By many indications employee engagement is at a critical point. Across the board, surveys show that engagement is a problem in many organizations, leading to loss of employees, underperforming employees and more. Indeed, Josh Bersin’s research shows that 87% of companies rate engagement and retention as a high priority problem and 50 rate it urgent. Gallop tells us that just 13% of workers worldwide are engaged – stunning numbers.
There are many seemingly logical steps that can be taken to boost engagement and improve performance. All are valid, probably should be done, and make sense. You might call these the “soft” components of engagement.
But there is another side that on the surface might not seem congruous to better engagement – data and talent, or people analytics.
I’ll call this the “hard” side of engagement – as in cold, hard data that can help with the softer side of HR, engagement and leadership. The data that can help organizations make faster and better strategic decisions can also help real people in their day-to-day jobs. And isn’t helping people a big part of what HR wants to achieve? It certainly is key instrument organizations can use to boost organizational performance.
Given we all know that engagement needs to improve, how do we go about it?
We know about the “people” things we can do – share your vision and goals, communicate more often and more clearly, make your expectations clear, continuous learning and support, and expressing gratitude. Indeed, Bersin now talks about the “simply irresistible organization®,” with a focus on simplicity.
But how can data and analytics actually help in all this?
You can’t just put out a memo to manager that tells them to “go engage your employees” or even just “communicate more.” It’s a start, but it’s not going to get you the visibility and accountability you need within your organization to show that engagement is helping. Yes, management and leadership training will help, but how will you know they’re working? How will you know which teams, which managers, which policies work, which don’t and which are on the right track but could use some tweaking or refinement?
That’s where data and people analytics comes in. It will give HR leaders and senior executives the necessary insight to determine successes, failures and how to continue to improve going forward.
- Which managers have the most and least engaged employees?
- What amount of manager-employee interaction is best for employee morale?
- How often are employees receiving feedback from their managers and how is this impacting the employees’ morale and performance?
- How can company, team and individual goals be best aligned to improve employee engagement and morale?
- Why do some teams and departments have better employee engagement and better morale than others?
- What are the characteristics of the most successful new hires?
The number of questions that can be answered by analytics is virtually endless. And the answers can provide the necessary insight to help direct a business to pay more or less attention to particular areas that can have the highest or most immediate impact. Anecdotal information will only tell you so much.
People analytics provide a much more thoughtful, insightful and accountable approach to engagement than directing people to simply “do a better job of engagement” and hope it all works out.
Beyond the strategic insight and improved high-level decision making data can provide – which are critical – people analytics can also help people, from line and staff employees to managers – perform better in their daily jobs, improve their career planning and help them become happier and more engaged employees.
With better leaders, improved engagement and happier employees, a better-performing organization almost always follows.
It’s time to put people analytics to work – go for it.