Annual surveys are not employee engagement

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The link between Customer Satisfaction and increased profitability has long been established, but to create these wonderfully happy customers, who are willing to share their hard-earned cash with your brand, requires an investment in creating engaged employees, who also believe in the brand to the extent that they will do everything in their power to (in the words of Simon & Garfunkel) ‘keep the customer satisfied’. 

 

 

 

If Sir. Richard Branson is correct, and I for one will not contradict him, it is little wonder that organisations are keen to understand how their employees feel about working for them.

Many organisations attempt to understand their employees’ level of engagement by undertaking annual employee surveys but, there are many shortcomings to the annual employee survey when used as the only measure of employee engagement, such as –

  • Some employees will answer the survey as quickly as possible due to other workload commitments
  • Annual surveys are just that, a survey at that moment in time, the potential to miss sentiment related to an incident six months ago is very real
  • If feedback from the process is not forthcoming in a timely manner, employees may ask “what is happening to the information I gave?”
  • If the results are not fed back in a timely manner, are they still relevant? Especially in high employee turnover environments
  • Manager fatigue: Managers with large teams and long surveys may be tempted to shortcut and keep review meetings short, giving the minimum of feedback; a sure-fire way to disengage the team.
  • If the annual survey is used in isolation, there can be a tendency to ask all the questions that management may have in one go, leading to excessively long surveys.
  • Negative feedback at an annual review can be a shock when managers are failing to give constructive feedback throughout the year.
  • Cost – Some software solutions can have high costs related to the number of surveys; costs for consultants for design and evaluation can also be high. The actual cost must include staff time to participate.  e.g. If on average, the process takes four hours to complete, the average hourly rate is £15, and the company employs 1000, then the cost to complete is 4X15X1000 = £60,000

Although annual surveys are part of understanding employee sentiment and engagement levels, used in isolation they only give a fraction of the picture while potentially being viewed in a negative light by the employee population.  There is a solution, and it may not be what you’re expecting!

Conduct more surveys!!!

It may seem counter-intuitive to suggest increasing the number of surveys, given the points made earlier, but organisations that have embraced employee engagement and have seen a positive organisational benefit, view employee communication as an ongoing, two-way process with continuous dialogue at the core.

A move to this model of continuous engagement through regular surveys can bring substantial advantages, such as –

  • Questions can be very specific, related to topical issues
  • Surveys can be delivered in response to employee milestones (Onboarding, after 3 months service, job-role change, management change etc.)
  • Surveys can be deployed in response to organisational changes
  • Pulse surveys can be answered in a matter of seconds
  • Pulse surveys can easily be delivered to non-computer users using fixed terminals, ideal for factory floor and construction sites
  • Pulse survey results can be fed-back to participants quickly, showing that the organisation is listening, especially if the results lead to positive organisational change
  • Using multiple short surveys throughout the year can mean that annual surveys do not need to ask as many questions, this can have a positive impact on the annual survey, increasing the completion rate and the value of the feedback received
  • Short surveys can be used by managers to frame one-to-one meetings, ensuring that both parties gain value and that constructive feedback is an ongoing, documented process that can inform the annual review (No more nasty feedback shocks in the annual review)
  • Levels of engagement can be tracked in smaller time intervals, giving management greater ability to respond to any volatility in a timely manner. Grievances can be dealt with and not allowed to fester for extended periods (or until the next annual review)

In conclusion, if your company is going to be spending large amounts of cash on annual surveys, it would be advantageous to ensure that the feedback received is well thought-out and will deliver value for the individual and the organisation.  I would suggest that the best way to achieve this is to be in regular contact with your employees, with an almost constant finger on the pulse of the organisation and employees level of engagement. 

Doing this, surveys deliver valuable, timely and actionable information to management throughout the year, employees feel that management is listening to them throughout the year, not only at review time, and the annual survey becomes less burdensome to all involved. 

If you would like to understand how smartcrowds can help you to improve employee engagement levels through increased surveying, please contact us.

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