Workforce Analytics

Why the Greek Gods Sucked at Measuring Employee Engagement Metrics‚ÄĒAnd How Not to Be a Greek Deity!

January 23, 2023
IN THIS BLOG

Should employee well-being and happiness matter to you? Why? For one, it keeps the curtains down on the so-called and still-happening Great Resignation. Many people may owe their loss of a job to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, millions are walking away voluntarily due to dissatisfaction with their workplaces. The pandemic acted as a clinch, tipping the balance of our collective focus to health and well-being.

So, if you haven't begun worrying about such a mass exodus, it's time you did. Do it for the people and talent working for you. And do it for the survival of your business. After all, highly-engaged employees bring 23% more profit, while employee engagement ROI is a real force to be reckoned with.

But before discussing how to boost retention rates, let's see…

What is Employee Engagement & the Case against Mt. Olympus

In simple terms, employee engagement describes how well-connected your employees are to your organization. The better this relationship is, the likelier it is that you'll retain the talent you've shortlisted and painfully trained for your company.

Think of the Ancient Greek Pantheon as the upper management of an organization and mortals as their employees. How many do you think would want to continue working for head honcho Zeus, with his wayward ways and thunderbolt smiting? 

Given a choice, none of us would! In other words, employee engagement would be at an all-time low at Mt. Olympus.

Why Measure It?

The Sheer Expense of it All

When on the low side, it also brings down the following business outcomes:

  • Revenue
  • Employee satisfaction, retention, & well-being
  • Customer experience & loyalty
  • ¬†Employee presenteeism & productivity

On the flip side, turnover rates go high in organizations that don't monitor employee engagement. The level of engagement affects almost all areas, including having a direct link to business performance. Disengaged employees can cost companies close to $550 billion annually.

What's more, as a firm rushes to replace staff losses due to high turnover, it incurs more costs. After all, new hires may require on-the-job training and take time to reach full productivity. Organizations could be spending a third of (if we go by SHRM's estimate) or a grimmer, twice the departing employee's annual salary (if we consider Gallup's survey results).

The Loss of Innovation

Smart managers know the math, i.e., business units lose 59% fewer employees due to high engagement. They also know how to extract the best from their teams. A workforce happy with their work environment is an empowered and innovative workforce. You could lose your out-of-the-box talent by sticking to an ironclad measuring standard. The metrics for employee engagement you choose would need to be as adaptable as they are adoptable!     

Remote Work is No Longer Remote

Dinosaurs who still take remote work to be a product of the pandemic and are thus limited to it are in for a rude awakening. More and more organizations are pivoting to this work model each day, increasing the strength of remote workers to 56% globally. Others are learning how to implement it securely. And still, others have accepted the hybrid working model. Why wouldn't they when almost 60% of working-from-home employees report it's boosting their productivity? 

If your company is about to be‚ÄĒor is already‚ÄĒinvested in this mutually beneficial outcome, it's time to rework your ol' employee engagement rubric! Finding newer and better-suited ways to measure how your staff's doing is paramount for business success and maintaining transparency.

Not to be missed: 5 Great Reasons Why the Remote Team Culture is Winning

How to Measure Employee Engagement‚ÄĒSucceeding where the Greek Gods Failed

The benefits your company will gain by adopting the right-for-you employee engagement metrics are many. You've seen the sneak preview above. However, there are many others, such as being able to identify and resolve problems before they get out of control. However, knowing you need to check it off your priority list is one thing and measuring employee engagement objectively is another!

Whom to Involve

Before we map it all out for you, here's an honest tip ‚Äď or two. First off, any insights you draw about your workforce must be data-driven. Secondly, don't be like Green Day.

Instead, enroll all relevant parties to play active roles in engagement improvement, including your managers and employees.

What to Measure & Why

Below we have listed the metrics companies can use to take the pulse of their employees' engagement levels:

1. Total Hours Worked (THW) or Zeus vs. Prometheus

A highly critical metric for companies with remote employees. When you know the number of hours they are putting in weekly, you can also estimate:

  • ¬†How efficient your employees are
  • ¬†If you're paying your workforce correctly

Here's why: Say someone clocks 20 hours/week but gets paid double for that. It could mean:

  • ¬†You need to talk to Accounting and HR
  • The employee's highly efficient and may have the bandwidth to take on more responsibilities

If the opposite's true, your employee may be struggling or slacking off at work. But knowing this gives you the chance to identify and resolve the root cause proactively. For instance, an overwhelmed employee may start missing out on crucial project details, lose clients, or cost the business in some other way!

THW also shows you if your remote team's getting more done in less time. Since they're less likely to work a full 8-9 hours/day, this metric will also let you judge when more becomes too much. Setting boundaries for log-off time is important for preventing employee burnout and loss of engagement.

Figure 1. Even Prometheus's eagle knew when it was time to call it a day

Finally, THW allows you to judge performance based on the work while still letting employees set their own work schedules. For instance, some will want to start working at ungodly hours while others prefer dark pm. Happier employees stick around for longer.

