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  • Successful Ways to Measure Employee Engagement

    The Three Dimensions of Employee Engagement

    According to psychologist William Kahn, there are three principles dimensions to employee engagement. Khan's extensive research concluded that the physical, cognitive, and emotional dimensions greatly influence both employee performance and employee engagement levels.

    Physical engagement describes both the physical and mental engagement levels of employees. When employees take action in the workplace and feel motivated it is reflected in their work. Employees report feeling higher confidence levels when they have a high level of physical and mental engagement.

    Employees who are highly engaged improve a business's work environment and company culture overall. An employee with a high level of physical engagement can increase the engagement levels of other team members they interact with.

    Cognitive engagement depends on an employee's understanding of the desired business outcomes that their organization has established. Improving employee cognitive engagement requires your human resources department to clearly inform every employee about their roles and responsibilities.

    Both an organization's values and best practices should be clearly communicated to employees early and often. Additionally, each employee must understand the roles that their team members have as well as how they can best work collaboratively in order to improve cognitive engagement.

    Long term benefits of high-level cognitive engagement include increased employee confidence regarding decision-making skills and increased innovation in the workplace. When employees feel knowledgeable and connected with their role they are more productive and engaged.

    Emotional engagement refers to the emotional relationship that each employee has with their workplace. Within organization team-building exercises for team members and proper management styles encourage high levels of emotional engagement.

    Employers should create and implement an action plan that aims to make every employee experience positive. Equally important is the need to make sure that employees understand the business's core values and objectives.

    When employees feel valued and secure in their role their emotional engagement levels are improved. Not only does an increase in emotional engagement positively affect an employee's immediate work environment and their team members but it also optimizes your company culture as a whole.

    How to Measure Employee Engagement

    Businesses can learn a lot about their employees by measuring employee engagement levels. With many organizations possessing different definitions of what employee engagement actually entails, it can be challenging to measure.

    Kahn broadly defines employee engagement as an employee's connection to their role and organization, of course, factoring in his three dimensions of employee engagement. While many organizations solely use annual survey results to measure employee engagement levels, there are more thorough best practices they can employ.

    Employee engagement measuring can be accomplished through employee engagement surveys that are either created in-house or outsourced to a third party. The benefits of using a third party for an employee engagement survey include the expertise and engagement metrics that established survey administrators possess.

    One common issue of in-house generated employee surveys is the fact that the survey administrator only really gets one chance to ask a question. If questions are changed or reworded after the initial survey, the results will necessarily be biased and inorganic.

    Survey questions can be tricky to form and word, so unless your human resources department contains a psychometrics expert on the subject, an in-house survey may be insufficient for measuring employee engagement levels. For example, open ended survey questions can be difficult to quantify which as a result, makes improving your engagement strategy more difficult.

    Engagement data that your human resources department should collect in-house is through exit interviews of team members who are leaving your company, especially if employee turnover rates are high at your business. This valuable employee feedback can be used to increase both employee retention rates and job satisfaction long term.


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    • The three principle dimensions of employee engagement are physical, cognitive, and emotional engagement according to psychologist William Kahn. Kahn also defines employee engagement as an employee's connection with their role and the organization they work for.
    • Physical engagement addresses an employee's mental and physical engagement levels. Employees who take action and are very productive in the workplace likely possess high levels of physical engagement.
    • Cognitive engagement necessitates an employee understanding their role and their organization's business objectives. A high level of cognitive engagement can increase innovation and confidence in decision making for an employee.
    • Emotional engagement describes the emotional relationship an employee has with the business they work at. This engagement type is increased through team building exercises and proper management techniques.
    • When employers increase employee engagement levels they will likely increase employee retention rates.
    • Employers should regularly measure engagement in order to optimize business outcomes and job satisfaction levels.
    • Employee engagement surveys can be generated by your human resources department in-house or by a third party. Generally, third party administrators are much more effective and experienced.
    • Gathering employee data through exit interviews is a great way for employers to better understand how to improve employee engagement levels and decrease turnover.

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