Managers have hard jobs. They coordinate the work of their teams, align this work with company goals, serve as a primary source of professional development for their employees, deliver results,…
The holy grail of today’s workplace is high employee engagement. According to Gallup’s oft-cited research on the topic, just about one-third of U.S. employees are engaged on the job. That number drops to 13% worldwide, and has held steady for years. Many companies are investing heavily to identify what leads to high engagement in order to motivate employees, thereby increasing their happiness and productivity.
We think this is important. But based on our research with several large companies, we want to offer a word of caution: Engagement is often an ambiguous term. Depending on how it’s measured, engagement could represent job satisfaction, emotional investment in the cause, willingness to invest discretionary effort, or advocating for the company as a good place to work. While many studies suggest that increased employee engagement leads to improved business results in aggregate, a deeper look at the data suggests that this may not always be true at an individual level.
Working with two Fortune 100 companies, we looked to test the assumption that highly engaged employees are more productive. The lack of good productivity metrics for most knowledge worker functions (as opposed to clear benchmark numbers for salespeople, for example) makes it difficult to quantify output at an individual level, so we turned to our Microsoft Workplace Analytics product, which uses de-identified calendar and email data to look for a relationship between inputs (working hours, time with manager, network size for example) and engagement.
This article was published onHARVARD BUSINESS REVIEW