2. Time Spent on Each Task or Zeus vs. Sisyphus

Team projects often consist of multiple tasks. If the completion of an individual task takes longer than expected, the delay can set back the overall completion date. That's why managers cannot rely only on knowing the latter. They must also track the timeliness of individual task completion. In case of delays, such visibility allows managers to:

  • Implement resource allocation to critical tasks and rescue delayed projects
  • Maintain project baselines with more accurate projections for similar tasks
  • Zero in on the cause of the delay and reach out to the employee-in-question

It takes Sisyphus all day to roll a single boulder uphill. If only Zeus had calculated this important metric before the task assignment, Sisyphus could be getting ten boulders up the hill!

3. Time to Email or Pha√ęthon vs. Helios

If a team member doesn't respond to coworkers' emails quickly enough, take it as a good indicator that something isn't right. The same goes for responses towards clients and you, the manager. Working remotely doesn't mean working in a vacuum.

The graph above shows almost 70% of employees will expect colleagues to reply to emails within 4 hours or less. Fast responses indicate an employee is active, working, and on the same page as the rest of the team. Use this metric to measure the reliability of your remote team.

Are they opening emails?

What about Slack or other methods of communication your company prefers?

Besides not responding quickly or enough, you may also want to track the number of emails being sent. Whether it's their workflow that's the issue or they lack communication skills, something's amiss. If someone's sending a bunch of them but not following up for days on end, you might need to step in. Of course, you won't want to handle incapable or unreliable employees by raining thunderbolts on them. Because that's exactly what Zeus did when Pha√ęthon took the Sun God's chariot out for a spin.¬†¬†

The problem gets worse when somebody's average response time to clients isn't sufficiently high. As the graph below will show, clients expect brands and businesses to get back to them in under a day. Delayed or lack of responses to queries can make clients feel unwanted. Upset clients don't translate into long-term business success.

4. Employee Retention Rate or Hades vs. Theseus

As mentioned above, happy employees tend to stick around. So, using employee retention for employee engagement measurement makes sense. It sure was easy to get employees to stay in the good old days. All Hades had to do was use snakes to tie Theseus to a chair in the Underworld. Is your business beginning to lose the talent that's remained with you over time? Sadly, you don't have Hades' snake-charming talents. Therefore, a revisit to policies and working conditions may be in order.

Alternatively, high retention rates point to employees who:

  • Find their work engaging
  • Are certain about their position in the organization

Therefore, if employees have been leaving the firm in droves, you may need to re-examine the way it's being run.

5. Work-Life Balance or Zeus vs. Ixolon

There really was no looking back once burnout received WHO's official categorization as an occupational hazard in 2019. And it shouldn't be any other way. One of WHO and ILO's 2021 studies found people putting in more than 55 weekly hours at work are also at a higher risk of death due to cardiovascular issues.

Companies that care about how fulfilling their employees' lives believe in work-life balance. You can also include it as a key metric and monitor it through staff surveys. However, instead of going with the usual, How satisfied are you at work? try more creative and insightful queries. Only then will you receive more honest answers.

Some suggestions include getting them to rate their satisfaction levels with:

  • The amount of time they can spend pursuing hobbies
  • ¬†How much time they get to spend with family and friends
  • ¬†The time they get to rest and recharge when not at work

Low ratings in response to these questions usually point to an overworked staff or those trying to meet unrealistic expectations. They may even help you determine if your company has a culture of presenteeism. For instance, employees don't avail of the annual leave time allotted to them. It may be because they feel they won't be able to catch up due to an immense workload. 

Figure 2. Even being bound to a wheel on fire couldn't keep Ixion from showing up to work. Or maybe, it was because Zeus had bound him to a friggin’ burning wheel!

Not to be missed: When the Candle Burns at Both Ends, Nobody Wins: Don't Let Your Employees Fall Victim to Burnout

6. Employee Health Index or Zeus vs. Tantalus

Another way of looking at employee well-being, the employee health index, can help you measure your organization's employee engagement rate. Make frequent evaluations of the following factors into standard practice:

  • Fatigue
  • Burnout
  • Mental health
  • Physical health¬†

Just as you did with the work-life balance metric, aim for employee survey questions that will provoke honest answers. You could ask:

  • Is the daily number of tasks assigned achievable for you
  • What rating would you assign to your team's workload?

Moreover, keep an eye out for answers like unfair compensation and cultural negativity. Those are two of the most common reasons for employee burnout.

Figure 3. Most Common Reasons for Burnouts

Such assessments let you catch on to these issues before they balloon up. They'll also allow you time to come up with the right solutions. For example, overworked employees could benefit from automation tools and the use of virtual assistants. Or, if we're talking about Zeus' other prisoner employee, Tantalus, an easy-to-access snack bar could have improved matters.

7. Rewards and Recognition or Athena vs. Arachne

Figure 4. Athena turned an employee who had mad weaving skills into a spider. Weak management style!

Weak managers don't believe in adequate reward-giving or recognition. In the case of the Greek gods, they either went overboard or complete nuts while monitoring the employee engagement rate at Mt. Olympus.

