The Top Challenges Facing Employee Engagement and People Analytics in 2019

By Betterworks
January 29, 2019
7 minute read

It’s 2019, the year we get our employee engagement strategies together, right? Budgeting, marketing, planning – all of these are coming full circle (if they’re not already completely mapped out by now) and the new year brings new prospects and hope for financial gain and labor capital improvements. Whatever your idea/goal/plan/benchmark may be, the thought resting at the back of your mind is probably something like this:

“How are we going to make this happen?”

The answer? With a fool-proof action plan.

Like any New Year’s Resolution, action plans are a big part of the cycle of improvement. For employee engagement, this means writing out your strategy and forming it around all of the people analytics at your disposal. What are your employees saying about your engagement process? Your onboarding process? Now is the time to take your ideas and make them a reality, and questions like these are the stepping stones to establishing your ideal action plan.

Where do you want your engagement to be at the end of this year? What key changes do you want to highlight from last year? How will you instill engagement values in new employees? All of these questions and dreams for improvement will stay thoughts in your head unless you give them shape in your planning process. 42% of people are more likely to achieve their goals simply by writing them down on a regular basis. So write out what you’re trying to achieve using these helpful tips for leveraging your people analytics:

Challenge #1: Translating feedback into actionable insights

Your people analytics are the foundation-building bricks your strategy needs to create a viable action plan. But the truth is understanding that data and how to best apply it can be a major pain-point for all businesses, no matter the size of the workforce. The real challenge here is not only understanding the full scope of what your people analytics can do, but how to apply and execute them as action items.

Some common questions facing this challenge include:

  • How do we maximize our employee feedback and people analytics?
  • What should our measurement focus be?
  • What are our engagement surveys showing us about our current process?
  • How do we organize to-do’s and follow-up actions?
  • What issues/areas of improvement do we tackle first?

Data that sits idly by never gets transformed into action. Listening and preparing with the intent of doing is the key to answering these questions. This means taking your data (AKA your employee feedback and people analytics) and making an active effort to listen and understand needs with an equally active mindset and plan to set and achieve goals from them. Here are 3 ways to effectively accomplish this:

1. Measure your relevant feedback

Lesson number one: You can’t optimize what you don’t measure, but more than that, you need to know to measure to accurately meet whatever your engagement needs are. Engagement surveys in today’s world aren’t enough. While they are an important first step in collecting relevant data, we must involve other innovative ways of collecting feedback to properly measure it. This means adding additional tools like lifecycle surveys, pulse polls, and employee voice to your data-based strategies.

Lesson number one: You can’t optimize what you don’t measure, but more than that, you need to know what to measure to accurately meet whatever your engagement needs are. Engagement surveys in today’s world aren’t enough. While they are an important first step in collecting relevant data, we must involve other innovative ways of collecting feedback to properly measure it. This means adding additional tools like lifecycle surveys, pulse polls, and employee voice to your data-based strategies.

From your engagement surveys or current people analytics, list out what you’re trying to accomplish from the top-down in terms of priority. That way, you have a visual list for your action plan in itemized form. To organize these thoughts, ask some of the following questions:

    • What feedback are you receiving from employees, whether positive or negative?
    • What are your leaking buckets (areas where engagement strategies bounce or just don’t work)?
    • What business processes, departments or culture elements need the most improvement?
    • How can we improve fairness and equality across our business with regards to 360-degree feedback?

2. Segment tasks and questions whenever necessary (and wherever applicable)

Choose questions you are trying to answer first and segment your data that way. Not only will you be able to better understand how your employees think, react and behave, but you will also be able to task action items out on a need-based schedule. It’s a great window for observing the scope of your 2019 goals so you can knock out quick wins first before tackling more long-term engagement improvement.

Categorizing feedback based on The Simply Irresistible Organizational Framework by John Bersin and Deloitte Insights, you can further slice & dice your segments based on age, gender, department, location, etc:

  • Meaningful Work – making sure jobs are meaningful, people have the tools and autonomy to succeed, and that we select the right people for the right job.
    • Giving employees more decision-making power, time and support
  • Supportive Management – Strategizing and improving upon the daily, weekly and monthly activities managers use to guide, support and align their people.
    • Set goals, supporting people, coaching for high performance, and providing feedback to continuously improve
    • Taking time and resources to invest in…
      • Fundamental management practices
      • A strong coaching culture
      • Leadership development opportunities
  • Fantastic Environment – providing employees with a flexible, humane, inclusive and supportive work environment.
    • Fostering a diverse and inclusive workforce
    • Catering to the unique and complex lives of employees (i.e. their schedules, personalities, interests, etc.)
  • Growth Opportunity – building opportunities for employee growth and development in their chosen role or career.
    • Designing onboarding and transition management programs
    • Developing a culture of support and learning
    • Giving people time to learn
  • Trust in Leadership –
    • Developing a strong company mission and purpose
    • Building trust by investing in the development of your people
    • Establishing transparency in communication
    • Creating a focus of inspiration

Strategic insights (AKA implementing people analytics) are an essential part of the decision-making process. They provide the evidence to solidify your improvement plan and offer the major stakeholders and employees of your organization the foundation of proof that your action plan is employee-facing. After all, you’re doing this because you care about the engagement of your workforce!

