How some leading companies measure employee engagement, retention & organisational culture 📐

The 2017 Hi5 Employee Engagement Survey has delivered plenty of insights into the employee engagement landscape.

The survey saw over 80 companies respond from various sectors, such as:

  • Banking & Financial Services.
  • ICT & Tech.
  • Industrial & Manufacturing.
  • Retail, FMCG & Hospitality.
  • BPO & Contact-Centres.
  • Business to Business (B2B) services.
  • Publishing, PR & Marketing.
  • Healthcare & Pharmaceuticals.
  • Public Sector & Education.

The companies had staff ranges from 50–50,000 employees, including participation from as far and wide as South Africa, USA, UK, Namibia and India.

You can view the results here, but we’ve also prepared a downloadable PDF 📎 for your convenience at the end of this article, outlining a selection of findings.

Thanks to all the companies that participated. 🙌

Check it out below 👇


Section 1: How do you define ‘Employee Engagement’ ?

1. Employees feel obliged to work hard in their job for the employer.

Most employers believe that it’s somewhat true that the reason their employees work hard at their job is because they feel obliged to do so for the employer.


2. Employees feel that the company cares about their career, development and needs.

The employers also believe that their employees feel that the company cares about their personal happiness and growth in their job. From this data we can see that, although it might be true that the company does care from the employers’ perspective, it might not be the experience of the employees themselves — they might need this to be communicated and illustrated visually (i.e. ‘make it real’).


3. Employees feel happy and/or satisfied in their work and at the company.

Most employees are believed to be happy in their job. Nowadays, employers are increasingly looking into how to gauge employee happiness and engagement in the workplace, through various tools and software available on the market.


4. Employees believe that their work is meaningful.

This is a big one — believing that what one spends 8 hours a day pouring your energy into has meaning, is probably the most important key to employee happiness. From our survey, it’s clear that most employers are convinced that their staff feel their work is meaningful.


5. Employees understand how their work contributes to the company and its results.

The majority of the employers who participated in the survey feel that their employees have an understanding of how they contribute to the company and its output.


6. Employees understand the vision, mission and values of the organisation.

Across the surveyed companies, it is believed that their vision, mission and values have been communicated to and understood by their staff members.


7. Employees operate in an organisation that they know is committed to transparency and consistency.

It is believed to be mostly true that the employees of the surveyed companies know that their company is committed to transparency and consistency, although it is notable that almost 20% of the employers thought it was only somewhat/less true.


8. Employees feel free to experiment, innovate and/or provide feedback on how improve the organisation and its culture.

Sixty percent of the employers believe it’s mostly true that their employees feel free to experiment, innovate and/or provide feedback on the organisation and its culture.


9. Employees like and/or respect their direct line manager.

It is considered to be mostly true that employees like and/or respect their direct line managers. Why is this important to know? Many times a manager could be the reason an employee does not thrive and eventually leaves the company.


10. Employees fear their employer and/or their line manager, as well as fearing the consequences of not delivering in their work.

Overwhelmingly, the employers think it’s unlikely that their employees fear them, their line managers or the consequences of not delivering their work.


11. Do you believe that a “happy employee” is a more “engaged employee”?

Hands down, employers acknowledge that a happy employee is a more engaged employee. Why is employee engagement important? Have a look at our previous article on why Engagement is so important in the workplace.


12. If ‘Yes’ why do you believe this? If ‘No’ why don’t you believe this?

Here is a summary of the top reasons given by employers:

