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Are Your Employees Engaged? Are You Engaging Your Employees?

Geoff Schaadt

The discussion around employee engagement has been loud – and growing to deafening proportions - over the past several years.

Employee engagement has become the metric of preference (pdf) for HR and OD professionals as high engagement has been linked to remarkable profits, productivity, retention, and client engagement, while active disengagement leads to significant losses on multiple fronts.  In fact, our own Greg Tricklebank notes that, “Given the strategic importance of Employee Engagement as an internal management lever, it is worth some effort to understand and measure it as accurately as possible.”

The Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat specifically breaks out Employee Engagement as one of the key components of the Management Accountability Framework.  And the Clerk of the Privy Council, Wayne Wouters, points to Employee Engagement as one the top five priorities for in 2010-11 in his Annual Report to the Prime Minister.

Given all of the hype regarding the importance of engaged employees, the question that quickly follows for most managers: “how do I measure employee engagement in my organization?”

Don’t Re-invent the Wheel

A small amount of time spent researching this topic will reveal a seeming constellation of options and opinions.  However, there are a couple of proven resources with deep statistical validation to support their use that have been created by Gallup Consulting and The Conference Board.

The Gallup instrument:

  1. I know what is expected of me at work.
  2. I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right.
  3. At work, I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day.
  4. In the last seven days, I have received recognition or praise for doing good work.
  5. My supervisor, or someone at work, seems to care about me as a person.
  6. There is someone at work who encourages my development.
  7. At work, my opinions seem to count.
  8. The mission/purpose of my company makes me feel my job is important.
  9. My associates (fellow employees) are committed to doing quality work.
  10. I have a best friend at work.
  11. In the last six months, someone at work has talked to me about my progress.
  12. This last year, I have had opportunities at work to learn and grow.

Disengaged-200x304The Conference Board “Employee Engagement Barometer”:

  1. I am proud to work for (company name).
  2. Overall, I enjoy working for my immediate supervisor.
  3. My job gives me a feeling of accomplishment.
  4. Overall, I am satisfied with my job.
  5. My job is interesting.
  6. I am motivated to contribute more than what is expected of me in my job.
  7. I am not currently planning on leaving (company name).
  8. I would feel comfortable referring a good friend to (company name) for employment.

Using either of these instruments will provide the manager with reliable information regarding the employees’ attitudes.

The Manager’s Side of the Equation

What I would like to see, however, is a validated measuring instrument that the organization can apply to its leaders and managers regarding their attitudes and behaviours.  Something like this might be useful to hold a mirror up to these leaders so that they can better understand their impact:

  1. My employees are proud to work for (organization name).
  2. My direct reports enjoy working for me.
  3. My employees have the materials and equipment that they need to do their job to the best of their ability.
  4. I value the opinions of my employees.
  5. I regularly speak with my direct reports and discuss their plans for professional development.
  6. My employees know where they stand with me at all times – they know exactly where I feel their strengths and weaknesses lie.
  7. My employees are committed to doing quality work.
  8. My employees are motivated to contribute more than what is expected of them in their jobs.
  9. My direct reports are not planning to leave my unit or the company.
  10. I provide my employees with the opportunities they need to learn and grow.
  11. My employees feel a sense of accomplishment in their jobs.
  12. Overall, my employees are satisfied with their jobs.

What do you think?  Do you think there would be value in applying questions like this to the leaders within the organization?  Would it be interesting to compare and contrast the reactions to these questions between the two groups?



As usual your blogs are so crisp and always on point. It has long been my view that the major problem with the engagement discussion is that it’s seems to be largely separated from a discussion of leadership. So, why not survey managers / leaders on how they see people who work for them? Heck, maybe we can even consider leadership and employee engagement as two sides of the same coin—say, something like organization effectiveness!!!

By Alcide DeGagné on 2011/02/22

Thanks, Alcide, for your kind words.

I wish I could find something to disagree with, just for a more interesting exchange.  But, yes, I too find that the issue of employee engagement is inseparable from effective leadership.

By Geoff Schaadt on 2011/02/22

A good context to why engagement is important in the current work environment. I like what you did reconfiguring the checklists into a simple elf evaluation tool for managers.
I will use this in some ongoing projects.

By Ian Jackson on 2011/03/11

Thanks Ian. And yes, I think we’re long-overdue with respect to creating validated instruments to measure up rather than down.

Certainly this is the focus of 360 evals, but they tend to get pretty complicated from an implementation perspective and don’t allow, as you say, simple self-evaluation.

By Geoff Schaadt on 2011/03/11

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Posted by Geoff Schaadt
Posted on February 15, 2011

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Categories: hr & talent management, leadership, management, organizational development, public service renewal