Employee Engagement: a New Approach to Its Measurement, Analysis and Improvement


Many organisations have benefitted from the Net Promoter®* approach to measuring customer loyalty since first publicised by Fred Reichheld in Harvard Business Review (HBR) in December 2003. This article was based on research suggesting a correlation between increased Net Promoter Scores® (NPS®)* and profitable revenue growth.

The net promoter concept has since provided a powerful business case for improving customer satisfaction, engagement and loyalty.

Over the past decade, companies have responded by investing in NPS programmes, and NPS has become a widely adopted customer engagement metric across the private, public and third sectors.

Well-executed NPS programmes have delivered:

  • Better responses to customer issues;
  • Improved business results; and
  • Step changes in culture.

Employee Net Promoter Concept

We believe the net promoter approach can be translated from the customer engagement field to deliver comparable benefits in the employee engagement field, if suitably modified.

With this in mind, we have recently embarked on a programme of research to test new thinking on the measurement and analysis of employee engagement under the umbrella of the “Engage for Success (E4S)” movement** in the UK.

We believe this research will contribute to the achievement of E4S’s objective of improving the competitiveness of the UK economy by: (a) creating a compelling strategic and economic rationale for improving employee engagement; and (b) informing clear, confident actions in this increasingly important field.

Needs-Based Approach

Our approach starts by capturing employee needs.

Needs are measured across employee groups, for both importance and satisfaction. The resulting data is readily understood and can be analysed in detail. As employee needs are expressed in a way which is comparable across all organisations, detailed benchmarking across sectors and geographies is also possible.

By establishing employee needs from the outset, our approach avoids having to capture lots of verbatim comments, which are expensive to capture and notoriously difficult to aggregate and analyse.

The resulting quantitative data can be used to answer important questions, such as:

  1. How important is each need to each employee?
  2. How well is each need satisfied for each employee?
  3. Which important needs are currently unsatisfied?
  4. What are the priority areas for consideration?
  5. How well do our results compare not only to organisations similar to us but all sectors and geographies?
  6. Which organisations, sectors and geographies are achieving best-in-class results, and what insights can be gleaned from their anonymised data?

This sort of analysis enables organisations to understand, in detail, how best to improve employee engagement, and, thereby, organisational performance.

* “Net Promoter”, “Net Promoter Score” and “NPS” are trademarks of Fred Reichheld, Bain & Co and Satmetrix.

** Further information on E4S is at http://www.engageforsuccess.org.

The ‘Control Tower’ Approach to Optimising Complex Service Delivery Performance

People tend to think the prime purpose of organisational performance management is learning from the past to improve the future. While this is certainly helpful, it is by no means the whole answer. Often overlooked is the other other important purpose, namely exploring the future to deliver better outcomes.

Our recent paper (see 12-11-12 MBE Control Tower Paper v2.5 Final) uses the analogy of air traffic controllers managing the flow of planes coming in to land to illustrate how hospitals around the world can optimise appointments for outpatients coming in for treatment by adopting what we call the Control Tower approach.

It also explains how this approach has been derived from generic principles underpinning the optimisation of complex service delivery performance, notably including Lean Thinking and Connected Performance.

PMA Conference and Symposium Papers

For ease of reference, papers presented by Landmark Consulting at previous PMA Conferences and Symposia are downloadable as follows:

(1)    PMA Conference 2004 (Edinburgh): Getting the Most Out of Performance Measurement (see Paper for PMA 2004 (Final))

(2)    PMA Conference 2006 (London): ‘Plumbed-In Performance Improvement’: Accelerating Improvement and Adaptation in Organisations (see Paper for PMA 2006 – Alan Meekings – v1.1)

(3)    PMA Symposium 2010 (Loch Lomond): Goal-Directed Behaviour and Target-Setting: A New Way Forward (see 10-09-28 PMA Symposium Paper v2.6)

(4)    PMA Conference 2012 (Cambridge): Connected Performance: A New Approach to Managing and Improving Organisational Performance (see PMA 2012 Paper (Final Version))

Connected Performance™

While performance measurement remains an important topic, it is only a subset of the broader field of organisational performance management.

Strategic, operational and financial performance depends not only on improving how the work gets done in organisations but also on how organisations are managed.

Connecting individuals, teams, functions and levels of management, both within and with partners, to improve the quality and timeliness of decision-making and action is vital in this respect – yet currently poorly done in many organisations.

