Frequently Asked Questions & Answers:
Understanding Employee Engagement
1. What Is employee engagement and how can it help my company?
- Employee engagement is a workplace approach designed to ensure that employees care about their organization's goals and values (an emotional commitment), are motivated to contribute to organizational success, and feel fulfilled by their work.
- Passionate employees are fully absorbed by and enthusiastic about their work and so take every opportunity, through discretionary effort, to further the organization's reputation and interests, which are aligned to their own sense of purpose and progress.
- There are many organizations that offer engagement services, but Spark is one of the only companies that focuses solely on driving results through employee engagement for 20 years.
- Engagement has been proven to improve the customer experience; boost profitability; improve quality, productivity & performance; build the brand; increased innovation; improve employee advocacy, drive loyalty and attract the right employees.
- Engaged organizations have been proven to grow profits as much as 3x faster than their competitors with proactive employee engagement programs.
2. How does employee engagement impact business performance and business strategy?
- Employee Engagement is a strategy many organizations adopt to achieve business goals, such as increased productivity and performance. It also supports objectives such as recruiting and retaining top talent and employee advocacy.
- Rather than thinking of employee engagement as an HR program, it’s wise to think of it as a core business strategy.
- If your business strategy is, for example, product differentiation, then asking yourself, "How do we engage employees’ discretionary effort in service of this strategy?"
- At Spark, we know the critical engagement drivers needed to drive passion at work. Each of these engagement drivers can be placed in the context of any business strategy. We can customize an engagement program by aligning the drivers to specific business strategies.
3. What are the different types of employee engagement options and how do they differ?
- There are many employee engagement offerings on the market today. It can be very confusing for anyone.
- The first thing to look for is whether there is good data collection: Is there a survey? Is the survey validated? What science is behind the survey? Be wary of a random collection of questions that don't "add up" to an engagement profile.
- Next, think about frequency. Many organizations make the mistake of only measuring occasionally or every two, three or four years. All key performance indicators should be measured annually. Think "Financial Year End". Tracking progress on something as important as an employee engagement survey is critical to momentum and sustainability. It also demonstrates commitment.
- It is quite popular to have pulse surveys or even a question of the week. These can be interesting and useful if well-constructed; but, again, examine the science. What is the data really telling you? Does it have the potential for true insight?
4. What's the benefit of individual employee engagement reports and how can our staff take action on the results?
- Shared accountability. Everyone has the knowledge and tools to work together to make their own work experience better, their team’s work life better as well as the overall culture.
- Our algorithm provides an individual with a profile that describes their state of engagement. It also explains to them why they are feeling the way they feel. PLUS, it then gives them strategies to move from their current state to a passionate state.
- On top of this, we show them their engagement drivers’ strengths and blockers and give them specific ideas to action that are within their control.
5. We already have an employee engagement solution that provides a company view, so how does what you offer – with an individual view – complement or conflict with what we already have?
- It will complement your collective efforts, by personalizing an action plan that will fulfill individual needs – something a collective report cannot do by its very nature.
- Helping individuals identify their drivers and blockers of engagement PLUS giving them the tools to self-manage is almost always the missing piece of any engagement program.
- Spark engagement drivers fully align with your existing program; we will focus at the individual level to augment your overall program.
6. How will this employee engagement initiative change company metrics or "move the needle on engagement, performance, productivity"?
- The science behind the survey and our proprietary Engagement Model will ensure that we work on the most impactful engagement drivers. We've never seen it fail!
- We move the needle because we know, through the survey and the reports, what matters most.
7. I have limited knowledge and awareness of employee engagement and am overwhelmed by the choices and don’t know where to start. At a high level, what do I need to know about implementing an employee engagement program?
- You can eliminate a lot of the noise by asking one question: "Tell me about the science behind your survey? How do you know it actually measures engagement? How was it validated?"
- In our experience, the best practice is to ensure accountability exists at every level: individual, team manager and senior leadership.
- It is important for the company executive team to understand this as more than a simple engagement survey from HR. Success comes from ensuring engagement action plans are embedded in how teams work and conduct their everyday business. Through team buy-in, this will change the culture that supports engagement.
- Another way to ensure success is to make sure the survey results don't only come in a large bundle with just a traffic light system (red/yellow/green bars). Or, simply look at your top scores and your lowest scores. Value will come from ensuring the reporting crystallizes the findings, so the individual measures come together and "mean" something to you, collectively.
