Get context you need to make your engagement data actionable

It’s no surprise to anyone that having a highly engaged workforce also drives high performance in business results. Multiple several studies over the years have discussed and portrayed this very topic. For example, every several years, Gallup conducts a meta-analysis of multiple employee engagement studies in order to see if there are inferences of causality.  One recent study in the past decade inferred that organizations in the top quartile of having a highly engaged workforce also had 20% higher productivity and profitability ratings than lower engaged companies.  

That said, one of the frustrating points with surveys read outs is that it provides what we call “flat data”.  Flat data can be described as your standard heat map – rows and columns in glaring reds, greens, and yellows showing how each demographic (rank or grade, team, region, tenure) felt about certain questions or overall survey focus areas. But it leaves HR and leadership puzzling as to what caused the red cells, certain dips in scores or even worse, overwhelms them with un-prioritized data as to which to focus on first. 

One of the true strengths of network analysis is it’s ability to show potential cause and effect within a network. It helps generate not just a contextual understanding of what was likely driving dips in certain areas – as well as strengths in others! – but helps provide a data driven action plan.  

Take the example of a large manufacturing company (hereafter called WestCo) – global in the majority of it’s production locations but headquartered in the midwest. With a lot of impending changes forthcoming in the EU and Britain to their supply chain logistics, WestCo added on to their yearly engagement survey a five minute network analysis addendum to measure their employee’s networks. 

The results came back in from the engagement survey. As expected, there was a lot of churn within WestCo’s EMEA branch, concerns about future supply chain issues, self scoring themselves in the red for large focus areas around decision making and communication.  Having such low engagement scores on decision making in particular frustrated the WestCo leadership as they felt that they had empowered lower levels to make decisions that they needed to make. 

What the network analysis was able to reveal was that WestCo had delegated decisions down – but because two key EMEA senior leaders had changed positions, decision critical communication wasn’t making it down to the mid level leaders that needed it.  Which caused them to 1) assume that current leadership no longer trusted them with critical information and 2) resulted in them pushing decisions from their level to leadership above them (who were the only ones with the information).  

In order to raise the perceived level of engagement in EMEA, WestCo only had to do two targeted communication process interventions based on the network analysis study and saw immediate results for the positive. 

Employee engagement surveys are vital for being able to understand, directly from the workforce, areas that they feel that they are performing strongly at – and helps reveal areas of opportunity, sometimes months ahead of any overt issues. Network analysis addendums allow leaders to understand their employee data in a much more actionable manner for targeted results.