“We encounter a lot of leaders who, when asked, ‘Are you doing anything about employee engagement?’ say, ‘Yes, we run an annual survey’,” says Joan Dasher, vice president of BlessingWhite’
BlessingWhite has identified four trends in the way that savvy organizations get more from their investment in engagement. Dasher summarizes these as “less, less, more, more”:
1) Less focus on external benchmarks. Companies are finally realizing that the goal of a survey isn’t to get a good report card compared to the competitor down the street. Dasher explains, “Surveys are about getting the insights you need to inform actions inside your organization to make your workforce more engaged so you can achieve your business goals. Don’t worry about the other fellows.”
2) Less (technically, fewer) items. Organizations are opting out of 90-item surveys that take a half hour to complete. They’re scaling back to 20-30 items that can help drive action. “When you conduct shorter surveys, you are much less likely to run into complaints from ‘survey weary’ employees – plus your analysis is typically shorter and your actions more focused,” says Dasher.
3) More than once every year (or two). Pulse surveys and shorter surveys are being conducted more often. Dasher explains, “If you want to really use employee engagement insights as you manage your business, you need fresh data. Think of the other metrics used to run a business. Leaders don’t look at financial performance or customer data only once a year. They analyze trends each month or quarter by quarter.“
4) More tied to strategy. Everything around the implementation of a survey needs to link to the business imperatives and direction of the company -- from the launch communications through the reporting of results to actions at the individual, manager, and executive level. Savvy HR leaders, in particular, are driving this approach to avoid the labeling of engagement surveys as “just another annual HR administrivia task that is disconnected from the real work.”
Dasher encourages HR leaders to assess their current employee engagement practices and educate line leaders about the impact that high engagement can deliver. She says, “The evolution of employee engagement data from being employee opinion and satisfaction information to having a legitimate place on the corporate scorecard as a valuable human capital metric has been a slow process. As organizations focus on more practical surveys and more strategic implementations, they’ll be in a better position to create a culture of high engagement that can support their mission and long-term vision.”