  • Happy employees will always be committed to their contribution and role within a business, be creative, innovative, energetic and productive, and will commit to any organisation for a long time if they are happy.
  • If an employee is happy with what they are doing (they find it meaningful) and how they are being treated overall (e.g. great boss, great salary, freedom of speech, transparency, etc.), then they are more likely to be engaged.
  • Happy employees want to serve the company and make all successful.
  • Happy employees are a product of challenging work, strong leaders and a connection to the business and therefore are more engaged.
  • Happy employees motivate themselves to do better, work harder and give better results.
  • Happy employees engage and share innovation, ideas and recommendations.
  • A happy employee will stay longer and open themselves up to growth and new opportunities within the business.
  • In order for an employee to be emotionally vested in their job and in the company, they need a sense of belonging and a sense of buy in. This in turn results in an engaged employee. An employee that is going to deliver above and beyond the “call of duty.”
  • Happiness leads to a bigger investment, unhappiness often results in isolation and non-participation.
  • Happy employees feel valued, important and part of decision making.
  • It’s the basic principles of Maslow’s Hierachy — if people feel like they have safety in their income, a great working environment, honest relationships in the workplace then they would be able to enjoy work without fear of loss or lack.
  • People who are happy tend to brush off conflict, are more relaxed and easier to get along with.
  • If an employee is happy they then enjoy what they are doing and feel stimulated to be more engaged and aligned with the company culture.
  • A happy environment with mutual respect all the way from senior management creates loyalty from employees. That loyalty in turn encourages employees to be more engaged and dedicated.
  • I believe people who want to do something because they understand what difference it makes are more effective and efficient that people who are being forced to deliver something they don’t understand or what part the deliverable has in the bigger picture.

13. Do you believe that measuring employee “happiness” is a useful indicator of “employee engagement” in your organisation ?

The general consensus is that if employee happiness can be measured, it will be a good indicator to the employers of how engaged their employees are in the workplace. Some of the employers do however believe that this is not necessarily the case.


14. Do you track and measure “employee happiness” in your organisation?

Less than half of the companies have some way of measuring employee happiness in their organisation.


15. If ‘Yes’, then what tools, software products or methodology do you use to track and measure “employee happiness” &/or “employee engagement”?

Of the tools, software or methodologies used by companies to measure their employees’ happiness/engagement, it seems surveys are most often employed.


16. Who is responsible for managing and measuring “employee engagement” and/or “employee happiness” at your organisation?

Managing and measuring employee engagement/happiness most often befalls the line managers and HR managers, although there is slight participation from other departments and even the Directors themselves.


17. Do you believe that there is a correlation between “happy” and/or “engaged” employees in regard to better employee retention at an organisation?

It is undeniable that engaged employees stay at a company for longer.


Section 2: Employee Retention


18. Is employee retention something that concerns you and your organisation?

Most of the companies surveyed are concerned with employee retention and are therefore more likely to look for ways to improve this.


19. Does your organisation track or measure your employee attrition?

Most companies track their employee attrition (reduction in staff by normal means such as retirement or resignation), although it is notable that over 20% of the surveyed companies don’t do this (8% of which answered that employee retention is a concern for them)— see the next question for some insight on this.


20. What is your organisation’s average employee attrition per annum?

Overall, employee attrition is quite low, but most of the companies are unsure of the percentage of employees that leave their company each year! This is interesting in terms of how the employers have answered in the previous questions concerning employee engagement/happiness, having mostly no idea how many of their staff members move from the company. To get a detailed view of how this is varied across industries, download our whitepaper PDF below. 👇


21. Who is responsible for tracking, measuring and reporting on employee attrition in your organisation?

As with the measurement of employee engagement/happiness (Q. 16), tracking, measuring and reporting on employee attrition is mostly done by line managers and HR managers, but in this case less than 10% of line managers are responsible for this task across the board.


Section 3: Employee Recognition, Feedback & Performance Reviews


23. Does your organisation provide employees with formal and/or informal feedback and performance reviews?

Performance feedback and reviews are being done in some form or another in 99% of the companies surveyed. When compared to the employee attrition percentages and the tools, software and methodologies used to measure engagement/happiness, this could be a great insight into the effectiveness of how the feedback and reviews are currently being employed.


24. How frequently does your organisation provide employees with formal and/or informal feedback and performance reviews?

Most often, the companies do their employee feedback and performance reviews in quarterly or monthly cycles.


25. Who is responsible for tracking, measuring and reporting on “employee feedback” and “performance reviews” in your organisation?

As with Q. 16 and Q. 21, line managers and HR managers are mostly responsible for what needs to be done with regards to employee feedback and performance reviews, but in this case the line managers most often deal with these.


