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How to measure employee engagement and get actionable insights

Last updated

15 July 2023


Dovetail Editorial Team

Reviewed by

Lara Leganger

Employee engagement is a fundamental concept that aims to quantify and describe the relationship between an employee and their employer.

You might mistake the term “employee engagement” for an employee’s happiness or satisfaction, but it actually refers to their emotional dedication to the organization and its objectives.

To fully grasp how employee engagement can help an organization thrive, it’s helpful to understand how to measure it.

Why is it important to measure employee engagement?

Having an engaged employee offers many benefits. For instance, research shows these workers provide 17% higher productivity and 21% more profitability. When employees are engaged, they stay with the company longer and work harder.

However, before working to engage employees, organizations must first understand how to measure employee engagement.

When companies measure employee engagement, they try to gain insight into what their employees truly think about the business. Feedback might include what the company does well and the areas that need change. With this information, organizations can:

  • Learn the truth about the business and identify its strengths and problem areas

  • Build trust with their employees, showing they listen to them and their concerns

  • Allow everyone to be a part of the solution and help employees understand what is happening in the company

  • Understand significant trends by team, time, and location, and even compared to other industries

How does measuring employee engagement benefit employees?

Measuring employee engagement can give an organization substantial data and benefit employees. Here are some of the advantages it brings:

  • Allowing employees to feel connected to their organization, fit in, and understand the company’s overall goals

  • Helping employees build trust with the organization and their managers, allowing them to keep growing and improving

  • Providing employees with new opportunities, as management better understands what their employees need

  • Helping employees perform at a higher level

  • Helping reduce workplace stress and burnout

How to measure employee engagement

Many factors make up employee engagement. There are certain metrics that organizations should not only understand but monitor if they want to accurately measure it.

1. Determine whether employees receive enough feedback

When managers or organizations give their employees appropriate feedback, it can help push them in the right direction and prove the company cares. This can ultimately improve employee engagement.

With constructive guidance on the areas they can improve, employees can perform at their highest level. Not only will this reduce poor-quality work, but it will also ease confusion and imposter syndrome.

2. Find out if employees feel recognized

When an organization acknowledges how its employees are doing, it can help boost overall engagement. Employees rarely feel engaged at work when their efforts go unnoticed by their co-workers or managers. Even if this lack of acknowledgment is unintentional, it can still have significant repercussions. On the other hand, when employees feel recognized, they also feel valued and are more engaged.

3. Determine whether employees are happy at work

One of the top things organizations want to know when it comes to their employees is whether or not they are happy. However, measuring this metric can be tricky. Many factors contribute to an employee’s happiness.

Organizations need to narrow down what happiness means to their employees. For instance, they might conduct a survey asking how employees would rate their happiness at work.

4. Establish whether employees get along with their peers

Employees tend to spend as much time with their workplace peers as they do with their loved ones. It may be even more in some instances. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that poor relationships between employees and colleagues can impact engagement.

Consequently, organizations should assess collaboration, communication, and respect between employees. Focusing on these relationships and asking questions to better measure them can help a company thrive.

5. Assess the relationship between employees and their managers

Peer relationships are critical when it comes to employee engagement, but a relationship with a manager is also essential.

Some data reports even suggest that 75% of employees who show low engagement levels or end up leaving their jobs do so because of leadership or their managers. That’s why organizations should keep a close eye on this metric and determine if managers are maintaining a supportive relationship with their employees.

6. See whether employees feel they have opportunities for personal growth

Feeling hopeless or like there’s no path forward from their current position is sure to make an employee feel disengaged. Employees want to feel mentally stimulated and challenged. They want a clear idea of where they are heading within the organization and what their managers expect of them.

For these reasons, companies should find ways to detect early signs of dwindling personal growth. They might do so by conducting surveys asking how workers feel about their position and whether they feel their work contributes to the company’s overall success.

7. Determine whether employees feel aligned with the organization

Alignment with the company’s mission, vision, and values is another metric that can help organizations measure employee engagement.

When an employee understands the organization’s purpose and where it’s headed, in addition to their role in helping the organization reach its objectives, they will likely feel more productive and enjoy their job.

