For something so important, employee engagement can be hard to pin down. Although we can see the knock-on effects of engagement (or the lack of it) around us at work, it’s actually quite an intangible concept. But just because something’s hard to track doesn’t mean it’s impossible. So, let’s look at some employee engagement KPIs that you should be tracking.

As we see it, employee engagement is a measure of an employee’s attachment and commitment to the business, their role and their colleagues. In simple terms, it’s how emotionally invested in their job a person is, as well as how driven they are by the work itself.

What makes it a little complicated is that engagement is broad and multifaceted. For example, it’s not the same as happiness. But, at the same time, if someone were unhappy at their job, it’s a safe bet they’d be highly disengaged too. The same goes for job satisfaction – just because someone is satisfied doesn’t make them highly engaged.

At best, disengaged staff will go through the motions of their role, doing the bare minimum and collecting a paycheck. At worst, if they’re good you’ll lose them to a competitor, if they’re not, then they are probably costing you time and money.

So, there are real negatives to having disengaged staff. But what can you gain by focusing on employee engagement KPIs?

In short? Higher productivity, greater organisational loyalty, brand advocacy and discretionary effort.

The KPIs of employee engagement

Gallup’s most recent State of the Global Workplace report found that global engagement is at a mere 21%. So, if one thing’s clear, it’s that employers need to take action.

It can be hard to know where to begin with engagement tracking. So, we’ve put together a list of employee engagement KPIs to give you a frame of reference. If you want to learn more, check out our guide for HR Directors. It was written to help HR support remote staff in the pandemic, but it has a pretty comprehensive overview of what engagement is all about.

1. Pride in your work

Nothing predicts a high level of engagement like an employee who takes pride in their job. So, you should do everything you can to enable and encourage that mentality.

Check in with your people and ask them what would make them proud to work for you. Incorporate strengths-based management into your leadership style. Use OKRs to show your people how their hard work made a difference.

Granted, being proud is easier with some jobs than others. For instance, compare being a doctor to being the person who cleans nightclub toilets on a Saturday morning. One’s a lauded career path. The other is arguably the most underappreciated role in modern society.

And that’s what it’s all about. It’s so much easier to be proud of your work if you understand its impact. This means you need to make sure people feel you value their hard work. Speaking of which…

2. Feeling valued by managers and colleagues

Yeah, so what with engagement being so multifaceted and all, you’ll find some of these criteria link up and overlap in key areas. So, by fulfilling some employee engagement KPIs, you’ll naturally find it easier to build on others.

Professional pride and feelings of value are our first examples of that. People need their employers to value their time and effort. Otherwise, they’ll be driven away the same as if they hated the job itself.

For instance, you might not be paying someone what they feel they’re worth. And given current cost of living increases, that’s quite likely. So, they go and work for a competitor who offers a better salary. That’s the most literal interpretation, but people derive a sense of value from a lot of things.

One of the most effective (and cheapest) things you can do is offer recognition and visibility. Taking the time to personally congratulate someone can make a serious difference to their outlook. But what’s most effective is enabling employees to give each other recognition. As important as a manager is, you aren’t the person your staff spend the most time with. That honour goes to their fellow teammates.

3. Willingness to give discretionary effort

If context clues didn’t make it obvious, there’s no forcing discretionary effort. Fortunately, that makes it the employee engagement KPIs equivalent of a klaxon alarm. Discretionary effort is what you get when someone is totally passionate about their work.

Imagine someone having a project idea, then coming in the next morning with binders full of planning they stayed up all night working on. If you’ve ever worked with anyone like that, you’ve witnessed discretionary effort first-hand.

But it’s not just about employees running themselves into the ground for the almighty profit margin. Discretionary effort comes in many forms. Sure, on the one hand, it can look like overtime or taking on new responsibilities. But, on the other, it can mean creativity and innovation, or mentoring and supporting others.

4. Advocating for the business

Brand advocacy is like discretionary effort, in that you can’t really force people to do it. Well… you can, but it won’t have the same effect. An earnest recommendation is worth so much more than the obligatory sharing of your ads on their social media.

People trust ground-level employees more than they could ever trust the CEOs like Jeff Bezos or Elon Musk. In fact, research from Ipsos shows that only 22% of people trust business leaders. On the other hand, roughly a third actively distrust them. Employees are the happy midpoint. They see behind the scenes and know Krabby Patty secret formula. But they don’t have the same motivation to cover up the cracks.

When employees genuinely feel like they’re working for a great company, they’ll more than happily recommend it to their mates. And it’s not just about getting more customers either. Brand advocates will also recommend you as an employer, which can give you pools of talent you’d otherwise miss. And, in a time of skills shortages, that’s invaluable.

5. A sense of job satisfaction

This is one of the trickier employee engagement KPIs in the sense of how much it varies by job type. Let’s face it, some jobs just aren’t satisfying. Yet, that doesn’t make them any less necessary. But, even so, there are steps you can take to help people take satisfaction in their roles.

As with promoting pride in one’s work, strengths-based management can help here. Establishing what people are best at and finding ways to apply and develop those skills can breathe a new lease of life into someone’s work.

But, like we said, some jobs are inescapably dull. So, what do we do?

You might try upskilling someone to expand their responsibilities. A lot of young people with their first jobs in the service industry go this way. They start as pot-washers and waiting staff. Then, once they’ve proven themselves, they finally get to tend bar or move into chef work.

Another option you have is job-crafting. It’s something that’s always been going on, with or without executive approval. By leaning into it, you can give staff a measure of creative control over their roles and responsibilities. Employees finding their own ways of addressing needs in the business can be a great source of innovation.

10Pulse is the ideal engagement metric

If there’s one issue with employee engagement KPIs, it’s that they’re all very… qualitative. Typically, KPIs give you some solid facts or figures to base your decisions around. And that’s where 10Pulse comes in.

10Pulse is our AI-assisted algorithm for providing you with an engagement metric. It works with data from your team’s employee check-ins to provide ratings for the five criteria we established earlier:

  • Pride
  • Feeling valued
  • Discretionary effort
  • Employee advocacy
  • Job satisfaction

10Pulse lays out your employee engagement KPIs so you can tell at a glance which of these areas need work. You can also compare teams through 10Pulse, and even whole branches in separate locations. That way, you can get a good sense of what engagement strategies work in different situations.

But don’t forget, getting the most out of 10Pulse relies on you taking full advantage of your check-ins. It’s all about asking the right questions and SMART Goals and OKRs in the right ways. Make use of all the question types. You’re aiming for a good blend of qualitative and quantitative info. It’s important to not just ask direct engagement questions. You also have to explore the surrounding factors, especially wellbeing.