The pandemic has changed all of us, especially in our professional lives. The idea of living meaningfully became an actuality for many professionals while working remotely. The evidence has been termed the great resignation. So is employee engagement the right metric to use to reduce turnover rates and measure how happy your employees are?
A recent HBR article from Microsoft examines the issues associated with measuring employee engagement. They found their traditional employee engagement survey results didn’t always match when they dove deeper into the data. They also found that people looked at engagement differently, so aligning on a shared definition was difficult.
They realized a new approach was required and decided a more frequent survey was necessary as were shorter, more focused questions. They also followed Chief People Officer Kathleen Hogan’s five P’s: pay, perks, purpose, people, and pride. Borrowing on other research, they decided to focus on thriving instead of just engagement.
“At Microsoft, we define thriving as “to be energized and empowered to do meaningful work.” This is the new core aspiration we have for our employees, one that challenges us to push ourselves every day so every employee can feel they’re pursuing that sense of purpose. Our focus on thriving isn’t just about recovering from the impact of the pandemic or matching pre-Covid employee sentiment scores. It’s about coming out the other side and doing even better.”
In their first year with the new approach, Microsoft found that their thriving measurement average was 77. According to them, a good but not great score. They looked at three dimensions of the score and found that meaningful work and empowerment scored higher than energized. To better understand the numbers, they reviewed the open-ended questions.
Not surprisingly, culture stood out. In responses that indicated they were thriving, employees said there was a collaborative environment that was inclusive, flexible, and supportive. Employees felt like they could be honest in difficult conversations. Those that said they weren’t thriving listed challenges like silos, bureaucracy, and a lack of appreciation.
Thriving is not another way of saying work-life balance. Per the article, “While thriving is focused on being energized and empowered to do meaningful work in your role, work-life balance reflects employees’ personal lives, too.” An example is an early career employee who has an excellent work-life balance but feels underutilized in their job.
To better understand how to keep both of these aligned, they looked at the 56% of employees who said both were positive and the 16% who said they were thriving but didn’t have work-life balance. The data showed 56% had five fewer workweek span hours, five fewer collaborative hours, three more hours to focus, and 17 fewer employees in their network. While collaboration does impact the perception of work-life balance, it’s important to note that it is beneficial when necessary, but focus time is also critical for employees.
This data is just the starting point of a better understanding of how you can empower your employees. Thriving goes beyond engagement and provides additional information to consider so you can improve your culture and set your employees up to evolve. The new hybrid working model is going to present unique challenges to your culture, and measuring if your people are thriving is a great new approach to this new workplace model.
If you have questions about your culture and how to enable your teams to thrive, send us a note.