Measuring employee motivation is incredibly important, but the results of many engagement surveys can be misleading.
This is according to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) and Kingston University Business School's Centre for Research in Employment, Skills and Society (CRESS).
A joint report published by the two organisations found that a number of engagement surveys are one dimensional and therefore lacking useful feedback.
It goes as far as saying that the information gleaned from such sources actually masks the true picture of employee motivation in companies and in the UK as a whole.
The issue is that it is not as simple as saying that engagement is high, but the types of it must be identified and further analysis carried out.
Angela Baron, research adviser at the CIPD, said: "While we definitely encourage organisations to measure engagement, it's not enough for organisations to focus on increasing their engagement scores without considering what type and locus of engagement is being measured."
An important distinction, according to the report, is that between transactional and emotional engagement.
The former can see employees being highly motivated over a certain task which they are performing at one time or another.
This engagement does not run deep however and this group of employees are more likely to move onto a different job should a better offer be presented to them.
They often express high levels of employee engagement in surveys, but the transient nature of it is not what companies should be looking at when conducting such research.
Emotionally engaged employees on the other hand are able to see the bigger picture and are actively involved in the ethos of an organisation.
They see themselves as investing in the values and the mission of the company they work for and therefore their engagement is more genuine and complete.
This is less likely to be reflected in an engagement survey despite the fact that it is more valuable to employers than the alternative.
Emotionally engaged staff are more inclined to stay with an organisation for the long term and this will help a company retain top talent if they go through a difficult patch.
Staff in this group are also likely to experience a greater level of wellbeing, which leads to higher instances of productivity.
Ms Baron said: "What people are engaged with, and the nature and driving force behind their engagement, also need taking into consideration - otherwise organisations risk misunderstanding the actual extent and nature of engagement."
Transactional engagement was found by the researchers to be linked with earning a living, completing what is asked of them and a positive attitude towards tasks.
Emotional engagement goes beyond the job itself and is associated with a number of factors including colleagues, clients and leadership.
These employees are more likely to go above and beyond what is asked of them, think up new innovative ideas and do more than just pick up their pay cheque.
It is possible that an employee may have a transactional attitude to some parts of their job and an emotional one to others.
This can make it very difficult to differentiate between types of engagement, which is why surveys are not enough to go by.
Ms Baron said: "This is why interpretation of engagement scores needs to be carefully underpinned with insight from line managers and HR practitioners with the ability to identify the different dimensions at play in the workplace."
It is important that an organisation puts measures in place to ensure employees are more emotionally engaged as this is better both for the staff involved and the company.
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