- Spark is able to distinguish which actions are most critical and will have the most impact on employee engagement. The more you increase employee engagement, the more your business metrics will improve. That's now proven: it's not a claim; it's is fact.
8. How can an employee engagement program address our issue of high turnover - right away!
- Retention and engagement are intimately related.
- For some employees, it might be too late to retain them. There is a point of no return.
- Once we have your employee data, we can launch a survey immediately and get your reports to you within hours of the survey closing. PLUS, we can tell you what to address first.
9. Our CEO and Executive targets are being missed on employee engagement. How can we remedy it? How can we get a focused action plan, and achieve a tangible result i.e. immediate results with action?
Engagement targets are often missed for the following reasons:
- The action plans/time/effort is being invested in areas that will not impact employee engagement, even if they sound good on the surface.
- Line Managers usually do not have their own team action plans that are specific to their team results (versus activities that support the overall plan but may not pertain to that team). Team accountability for specific team issues is often missing.
- The action plans are only at the collective level: individual accountability at the individual level is missing. Spark’s individual reports place the responsibility for engagement at the employee level ultimately.
- Action plans often become HR activities rather than business activities. It is key to ensure action plans address workplace practices and are not seen as special projects.
- You can get tangible results by:
- Ensuring your survey is based on real science.
- Ensuring your reports can present your data based on more than only averages.
- Ensure your reports can show you what measures are statistically significant so you can focus your efforts to where it will really count.
10. What signs do you notice for employees that are NOT engaged?
More obvious signs are:
- Come and go by the clock
- Hesitate to volunteer for new projects, tasks
- Do minimum requirements (i.e., not prepared to give discretionary effort)
- Complain, negative energy, cynical, critical of others/company
- Appear to be looking elsewhere for work/exploring options; focusing on external hobbies and interests to compensate
- Go with the flow; rarely advocate for ideas/beliefs
- Show Lethargic; low energy
- Express a belief that obstacles to progress are too big/too difficult/too challenging
11. How can we "win the war" for talent? How long does it take?
- How long it takes completely depends on you. You can make a significant change in as little as one year and a transformation can occur within three. Focusing your efforts in the right places is critical to shortening the time frame.
- Employee engagement requires a source of meaning and a way to measure progress. Defining what’s meaningful to your organization overall, by division, department and even down to each employee, sets the foundation for engagement as well as for a strong culture.
- Next, deciding what is worthy of celebration defines what progress truly looks like. People know why they are working and what they are striving for. Putting these two pieces together generates high levels of engagement and, in the process, defines culture.
- Defining your culture is critical. Talking about it and making what it looks like explicitly provides employees with a framework from within which they can engage. “Word on the Street” (or Yelp, or other sites such as RateMyEmployer.com) is powerful energy. Top talent is discerning. They do their research. They want to find a place of employment that aligns with their personal values and will support their aspirations.
- Having a culture that’s discussed online and, on the street, will give you a competitive advantage over others in your industry.
- Spark provides the vehicle for you to change the conversation with your employees and impact your culture from within.
12. Who is Spark and how is your offering different than other solutions' providers?
- We are 100% science based. Twenty years of global research has provided a core set of questions that "add up" to an engagement profile. We have identified 8 Engagement States that sit within a Model that can be used without a survey to coach and lead, either oneself or others.
- We start with the individual and build individual, team and organizational profiles. Everyone who participates in the survey gets a personalized report. It’s comprehensive and a powerful tool for self-managing passion at work. We also have team and group reports so accountability is shared at all levels, including the individual. All reports identify the 3 critical action items.
- We are fully automated and produce reports within hours of the survey closing, including action plans; so, you can get to work right away on making a difference. Our survey only takes 6-8 minutes, reports are available immediately, and the science behind the survey allows us to provide direction for action based on one-pager group scorecards. There is no analysis paralysis or the need to “figure out what to do”. It’s all there in the reporting in an easy-to-understand way.
13. What are your credentials and your successes with other clients?
- Spark focuses strictly on employee engagement. We have been working with clients since 2000 on measuring and executing action plans to improve employee engagement levels.
- Our discoveries have made significant contributions to the field of employee motivation and passion.
