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A recent Harvard Business Review (HBR) survey revealed many companies view employee engagement as a key success factor. But less than half of firms tie engagement metrics to customer satisfaction or financial results. Even more disturbing: just 24 percent believed their workforce is highly engaged.

This research underscores what many business leaders know. Many organizations have work to do move from vision to action in the realm of employee engagement.

Another key finding: organizations that make employee engagement a top priority do a better job at measuring its impacts. Those “high prioritizers” comprised 48 percent of the study total. Thirty-eight percent (38%) of respondents were “moderate prioritizers” with 14 as “low prioritizers.”

What Employee Engagement Leaders Do Differently

As the figure below notes, high prioritizers see a stronger relationship between employee engagement and customer satisfaction compared to moderate or low prioritizers. And high prioritizers take concrete action steps to operationalize that knowledge.

Employee engagement links to customer satisfaction

Source:  “The Impact of Employee Engagement on Performance,” Harvard Business Review

According to the study, brands that prioritize employee engagement showed some similar characteristics. Those include:

  • Precise internal surveys: Engagement leaders go beyond generic approaches to measuring employee satisfaction. They craft internal surveys that include direct questions about employee experiences. Detailed survey analysis is another hallmark of high engagement companies. They sift through the results to identify latent employee dissatisfaction. Then, senior leadership uses survey results to shape business directions.
  • Aligned operational goals: Leaders do not take a “set it and forget it” approach to strategy. Instead, they use strategy as a foundation for operational and individual goals—at every organizational layer. Top leaders establish core goals. Middle managers create specific, tangible objectives for employees to tie their performance to business objectives. Employees receive the resources they need to success and remain accountable for their personal goals.

Engagement leaders also link employee engagement to customer feedback and satisfaction surveys. They also have strong recognition programs, which link employee performance to customer happiness and business results.

Creating an Engagement Culture

As the HBR study reveals, effective internal and external surveys are keys to fostering an engagement culture. Within the company, engagement leaders avoid packaged surveys and tailor data collection to specific needs within their environment. In addition, they look for meaning behind the metrics and identify latent pockets of employee dissatisfaction. They also craft external surveys to collect valid insight on customer perceptions and link results to individual performance.

Firms seeking to excel at employee engagement need to heighten focus in these areas:

  • Surveys: Leaders need to move beyond annual customer and employee surveys. They also need rapid results analysis to make solid business decisions based on feedback. Survey tools that empower both closed-ended and free-form input, along with real-time results analysis, are vital.
  • Employee experience compliance: Survey results can also provide a clear picture of how well employees perform against brand standards. Advanced experience compliance solutions offer real-time insight on each customer interaction with front-employees. These tools allow brands to take immediate action when customer dissatisfaction arises and provide employees resources and knowledge they need to portray the brand.

Engaged employees are far better brand ambassadors—and this has a major impact on customer perceptions. As a recent Forbes article explained, “employees must not only be plausible representatives of your brand’s key attributes, but they must exude the company brand.” Top-to-bottom engagement and authentically listening to external and internal feedback are paths to brand alignment.

The Engagement Imperative

Business leaders now know that having an engaged workforce isn’t a good idea–it’s a strategic imperative. Enterprises must keep a pulse on customer and employee sentiment and have real-time insight into brand expression to thrive in today’s customer-driven world.

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Engage with Us

Authoritative research has validated that employee engagement affects customer satisfaction and financial performance. Is your brand taking steps to operationalize this truth? We would love to learn from your experience:

  • Do you have an advanced process for collecting, measuring, and acting on employee feedback?
  • How do you tie customer post-interaction survey results to employee performance?
  • What performance metrics do you use to empower your employees to align with brand mandates?

Add a comment or ask a question in the space below. We welcome your input and insights.