Professional development and training blog of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA)
August 15, 2011

Demonstrating the Link Between Employee Engagement and Productivity

I look forward to hosting the free PRSA webinar next week “Fact Based Leadership”  This case study won the prestigious Jack Felton Golden Ruler Award for excellence in public relations research, measurement and evaluation last year.  This award’s primary objective is to identify superb examples of research used to support public relations practice, and to publish these as case studies on the Institute for Public Relations website — in this creative and more unusual entry we found a gem. 

To give you some background, emerging from the global financial crisis and at a time requiring elevated employee performance, Northwestern Mutual launched its Motivated Workforce Pilot.  Through research and analytics, the company and its agency partners, Gagen MacDonald and EMPA, identified a set of leadership behaviors –“soft” performance measures— that predicts productivity and increased employee engagement.  It provides an innovative, but practical, approach to increase the utility and relevance of internal communications, influencing daily conversations between employees and their direct managers.  This controlled pilot established the linkage, making a case for the company’s future investment in employee engagement.

Proving the value of public relations can at times be a challenge.  We are asked to demonstrate our worth to an organization and sometimes find ourselves having to do more with less.  We have moved from outputs to outcomes, linking to the overall business goals and objectives and showing quantifiable results.  There are ongoing debates on how much to spend on research and measurement, what techniques to use, and the reality is that it is not a one-size-fits-all world.  However, there are some solid principles (such as the business case for PR, the Barcelona Principles and its extension) and some great case studies that can help guide us.  The tide is turning and there is increased conversation on measurement, analysis and evaluation that is going beyond talk and resulting in change.  Bad practices are being called out and frameworks are being discussed to define the new rubric.  I am encouraged that increasingly, I am finding clients are asking more challenging questions and wanting greater insights from their research to help them with smarter decision making, future planning and tangible objective setting.

But back to Jack Felton and the award named in his honor. Of all the awards that I judge in a year, this award holds a special place for me because of its unique focus – looking for the best of the best and judged by public relations research peers from academia, corporate, agency and service provider.  We are in the midst of judging the awards for this year and the winner will be presented at the Ninth Annual North American Summit on Public Relations Measurement in Philadelphia at a special luncheon on September 19th.  For those interested in quantifying the value of public relations, this event allows you to see how measurement is being used effectively throughout the communications industry, as well as network with those who are doing it well.  I very much hope to see you there!

Pauline Draper-Watts is SVP at PRIME Research, a global leader in strategic communications research, and a member of the Institute for Public Relations Commission on PR Measurement and Evaluation.

North American Summit on Public Relations Measurement

The Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) and the Institute for Public Relations (IPR) have joined forces to offer you the Ninth Annual North American Summit on Public Relations Measurement, Sept. 18-20, in Philadelphia, Pa. This event focuses on how measurement is being used effectively throughout the communications industry, and will expose you to innovations, methodologies and best practices through lectures, case studies and interactive discussions.

PRSA offers the free webinar, “Fact-Based Leadership: Demonstrating a Quantifiable Link Between Employee Engagement and Productivity”, on Tuesday, Aug. 16, 3–4 p.m. EDT.

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