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Long live engagement surveys.

December 14, 2015

Employee surveys haven’t changed much over the last couple of decades. Yes, of course the web has made a difference; we’re all used to surveys on tablets and phones and paper questionnaires are becoming relatively uncommon. But essentially we’ve simply applied new technology to a long-established process. So what is the future for engagement surveys?

This is a serious question for any organisations that regularly achieves great results in their engagement surveys. If employees are recording high levels of engagement, have survey specialists anything else to offer? Cost aware SMTs can understandable ask whether they need to continue with the annual process of monitoring employees’ feelings and perceptions of their working lives. They may learn nothing new. Is there any point?

Well, yes. There is. What can the businesses that have established reputations as truly great employers do next? There are many of them. Stratospheric engagement levels. The only challenge they face is to maintain current levels of satisfaction and engagement – or is it?

In fact even these iconic organisations have parts of the business and groups of people, where things aren’t working quite as they should. The problem is that they often don’t show up in regular survey reports. Company leaders can live in ignorance of such pockets and as a result business performance – and employee engagement – may suffer as a result.

Our take on this issue is that we need to see the whole process of organisational survey-feedback as a much more than an annual event. Instead we need to mirror the human organisation itself: instead of a once a year company-wide project and, possibly, occasional pulse surveys. What about other dimensions? What about the employee life-cycle? How often do we also measure the feelings and perceptions of employees at various points in their working lives with the organisation? After induction, after six months, a year? After promotion as well as at exit?

Pulse surveys can, of course be useful, but how about offering line managers the opportunity to conduct surveys for themselves in their own parts of the business? Why should it be HR that always takes the lead?

And why not make it possible to run surveys in real-time? We’ve found that line managers in particular find these much more useful than the traditional rear-view mirror approach, because they can react more or less immediately.

Then there’s feedback. Traditionally, this is another part of the survey process which has been owned and operated entirely by HR. Why not build a system which can be accessed and operated by any people manager who seeks feedback from her or his people. Whether it’s recent company survey data

For all these reasons we’ve developed a completely new approach. Employee Lifecycle surveys offer a complete system which can meet the demands of a whole range of requirements – from the organisation-wide annual project, though pulse, real time and life-cycle surveys, to individual managers’ own monitoring studies. The results generated are collected and stored in a single database. This means that an infinite range of cross-analyses is possible – and can be conducted by many different people within the organisation. This approach makes it possible to carry out much more sensitive diagnoses than ever before.

For example it is now possible to highlight potential leavers via observing trends in their responses. Action can then be taken to address underlying issues which might otherwise be undiscovered. Or we can find out why employees in certain roles seem to remain for far shorter periods that others at similar locations.

There will be other, equally exciting options to pursue. There is a bright future for the whole engagement survey industry.

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