Employee engagement metrics: how and what to measure to prove ROI 

Lack of resources, stagnant budgets, under-appreciation from senior leadership… Are these common issues for your internal communications team? 

Without top-down support, your communicators will find it difficult to implement impactful engagement initiatives. Yet, without making these improvements and demonstrating the value of your job function, executives will continue to withhold resources. 

It’s a lose-lose situation, and only you have the power to break it. The question is: how

The answer lies in your employee engagement data. By measuring the current performance of your workforce and tying these insights to your internal comms strategy, you can highlight successful initiatives and identify areas that require more resources. This, in turn, will help you prove ROI to your stakeholders. 

In this article, we’ll explain why it’s important to monitor engagement levels, what metrics you should track, and how you can track them.

Why you should monitor employee engagement levels

Imagine you’re watching an Olympic race. The crowd’s humming with anticipation; the commentator’s waiting with bated breath. The gun fires and the athletes sprint into action. 

But there’s one runner lagging behind… 

Unlike their competitors, this runner didn’t put in the training. They couldn’t even muster the energy to stretch their muscles beforehand. Are they going to win the race or break any records? Probably not. 

Like anything in life, you can only achieve your best results when you’re truly engaged with the task at hand. The same goes for your employees.

Engaged employees are motivated members of your business. They align with your overarching strategy and goals, invest in your vision, and work well with others. Because of this, they can have a significant positive impact on your business. 

In fact, according to Gallup’s State of the Global Workforce report, highly engaged business units can increase profits by 23%. They can also contribute to a: 

  • 78% reduction in absenteeism 
  • 21% reduction in turnover 
  • 68% increase in employee wellbeing
  • 10% increase in customer loyalty

Ultimately, motivated employees are less likely to make mistakes and more likely to achieve great successes. 

Of course, you can only take proactive measures to increase employee engagement when you know what their engagement levels are. This is where employee metrics come into play. 

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What are employee engagement metrics?

Employee engagement metrics are quantifiable indicators that measure how happy, motivated and productive your workers are. 

As employee engagement is a significant indicator of success for internal communications teams, you’ll need to closely tie these metrics to your departmental strategies. You’ll also want to feature them in any stakeholder-facing reports. 

23 employee engagement metrics to track to prove ROI to leadership

Let’s first refer to Gallagher’s Internal Communications State of the Sector report. The report surveys communicators across the globe and acts as a good starting point for any internal comms team. 

In the latest edition, the top success metrics communicators are held accountable for are:

  1. Strategy awareness (70%)
  2. Behaviour change (49%)
  3. Digital reach (46%)
  4. Policy compliance (34%)
  5. Learning and development participation (26%)
  6. Employee retention (24%)
  7. Employee advocacy (21%)
  8. Internal mobility (10%)
  9. Candidate attraction (9%)

Of course, these benchmarks are broad in focus. To really understand whether your employees are engaged or disengaged, you’ll need to analyse more granular data sets, such as:  

  1. Employee Net Promoter Scores (eNPS)
  2. Work-life balance rates
  3. Peer recognition and collaboration
  4. Alignment with team objectives and key results (OKRs)
  5. Engagement survey participation rate
  6. Uptake and popularity of employee perks
  7. One-to-one meetings and team engagement
  8. Absenteeism levels and sickness days
  9. Voluntary employee turnover rate
  10. Employee satisfaction (ESAT) scores
  11. Employee performance, productivity, and workload balance
  12. Glassdoor and employer review site ratings
  13. Burnout and stress rates
  14. Utrecht work engagement scale

How to measure employee engagement: 8 internal comms tactics

Knowing what metrics you’re going to track is only half the battle. Now, you need to determine where and how you’ll track them

Here are just some of the methods you could implement: 

1. Employee surveys

Annual (or biannual) employee surveys provide a great foundation for measuring and understanding employee engagement levels. This is because they collect quantitative and qualitative data: 

  • Quantitative questions (e.g. ‘How motivated do you feel on a scale of 1-10?’) give you concrete numbers that are perfect for generating graphics and reports
  • Qualitative questions (e.g. ‘What could your line manager do to make you feel more supported in your role?’) provide additional context to help you pinpoint and resolve specific engagement issues

You can also tweak these surveys to generate an eNPS rating, too. This involves asking employees how likely they are to recommend your company to their friends, family, and work connections. 

2. Discussion groups

Employee discussion groups focus on one or two predetermined topics. These topics are usually chosen based on the results of your employee surveys. 

You can choose to run these groups either face-to-face or in a text-based discussion room. No matter which option you choose, try to create a judgement-free and psychologically safe atmosphere. It’s important to actively listen to your employees and show that you value their expertise, experience, and opinions. Only then can you gain honest feedback that can help you improve the overall employee experience.

3. Anonymous Q&As

Employees are 74% more likely to provide feedback about their company, job, and engagement levels if they can remain completely anonymous. 