8. Find out if employees are satisfied with their work

Helping employees feel satisfied with their roles within the company is one of the quickest ways to engage them. More importantly, companies can make quick changes that help prevent issues from occurring and losing good employees to dissatisfaction by tracking how their employees feel.

Here are some questions that can help an organization measure employee satisfaction:

  • Do you feel you are fairly paid for your role compared to other similar roles within the company?

  • Do you feel you have the support you need in your job?

  • Are your responsibilities clear?

9. Determine how employees feel about their mental health

More than ever, employees are prioritizing their wellness and health. Gone are the days of putting up with high-stress environments and hustle culture. Organizations must flag overwhelming workloads and talk to their employees openly about their wellness and how they are doing. Surveys can help companies keep track of employees’ well-being and stress levels throughout the year.

10. Find out if employees are ambassadors

While any organization wants happy employees, having them advocate for their organization and everything it offers is a whole other ballgame.

Measuring ambassadorship can help an organization divide employees into different categories: neutrals, promoters, and detractors. From there, it can evaluate employee experience by group to measure overall engagement and determine which gaps it can fill.

How not to measure engagement

Surveys are a great way to measure employee engagement, but you’ll need to run these surveys properly with the appropriate tools and processes. Measuring engagement incorrectly can lead to skewed results and wrong answers that do more harm than good.

For these reasons, it’s a good idea to avoid the following:

Don’t exclusively use pulse surveys

Short, frequent pulse surveys are a great way to keep track of a team. These surveys usually consist of a few questions on various metrics, and the organization will review these answers to help them measure employee engagement.

However, pulse surveys won’t provide a complete picture of what’s happening across the whole organization. Using annual engagement surveys in addition to pulse surveys is a good idea to reveal big-picture insights.

Don’t survey a sample population

Companies sometimes survey a sample population to prevent survey fatigue. However, this isn’t the best tactic and isn’t recommended.

Excluding employees from a survey can skew results and defeat the whole purpose of measuring employee engagement (to show each employee they matter to the organization).

Don’t just focus on quantitative results

Engagement results can offer organizations a lot of information they can use to improve the company. However, just focusing on quantitative results can end up derailing goals and affecting employee engagement.

Companies must also look at employee feedback and opinions when measuring employee engagement. This will usually provide the details they need to get ahead.

Don’t roll out a “satisfaction” survey

A “satisfaction survey” might not actually measure what the organization wants to know. A survey that just measures an employee’s opinions won’t measure the essential metrics that can help a company assess whether they are on the right track with their overall engagement. Furthermore, this kind of survey won’t provide the company with intel on how to fix damaging issues.

Don’t just rely on surveys to improve engagement

Surveying employees is only the first step in improving employee engagement. Other tools and methods are needed for an organization to achieve its desired results.

For example, after employees participate in a survey, the organization will need to analyze the results. Managers will need to take action to create habits that will drive employee engagement.

Ways to track employee engagement metrics

The following surveys and non-survey techniques are some of the more common ways for organizations to track employee engagement metrics:

  • Annual engagement surveys: these are used to provide broader business initiatives and strategies to prepare for the following year.

  • Pulse surveys: these are short surveys that help measure employee engagement at any given time.

  • eNPS surveys: the employee net promoter score (eNPS) survey helps show an employee’s loyalty to the company. It involves measuring on a scale of 0 to 10 how likely they are to recommend the organization as a good workplace.

  • One-on-one meetings: these meetings involve conversations that focus on the 10 metrics of engagement.

  • Stay interviews: these interviews involve a manager asking an employee who is happy at work what makes them want to stay.

  • Exit interviews: these interviews can provide a company insight into what they can do to improve employee engagement.

  • Employee turnover rate: an employee turnover rate provides a percentage of people who have left the company during a specific period. A high turnover rate suggests engagement is low and that the organization needs to do something about it.

Next steps after measuring employee engagement

After the company has measured employee engagement, they need to take action to improve it. These steps usually depend on the company and what they want to achieve. Here are some of the more critical steps:

  • Communicating the results to employees

  • Selecting one or two things to improve based on the results

  • Continuously following up with employees and repeating the process

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