- We have been operating as a specialty consultancy working mostly in Canada, Bermuda, Singapore, Malaysia and the UK and we are now expanding to other English-speaking countries, as well as China.
- Clients have continually affirmed the quality of our data, reports and impact of the actions taken.
- We have had two generations of data collection for a total of approximately 10,000 users.
14. Do you benchmark against other industries?
- At Spark, we work with you on your results alone: comparing you to you. We benchmark and then measure again within (at the most) 12 months. We see where you have progressed and what factors have improved the most.
- While some may say comparison to other industries matter, we provide a custom report that keeps you focused on your own aspirations and on what you need to address to increase your engagement numbers.
15. How can Spark help me to determine the project's ROI?
- Once we benchmark (year one), we set targets that are determined via statistical norms. These targets become our measure of success. Yearly benchmarking is recommended.
- We have statisticians who can take your financial data or other key performance indicator data and correlate it with your engagement results.
- In our experience, you know when a program works. If you survey at appropriate intervals, you will see progress in the data; but, you will also feel the progress. You'll see it on how people act and perform.
16. Is Spark the only scientifically validated engagement solution in the marketplace?
- While there are many organizations that offer engagement modelling, scientifically validated programs are rare. Organizations provide evidence of correlations across various research projects. Competitors often represent a "collection" of questions that don’t add up to an accurate measure of the emotional state of your organization. It has taken Spark years of research to pinpoint what truly drives (or blocks) engagement.
- Spark has a model which has been truly validated. We know what gives rise to engagement. (What "adds up" to engagement) PLUS we know what is required to support these drivers of engagement, which then gives clients very specific, actionable and effective action plans.
17. I want to proceed in launching an employee engagement program. How can I get buy-in from my executives and line managers? VP? CEO?
- The business case for employee engagement is strong. Present your team with the facts and link it to your own business strategies and objectives and buy-in will follow.
- Consider tying engagement results to performance bonuses. Aligning compensation with true priorities is always powerful.
- Ensuring they have the support to make change and are not burdened by exhaustive action plans will go a long way. They want to be successful so demonstrating that engagement will ultimately make them look good and make their life easier, is hard to resist. And, there is evidence to support this.
- We also need to work with HR so we can integrate the engagement work with other people-focused activities. BUT, we want to embed engagement as a way of leading and not have it seen as an HR program.
18. How can I ensure that employees participate?
- We have communication templates to help you announce the survey as well as communications for encouraging participation throughout what is normally a two-week surveying period.
- We also provide participation reports by senior manager so you can track progress and intervene to encourage participation, as is appropriate.
19. How much does the Spark Employee Index cost to implement?
- 1-500 employees = $45 USD per employee. For groups less than 50 employees a minimum flat fee of $3,000 USD applies.
- 501 + employees - Call to discuss as volume discounts apply.
20. I already have a lot on my plate. What kind of tools and/or support can you provide once we decide to execute? How do I know that this is not a “make work” exercise for me, my manager and staff? How challenging is it to implement?
To Support HR
- It's straightforward, as so much of the Spark index is automated.
- Your main task is to provide the employee data in Excel to be uploaded into our system. We do everything else.
- We decide on the critical dates and the type of reports you want and then we launch.
- We give you communication templates, administer the survey and produce the reports.
- Our automated reports are produced quickly. You can debrief the executive team, managers and employees all within the same month the survey is launched.
- The reports are brief and include three areas to action with suggestions. Individuals,
Managers and Leaders can get right to work.
- Once you know the overall corporate drivers that need attention, we suggest we look at your current activities and often there is a way to embed the engagement work in what’s already happening, so it doesn't create new projects and require additional resources
- Importantly, we target the areas that will give you the best ROI. Our Survey, Model and Action Plans have all been validated so we can assure you that the time and effort you put in to your improvement areas will increase employee engagement. Rather than having lots of activity, we focus on how your effort will pay off.
To Support Your Managers
- A one-page scorecard, so they can see their results at a glance and can see connections between various parts of the survey results.
- An action plan that is also one page and offers strategies for their three top scores and their three improvement areas so they can get to work immediately.
- A PPT-like presentation of their team results so they can facilitate a team discussion and flesh out the strategies above to specific actions the team can support.
- We also have an IDEA Guide for Executives and Managers called Ideas to Action so depending on what engagement driver needs attention, they can use this reference tool to get them started.