Here's how it works.

EG = (SV + TI + TS) x A x F

Stick with me. It's a lot easier than it looks. So EG = Employee Engagement. To solve for Employee Engagement, we need to define and assign a number to these topics. Skill Variety (the amount of unique or variable tasks in a job), plus Task Identity (the ability to see a task all the way to completion), plus Task Significance (the general importance of a job on society or to that employee). So, looking at a job, you assign each one of those three areas a number between 1 – 6, with one being low and 6 being high. As an example, a receptionist would likely have low Skill Variety because answering phones and greeting guests are the primary responsibilities, and hence not a lot of variety in the job. It would have relatively moderate Task Identify as the calls come in and the receptionist is able to connect the call, so the task is completed, but the receptionist doesn't get to see the call results. Finally, Task Satisfaction is relatively moderate, depending on how highly the people in the organization value that position. Task Significance could be low or high, depending on the corporate culture. So, you assign a number between 1 and 6 to each of those tasks, add them together and divide that number by 3. (Let's say we gave Skill Variety a 2, Task Identification a 3, and Task Significance a 4. 2 + 3 + 4 = 9). We divide 9 by 3, and we start with a 3.

A = Autonomy. Autonomy is defined by how much control an employee has in the job. In our receptionist example, there is relatively low autonomy because that employee must stay at a front desk to answer phones and greet guests. There is not a lot of room for autonomy in that job, hence the number would be low. Let's give it a 2.

The final computation is F = Feedback. Feedback can be inherent in the job itself. (Sales, for example, provides inherent feedback. You know how well you are doing in the job by the number of sales you make). Other jobs require feedback from others in order to gauge performance. The higher the feedback in a job, the greater the job satisfaction. In our receptionist example, it really depends on the organization. A manager who provides regular, specific feedback to a receptionist will have a high score. A receptionist with a removed manager, may receive little if any feedback on the job. Let's assume we are working with a great organization who provides this receptionist with good feedback and give that a score of 5 out of 6.

So, here is our math: Employee Engagement = 3 x 2 x 5. For this employee, our number is a 30. How does that compare with other jobs? Sadly, it isn't bad. The total possible score for this equation is 216, (6 x 6 x 6 = 216). Most jobs, however, hover between 20 and 40. The good news is we can affect our jobs to make them more interesting and better engage our employees. If we analyze the math formula itself, we see that our best areas of impact are Autonomy and Feedback. If we can improve those two scores, we can greatly improve the satisfaction and engagement of our employees. In our receptionist example, we might be able to give this employee autonomy around when breaks are scheduled, how guests are greeted, and how phone calls are answered. We can also provide this employee with more feedback to improve overall job satisfaction.

So, whoever thought math would improve an employee's job satisfaction and overall engagement? Certainly not this liberal arts major. But I have been mathematically converted!