Landmark Consulting has developed a new approach to maximising customer delight and bottom-line performance which we call “Connected Performance”.

Connected Performance not only delivers superior strategic, operational and financial performance but also concurrently develops an engaging, effective, learning culture, which, in turn, delivers genuine organisational agility.

Developed and honed over 25 years, working with organisations of all kinds, this approach has proved hugely helpful for them.

Moreover, this experience has given us a privileged perspective on implementation. For instance, in working with 50% of the ambulance services in England and Wales – all of whom provide essentially the same services, typically use the same clinical protocols and chose to adopt the Connected Performance approach – has given us unique insights around the success factors critical to implemention and sustainability.

To read a paper outling the key elements of Connected Performance, please see PMA 2012 Paper (Final Version).

To read an earlier paper presented at the PMA Conference in Edinburgh in 2004, please see Paper for PMA 2004 (Final)

Goal-Directed Behaviour and Target-Setting: A New Way Forward

Advocates and critics of target-setting in the workplace seem unable to reach beyond their well-entrenched battle lines. Advocates point to what they see as demonstrable advantages, while critics point to what they see as demonstrable disadvantages. Academic literature on this topic is currently mired in controversy. Neither side seems capable of envisaging a better way forward.

We presented a paper on this important topic to the PMA Symposium in 2010 (since published in Measuring Business Excellence, Vol. 15, No. 3, 2011). It can be downloaded at 10-09-28 PMA Symposium Paper v2.6.

Integrated Development

Our experience, over many years, has taught us the dangers of pursuing ‘point solutions’ or functional change initiatives, in contrast to the benefits of integrated developments in the realms of strategy, process, structure and culture.  Failure to take a systemic approach inevitably leads to disappointment: broken processes preventing the implementation of new strategies, process improvements blocked by structural conflicts, re-structuring resented and resisted, attempts at culture change deemed irrelevant because they do not address concrete work issues and so on…

Our approach to integrated development is informed by leading concepts in terms of lean thinking, systemic thinking, change management, leadership and organisation development.

The diagram below illustrates our approach:



Lean thinking, for instance, focuses primarily on process transformation, but cannot deliver optimal benefits unless it is supported by strategic commitment, well-designed structures and an engaging, effective and learning culture.

Development can start in any of the aspects illustrated, but has to lead to a benign cycle, strategically driven, in which:

  • Optimised processes provide the basis for the design of enabling, rather than disabling, structures
  • Appropriate structures create the context for genuine empowerment and supportive, stimulating relationships
  • A culture of continual challenge and improvement increases the value-to-waste ratio in all processes.

Performance Measurement and Management in Contact Centres

Everyone knows that contact centre activities are highly measurable, using a plethora of KPIs.

Yet little is known about where contact centre managers currently see themselves in the important field of performance measurement and management (PM&M) in terms of excellence on a spectrum from poor to outstanding.

Nor is much known about future aspirations or intended timescales for improvement.

Alan Meekings and Simon Povey of Landmark Consulting and Paul Weald of ProtoCall One worked together to design and analyse a specifically tailored survey, based around Landmark Consulting’s PM&M maturity model for contact centres.

A brief summary of our findings is at PM&M Brief Survey Findings.

Details of our maturity model and the survey questions are at PM&M Self-Assessment Questionnaire.

A New Typology of Waste

Advocates of Lean Thinking are fond of defining categories of waste in manufacturing operations, most of them derived from Taiichi Ohno’s original list of seven categories of waste, namely: defects, inventory, over-processing, waiting, motion, unnecessary transportation and over-production.

In a service context, more types of waste can be described, not all of which fit neatly into Taiichi Ohno’s original listing, for instance:

  • Multiple customer contacts to resolve a single issue;
  • Missing, incomplete, inaccurate or irrelevant information;
  • Imbalances between demand and capacity (bearing in mind that unused capacity in a service context cannot be stored as inventory and hence is lost forever); and
  • Customers not receiving what they wanted when they wanted it, and then switching to other suppliers (often online, at the click of a mouse).

In recent discussions with public sector managers, reviewing the positive and negative impacts of the former Labour Government’s reform agenda for public services, we have discovered two broad categories of waste that seem highly relevant to the current debate about central control versus local autonomy, quasi-markets versus co-ordinated planning and so on. These two categories are Complacency Waste and Competition Waste. They are essentially polar opposites but paradoxically can sometimes be found together.

Please follow this link to download our paper at 11-03-30 A New Typology of Waste.