If you’re listening to employee feedback with the intent of doing, and analyzing their survey responses (among other metrics) to weave them into your strategy, having the pertinent data to substantiate your claim will help executives buy into any changes or new tools to execute your plan. A sound research and data-backed strategy is the backbone to any successful process.

Challenge #2: Creating an effective mix of data-based strategies

The HR industry operates in many digital environments, especially where engagement and people analytics are concerned. But these analytical platforms for data mining, analysis and visualization tools should make it easy for organizations to translate an ideal mix of engagement strategies, right? Unfortunately, the answer is no – this is not always the case. The culprit of inefficiencies in this regard belongs to a lack of organization about where these strategies should focus their efforts. Strengthen your data-based strategies using these 3 engagement and growth concepts:

  1. Motivation – with 360-degree, real-time feedback, focus on how the team, not just your employees, is talking about, looking at and receiving your current engagement process and the new ideas on how to improve. Motivate achievements and goals with open and receptive communication.
  2. Inspiration – use the lens of inspiration to drive your strategic insight. How can your people data be used to inspire further engagement change in your organization? What ways can it be used to drive innovation?
  3. Curiosity – always keep asking questions on how you can improve. These will drive the innovative thinking that will push your people data into new niches and uses you weren’t previously aware of.

Challenge #3: Powering-up the onboarding process with engagement and people analytics

Onboarding is more than just new employees in the same way that feedback is more than just a one-way street. This means engaging all existing employees involved in the onboarding process while simultaneously engaging new hires, which is no simple task. In other words, you need to collect feedback from every team member involved in the onboarding process. This includes:

  • HR staff
  • Recruiting and sourcing team members
  • Hiring managers
  • Department managers
  • Corporate trainers

To successfully accomplish this, you need to pair accurate people analytics that scale across your entire business with an employee engagement onboarding resource guide to show you how to maximize the data. The key to bridging onboarding and employee engagement is to build an ultimate data-based engagement strategy. Look at your employee feedback, your engagement surveys, and the pulse of your workforce. What is your people data saying about your current engagement process?

It’s no wonder this is still a recurring challenge going into a new year in HR and employee engagement. Imagine juggling all those onboarding to-do’s while also trying to maintain a conscious effort to engage the full scope of your new and existing workforce. Collecting feedback from anyone who played a role in the onboarding experience is an engagement strategy in itself, but doing so with actionable insights and data-based strategies makes it manageable. Here’s 3 ways how to do this:

  1. Conduct routine check-ins with managers and key team members involved in the onboarding process. This action item is crucial because it enables you to assess how the new employee is performing and what can be done to enhance their development.
    • One thing to note: by “check-ins” we don’t mean hovering over employees like a helicopter parent. No employee enjoys the feeling of being consistently monitored. Make the check-ins a meeting to re-inspire and rekindle goal setting strategies with fun activities!
  2. Optimize your onboarding with your existing people analytics process. Learning and development programs already draw from employee feedback, translating them to onboarding is a simple lateral move to analyze how your new hires can also benefit from the engagement change.
  3. Incorporate game-based activities like trivia to boost learning success. Almost 80% of the learners say that they would be more productive if their institution or work was more game-like.

At Hyphen, we help you maximize your employee engagement by enabling you to leverage your most valuable asset: your people analytics. The tremendous insights offered by employee feedback create opportunities to form powerful strategies that build a unique competitive advantage for your workforce. It’s our mission to work with you to unlock the full potential of your data-based engagement strategies. Use data-driven tools to find actionable insights your process is missing– Download HR’s Ultimate Guide to People Analytics!

What is employee engagement?

Employee engagement means much more than “everyone just getting along.” In fact, engagement is often the only thing keeping a trained employee happy and loyal to the company.

Many companies utilize surveys to see just how engaged their employees are. Information they receive can lead to beneficial changes for the company culture and management/employee relationships as a whole.

What are people analytics?

People analytics may also be known as workforce analytics or HR analytics. People analytics can utilize data gathered by the HR team to implement new strategies.

This can include changes to company culture, as well as new tactics for engagement. When employees are happy in their roles, it keeps retention high.

How can employee feedback help with employee engagement?

When it comes to employee engagement, it’s important to search for ways to increase it. Engagement can be the deciding factor when an employee receives another offer and considers switching companies.

However, surveys can provide information that can help the management team help employees to feel more engaged. In doing so, employees will feel more connected to the company and will be less likely to entertain other job offers.