What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of employee engagement surveys? Fun, useful and a chance to reflect? Or time-consuming, irrelevant and with no apparent use?
People tend to hold a negative image of employee engagement surveys, and the purpose of the surveys are not always clear. People feel the data and feedback is often not translatable into actions. Gathering responses just once a year also makes the data almost outdated by the time it has been processed.
At the same time, there is plenty of evidence showing that gathering data from your employees on a regular basis and taking action accordingly can be beneficial on many levels as mentioned in this report from Harvard Business Review. This obviously influences employee retention and productivity, which in turn increases the organisational performance.
So what is the real reason to have regular and thoughtful employee engagement surveys? Why aren’t more companies using this tool to gather data and insights to reach the highest potential of their employees and their companies?
Getting comfortable with change
Dagmar Suissa is a Human Resources consultant, transformational coach, facilitator and lecturer in HR management and adult learning at Charles University in Prague. She has 15 years of experience in the field of HR and organisational development, including 10 years in leadership roles across various industries and European countries. She has a great passion for transformational change and is dedicated to helping organisations and individuals reinvent themselves.
Through her extensive and diverse experience, she has seen first hand how challenging it can be to truly implement and utilise employee engagement surveys, especially when only completed once a year. She sees one clear reason why people resist more regular employee engagement surveys and doing more to utilise the data.
“It involves change, and change is hard. Annual surveys are very comfortable since that means as a manager you only have to deal with it once a year and you can do your own thing the rest of the time. The idea of doing it more often is very appealing; you have the research and the rationale to prove it, but it requires serious commitment and realignment across all levels of the organisation.”
A team effort
She explains it is crucial to have support from all departments and for the managers to understand this is not only a job for HR. More regular surveys require managers to engage with the results on an ongoing basis and that feels like a lot of extra work and instead creates resistance.
“It’s not to blame the managers. It’s very much human nature to react this way. We don’t like things that are uncomfortable. It feels like the feedback takes us away from what we believe is the more important work. Managers sometimes forget that people management is at least as important as the content of what their departments do.”
She also emphasizes the need for HR to truly be an ambassador for the employee engagement surveys and champion the need, the purpose and the importance. It takes just one person in HR to express skepticism for the effort to be jeopardised.
Starting the conversation
There are unique benefits of regular employee engagement surveys that Dagmar Suissa argues can’t be achieved any other way.
“Regular employee engagement surveys give you information in a structured manner. This means that you can start to compare different sets of relevant data. It gives you a great overview of the entire organisation, what challenges different departments are facing. A great advantage of having surveys several times a year is the ability for you to start recognising patterns and trends.”
Doing more regular surveys and working to create a culture of openness and honesty can bring numerous additional benefits. Dagmar Suissa has no doubts about the extent to which a fully integrated and utilised approach to employee engagement surveys can benefit a company.
“When you create a habit for both employees and managers to raise questions and issues, even in the smallest way to begin with, you allow yourself to stop for a moment, reflect and to start [a] conversation. Usually that sparks another conversation about what you can do about that issue and when these conversations become more frequent, they slowly become a habit. And habits become your culture. I would like to believe that one day this process could lead to not needing these surveys, because starting these conversations becomes natural.”
It is clear that the benefits of regular, well-executed employee engagement surveys have great potential and can bring great results. The importance of using the results is supported in this article by Gallup. On the other hand it is also clear the pitfalls are many and that strong commitment and support is required.
There are several ways to start taking a more serious approach to employee engagement surveys. If you are interested in trying a different way to collect this valuable data from your employees, you can request a VibeCatch demo by contacting us at firstname.lastname@example.org