The Infamous Employee Engagement survey
The benefits of measuring engagement are difficult to ignore. It can be argued that engaged employees are more productive because they understand the purpose of their work and find satisfaction in the work they do. When employees are “engaged” this can lead to greater innovation, productivity and equally important, employees become ambassadors of your company. When an employee becomes an ambassador, they tend to excel and recruit other well-motivated employees who, too, will embrace the company culture.
Many organizations use surveys to measure employee’s opinions and satisfaction about their work and work environment. These surveys can often take an hour to complete with exhaustive questions about pay and benefits, promotional opportunities, supervisors, upper management, retention, and rewards and recognition to name a few. However, despite spending a considerable amount of time, resources, and money conducting these surveys, many organizations still fail to achieve their organizational goals; most notably their objective of retaining employees.
If all of this sounds oh so familiar to you, below are five reasons why your employee engagement survey efforts are failing and what you should do about it:
1. Survey is not conducted regularly enough for the data to be reliable
If you are only conducting your employee engagement survey on an annual basis you are not collecting data often enough for it to be reliable. Employee’s opinions about their organization can change on a day to day or week to week basis. There are many environmental factors that influence how someone may feel coming into work that can affect the way that they respond a survey. Haven’t you been to a restaurant more than once and had differing experiences?
2. Employees fear being honest
The truth is that despite your efforts to assure confidentiality of the survey, many employees still believe that their managers will somehow determine how they answered. In fear of retaliation, employees will often respond favorably or provide inconsistent answers to survey questions to avoid perceived (or real) repercussions.
3. An engaged workforce does not always equal organizational success
One of my favorite quotes is “don’t confuse effort for results.” Many employees love their work, are long- term, committed and loyal employees, and have a great appreciation for their organization and leadership. But without the appropriate training, development, and performance management systems and processes in place, despite being “engaged” employees can still fail to meet business objectives.
4. Other “engagement” indicators
As stated previously, an employee engagement survey is taken by employees who respond based upon what they feel at one moment in time. In order to determine a true level of employee engagement to achieve organizational success, other metrics should be measured and monitored for trends and follow-up action. Some other metrics that should be measured and monitored to measure employee engagement are:
· The # of worker’s compensation claims
· The # of employee’s on a leave of absence
· Regrettable turnover
· The number of education hours/classes that employee’s voluntarily attend
· Performance Evaluation ratings
· The # of discrimination and harassment complaints and legal claims
5. Lack of Follow-Up
I would argue that the number one reason why your organization should consider discontinuing conducting an employee engagement survey is if your organization has no plan to follow up on the feedback it receives. Not only do some employees not answer the survey truthfully, but they will also elect not to participate in taking the survey at all. Why? Because employees feel that their opinion doesn’t count anyway and nothing will be done. If your organization has conducted an employee engagement survey in the past and has not communicated the results, drafted action plans that involved employee input, or followed up on those action plans, your organization has lost its credibility with its employees.
There is no argument that the success of any organization begins with having a well-qualified, engaged workforce. The key word in the previous sentence is “begins.” To maintain engagement, there is a lot more effort that is required other than conducting an annual engagement survey. I challenge you to consider: What does an engaged workforce look like in your organization that will achieve organizational success? Is your organization measuring the right metrics? Is your organization collecting data often enough? What are you doing with the data you receive?