself in the mirror
  • I look on with envy at other people who are doing what I want to do
  • I’m lying to myself / inner circle about the truth of the present situation
  • I have no energy for what I am doing
  • I am not proud of myself in the current situation
  • I feel a sense of shame because I know I deserve better

Time to decide. Are you sugar or pulp? What are you settling for?

4 Questions on Change

Last week’s blog on change management struck a chord with a number of people.  They emailed the questions that resonated most with them while others asked for clarification on some of the questions. Today, I am sharing my answers so that readers can gain perspective on the questions and be motivated to answer ( for themselves).

3.How do I center myself when stuff hits the fan? When stuff hits the fan I get very quiet and I rest.  I lay low, make no decisions and wait until I understand what is happening and the level of damage it generated.  While I want to clean up the stuff, I know that I can’t  unless I understand exactly what is happening. So I slow down, pay attention and rest. When I understand what is going on I have energy to deal with the stuff and clean the fan.

9. How can I maintain focus? My vision allows me to maintain focus. I use it to determine if I will take an action or I use it to make a decision. I ask myself “Does this serve my purpose?” If the answer is “Yes”, then I do it. If the answer is “No” then I don’t do it.

13. What am I holding on to ( that prevents the change from being an opportunity)? When I think of what I have and I place a high value on what I have I cannot see beyond what I have. When I think in a limited way that I will lose what I have because of an impending change then I only see disaster, I cannot see an opportunity.

14. What do I need to let go of (to embrace the change)? I need to let go of all my assumptions about how my life should be, what it should look like and what I must do. I have to unlearn all concepts of success and be willing to let go of all my achievements and the things that I have done. I must be willing to let go of my past and stay open to the new and the unknown. I have to be willing to have faith and trust and keep on going.

Having the answer it just the beginning, I actively remind myself of these answers on a daily basis. In this moment of change I keep it simple, I breathe deeply and live in each moment.

What are your answers to these four questions?

Managing change

I’m pretty good at managing change. I get excited by the prospects of it, I am enthused by the answers to “What if?”, and generally I operate in a state of awe.

There are spells of time when I feel overwhelmed. The anxiety of not knowing coupled with the uncertainty of it all makes me wish for a crystal ball. I throw pity parties, ask “Why me?” and I wallow in self doubt.

Most times it’s OK to sit with these dark and uncomfortable feelings since it’s important to process the feelings. However, when I admit that I’m being self indulgent then I know it’s time to answer the 15 questions.

As I’m dealing with major change in my life I have had to answer the 15 questions ( more than once).  The answers provide a reality check, remind me of the possibilities and help me to manage the change which I cannot stop or control.

  1. How do I keep myself going in this time of change?
  2. What routine can I stick to?
  3. How do I center myself when stuff hits the fan?
  4. What role does my personal vision play at this time of change?
  5. What quality of life do I want when the dust settles?
  6. What is my catastrophic fantasy ( about the change)?
  7. Who can assist me now?
  8. What attitudes do I need to change to get through this?
  9. How can I maintain focus?
  10. What is the role of my beliefs at this time?
  11. How do I keep it all going when my beliefs are challenged?
  12. What dreams can be fulfilled (after the change) that can’t be fulfilled now?
  13. What am I holding on to ( that prevents the change from being an opportunity)?
  14. What do I need to let go of (to embrace the change)?
  15. What will be my joy in this time of change?

Which question resonates with you? How will it assist you in your time of change?

Girls Rock

I asked my niece, “What do you want to do today?”

She answered, “I had a list of ten things, but I did not write them down, so now I only remember three. 1) Go for ice-cream ( we both love ice-cream), 2) Go to the park 3) Go to Fun City”

I replied, “Yes to ice-cream, its raining too heavily for the park and how about I-Jump instead of Fun City.”

She agreed and we left the house.  Being the wonderful aunt that I am, I neglected to pack an umbrella. When we got to I-Jump, the rain was still heavy and we could not leave the car.  My niece tried to negotiate getting out in the rain, and I explained that her mother will kill me for being irresponsible.  We sat in the car for about 10 minutes and then I said, “Let’s return home for the umbrella.” We returned home, picked up the umbrella and went back to I-Jump.

When we got to the play area we were informed that we needed socks, and they were out of stock.  My niece got very quiet.  I offered that we could go to the mall and get socks.  She dragged her feet on the way to the car and when we got into the car she spoke up.“I do not want to go to Ijump.”


She responded” We came before and couldn’t get in and then we came again and we still can’t get in. I don’t want to go again.”

I understood how she felt. There were many times that I had my heart set on doing something only to be faced with obstacles and challenges that seemed to thwart every move that I made. I understand that for a 5 year old this disappointment would seem larger than life.

I said to her. “ Do you want to have fun at I-Jump”

“Yes,” she replied.

“OK, don’t let this get in the way of you having fun. If you want to go to I-Jump don’t let rain or socks stop you from getting to I-Jump. If we have to go back 5 times, you are going to get to I-Jump.”

She sat quietly, while we drove to the mall and became alive when it was time to select socks.

As we made our way back to I-Jump she piped up, “Auntie, you know what? We are going to I-Jump. They can’t keep us down because Girls Rock.  Nothing can stop us from doing what we want to do because girls rule.”

What do you do when obstacles are in your way? Do you rock?