This company assesses employee morale every 2 weeks. How often should you?

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Many companies dedicate significant efforts to measuring employee engagement every year or two. They might use tools like Gallup polls or even online sites such as Glassdoor — where reviews of an organization are public for the world to see — to assess their employees' perceptions of work. But one company, John Deere, realized these once-annual check-ins aren't enough, according to the Harvard Business Review.

Employee engagement has emerged as one of the top concerns among human resources professionals. This is because there is a clear link between engagement and high work performance, which ultimately leads to satisfied customers and a robust bottom line.

In John Deere's case, the rapid development of the Internet of Things and the need to incorporate the latest digital technology in its agricultural equipment has increased the pressure to compete with software and online competitors, according to the report. With a greater need to accelerate new product introductions and feature releases, there is also greater demand on employees to perform at a high level. To ensure each member of the team is supported to fulfill his or her greatest potential, John Deere began taking more frequent pulse checks on employee morale. In doing so, managers have gained access to the information required to identify and address motivational issues on the individual, team and unit level, according to the report.

At the end of every two-week development cycle, leaders conduct retrospective reviews about what worked well and what needs to be improved. They also ask their team members to answer this question on a 10-point scale: "How do you feel about the value you were able to contribute to the last cycle?" This "motivation metric" measures each employee's concrete contribution, but also shows how they feel about their work.

Without consistent and frequent updates on employees' state of morale, most managers only become aware of motivational problems when they begin to impact employee performance, such as a missed deadline or halfhearted effort — or if the employee quits.  Waiting until that point often makes it too late to effect any change. According to the Harvard Business Review, intervening early with motivational data changes the conversation from addressing a performance issue to one that helps the manager understand why the employee is feeling unmotivated or demoralized.

Furthermore, the bi-weekly engagement surveys also help managers keep tabs on team health. For example, if the team brings on someone new or one member quits, the overall dynamics are subject to change. This could call for adjustments — the need for which would not be apparent without regular check-ins.

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