For years human resource professionals have been promised data that will “inform smart decision making” and “transform HR.” The pandemic ushered in new demand from executives for timely employee data, bringing with it new opportunities for HR professionals to advise company leaders as we move forward. For many organisations, the long-promised benefits of people data were realised.

But what about smaller enterprises? How useful is employee engagement data from a 200-person company? And how can you use it to improve business performance? And can you do so without having to earn a merit badge in data analytics, and spend hours wrestling with spreadsheets?

Before we discuss the application of engagement data, let’s look at some of the key data that are the pillars of workforce strategy planning, irrespective of industry and company size:

  • Performance. How are the people in various roles, locations, departments, divisions (or other groups) performing? How has performance changed over time? What events have impacted it? Understanding how the organisation and its component areas are performing is a core indicator for most organisations.
  • Turnover rate. Understanding the turnover rate for the roles, locations, departments, divisions (or other groups) within your organization enables you to predict and plan for future turnover. In addition to identifying areas at risk for more turnover, you can build a plan to improve employee retention. Sharing turnover rates with leadership will help them refine their planning.
  • Risk. Which employees are at risk of leaving prematurely? When will they leave? Are there established triggers or patterns to departures? We’re calling this category “risk” because of the enormous costs associated with employee departures, and the goal is to gain insight into factors that contribute to turnover. With this data, HR leaders can build models that will enable them to identify employees whose performance is likely to decline, potentially leading to their departure.
  • High potential talent. Which of the company’s new hires will be stars, and which will fade? Assessing high performers will help forecast who will be tomorrow’s achievers, and enable the organisation to identify high-potential talent and provide them with additional training and opportunities.

Underpinning all of the above factors is employee engagement. In other articles, we’ve discussed the drivers of employee engagement and how it impacts discrete business areas, such as sales, customer service, and a company’s ability to innovate.

Looking beyond engagement scores 

There are many ways to look at employee engagement, beyond your organisation’s score. Your employee engagement platform should allow you to sort data by numerous criteria, and enable you to associate individual employees with many different criteria, including:

  • Geographic location
  • Company-specific criteria, such as division, department, and team,
  • Job role
  • Hire dates

These are some of the criteria our clients find most useful, and with them, one can gather insight into the effectiveness of onboarding programs, differences in performance between similar teams in different locations, and trends within discrete areas of the business.

Here’s a real-life example. A prior employer opened a new location in another state, to accommodate growth in the sales and service – two large and well-established teams within the company. Several managers volunteered to move to the new location and develop the new teams. Within a year, the performance numbers from the new teams far outstripped those from the original location. A closer evaluation of the two locations identified new practices that were working well but also revealed a cultural gulf between the two that the company needed to address. Point is, the practices developed by the new location were only part of its success story.

Creative use of groups – as long as they include more than three people, can also provide useful insight. Here are some ideas for assigning groups that are less obvious but can be remarkably useful:

  • Personality profile. A client of ours segments employees by personality type (as indicated by a standard evaluation they use) to understand the employee experience for different personalities.
  • Performance rating. One organisation assessed to better understand why they were not retaining their high-potential employees, and could also be used to evaluate the effectiveness of employee development efforts.
  • Participation in a significant project or initiative. Big projects can have various impacts on the participants. Especially for those that last over several quarters, getting a read on employees’ engagement data can provide insight into how effectively the project was managed.
  • Completion of professional development programmes. Find out quickly if your organisation’s investment in learning and development is affecting employees’ engagement.

Any time employees are brought together into an identifiable group – whether they were invited to a leadership development programme, were part of a corporate initiative, or have some other variable in common – presents an opportunity to understand the impact on their individual engagement as well as to gather specific feedback related to their experience.

Application of employee engagement data

The data you receive from Engagement Multiplier is easy to understand at a glance because we do the number crunching for you. Data visualization is built into the platform, enabling you to quickly spot emerging issues or changes in trends. Using the data we provide, you’ll be able to:

  • Understand the level of engagement across all the dimensions assessed for the whole organisation,
  • Evaluate scores on a per-team basis,
  • Easily change how you sort and view results, depending upon how you have organised your employee data. For example, in addition to assessing scores by department or job function, you can also sort by criteria such as hire date or location to understand different nuances,
  • View how your scores have trended over time,
  • Read written feedback from employees (and respond to it anonymously, as well),
  • Spot areas where a manager needs some coaching or people need help

We recommend assessing employees quarterly, for several reasons, starting with the simple fact that continuous assessment of employee engagement plays a significant role in assessing performance on an ongoing basis. A decline in employee engagement across the board can be a warning sign, and looking deeper into an organisation’s scores often reveals exactly where within the organisation the issues reside.

Other reasons why the data from quarterly engagement assessments is so useful includes:

  • Understanding the impact of significant events, such as a merger, a new leader, or other change affecting the organisation. With this data, leaders can use employee feedback to gain clarity and understand where within the organisation focused action is needed.
  • Determine whether the current state is sustainable. Often, engagement data is where cracks start to show, even within high-performing teams. Gauging whether employees are frustrated or starting to burn out is one of the most important nuances one can glean from engagement data, as resolving those kinds of issues can prevent turnover.

One of the most predictable factors in employee performance and retention is employee engagement. Looking beyond your organisation’s score into the feedback, sentiments, and scores from different employee segments provides leaders with current, actionable data they can use to improve business performance.

Note to Engagement Multiplier clients: If you would like assistance with any of the concepts raised in this article, please contact your Client Success Manager or drop us a line at support@engagementmultiplier.com.