HR leaders know that engaged and happy employees are better for their organization. Yet, employee engagement is not always considered a top indicator of organizational performance. Nor is it thought of as a key performance indicator (KPI) for the entire organization.
The value of organizational employee engagement programs isn’t always clear. Employers typically want to have happy employees, but some might be skeptical about whether those employees are more productive or provide return on your engagement investment.
In order to prove value, HR leaders should connect their employee engagement initiatives to outcomes and metrics that are valued by the organization.
In this blog, we’ll uncover the importance of connecting engagement and performance data including:
If you are able to surface key metrics that your leadership team cares about, you can build engagement champions at every level of the organization. And proving the connection between key metrics and employee engagement will move your employee listening strategy from an HR initiative to an integrated approach.
Yet, new research by Harvard Business Review Analytic Services reports a lack of consistency in the use of tools to assess employee performance. Only 45% of respondents said their organizations use consistent tools across their business. And less than a third incorporate metrics to identify high performance in individual employees based on their role.
The more closely you tie engagement and performance outcomes, the easier it will be to demonstrate the impact on organizational KPIs. When performance is measured and discussed continuously, it builds engagement. And when engagement is monitored continuously, it motivates performance.
“We build our performance programs by listening to the feedback and themes gathered through our annual engagement survey and other feedback tools, and creating action plans to support improvement. We’ve identified a direct link between employee performance and engagement.” - Julie Cummings, Managing Director and CHRO at BKD CPAs & Advisors
To begin connecting engagement and performance, you need to identify KPIs that matter to your organization. You can track key performance metrics at the individual employee level or at an aggregated level by team, department, or location.
It's often helpful to think about performance data at different levels of analysis. Some performance data is best kept at an individual level, while others might be best tracked at the team, department or location level.
KPIs vary by industry and job role. Here are some KPIs to use as a starting point for your organization—broken out by function:
The goal in connecting your employee engagement and performance data is not only to prove the value of your employee listening strategy. It also helps HR leaders learn from what high performers need and what interventions can help move the bar on performance to replicate those high performers.
Connecting organizational KPIs to your employee engagement survey results can help you answer the following questions:
By exploring these questions, HR leaders can start to evaluate the effectiveness of their policies, programs, and interventions. They can refine their approach and help other leaders across the organization create evidence-based interventions to boost the performance of their teams.
One difficulty your team might face in determining KPIs is honing in on the metrics and stories that provide the most value to the organization. Some of these metrics might be more universal and obvious such as profitability or stock price. Other key metrics may only apply to certain industries, roles, or departments.
To identify which metrics matter most, HR leaders should first review the current organizational strategic plan and initiatives. These plans and goals often represent the metrics and outcomes that are most critical to organizational success.
HR leaders can also identify KPIs by speaking to other organization leaders and asking:
After you've identified the meaningful metrics and KPIs you plan to track, you'll need to gain access to the right data. This can be challenging to gather and confirm whether the data even exists. It's important to identify KPIs that are:
Tracking down performance data often requires collaborating with different departments or business units. These could include:
These team members are often the best sources of information about tracking metrics and gaining access to this data.
Many leaders naturally see the value of having engaged and productive employees. Others may be skeptical and wonder if it's worth the effort, or if they can even improve their team’s engagement. If you’re someone who needs convincing, consider how data can not only help you show key organizational metrics that can be improved through employee engagement, but also how each leader can get their teams there.
This can only happen if HR professionals are speaking the performance language of the rest of the organization. Learn how to connect the work of HR to the work of the rest of the organization in our ebook on the Proving the Business Impact of Employee Engagement.