The Truth About Employee Engagement Measurement Practices

Charles Rogel

VP of consulting services at DecisionWise

The Truth About Employee Engagement Measurement Practices
Business man wearing glasses holding paper document.

There is a lot of speculation about the frequency and methods used by companies to measure employee engagement. In our comprehensive 2017 State of Engagement Survey, we gathered feedback from over 150 organizations to discover the truth about how employee engagement is actually measured. We dug down into the details to determine the frequency and consistency of surveying, survey methods, participation rates, and the average level of employee engagement. See how your organization compares in these nine categories.

1. More than Half of Companies Measured Employee Engagement in the Past Year

53 percent of companies report measuring employee engagement in the past year compared to 49 percent in 2016. It has been two years since the last engagement survey for 15 percent of the respondents and three years or more for just seven percent of companies. Surprisingly, 14 percent of respondents reported that they have never measured employee engagement.

2. Most Companies Have Measured Employee Engagement for Multiple Years

64 percent of companies report measuring employee engagement for three years or more compared to 60 percent in 2016. Almost half of organizations (47 percent) responded that they have been measuring employee engagement for five years or more, up from 39 percent in 2016.

3. Always-on Survey Use Increased, Annual Survey Use Slightly Down

There is growing interest in measuring employee engagement more frequently than once a year by using monthly, weekly, or even daily pulse surveys. We asked HR leaders: “How frequently does your organization conduct a formal employee survey or collect employee feedback?” Multiple answers were allowed to determine if companies complemented an annual survey with pulse surveys. The most frequent response was “annually” at 49 percent, showing a slight decrease from 2016 at 52 percent. The largest increase was among “always-on” surveys, which jumped from three percent in 2016 to 11 percent in 2017. “Every two years” was the second-most-reported choice at 19 percent.

4. Most Companies Measure Employee Engagement Every Year

It’s one thing to say that you have measured engagement for the past five years, but we wanted to know if surveys were conducted every year during that time, or more sporadically. 45 percent of companies reported measuring engagement each year for at least the past three years. 16 percent of companies started measuring engagement this past year. 18 percent measure engagement every 18-24 months, and 14 percent measure sporadically.

5. Do-It-Yourself Survey Users Decreased by 10 Percent

69 percent of HR professionals reported using a third-party to administer their employee engagement survey in 2017 compared to 62 percent in 2016. The increased use of third-party tools led to a 10 percent decrease in companies that reported using internal software tools to measure employee engagement.

6. Online Surveying Increased 22 Percent

The reported use of online employee engagement surveys increased from 46 percent in 2016 to 68 percent in 2017. Correspondingly, paper survey administration decreased from 19 percent to 10 percent during the same time.

7. Employee Engagement Survey Participation Averages 77 Percent

Companies report good participation in their employee engagement surveys with more than a third receiving feedback from 90 percent or more of their employee population. Only 24 percent reported less than 70 percent of employees completing their last employee survey. The average participation rate of 77 percent was two percentage points higher than last year.

8. Employee Engagement Increased Slightly in 2017

We asked companies, “According to your most recent survey results, what percentage of employees are engaged at your company? This includes employees you consider to be fully engaged, engaged, or somewhat engaged.” The average level of employee engagement increased two percentage points from 66 percent in 2016 to 68 percent in 2017. 34 percent of companies reported engagement levels of 80 percent or higher.

9. Most Companies Report Engagement Trending Upward

Based on any employee survey results over the past three years, 48 percent of companies reported employee engagement trending upwards, compared to 31 percent in 2016. Likewise, the number of companies reporting engagement trending downwards decreased by 13 percent. 19 percent of companies responded that engagement has stayed flat over the past three years.

About this Research

The DecisionWise 2017 State of Employee Engagement study provides a comprehensive look at employee engagement best practices. It includes findings on perceptions of employee engagement, effectiveness of various programs, measurement best practices, ROI of engagement initiatives, and what the most engaged companies are doing differently.

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