The Gallup organization has conducted its Q12 survey of employees at thousands of companies, and it has found that being satisfied is not the same as being engaged.
When an organization measures and focuses on engagement, "it is about providing employees with the direction, clarity, encouragement, and growth they need to perform at their best," according to Gallup. Engaged employees feel that their jobs are well-defined and important, believe that they have all the tools they need to be successful, and are committed to achieving excellence.
"The Gallup survey is the tool we use to measure progress, and to give managers the information they need to lead their teams effectively," says Heidi Conway, Johns Hopkins University's vice president for human resources.
The university has used the Gallup survey twice before, in 2012 and 2015, and Johns Hopkins Medicine has surveyed more often. Q12 in the survey name refers to the 12 questions that measure the most important elements of employee engagement.
Starting March 5, staff in all university divisions except APL will receive an email asking them to contribute to a culture of engagement at JHU by completing the Gallup survey. JHU faculty will not complete the Gallup survey this year. The 2018 survey includes Gallup's 12 core questions and several additional questions chosen by the university, including ones about diversity and inclusion within the organization.
"If everyone participates, it will help us understand where to focus our efforts and how to give people what they need to be productive, motivated, and committed to our shared goals," Conway says.
Gallup will conduct the survey confidentially, and information will be reported back to managers with no identifying information about the respondents. If fewer than five employees in a given area respond to the survey, their responses will be grouped with a larger unit to which they belong (such as an overall department) in order to protect the employees' identities. Managers will then be asked to create action plans around the issues of greatest importance in their area, with assistance from human resources colleagues.
Information about the survey questions, details about confidentiality, and tools for managers are on the employee engagement webpage of the Senior VP for Finance and Administration website.
Based on results from previous surveys, the university has focused broadly on new efforts to support employees' professional growth and development. Using the myPerformance platform across the university, managers have focused on helping their staff set clear goals and assess their progress. Human Resources also has offered a variety of new and expanded learning opportunities, including supervisor and manager development learning tracks, courses on giving and receiving feedback, and short online courses to help employees set and track their performance and professional development goals.
After the 2015 survey, a team at the Carey Business School did "a full, deep dive into the metrics of where we are doing well and where we can do better," says Brenna Alexander, senior HR business partner. "It's not just a numbers game. We wanted to get to why we aren't doing as well in certain areas."
Guided by those results and some additional surveys, the school has created a program of employee recognition and awards, a bonus for referring new hires, a wellness initiative, and several new opportunities for volunteering in the community.
"When our employees feel valued, it really does affect what our school does to support faculty and students," Alexander says.
Information Technology, which serves both the university and health system, takes the Gallup survey every year in alignment with the health system, but Dawn Rodriguez, its director of human resources, says that "to make meaningful progress, we need to think about employee engagement [throughout the year]."
Rodriguez says she helps the managers in her department learn how to read and accurately interpret the Gallup reports, access the resources available in the Gallup online library, and conduct meaningful action-planning sessions in which the team brainstorms ways to address the results of at least one of the 12 core questions in a visible way.
"Organizations benefit from having an engaged workforce," she says. "Engaged employees are more likely to work well together and with customers, more likely to be productive, more likely to have good attendance, more likely to stay, and more enthusiastic about work."