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Making data simple: Introducing an easier way to understand employee engagement

In the modern era, where the employee experience and patient experience are intrinsically linked, it’s impossible to overstate the importance of employee engagement in the healthcare setting. Our data consistently demonstrates that high employee engagement leads to a better patient experience, improved clinical outcomes, and less turnover in the healthcare workforce.

Healthcare organizations that measure workforce engagement gain valuable insight into where they can focus to improve the employee experience—and drive positive outcomes across other key areas. But measuring employee engagement is just one piece of the puzzle. Translating that measurement into meaningful, easy-to-digest insights is a critical, yet more complex, next step to driving impactful change.

Simplifying employee engagement: How dynamic visualizations bring workforce data into focus

At Press Ganey, we measure employee engagement as a six-item index covering someone’s intent to stay (over the short and long term), willingness to recommend (for care or work), and overall pride and satisfaction with the organization. Scores are reported on a five-point Likert scale (strongly disagree to strongly agree).

When organizations are rolling out survey results, one of the most common questions we hear is: “Outside of using the agreement scale or comparing the average engagement score to the benchmark, how do I know how many people on my team are engaged or not?” The need to quickly and effortlessly make sense of workforce data is loud and clear. And this is exactly why we’re introducing an updated data visualization this fall (2023) to help organizations and healthcare leaders interpret their engagement scores.

Our new-and-improved visual helps a leader more easily understand how many people on their team are engaged, vs. how many are not. This approach specifically outlines the percentage of people within the team who are highly engaged, engaged, neutral, or disengaged. These four levels of engagement provide more context and meaning to other reported data—like the average score or distribution of responses.

Chart measuring engagement indicators

We've taken a scientific approach to determining what these different engagement levels look like. Our method combines a statistical method (k-means cluster analysis) and a review of common response profiles on the engagement items in our database, which includes over 1.6 million unique employee voices, collected over a two-year period. Based on these two factors, we’ve determined specific cut points that group people into one of the four engagement levels.

The 4 levels of employee engagement

Our updated visual includes the four levels of engagement you might encounter within your organization or team. Below, we've outlined the characteristics and response profile of these groups.  

Highly engaged: 

  • Characteristics: These people are having an exceptional experience at your organization, are strong advocates, and are very likely to stay.
  • Response profile on engagement items: These people mostly answer that they strongly agree (5) with all the engagement items.


  • Characteristics: These people have consistently positive experiences. They're likely to recommend the organization and are also likely to stay.
  • Response profile on engagement items: These people mostly answer that they agree (4) with all engagement items.


  • Characteristics: These people have inconsistent experiences. They might be likely to recommend the organization, but they’re not strong advocates. They also have a variable intent to stay.
  • Response profile on engagement items: These people mostly answer neutrals (3) to engagement items, with an occasional mix of agrees (4).


  • Characteristics: These people are not having a positive experience at the organization. They are unlikely to be advocates for the organization, and are less likely to stay.
  • Response profile on engagement items: These people mostly strongly disagree (1) or disagree (2) to all engagement items, with an occasional mix of neutrals (3).

How to move from data to taking the right action

Understanding engagement levels in your organization or team helps you assess if individuals are having a similar experience, or if there are large differences across the team. As you review your team’s engagement level distribution, ask: Are team members equally spread across all four engagement levels, or are certain levels more heavily weighted than others? Is there a large group clustered in the neutral range? Knowing how your team is spread across the various engagement levels helps you understand how much work it will take to move in the right direction. 

If your team is experiencing high levels of disengagement or is heavily clustered in the neutral range, you’ll likely experience greater challenges to improving engagement. But not all hope is lost. While it’s not impossible to improve employee engagement for these groups, it will take a concentrated, well-executed effort—and time—to gain positive momentum.

Start by working with your team and one-up leader to prioritize opportunities for improvement. It may be tempting to try to tackle everything at once, but you’ll likely make more progress if you focus on one or two areas where you and your team can make meaningful change.

Top performers’ tip: We interviewed top performers and found that these organizations have: (1) strong executive buy-in and support for deploying an engagement strategy; (2) consistent and clear rounding practices to hear employee feedback, connect, and close the loop; and (3) mechanisms of accountability for actions related to improvement.

On the other hand, if your team has high levels in the engaged bucket, you should focus more on turning a good employee experience into an exceptional one. You might try a visioning exercise with your team around lower scoring items where you ask: “What would it look like if we all strongly agreed that (for example) my work unit works well together?” And, while you want to understand how to further improve this group’s experience, it’s also worth noting what’s working well for this group—you might just find a few best practices to share with less engaged teams.

Keep it simple: Collect and comprehend employee engagement results in record speed

Understanding an organization or team’s engagement levels is critical to driving improvement. And, with burnout and turnover already at crisis levels, waiting around for results isn’t a luxury the industry can afford. Simple visualizations and exports from Press Ganey’s workforce platform help leaders get to those insights quickly, so they can drive measurable, sustainable improvements among teams. When it’s time for leaders to share results, just one click populates an entire ready-to-go presentation highlighting engagement performance and key areas of focus, along with performance on other metrics. Then leaders can use the in-platform action planning tips to build an improvement plan.  

To explore our employee engagement solutions, reach out to a Press Ganey healthcare workforce expert

About the author

As the Director of Workforce Analytics, Milissa leads people and processes aimed at analyzing workforce data and providing improvement insights to healthcare organizations. She drives strategy in analytics, data displays, and linking workforce data to important cross-domain healthcare outcomes, such as safety, quality, and patient experience. Milissa collaborates with teams and leaders across Press Ganey to leverage data to inform and support organizations in reducing caregiver and patient suffering.

Profile Photo of Milissa Eagle, MA