While there are many notable exceptions, employee engagement remains a trouble spot for numerous organizations worldwide. In such a competitive landscape, with both private and public sector employers battling for top talent, this would seem to be surprising, at least on the surface. Why would an area of workforce management that is recognized as so important and so critical to organizational success be either neglected or continually falling short of success by so many businesses and government agencies, where engagement is also mired in problems?
Part of the answer may lie in another current shortcoming within the human capital world – the use of people analytics. While some organizations are seeing the benefits of utilizing data for improvements throughout the organization, they are generally the exception, as analytics struggles to get off the ground in many companies, government agencies and other large public institutions.
It might be logical to think of employee engagement and people analytics as two separate and unrelated silos. After all, engagement is a workplace approach designed to ensure that employees are committed to an organization’s goals, values and mission, as well ensure employees are generally happy with their work and feel good about their efforts and contributions. A fully engaged employee is one that is generally enthusiastic in his or her work and excited to contribute to the organization’s success. This is typically led by engaged leaders who are in tune not only with the organization’s needs, but their employees’ needs as well. It all seems tied to soft skills, so called “people” skills.
The benefits of improved employee engagement, which regularly reveal that organizations with higher employee engagement outperform those organizations with poorer engagement, certainly can be realized with better communication throughout the organization. That communication is needed, as is communication that assists employees with aligning their goals with an organization’s goals. Communicative, engaged and well-trained leaders are also necessary.
But all those characteristics of a high-performing organization are not enough.
Since engagement deals so much with open communication and “soft” skills, what’s that have to do with data and analytics?
Analytics provides insight into employee engagement and answers to questions that can help improve engagement, retention and leadership, which are all part of the big engagement picture. The larger teams become and the larger the organizations are, the harder it is to truly understand what is going on within the organization. Sure, there is anecdotal evidence and the “gut” feelings of how engaged a particular employee or team is, how engaged a manager is and why the retention rate is acceptable or not.
But without data to back up the assumptions and beliefs, it’s merely speculation. And if an organization is running on speculation, it’s going to be hard to achieve a high level of insight into the all-important category of employee engagement. It then follows that the organization will struggle to be a top performer in its class.
What information can be gleaned and what insight can be realized from data and people analytics to help improve high employee engagement?
Here’s just a small sample:
The number of questions that can be answered by analytics is virtually endless. And the answers can provide the necessary insight to help direct an organization to pay more or less attention to particular areas that can have the highest or most immediate impact.
Soft people skills and hard data – the perfect match.