26. Does your organisation use any software and/or apps to communicate and manage employee feedback and performance reviews?

Only about half of the companies make use of digital technology like software and apps to manage employee feedback and performance reviews. This is fascinating, as most people already have mobile phones that they check about 150 times a day, and/or computers form part of their daily routine.


27. What tools, software products, and/or methodology does your organisation use to track and measure “employee feedback” &/or “employee performance reviews”?

As per Q. 15, of the companies that do make use of some kind of technology to measure employee feedback and reviews, it seems as though surveys are the most popular approach.


28. Do you believe that your organisation’s systems and processes for “employee feedback” and “performance reviews” are effective?

Surprisingly, almost half of the employers believe that the systems they have in place for measuring employee feedback and performance reviews is not effective.


29. Why do you believe this?

Here is a summary of the top reasons given by employers:

  • Because they don’t use it.
  • Because they could be better.
  • Major room for improvement, and more could be done to let line managers play a supporting and critical part in this.
  • Need to link better to employee development and career pipelines.
  • Performance reviews is not seen as important to top management.
  • It doesn’t exist and I doubt if it will get read if it ever does get launched.
  • They can be, but the system itself is cumbersome and not the most user-friendly.
  • Performance management has changed. More regular feedback is required.
  • They are not always used consistently.
  • We do not have a system that tracks it.
  • Data not used properly. Performance reviews are just seen as something we do to review salaries.
  • We would like it to be more strategically aligned and trends managed more effectively.
  • Too time consuming.
  • They are outdated in methodology and not supported by technology enablers.
  • Performance reviews are always looking back and not usually focused enough on moving onward and upward.
  • Our performance reviews are manual — system-generated would allow for performance reviews to be done without the hassle of paperwork.
  • High staff turnover, inconsistent line manager leadership styles, inability to execute the vision.
  • Open and honest feedback has seldom been given with line managers and HR preferring to rely on gossip and discussions which are done later.
  • Where it is applied correctly it works well.
  • I believe the systems and processes are effective but the uptake from Line Managers is more of the challenge.
  • Simpler, easier options should be available.
  • Our staff are located on client site.

Section 4: Employee Engagement & Organisational Culture Surveys


30. Does your organisation conduct employee engagement and/or organisational culture surveys?

The majority of companies conduct surveys to measure their culture.


31. If No, why?

Here is a summary of the top reasons given by employers:

  • Understaffed.
  • We don’t have culture.
  • No idea. I know there was a big drive three years ago though but then it stopped.
  • I guess they don’t feel the need to.
  • Budget constraints.
  • We have a “culture club” committee.
  • We just haven’t as of yet. There is also a huge problem with getting the Senior Management/Executive Level within the company to buy into these sorts of initiatives as resources are often geared towards other areas within the company.
  • We used to in the past when our numbers were much smaller, but with our ever-increasing numbers it is very hard to keep track.
  • These have not been done yet and the greatest challenge is making sure that they are not done internally as the company provides such surveys to their clients.

32. How frequently does your organisation conduct employee engagement and/or organisational culture surveys?

Two contrasts are drawn up in these results, with “Annually” being the most frequent answer and “Never” being the second. Only about 7% of companies run monthly surveys to measure their culture real-time.


33. Do you believe that your organisation’s employee engagement and/or organisational culture surveys are effective?

Of the companies that do employ employee engagement and culture measurement surveys, most of their employers believe that these surveys are effective.