Want to ensure your workforce doesn't get disengaged? Start by confirming if your organization has effective employee recognition programs. Track it with questionnaires asking employees how they'd rate:

  • ¬†The existing employee recognition system
  • The true value of the recognition or rewards on offer
  • The frequency of the processes¬†

Positive scores hint to employees being happy with the status quo. Or that you'll need to tweak the frequency of or value that your employee recognition programs offer.

Next, shortlist those who deserve it, placing extra importance on employees going the extra mile or meeting company goals.

Workplace recognition also boosts productivity along with engagement. After all, adequate compensation will motivate those rewarded and others to keep putting in extra effort in the future. Recognition and rewards would also up your organization's retention rate.  

8. Absenteeism or Hermes vs. Chelone

High absenteeism is another piece of evidence that points to flagging employee engagement rates. Track it by monitoring the absenteeism rate in your organization.

Moreover, keep in mind workplace absenteeism correlates with various other factors, such as:

  • Poor working conditions
  • Bad management
  • Incapable leadership
  • Lack of work-life balance
  • ¬†Low employee satisfaction

Therefore, it's best not to follow in Hermes' footsteps and turn an employee into a tortoise for not showing up. Instead, find out what's been keeping them away from work. Then support them to resolve their grievances.

What's more, employee absenteeism can have a cumulative effect, so it's best to catch and resolve it sooner than later. The higher the number of absences, the greater the workload an employee would have to cover. Thus, they'll create more work and stress for themselves. Consequently, they might become one of the many employees ready to quit due to high rates of job dissatisfaction.

Medusa's Rightful Hatred of Employee Engagement Surveys

Figure 5. I mean, what else did you expect her answer would be?

Considering the drastic effect employee engagement can have on turnover and business success, companies will want to track it. However, most will choose to monitor it by running employee engagement surveys. That won't be enough on its own, and here are some reasons why:

Survey Fatigue

Tired of running after employees unwilling to fill out questionnaires?

Want your workforce to formulate honest answers?

Keep expecting to achieve better business outcomes but not getting any?

Then show employees you hear what they're saying! Start acting on employee survey results to build trust. McKinsey names survey fatigue as the culprit behind employee perception that the management won't be acting on the results, so why bother?

Don't Monitor but Empower

A working culture standing on the twin pillars of employee trust and participation can give productivity a boost. Therefore, empower your employees with time tracking software like timegram that tracks their performance but doesn't snitch or invade their privacy‚ÄĒmore on how below.

Wrong Tool = Inaccurate Results

Many firms combine employee engagement surveys and employee net promoter scores to measure performance. These traditional employee engagement metrics are only effective for 22% of companies and mostly present skewed results due to:

  • ¬†Recency biases
  • Infrequent survey-taking
  • Self-reporting
  • ¬†Absence of a plan-of-action for resolution of employee engagement issues

Measuring point-in-time sentiment won't do you any favors. What you need is to estimate overall engagement.

Improving Employee Experience with timegram‚ÄĒA Gift Fit for Even the Greek Gods

Engaged employees can be your organization's best assets because they are:

  • ¬†More productive
  • ¬†Highly invested in their work
  • Likelier candidates for retention
  • Experiencing greater job satisfaction

Remember the tips about employee involvement above? timegram takes care of both. First off, it makes quantitative metrics, like productivity, hours spent on a task, most hours spent on which tasks, etc., available to all. Secondly, it lets your team track engagement for themselves. Empower them by allowing them to select their most productive hours.

That way:

  • All relevant parties can understand engagement rates
  • ¬†Employees can track their performance with complete transparency and no need for personal introspection
  • Managers don't have to rely on personal observations and can leverage employee engagement analytics to quickly identify gaps and come up with actions to provide targeted interventions and support

Consequently, time tracking software like timegram can result in higher job satisfaction and better well-being of the employees. Managers can use timegram-generated and real-time data to spot employee burnout and disengagement indicators early on. For instance, they can optimize workload based on the available capacity across teams or reconfigure task completion times.

Conclusion

Organizations with employee loyalty at an all-time high aren't in it for just themselves. They also measure the things that matter to their workforce's personal well-being and professional development. Therefore, deploy the employee engagement KPIs mentioned above for both improved employee experience and supporting your business objectives.

FAQs

What are the four key employee engagement metrics?

The four key metrics allowing companies accurate insight into employee engagement and job satisfaction are:       

  • ¬†Work quality
  • Work quantity
  • Work efficiency
  • Organizational performance

What are the three C's of employee engagement?

Different people describe them in various ways, but most label them:

  • Career - Your employees expect to build one when they join your organization
  • Competence - Being allowed to demonstrate they can grow
  • ¬†Care - Seeing evidence that you consider them an indispensable part of the organization

What is Kahn's theory of employee engagement?

Kahn's premise suggests companies need to engage their employees on multiple levels for maximum retention. Those levels include the physical effort they're expected to expend, a cognitive syncing with their employer's vision, and emotionally connecting with their work. The extent and the support they receive for each facet of engagement influences how well they do and how secure they feel in their roles.

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Midhat Hadi

About the author

Midhat Hadi successfully caught herself a PhD in Botany. When she's not gloating, she writes fiction and blogs.

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