Anonymous questionnaires and forums – such as Glassdoor’s ‘Community Bowls’ or Claromentis’s anonymous polls and surveys – not only encourage more employees to share their opinions, but can also increase the truthfulness of your data. And, with more honest feedback at your disposal, you can push for more relevant and impactful engagement initiatives. 

4. Team one-to-ones

Line managers are a fundamental piece of the employee engagement puzzle. They ensure day-to-day operations align with team OKRs and overarching strategic goals. More than this, they’re responsible for motivating team members and providing essential guidance, feedback, and emotional support. 

During one-to-ones, they can gain a better understanding of individual engagement levels – which they can back up with operational data, such as project and training completion. While these meetings don’t have to be overly structured or formalised, it’s good practice to ask questions around:

  • Productivity and motivation
  • Goals and objectives 
  • Recent business developments, if relevant 
  • Career progression
  • Emotional wellbeing 
  • Stress levels and work-life balance rankings

To ensure this data doesn’t get lost, create a mechanism for sharing need-to-know insights between internal comms and management teams – without compromising employee confidentiality. 

5. Engagement with company content

Company content includes latest news updates, financial plans, and strategic presentations, as well as more informal communications. Engagement with these materials suggests an underlying investment in your company and its success. 

However, remember that engagement may look different depending on the type of content you share. For instance, if you communicate your latest business plans via an in-person meeting, you may judge engagement by whether an employee actually shows up and listens. If you’re communicating a new product release via your company intranet software, engagement may look like a simple comment, like, or thumbs up. 

6. Policy and announcement acceptance rates 

Circulating a new sickness leave policy? Sharing an announcement about roadworks outside your office? These kinds of urgent communications must be read and understood. If employees choose not to read them, it not only indicates low engagement but can impact the day-to-day operations of your company.

If you struggle to measure this, we’d suggest adopting a digital workplace tool. With a solution like Claromentis, you can make accepting and acknowledging policies and announcements mandatory. The solution can then provide statistics around who did (and didn’t) engage with your need-to-know company communications. 

7. Data dashboards

Try to measure employee engagement through other forms of data capture, too, such as:

  • E-learning or Learning Management Systems. These platforms should reveal how many training sessions your employees have completed.
  • HR tools. How many sick days have your employees taken in the last year? Is there an increase or decrease in absenteeism? On top of this, gather insights around employee retention and turnover rates. 
  • Employee surveys. As well as digging into the details of your survey results, make a note of how many employees actually complete the survey in the first place. 

To make life easier for your internal comms teams, try to keep this data in one platform. Comprehensive solutions like Claromentis act as a single source of truth, allowing you to access e-learning, HR, and engagement analytics in just a few clicks. 

8. Stay interviews across the employee lifecycle

Exit interviews are a common HR practice. However, while they’re useful for understanding why employees leave, they’re more reactive than proactive. 

To understand and tackle engagement issues before they snowball into leavism issues, conduct ‘stay interviews’. As the name suggests, these interviews should focus on why employees continue to stay. What motivates and excites them day-to-day? How do they feel about your employee benefits and career progression opportunities? How would they describe their employee experience? 

Highly engaged employees will give detailed, genuine feedback about your company and their role within it. Disengaged employees will either offer negative feedback or, in some cases, little to no feedback at all. 

How can you use these metrics to prove ROI?

You’ve identified the employee engagement metrics you should track; you’ve implemented ways of gathering truthful feedback; and you have the data to back-up your findings. Now what? 

At this stage, you’ll need to present the data to your stakeholders. This is critical for proving ROI and determining the future of your internal comms team. (So, no pressure!)

We recommend compiling your data into a visual report and tying any insights to your internal comms strategy. For instance, have your employees communicated that they feel more heard and valued? Does this correlate with your introduction of anonymous forums and discussion groups? 

Equally, if you observe a fall in employee engagement, you can use this data as grounds for asking for more resources and funding. Again, the more data you can apply to this the better. If employees demonstrate a lack of understanding around business initiatives and strategic goals, you could make a case for investing in a better intranet solution.

Redefine your internal comms strategy 

Internal comms teams don’t have it easy. According to Gallagher’s global report, over a third lack capacity and a quarter suffer from insufficient budget allocation. Yet the pressure to increase employee engagement is never-ending.

At times, it may seem like you’re stuck between a rock and a hard place. But today we want to give you a third option – a route to a more streamlined, better-funded future. 

By compiling a list of employee engagement metrics, and measuring them through quantitative and qualitative means, you can prove ROI to your business while simultaneously enhancing your internal comms initiatives. This may be as simple as using an internal intranet software to enforce policy acceptance, or as complex as introducing new employee feedback-gathering methods. 

If you’re looking for more internal comms strategy tactics for this year and beyond, download our comprehensive guide, “Internal Communication Strategy: Best Practices and Trends to Help You Succeed”. 

Inside, you’ll find a wealth of insights and recommendations that’ll help you boost employee engagement, increase stakeholder buy-in, and take some stress away from your internal comms team. 


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