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Employee engagement

Friday 13th May

Employee engagement

What is employee engagement?

It’s a tough one to answer, and you’ll find different definitions wherever you look. For us at Arctic Shores, though, it means enthusiasm for the job you do, the team you’re in, and your organisation’s purpose. It determines how far you’ll push yourself to thrive – how much of your true potential you’re prepared to give.

Digging into the scientific research, we learn that – however you define it – employee engagement is a psychological state. This shines through in the working world through employees’ behaviour.

The Chartered Institute of Personal Development (CIPD) recommends a framework built by a group of occupational psychologists at the University of Utrecht. In their definition of engagement, employees show:

    • Vigour (they’re energetic and resilient)
    • Dedication (they’re enthusiastic and care about their work)
  • Absorption (they can fully focus on their work)

Lastly, employee engagement is not the same as employee satisfaction.

Why does employee engagement matter?

Because there’s all sorts of benefits in store for employers with engaged teams. Here’s a list:

Safer employees

A 2016 study by Gallup found that organisations in the top 25% for engaged employees experienced 70% fewer safety incidents, compared to those in the lowest quartile. 70%!

And it makes sense. When employees are focused and enthusiastic, they’re less likely to cut corners, or see safety regulations as box-ticking bureaucracy. Instead, they’ll care about safety (and not just their own).

Better employee health & lower absenteeism

Another Gallup poll found that engaged employees tend to eat more healthily and exercise more often. Plus, engaged employees are 21% more likely to be engaged in company wellness programmes.

But it’s not just physical health. Engaged employees are also more resistant to burnout (which the WHO now defines as “a syndrome resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed”). With better physical and mental health, engaged employees are happier and take fewer absences, saving their organisations money.

Higher employee retention

Though estimates vary, it’s generally agreed that replacing just one employee costs organisations thousands of pounds. Then it also stands to reason that keeping people saves money. And at the heart of keeping people? Yep, engagement

Research suggests that engaged employees are 87% less inclined to leave an organisation than their disengaged peers – illustrating how engagement boosts retention.

Better employee productivity

Another Gallup study found that engaged employees are 17% more productive on average. And it stands to reason: when you’re engaged and care about the outcomes of your work, you’re more likely to do more work. 

This can have its downsides, though. Highly engaged employees have, at times, been found to encounter burnout by overworking. Effectively, they care too much.

Greater business performance

Take all of these benefits together, and you arrive at one logical conclusion: engaged employees lead to happier customers and more profitable businesses. And it shines through in the data. Employers with high employee engagement see:

  • 10% better customer ratings
  • 21% higher profitability
  • 147% better earnings-per-share

So employee engagement really is a win-win.

Problems with measuring employee engagement:

So employee engagement is a great thing. But it’s often tricky to measure, and there are two reasons why:

  • Questions over definitions

As we’ve mentioned, engagement is a psychological state. Meaning it can be tricky to accurately define! That leads to a whole bevy of different definitions, with no outright ‘winner’. Without a universal definition, it’s hard to know exactly what to measure.

So, as you get to grips with your employee engagement, we’d recommend basing any measurement on one of the most widely accredited definitions. Like the CIPD’s, which we set out earlier.

  • Correlation & causation

Then, even if you’ve defined engagement, it can be tough to know what’s driving it (or the opposite). Because, as any statistician will tell you, correlation ≠ causation. Factors that seem to be linked, may not be.

For example, data might tell you that right-handed employees are more engaged. But that’s not to say that being right-handed affects engagement! This means that, to really understand what contributes to engagement at work, you’ll need to dig pretty deep. This can take time, effort, and resources.

How should you measure engagement, then?

First, define

Regardless of the various definitions, make sure you’re clear on your definition – before you start measuring. This way, you can set clear goals in terms of what you’re looking to get out of any measurement approach. What are the metrics that you’ll use to establish employee engagement?

Some examples include:

  • Professional growth & career development
  • Employer Net Promoter Score (eNPS)
  • Absenteeism rates
  • Retention/turnover
  • Internal email open and click-through rates

Then, use your tools

There are all sorts of tools that make measuring engagement easier, if not necessarily a walk in the park. The tools you choose may depend on which metrics you’re focusing on, but let’s take a look at some of the most common:

Pulse surveys

These are short, punchy surveys that let you make important changes quickly. Often, they’ll be geared towards a specific aspect or question, and – because of how short they are – generally enjoy better completion rates than their long-winded cousins. In fact, while average employee surveys see response rates of 30-40%, pulse survey participation can surge to 85%. 

Interestingly, pulse surveys have actually been proven to boost employee engagement themselves. They make people feel listened to, especially if they run fairly frequently.

For more on setting up and implementing pulse surveys, here’s a handy guide from eduMe.


Email metrics aren’t just for your marketing team. Because they’re also a good way to gauge who’s engaged with what’s going on around the business (and who isn’t).

Despite the rise of platforms like Slack, email will probably still be one of the most common means of communication in your teams. That means it’s also going to be a great source of hard data. But what should you be measuring when it comes to email?

  • Open-rate

Are your people remotely interested in what’s going on at the company? If not, they probably won’t open most non-essential emails. So open rates are a good way to measure that level of investment, curiosity, and care.

  • Click-through rate

Are they clicking through to whatever it is you want them to see? Again, this tells you whether they’re invested in understanding more about what’s going on in the organisation.

It’s also worth noting that, once you’ve collated all this data, you can cross-reference it by team, location, etc. This way, you can be more targeted in how you plan to address any engagement issues.


Employer Net Promoter Score (eNPS) is a great way to distil everything down into just one number – your eNPS score. Here’s how you work it out:

% of employees who would recommend you as an employer, minus the % who wouldn’t. It’s exactly the same as your usual NPS score, but with employees, rather than customers.

This will likely miss a lot of the nuance, i.e. why do people feel engaged/unengaged. But it’s a good benchmark to use as a starting point.

Build thriving teams with Arctic Shores

With Arctic Shores’ platform, you can measure every candidate against your values and competencies, as well as the specific needs of your role. This way, you can rest easy that your latest employees will be happy ones. 

Just take AXA, who found that candidates hired after completing our assessment scored higher in 8 of 10 pulse survey categories. They also undertook double the number of L&D programmes, and took 41% fewer sick days.

The question isn’t whether you want engaged teams. It’s whether you can afford not to. For a speedier path to happy, high-flying teams, see how our platform can help. Get in touch today.

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