34. Why do you believe this?

Here is a summary of the top reasons given by employers:

  • Can see shifts in behaviour.
  • We believe so as our response rate is always between 75–80%.
  • The response is always positive when discussions are entered into.
  • I have experienced them at previous companies and great changes have been made in favour of employees post surveys.
  • We know and understand their needs and respond to suggestions and requests.
  • The surveys are outsourced and anonymous.
  • We receive valuable feedback.
  • Validated; Exec takes it very seriously.
  • It is tried and tested and based on sound models.
  • They inform HR strategy and highlight areas where intervention is required.
  • To obtain pulse on engagement.
  • Participation and engagement levels increase year on year (with dedicated drives for feedback and improvement between surveys).
  • The feedback and outcomes are shared with all employees and this forms the basis of the operational people plan.
  • Comprehensive and detailed feedback with suggestions for action plans.
  • Because we use the time in between to address the causes of disengagement.
  • They are well thought out, promoted, actioned upon and understood.
  • Because our employee satisfaction index proves this along with our retention.
  • We have gained a lot of insight into our culture from these surveys but they could be improved.
  • They are effective when they are administered, we need to do this more often in a more lightweight way.
  • Low attrition rate.

35. Does your organisation use any software and/or apps or an external provider to conduct your employee engagement and/or organisational culture surveys?

Most of the companies source some kind of external provider to conduct the employee engagement and culture surveys.


36. If ‘Yes’, then what tools, software products, external providers or methodology does your organisation use to conduct employee engagement and/or organisational culture surveys?

Again, surveys seem to be the most used method of obtaining this data.


Section 5: Strategy — Employee Engagement & Recognition


37. Does your organisation have a strategy for employee engagement and retention?

Considering that 13% of employers answered they are not concerned about their company’s employee engagement and retention (Q. 18), with 8% more admitting that they are not keeping track of their employee attrition (Q. 19), a further 7% of employers said that their company does not even have a strategy in place for employee engagement and retention.


38. If ‘No’, then please briefly provide reason for this below:

Here is a summary of the top reasons given by employers:

  • Excessive.
  • No resources.
  • Quarterly reviews are the only method to give feedback.
  • Do not feel the need to.
  • Needs attention.
  • Understaffed.
  • Building the capability.
  • It has never been necessary.
  • Reactive. Ineffective HR dept.
  • I am not aware of a proper engagement and retention plan. This might be something more senior management is aware of.

39. Does your organisation have a strategy for employee recognition, rewards and performance reviews?

Most of the companies have a strategy for recognition and rewards in place.


40. If ‘No’, then please briefly provide reason for this below:

Here is a summary of the top reasons given by employers:

  • No resources available.
  • Future build.
  • Small company with not much structure for these things
  • It has never been necessary.
  • They have never thought about this.
  • Positively influence the bottom line.

41. Does your organisation have a strategy for developing and maintaining a strong organisational culture?

Most companies are aware of the importance of a strong organisational culture and have put a strategy in place to develop and maintain their company culture.


42. If ‘No’, then please briefly provide reason for this below:

Here is a summary of the top reasons given by employers:

  • This is a challenge for us and thus it continues to be work in progress.
  • No resources available.
  • We have values but few people truly live it.
  • Culture has dipped lately due to influx and outflow of personnel.
  • Guess the culture happens naturally.
  • Early stage company — working on this.
  • Focus area.
  • We unfortunately don’t at this stage. This is a prospect for the future.
  • They don’t know how to.
  • Not anything official, but we have regular discussion on the way forward.

43. Who is responsible for your organisation’s employee engagement and retention strategy?

HR managers and line managers are most often responsible for their company’s employee engagement and retention strategies.


44. Who is responsible for your organisation’s cultural strategy?

Although most often it is the HR managers and line managers who take responsibility for their company’s cultural strategy, it is also notable that Exco’s (Executive Committees) play a considerable role here.


Conclusion

This survey brings together data surrounding some pertinent questions in the HR field at the moment and provides valuable insights into how leaders think about their organisations and what trends are happening in their companies’ behaviour. Employee retention is a major concern for most leaders, and there is a clear understanding that a happy employee is more likely to be a engaged employee — who will stay at the company for longer. However with that said, less than 50% of companies measure employee happiness, yet most companies (78%) will measure attrition. Attrition could be reduced if they continuously measure their employees’ happiness and engagement to increase productivity, innovation and creativity, which in turn leads to growth and retention.


If you would like to get the full report, click on the below to download the PDF.

If you would like to use Hi5 to improve and measure Employee Engagement, Culture and Appreciation. Click Here to try for Free. 👈

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Thanks 🙌