The Future Of Employee Engagement Surveys

Crystal Ball

This HR Magazine article  by Samantha Arnold makes some excellent points about the problems with surveys as they are commonly conducted and gives some advice for using them effectively. Its well written, concise and agrees with what I think. I like it.

Don’t get hung up on response rates. Create a results focus. Make it easy for managers. Make it business-relevant. All good ideas. Even the one commentor so far makes a great point – you absolutely must provide follow up!

My own two cents’ worth would be about the very existence of a survey in the first place. Mailing out sheets of paper or emailing a link to an online survey to already very busy people is only going to be a great idea if the information coming back is going to be both useful and used. HR folk and managers reading articles or approached by consultants quoting other bits of research often provoke some employers into conducting a survey of their own. I applaud research and information gathering. I’m less enamoured with the shotgun-spraying of surveys.

Even if you find out that x% of those of your employees who responded think they’re engaged or not engaged compared to y% which is the national or industry average, what do you do with that? AND whether or not employees think they are engaged isn’t the actual indicator of engagement. That is their behaviour. A self-completed survey of what people think is interesting and may reveal actions that need to be taken BUT it won’t and can’t reveal engagement. That needs to be observed.

Engagement is not morale or climate or happiness. It is the observation of discretionary effort. Make the effort and get out and observe. That’s useful, accurate, objective and gets to your brain a lot quicker than the aggregated results of a survey.

About Terry Williams - The Brain-Based Boss

I'm all about engaging people and helping you engage yours to influence behaviour to improve results - at work and at home. Maybe you're a manager, a salesperson, a leader, a parent, a presenter or an event organiser? You need to grab your people's attention, create some rapport, be memorable and influence behaviour change. How can we do that? I'm originally a trainer by trade, turned manager, turned comedian and partway back again. Author of 'THE GUIDE: How to kiss, get a job & other stuff you need to know', I write and speak about how to engage people, be they employees, family or yourself. How can we connect with people’s own internal motivations and help them use their own inner passions to drive towards productivity, success and happiness? And hopefully have a few laughs along the way... As a trainer facilitating learning and development in others, I find myself drawing on my own extensive business experience. I specialise in the delivery of high impact, customised training solutions for organisations that are serious about improving the performance and lives of their people.

Posted on August 6, 2012, in Employee Engagement, Feedback and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Maybe not perfect but I found the 12 questions used by Gallup quite objective in their attempt to link engagement with productivity: http://bit.ly/OLHfcx

    They claim that innovation, entrepreneurship, authentic sales growth, new customers, job growth — all the things that every company needs most — are sparked and inspired by the relationships between managers and employees that these 12 items measure.

    I think what is important is to measure the answers before doing anything, identify with the employees maybe 2 or 3 points that impact the most their performance and measure again after changes have been implemented.

    What do you think ?

  2. Thanks for the comment Anne. I’m crazy busy rehearsing for a gig tomorrow but will try and get back with a considered response ASAP. I think probably what I was poking a stick at in my blog was the employers for whom ‘doing a survey’ is all they do. And maybe recognising that most workplaces have 10 or less employees, so running surveys etc is all a bit corporate and HR-Departmenty for them. Far better if they get out there and observe behaviours. They can, by all means, use the Gallup items as indicators to observe, both before and after any actions they take to bolster engagement. Thanks again for your comment and the excellent points you made.

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