Employee Engagement Surveys

By: Holly Ormsbee 

Employers often wish to measure Employee Engagement and sometimes attempt to measure it by implementing an in-house Employee Survey, when in fact all credible employee surveys should be conducted by an external objective third party.  Research indicates that employees are less comfortable sharing feedback directly to their employer, which generates less candid responses, and/or a low rate of response, and a negative perception about the survey and the employer’s intention.  Employees are much more likely to divulge how they are truly feeling about an organization if they know that their answers are kept confidential with a 3rd party using an arms-length tool.

The purpose of an employee engagement survey is to check the organization’s pulse, identify employee needs and the organization’s strengths and weaknesses.  If conducted and acted upon appropriately, employee surveys can lead to employee engagement, motivation, trust, loyalty, knowledgeable/in tune leaders, and ultimately, a happy, satisfied, committed and productive workforce who breathe life into an organization, rather than sucking life out of it.

Many employee surveys are not well planned, executed, acted upon, or followed-up in a timely or appropriate manner and communication to employees is often lacking, all of which results in lower morale and increased frustration for both leaders and employees (and ultimately customers).  If there is a lack of commitment and carry through from management, then the next time the organization wishes to gather information, employees will have little trust or faith in the organization’s ability to carry out this task – company credibility is lost, and that is very hard to regain. 

To conduct an effective employee survey, employees must have confidence in the credibility of the survey and be positively engaged in the process.  If a survey is carried out and employees are not engaged in the process, the return on investment (development time, employee participation, analysis, recommendations and report generation) is an expense rather than an investment in capitalizing on future productivity, employee retention and satisfaction.

A properly managed and effective employee engagement survey demands significant time and attention before, during and after the survey.  Commonly, internal staff resources are limited and organizations do not have the time or professional skill set to manage an effective and thoughtful employee survey. Ensuring proper communication throughout the survey, developing insightful questions, collecting data, analyzing the data, interpreting the results correctly and developing solutions takes time and talent.  The biggest pitfall with employee engagement surveys is the lack of appropriate and timely follow up action, including communication to staff.  Faltering at this step fuels negative employee reaction / relations and undermines employees’ faith and trust in management.

By engaging a third party, employees are reassured that all data collection and report generation will be conducted externally and without internal management bias, while maintaining their anonymity.  This methodology encourages employees to respond openly and candidly, ensuring that the employer really understands what is deficient from the employees’ perspective in order that the employer can address it appropriately.

In our experience, organizations have the best of intentions when they conduct their own internal employee engagement surveys, however they have too many competing priorities, and revenue generation and cost containment will always trump and hamper the outcome of other projects, including employee surveys. 

For more information on employee engagement surveys and how to make your organization the employer of choice, please contact HR-Fusion.

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