Which metrics indicate a decrease in employee engagement?

Which metrics indicate a decrease in employee engagement
I have written about employee engagement in the past, and how pay is only one component of what motivates employees and drives them to greater discretionary effort… and therefore greater results for the organisation.
It is actually easier to identify signs of decrease in employee engagement than to track positive KPIs of engagement (unless you’re starting from a very low point, in which case a positive trend is relatively simple to spot).
Here is a quick checklist of signs of lower engagement, expanded from a slide that was part of the “Design a recognition and retention scheme” one-day workshop I delivered at the IIRME Compensation Forum in June.

Hard metrics indicating a potential decrease in employee engagement

These are the easy ones to check from a central point of view, for HR to monitor and investigate if needed.
When employees are not motivated and engaged, you are more likely to see the following :
  • Increase in number of sick days
  • Increase in number of employee grievances
  • Increase in requests for transfers / internal mobility
  • Increase in leave requests including unpaid leave / sabbaticals
  • Decrease in number of hours worked (people don’t stay late or arrive early as before)
  • Decrease in productivity
  • Growing unwanted attrition where you lose people you’d like to retain

The lack of employee engagement will also be clearly expressed in specialised employee surveys if you run them.

Soft or qualitative indicators of lower employee engagement

Beyond the hard indicators, there are other signs that managers can report to you when sensing that engagement is going down, or that you can witness yourself especially if you are in relatively close contact with the team.
You can get reports of :
  • Decreased focus on delivery and deliverables – deadlines are increasingly being missed
  • Low morale, employees don’t participate in social activities (“who cares”” attitude)
  • Increase in number of conflicts
  • Lack of cooperation between teams
  • Change in team atmosphere/”buzz”, employees don’t smile anymore

The next step

Of course, the first thing is to confirm the facts. If only one factor is showing, it may not necessarily be a sure sign that employee engagement is negatively impacted in a durable manner.

You also need to identify the demographics of the disengaged population to see if your engagement issue is specific to one department or division or whether the issue is more widespread. Are specific nationalities affected more than others ? Does gender play a role ? Are certain job levels more prone with this lower engagement ?

Only after establishing the actual extent of the situation will you be able to start thinking of solutions in order to establish healthier levels of engagement.

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