If you asked five business leaders and five HR professionals at your organization to define employee engagement, what would they say? Would there be a consistent definition among the group? Did some say morale, commitment, effort, experience or employee feedback?  If you are unclear what you are measuring in your annual or pulse employee surveys, how do you know what to improve? Taking the conversation further — what would those ten people say about the success of your engagement initiatives?

Our Human Capital Institute research team partnered with motivationWorks to study how HR professionals were developing employee engagement strategies. Ninety percent of our respondents saw engagement as critical to business success, but only 30 percent expressed confidence in their ability to use survey data to improve the employee experience. In other words: we understand that engagement is important, but we don’t know what to do about it.

In our research, we found that organizations with the best talent and business outcomes do things differently. They maintain a consistent, evidence-based definition of what engagement is. They focus on the experiential drivers of engagement rather outcome scores from surveys. They integrate engagement initiatives with other talent management programs like culture-building, inclusion, rewards, recognition and performance management. They extend ownership for engagement initiatives beyond HR and include senior leaders, managers and employees, and build programs that support the needs of these groups. And finally, they equip managers with the data, tools and recommendations to lead engaged and higher-performing teams.

To design and implement an engagement strategy, I recommend these steps: first define, then measure and lastly take action based on insights from your employee surveys while including more stakeholders in the process. This should ensure that the next time you ask others about your organization’s engagement initiatives, you’ll be met with consistent and satisfactory responses.