Typical employee engagement initiatives involve surveys that company employees fill out once a year. These surveys generate feedback that the management team spends the rest of the year trying to address. Often, surveys are updated and redone every year, but the results don’t always improve. But what would happen if organizations took a lesson from financial management, and treated employment engagement the same way that they treat their finances?

To start with, Don Smith, Vice President of Operations at ClearPicture, asks the question in the reverse.

“What would a company look like if you managed its finances the way we typically manage employee engagement surveys?” Smith asks. “You would look at your finances once a year, develop and implement an action plan, and then a year later do a check to see how you’re doing. But you can’t run a company that way.”

Regular monitoring tells you where you need to adjust

By looking at engagement through a financial lens instead, companies would look at employee engagement scores continuously. They would identify key drivers to focus on in the short-term, and they would trend those scores against the baseline to measure changes more quickly.

Given the strong links between highly engaged employees and profit, this concept is gaining ground. Continuous measurement programs, or pulse surveys, are becoming more popular and are easy to do, especially if your organization already does an annual engagement survey.

As this Forbes piece described, the traditional concept of engagement isn’t enough.

“The change we need to make is to redefine engagement beyond an ‘annual HR measure’ to a continuous, holistic part of an entire business strategy.”

Pulse checks can tell you if you’re making progress

Smith recommends identifying no more than two or three key drivers of engagement that you plan to work on throughout the year, and conducting pulse surveys to ask a few focused questions to a smaller sample of employees at regular intervals throughout the year.

“By asking the same few questions to different people throughout the year, you get regular feedback to tell you if you’re moving in the right direction, or if you’re missing something,” Smith says.

Focusing on a small number of issues that really matter to employees, and communicating what you’re doing to address those issues, can have a huge impact on overall levels of engagement levels. Employees feel valued because you have included them in the process, and you’re acting on their input in a meaningful way. Over time, your annual survey scores will reflect a workplace that is both highly engaged and satisfied. And that is good for the bottom line.