17.09.2012

2012 Top Drivers of Employee Engagement

With Murmur now just past its first birthday we're delighted to be celebrating with a HR Tech 'Awesome New Technologies for HR' award nomination. But rather than sit around gloating on that - as cool as it is - I thought we could further celebrate by joining the Top Ten Drivers of Employee Engagement Club. So here we go.

This will be the first in a series of posts on the top drivers of employee engagement. We will cover this more thoroughly than is usually done and we'll try to make it more informative and open than these things usually are. I'm open to requests too, but in this post we'll look at the interaction between an item's score and how strongly it is related to (drives) engagement
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I've written a few posts on 'driver analysis' covering what it is and how it is done. In this post I want to cover the Murmur CultureMarks (our benchmark database) and the top ten drivers of employee engagement we found. We've conducted surveys with over 50 companies now and many of them use our 50 Amp engagement survey. This means we're now in a position to begin providing benchmark data (more on this to come) and some fun research.

Many providers issue a report each year drumming up press for their benchmark data sets or their global research studies. But, I think there is a lot of confusion with some of this research that I have discussed here. However, in an attempt to avoid some of the common misconceptions I am going to make a few important clarifications. Additionally, rather than give you a dumbed down list in a single post I am going to open up the hood a little more than is traditionally done and hopefully create a more informative dialogue about how this sort of research is done. Clarifications first:

1. Our results are just that: our results. These results are based on a subset of 50 items we have used most commonly and the subset of companies and employees that have responded to these questions. For this reason I am not going to make any claims about whether engagement went up or down or what the top ten drivers of employee engagement in the world are.

2. Employee satisfaction/engagement/attitude data is often very inter-related which means that there is no really definitive technique for analysing the drivers. There are pros and cons with all of the methods that I currently know of. I will be using some techniques that I have not seen used for employee engagement before though in the next few posts.

3. The top drivers here are across all of the companies and employees that we work with. The results are completely confidential and they do not reflect the top drivers in any specific company, which will be different for each company. It is likely that some of them will overlap as there are some that seem to crop in nearly every company (nearly).

So here we go. Taking our 50 Amp items we have 5 engagement questions which are combined to create our Engagement Index. This leaves us 45 potential drivers of engagement. With a sample in the 1000's I first up opted for a straightforward Pearson linear correlation (once again see here for discussion on statistical methods). Now, usually we would just go straight in for a list of the top ten. But I thought we could do something to illustrate an important point about drivers and scores that is frequently confusing for many clients; the top drivers are not the highest scoring or the lowest scoring items. The top drivers can be high or low scoring items and they are frequently a combination of both with many falling in the moderate score range.

The chart above shows our 45 items with their scores and correlations to engagement plotted together. Scores are just the percentage of favourable responses and correlations the straight Pearson r statistic. The highest scoring items are towards the top and the lowest scoring towards the bottom. You can see that the highest and lowest scoring items are actually both amongst the lowest drivers (the further right indicating a stronger correlation). Often people focus on the lowest scoring items for action, but we can see that this would be a mistake in this case - as would a focus on the top items. It is amongst the more moderate items that we often find the top drivers; this is partially also for statistical reasons.

Now, I hope that whets your appetite for our next post in which I will discuss our top drivers of engagement in more detail. Any guesses on the top drivers we can see here?

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