Alternative to the employee engagement survey

The issue with employee engagement surveys.

In many cases the engagement survey is carefully designed and executed; data is gathered and actionable insights are presented to management. When these insights result in projects that require resourcing to implement, it can be difficult to raise the priority of this work over that of business projects. With a knock-on effect of delayed implementation or indefinite de-prioritization, the intention of the engagement survey can be completely turned on it's head. Employees may become further disengaged as they believe they've not been listened too and their perception is the process was a check-the-box exercise.

The process is usually owned by the HR team and often runs over a number of months, eg: design and promote the survey in June, obtain responses in July, analyse and present the results in August. This process leads to three key issues:

  1. A lack of buy-in from departments because the engagement survey comes from another department, it sits alongside their team's normal work and it represents an extra burden to undertake.
  2. The creation of large sized improvement projects as a result of high volumes of feedback information that has accumulated since the previous engagement survey.
  3. Delays from when a team member experiences an event to when they have an opportunity to provide their feedback through the engagement survey. Whilst engagement surveys are often labelled as real-time insights, the only thing real-time about them is the moment a question is answered and reported. In reality the questions are referring to events that occurred potentially months beforehand.

An alternative to the employee engagement survey

We believe an approach that is integrated with daily work and genuinely real-time would deliver significant improvements over the traditional way. Our viewpoint is that garnering feedback from individuals at the time of the task, while feelings are still fresh, is an innocuous and a more accurate reflection of sentiment. Furthermore the process becomes owned by everyone from the ground up, rather than a top down cyclical initiative.

We found a great article (source below) on how to improve the employee engagement survey and note their 10 recommendations for improving the process:

  1. Ask very few questions
  2. Conduct often
  3. Measure happiness, not satisfaction
  4. Make results available instantly
  5. Results lead to action
  6. Provide clear value for employees
  7. Focuses on both the negative AND the positive
  8. Ensure there is no way to cook the numbers
  9. Anonymity is guaranteed
  10. Survey is owned and controlled by each department

When we set out to build our app, we focused on improving accountability in teams from the ground up. We are now learning that our approach to accountability has a by-product of providing real-time, data backed engagement scores across the team.

Our app sits in-line with everyday work and collects lots of small pieces of information. At the end of each task it prompts for a single NPS based question on the task completed. If an individual is consistently rating their tasks high, no matter who they are working with, we can see a clear indication of their happiness and engagement level.

We'd like to hear your thoughts and comments, do you feel your engagement surveys are working well for you in their current form. If you've been on the receiving end, how do you feel about the value of engagement surveys?