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How to measure employee engagement

This was perhaps the single most insightful and useful research comments I've ever had.

The task: A company proposes to close staff canteens, with a range of replacement options for them. They asked me to take the mood of the staff and their reaction to the new plan. It was a fascinating exercise.

On the one hand, it's not very important. They can just grab something else, or bring in a butty.

On the other, it's really important. It's food, it's at the base of our hierarchy of needs.

This led to a rather confused picture. They didn't want to make too much of a fuss, they perhaps appreciated it was a bit of a luxury. But at the same time this did feel meaningful to them, and so they wanted to make a strong expression of dissent.

But because of this double-think that was going on, they tried to make the matter bigger, and come up with stronger reasons to reject it. That it would devastate morale, or there were health or even safety implications, or that it was morally unjust. I don't think they were convincing themselves any more than they were me.

In one of my final groups, it took this one, marginally profane, intervention to cut right through. To enable me to see that, these are busy people doing demanding jobs with limited breaks. There are any number of reasons that those breaks might already get squeezed, so having a hot plate of food - immediately - holds massive value.

To take that away was a small - but fundamental - breach of goodwill from employer to employee.

With that insight, I could then go back and unpick the previous comments, and better represent the voice of many more employees.

A question is often get asked when researching the employee experience is how much is enough? Cut too short, and you might not get to the critical insight. Too much and you hear the same tale over and again.

So, ideally, it's agile. Let's try this, and see if we're happy, with plans B and C ready to roll if we don't think we're there.

Want to understand your employee's experience? Want to be able to measure employee engagement? Want to know their reaction to your idea - or their suggestions for a way forward?

I can help. Book a free consultation to get started.

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