How to empower managers to truly engage their teams through data
Maintaining an engaged workforce is an effective way to improve talent retention levels and increase productivity. Discover how data can empower managers and bring teams together.
If you want to survive and thrive in today’s ultra-competitive talent market, you have to be thinking in a more structured way about what your team feels.
There is plenty of evidence showing that if you look after your staff, they’ll stay, and it’s even directly helpful to the bottom line: researchers at the University of Kansas found that for each 1-star increase in a company’s rating on Glassdoor, the employer gets a 7.9% average jump in market value.
Public companies within the top quartile of employee engagement scores achieved 42% higher 52-week change in stock value.
While a study of one million employee ratings on the same job site shows that employers who experience improvements in their Glassdoor ratings significantly outperform rivals with declining ratings.
Research at Glint backs this up: public companies within the top quartile of employee engagement scores achieved 42% higher 52-week change in stock value over companies in the bottom quartile.
So it’s clear that employee engagement is linked to business success. High Glassdoor ratings are correlated with business outperformance, while organisations in the top quartile of Glint scores have, on average, 35% higher Glassdoor ratings (4.2 vs 3.1) than those in the bottom quartile.
CEO approval ratings of organisations in the top quartile are, in addition, 27 percentage points higher (93% vs 66%) than those in the bottom quartile - securing a very high 87% ‘Recommendation’ rating among employees.
Organisations are not empowering managers
Invariably, those high scores track employees’ perception that their employer cares about what they have to say and is working hard to respond to their needs. This in turn delivers mutual benefits.
Highly engaged employees like where they work, so work harder and more creatively, driving higher overall productivity and company success. So what’s going wrong with employee engagement efforts, and why aren’t they delivering enough value to employers?
We believe, based on what our customers are telling us, that we need more leadership buy-in beyond HR. That’s to say, more managers outside HR, including line of business (but also at the C-Suite level), need to participate more actively in supporting employee engagement.
This is not happening enough, and if it is, it’s not taking place in a consistent enough way. Unfortunately, much of the ownership and accountability for employee satisfaction has ended up in HR. That’s not going to be adequate any more.
More managers outside HR...need to participate more actively in supporting employee engagement.
Why? The data managers need to do this job as isn’t being shared properly. Most organisations do not empower their managers with this information, which doesn’t make good business sense, because the data shows that when managers are empowered and can take action on feedback, their teams experience significant improvements in engagement within just one quarter.
In our organisation we see engagement scores improve by 7 points within three months where managers created an action (relative to the average manager in the same organisation).
So, what is an action plan in this context? It’s what happens when employees say something that’s recorded and acknowledged, and a concrete commitment is made to address any issues raised and the manager then takes actions against those issues.
That process starts in most cases with an overhaul of the way employee sentiment is captured in the first place. Surveying has too often meant an annual process with long sets of non-targeted questions. There is no facility for capturing unstructured comments (which is where the real insights often lie) and it takes weeks/months to process.
The results are never timely or especially useful. By contrast, an AI-powered modern software platform can help provide the timely rich insights required.
Action on feedback boosts engagement levels
Our data shows that when team members believe action will be taken as a result of their feedback, they are eight times more likely to say they are engaged, compared to when they believe action will not be taken.
Let’s consider some relevant real-world customer examples of what happens when managers outside of HR are empowered in this way.
At email management specialist Mimecast, while engagement has always been important to Mimecast managers, they previously cobbled together employee feedback in an ad-hoc fashion through various channels, including focus groups, adding up to additional work, time, and deadlines to hit.
With modern employee engagement solutions, managers now receive their team’s results in real time, pre-analysed to surface hot topics, trends and areas of opportunity.
With the Action Planning system, managers can quickly understand challenges and create a robust plan to address them: employees feel that their voices are being heard as they see progress being made against action items.
Our data shows that when team members believe action will be taken as a result of their feedback, they are eight times more likely to say they are engaged.
The engagement platform has given managers the insight that employees were feeling disconnected from the strategic vision for the business. With this insight, the leadership team doubled down on communication. On subsequent surveys, employees have expressed a stronger sense of connection to the business’s goals.
In addition, a special new company-specific ‘Career Competency Model’ has been developed that enables its managers to help their teams manage their own career paths; the model was created almost exclusively from insights yielded from its new, high-frequency team surveys.
Another example is the broadcaster Sky, which has stopped using outdated ways of capturing employee engagement levels and is improving its performance management stats.
It replaced its old annual, 45-question, top-down cascaded results process with bi-annual surveys which have just 19 questions and include a real-time dashboard for managers to quickly explore results.
As a consequence, the conversation at Sky about engagement is now year-round, leading to changes in manager empowerment, while its CEO has stated that business managers now have the power in their hands to change the company with this data.
Finally, at a recent presentation at People Analytics & Future Of Work (PAFOW), the head of People Strategy & Analytics at financial services and outsourcing leader FIS, Isabel Naidoo, said when using modern employee engagement solutions, the real pay-off is that great employee engagement insights are in the hands of the manager immediately.
It gives real visibility of the data you need to inform decision-making, as well as linking the manager straight through into what action they need to take.
A problem, Isabel Naidoo added, is often one of: “There’s so much we could do, but how do we pick the things that we need to focus on?”. The good news is that this platformallowed FIS to identify one or two issues that are the real important drivers of engagement to fully take action on them.
FIS also found that people who worked in teams where their managers gave them more feedback were 35% more likely to stay with the company.
These are just a few compelling examples of how a new approach to employee engagement can bring managers and teams together, which means employees feel that their voices are being heard, thus delivering a happier and more profitable workplace for all stakeholders and team members.